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Impeachment: Mitch McConnell lays out rules for Trump's Senate trial

Image: Speaker Pelosi Announces Impeachment Managers, Signs And Transmits A
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer looks on as Majority Leader Mitch McConnell speaks during a Congressional Gold Medal ceremony at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 15, 2020. Copyright Drew Angerer Getty Images
Copyright Drew Angerer Getty Images
By Alex Moe and Rebecca Shabad with NBC News Politics
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"Why is McConnell being so secretive about his proposal?" said Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., on Sunday.


WASHINGTON — Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., is expected to allot a total of 24 hours per side for opening statements in President Donald Trump's impeachment trial, but that time must be used in two working days, two Republican sources familiar with the proposal said Monday.

This is likely to mean long days for Senate members as the House impeachment managers prosecuting the case against Trump and the legal team handling the president's defense will have to make their arguments on a tight timeline.

A draft of McConnell's organizing resolution setting the rules for Trump's trial has not yet been released. With the start of the trial just a day away, Senate Democrats and the House's impeachment managers have expressed frustration about being kept in the dark about procedural details, though several Republican senators have offeredclues.

"That proposal right now will look very similar to 24 hours of presentation by the House managers over two days and then 24 hours of presentation by the president's team over two days, and then 16 hours of questions submitted by the members in writing" to Chief Justice John Roberts, who presides over the trial, Sen. David Perdue, R-Ga., a Trump ally, said on NBC's "Meet the Press" Sunday.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said during a news conference Sunday night that Democrats still don't know how the trial will proceed.

"Why is McConnell being so secretive about his proposal?" he said.

Similarly, Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin, D-Ill., said on "Meet the Press" that as of late Saturday night, "there hasn't been the most basic negotiation or exchange of information" between Democratic and Republican leadership teams.

Speaking to reporters on a conference call Sunday night, a Democratic aide working on the Senate trial said that the idea of 12 hours a day of presentations, excluding breaks, is a "complete sham."

"The House managers have absolutely no idea what the structure of trial is going to be and the notion that the House managers are going into a trial that begins on Tuesday without knowing what the structure is, is completely unfathomable," the aide said.

The aide added that the House managers "strongly object" to this format and argued that if the rumored schedule is true, it is Senate Republicans "trying to hide the president's misconduct in the dead of night rather than putting it in the light of day."

Trump was impeached by the House in December on charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.

During the 1999 Senate trial of President Bill Clinton, the House's Republican managers had three days to deliver their opening arguments, using about four to six hours each day. Clinton's White House defense team also used three days to deliver their arguments, taking between two and four hours each day.

Last week, ahead of the full House vote to send the articles of impeachment to the Senate, Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., named seven House Democrats as the impeachment managers who would serve as prosecutors in Trump's trial. The team — Reps. Adam Schiff of California, who will be the lead manager; Jerry Nadler of New York; Hakeem Jeffries of New York; Jason Crow of Colorado; Zoe Lofgren of California; Val Demings of Florida; and Sylvia Garcia of Texas — worked through the weekend preparing for the trial, which will begin in earnest Tuesday afternoon.

The Democratic aide said that managers met Sunday to discuss their strategy, review their arguments and refine their individual presentations, noting that all seven will have a speaking role during the trial.

The managers met again Monday morning on Capitol Hill, and are expected to do a walkthrough on the Senate later in the day.

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