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US Senate rejects Democrats on documents, witness in Trump impeachment trial

Updated: 2020-01-22 14:47
US Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) enters the Senate Floor during US President Donald Trump's Senate Impeachment Trial in Washington, US, Jan 21, 2020. [Photo/Agencies]

WASHINGTON - The Republican-controlled US Senate blocked Democratic attempts on Tuesday to obtain evidence and call a witness in President Donald Trump's impeachment trial, an early sign the proceeding could advance on lines favorable to Trump.

As the third presidential impeachment trial in US history began in earnest, Trump's chief legal defender described the case as a baseless effort to overturn the 2016 election and a top Democratic lawmaker said there was "overwhelming" evidence of wrongdoing.

After US Chief Justice John Roberts convened the proceedings, the two sides quickly began squabbling over Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's proposed rules for a trial to determine if Trump should be removed from office.

Trump, who was impeached last month by the Democratic-led House of Representatives on charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, is accused of pressuring Ukraine to investigate former Democratic Vice President Joe Biden, a political rival, and then impeding the inquiry into the matter.

The president denies any wrongdoing and describes his impeachment as a partisan hoax to derail his 2020 re-election effort.

Senators voted along party lines, 53-47, to block four separate motions from Democratic leader Chuck Schumer to subpoena records and documents from the White House, the State Department, the Defense Department, and the Office of Management and Budget related to Trump's dealings with Ukraine.

Senators also rejected by the same tally a request for a subpoena seeking the testimony of acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney.

White House counsel Pat Cipollone, who is leading Trump's defense, attacked the foundation of the charges against the Republican president and said Democrats had not come close to meeting the US Constitution's standard for impeachment.

"The only conclusion will be that the president has done absolutely nothing wrong," Cipollone said, arguing in favor of McConnell's proposal to wait until later in the trial to decide whether to allow further witnesses or documents.

"There is absolutely no case," he said.

Reuters

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