As you know, tomorrow at 1:00 pm ET the Senate impeachment trial officially begins. Fox News has done the hard work of explaining exactly what we can expect. I’m going to condense it down to barebones.
At 1 pm there will be some preliminary business. But shortly thereafter McConnell will offer his resolution dictating the parameters of the trial. The Senate has two hours to debate it and they probably will, absent unanimous consent to forgo it.
At somewhere around 3:30 pm Schumer will then offer his counter-proposal. The Senate gets two hours to debate that as well, but only impeachment managers and the president’s counsel will be debating it, not members of the Senate. It’s because Schumer’s counter-proposal is just a branch on McConnell’s amendment ‘tree’ or something.
According to Fox News, that gets us to about 5:30 or 6 pm. At this point, however, Fox News says a potential wild card could happen. I’ll let them explain:
However, a potential wild card is afoot.
Fox News is told to expect a closed Senate session after these two debates, meaning lawmakers essentially would kick everyone out of the chamber: the public, the media, the president’s legal team and the impeachment managers. The only people left: senators, Roberts and essential floor staff. Fox News has no idea how long this could go, but it would happen in the Senate chamber itself, not the Old Senate Chamber.
In addition, this would be a deviation from what happened in 1999. Prior to then-President Clinton’s impeachment trial, all 100 senators met in the Old Senate Chamber to forge an agreement on how to proceed in the trial. Here, the trial already has begun. Thus, in this circumstance, the Senate is debating how it will grapple with Schumer’s proposal or proposals – and, to some degree, McConnell’s. Senators need to do this because they have a series of trial proposals on the floor. The debate time would be allocated to the impeachment managers and Trump’s lawyers, so senators would have to sort this out on their own.
Maybe this will take an hour, or two or three. Who knows?
Whenever that closed session ends, the Senate will return to open session with or without an agreement. Then they will begin voting on the agreements and/or proposals, starting with Schumer’s first and McConnell’s last. According to Fox News, these votes will establish the framework for the trial.
Who knows what time it is now, but after the framework is established, the first day is over. I’ll certainly have a livestream of it all going tomorrow for you to watch.