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House impeachment managers walk to the Senate chamber for the Senate impeachment trial in Washington on Tuesday, January 21. (Photo: Michael Brochstein/Echoes Wire/Barcroft Media via Getty Images)

After GOP Rejects Measures to Subpoena Witnesses and Evidence, Democrats Decry Impeachment Trial 'Designed to Protect Trump'

"What are Republicans afraid of?" asked Sen. Bernie Sanders.

Julia Conley

Democratic lawmakers on Tuesday reiterated their belief that the Senate impeachment trial of President Donald Trump is a "rigged" process after Republicans unanimously rejected calls for more evidence and witnesses on the president's alleged attempt to bribe the Ukrainian government last year.

Senate Democrats called for the release of documents from the Department of Defense and Office of Management and Budget pertaining to correspondence in which a budget official wrote there was "clear direction from POTUS to continue to hold" military aid from Ukraine. They also sought records from the State Department and the White House and attempted to compel the testimonies of White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney and former National Security Adviser John Bolton. Bolton has said he's open to testifying and has signaled he may have information pertinent to the trial.

The Senate voted 53-47 along party lines to reject amendments aimed at bringing more information and witnesses to the Senate floor.

"What are Republicans afraid of?" asked Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) in a tweet, noting that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has stated explicitly that the GOP is consulting with the White House on the trial—the equivalent of jurors coordinating with a defendant.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) added in the early morning hours of Wednesday that Republicans are overseeing a "rigged" impeachment trial "designed to protect President Trump."

The Senate also rejected a measure to allow more time to respond to any motions during the trial, with only Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) voting with Democrats.

Under the Senate rules put forward by McConnell and adopted in another party-line vote, the House managers overseeing the Democrats' case and Trump's legal team will each have 24 hours to argue their cases regarding impeachment. Senators will then have 16 hours to ask questions before the Senate again considers the possibility of subpoenaing more witnesses or documents.

Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), a House manager and the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, accused the Republicans of aiding in a "coverup" after they voted down the measure to subpoena Bolton, leading White House Counsel Pat Cipollone to respond that Nadler wasn't "in charge here."

Chief Justice John Roberts admonished both men, asking them to use language "conducive to civil discourse" and reminding them they were "addressing the world's greatest deliberative body."

The admonishment drew skepticism from Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.).

"Is there any American who agrees with Chief Justice Roberts that the Senate is the 'greatest deliberative body' after the string of 47-53 party line votes?" wondered Khanna

The House managers and Trump's lawyers will begin arguing their cases Wednesday afternoon.

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