Arguments in the impeachment trial of Donald J. Trump began on Jan. 21, 2020. As was the case in the Mueller report, covered in the first season of “The Report” podcast, the central factual questions at issue in the trial are: Did Donald Trump solicit foreign interference in the upcoming presidential election? And did he obstruct investigations into his conduct?
The House of Representatives believes the answer to both questions is “yes,” which is why they approved two articles of impeachment against Trump, accusing him of abusing his presidential power to corruptly coerce the government of Ukraine to assist him in the 2020 election and of obstructing Congress’s investigation into those actions. The Senate must now hear the House’s case, hear the president’s defense, and decide whether he is guilty and therefore deserving of removal from office.
For six days a week until the trial concludes, the parties will make their arguments on the floor of the U.S. Senate and answer senators’ questions. During this trial there will be dozens of hours of speeches, testimony and procedure. Impeachment is one of the most consequential actions taken by our government. And while the proceedings of the impeachment trial should be carefully heard by each and every American, the reality is that most do not have the luxury of sitting through the daily grind of lengthy testimony.
Which is why Lawfare and Goat Rodeo are releasing a daily cut of the impeachment trial distilled to a manageable and accessible podcast. This abridged version will contain the compelling and substantial elements of the presentation throughout the day. No analysis. No punditry. Simply the unfolding events in the Senate. And you can already listen to the first two episodes.
On the first day of the trial, the Senate considered and approved a resolution proposed by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell that set the rules for how, precisely, the trial would proceed. Senate Democrats had proposed a number of amendments to compel the Senate to subpoena additional evidence from the executive branch as well as from current and former officials—evidence that, for one reason or another, was not provided to the House impeachment investigators. But they were all rejected. Proponents of McConnell’s resolution argued that the resolution already allows the Senate to consider subpoenaing further evidence following presentations of arguments by the parties and 16 hours of questions from senators. But the resolution ensures only one vote on “whether it shall be in order to consider and debate under the impeachment rules any motion to subpoena witnesses or documents.” If that vote fails, it will not be “in order” to consider any further motions to subpoena witnesses or documents.
The House impeachment managers argued in favor of the amendments, while the president’s counsel argued against their adoption. The first day of the trial lasted more than 12 hours. “The Report” condensed that down to one hour and 24 minutes.
On the second day, the House impeachment managers presented the facts of their case against President Trump. The presentation took more than eight hours, but Goat Rodeo and Lawfare took out procedural motions and repetition, leaving intact the basic facts presented by the House. The one-hour-and-45-minute episode is available here:
American history is unfolding on the Senate floor. And listeners deserve to hear what the senators hear, and decide for themselves whether the president is guilty or innocent of the charges levied against him. We hope this daily podcast will make that a little easier.