How Trump's Senate impeachment trial will work

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How it starts
On Jan, 15, Speaker Nancy Pelosi named her team of “impeachment managers,” the band of lawmakers who will argue their case on the Senate floor. In 1999, the House appointed 13 managers, each responsible for a nuanced aspect of the factual and constitutional case against Clinton. But Pelosi opted for a slimmer team of seven lawmakers, led by Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, who led the impeachment investigation. The others include Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler and Reps. Zoe Lofgren, Val Demings, Hakeem Jeffries, Sylvia Garcia and Jason Crow.

The rules: Following the oath, McConnell will introduce a set of rules to govern the trial, including the length of arguments and when motions to dismiss the trial or hear from witnesses would be allowed. If there are any last-ditch efforts to end the trial before it begins, it'll be hashed out at this stage. McConnell has already signaled he plans to approve a rules package with only Republican votes over the objections of Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and Senate Democrats. Under the rules of the Clinton trial, the Senate met every day except Sunday. If Trump's trial looks similar, expect at least at least two weeks of argument, senator questioning and debate on calling witnesses. 

The most pressing question at this stage: Will the Senate defeat the motion to dismiss the case against Trump the way it did against Clinton in 1999? It would likely take just three senators to reject a dismissal, deadlocking the Senate in a 50-50 tie. But if a motion to dismiss passes, the trial will end without a vote on witness testimony. Trump said Sunday that he favors a dismissal, but he’s also called for voluminous witness testimony and has vacillated publicly on the issue.

This (argument) phase of the trial is likely when House Democrats will have their best, and perhaps only, chance to make an uninterrupted case to Americans that Trump should be removed from office for seeking Ukraine’s intervention in the 2020 presidential race. Though Clinton’s trial extended well beyond opening statements, there’s a significant likelihood that Republican senators will seek ways to limit Democrats’ chances to present evidence for the remainder of the trial.

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