Michigan's US Senators are preparing for the start of the president's impeachment trial | Michigan Radio
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Michigan's US Senators are preparing for the start of the president's impeachment trial

Jan 20, 2020

Credit Tracy Samilton / Michigan Radio

Michigan’s two U.S. Senators are preparing for Tuesday’s opening of the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump.

Advocates for and against President Donald Trump are giving no ground in the shadow of his Senate impeachment trial. The president's defenders are arguing that his pressure on Ukraine broke no U.S. law, so it wasn't impeachable in the first place.

The House Democrats who are prosecuting the abuse and obstruction charges say there need be no crime and that the Constitution defines a higher threshold for impeachment. Before the arguments begin, expect a fight over the structure of the trial when it resumes on Tuesday.

Trump denies the charges and has cast himself as a victim of Democrats who want to overturn his 2016 election.

Democratic Senators Debbie Stabenow and Gary Peters are waiting to see what rules the Senate’s Republican leadership proposes as the trial of the president begins.

Peters is concerned about how the trial will be conducted.

“We’ll see what Mitch McConnell proposes,” says Peters. “But certainly we’re going to ask for witnesses.”

Democrats have identified multiple current and former Trump administration officials, in addition to others who allegedly worked on the president’s behalf.

It’s likely Democrats will need four Republican senators to agree to vote to change the proposed rules to allow witnesses to be called to testify.

Sen. Stabenow expects they won’t know if they have GOP support until the vote is taken on Tuesday.

“It’s about do you want to hear the truth or hide the truth,” says Stabenow. “And that’s the fundamental question.”

Stabenow is one of about two dozen U.S. Senators who have experience in the impeachment process.

Back in 1998, Stabenow was a member of the House. She voted against impeaching then-president Bill Clinton. Stabenow says she preferred censuring the president.

Clinton was impeached by the Republican controlled House, but survived a trial in the Senate.

Meanwhile, President Donald Trump won't be watching from inside the chamber or on TV from the White House when his historic impeachment trial reconvenes in the Senate this week.

Instead, Trump will be thousands of miles away at the Davos World Economic Forum in the Swiss Alps.

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