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Unpacking The First Day Of President Trump's Senate Impeachment Trial47:00
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Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) talks to reporters who are restricted to a pen on the second floor of the U.S. Capitol during a break in the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump on January 21, 2020 in Washington, DC. Senators will vote Tuesday on the rules for the impeachment trial, which is expected to last three to five weeks. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) talks to reporters who are restricted to a pen on the second floor of the U.S. Capitol during a break in the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump on January 21, 2020 in Washington, DC. Senators will vote Tuesday on the rules for the impeachment trial, which is expected to last three to five weeks. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

The start of the Senate impeachment trial against President Donald J. Trump. We’ll download the first day and the factions forming among senators that could decide the president’s fate.

Guests

David Graham, staff writer at The Atlantic.  (@GrahamDavidA)

Ryland Barton, State Capitol bureau chief for Kentucky Public Media. (@RylandKY)

Steve Mistler, chief political correspondent for Maine Public Radio. (@stevemistler)

Sonja Hutson, politics and government reporter for KUER, Utah's NPR station. (@SonjaHutson)

Liz Ruskin, Washington correspondent for Alaska Public Media. (@lruskin)

Anthony Brooks, WBUR senior political reporter. (@anthonygbrooks)

From The Reading List

Alaska Public Media: "Disturbed’: Murkowski didn’t mean quite what you thought she meant" — "Sen. Lisa Murkowski rolls her eyes at the mention of all the nationwide attention she got for that one comment she made just before Christmas.

"A reporter asked her about Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell’s pledge of 'total coordination' with the White House on impeachment. 'When I heard that, I was disturbed,' she said in the interview, on Anchorage TV station KTUU-Channel 2.

"'The comment then played on cable news for days. Liberal talk show anchors lauded Murkowski for standing up to party leadership. The New York Times called it a “Stirring of conscience in the Senate.' Even weeks later, pundits cite her remark as evidence that President Trump may face a tough Senate trial.

“'I don’t think that they actually listened to the whole interview,' Murkowski says, laughing. Whatever hope or sorrow Americans projected onto Murkowski’s words, the senator says her point was about procedure."

The Atlantic: "The Senate’s Potemkin Trial" — "Everyone’s going to hate the Senate impeachment trial of Donald Trump.

"The president, who would prefer that there is no trial at all, will hate that it’s happening in the first place. Senators as a whole, who may have to sit—sans chatter or phones—into the wee hours of the morning hearing the case, are going to be miserable. Most of the Democrats among those senators think that the rules are a sham, designed to move through the trial quickly, without any serious consideration.

"Most of the Republicans, well, want to get the trial over with as quickly as possible, without any serious consideration. Chief Justice John Roberts has to hold down two jobs, juggling his Supreme Court responsibilities while also presiding over the impeachment trial. And don’t get us started on the journalists who have to cover it, especially under outrageous limitations.

"It’s a good thing that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell relishes being a “spear catcher” who takes blame for unpopular ideas."

CNN: "Trump was hesitant about leaving for Davos during impeachment trial, sources say" — "President Donald Trump was initially hesitant about leaving for an economic forum in Davos as his Senate trial gets underway in Washington, according to multiple people. But aides assured him it was a quick trip and they would keep him updated as he shuttles between meetings with world leaders in Switzerland.

"Trump himself wasn't set on making the trip until late last week, ultimately siding with aides who said his appearances in Switzerland would prove a worthwhile rebuttal of the impeachment proceedings. There was an internal debate over the wisdom of leaving the country as the impeachment trial started, according to officials. Some of Trump's aides believed the trip was unnecessary and that he would be better positioned to respond if he remained in Washington.

"Trump sets off for Davos just as Senate impeachment trial heats up
But others said a turn on the world stage, with a particular focus on a strong American economy, would allow Trump to cast himself as an effective leader that Democrats are unfairly targeting."

New York Times: "A Challenge for the Trial: 100 Senators Who Love to Talk, Sitting in Silence" — "In the Senate, there are few things of more value to a lawmaker than the sound of his or her own voice.

"Inside the gilded chamber, senators vocalize their votes — calling out 'aye' or 'nay' — make speeches on all manner of subjects — meaty policy addresses, weekly odes to exemplary constituents, even acknowledgments of wedding anniversaries — haggle over legislation, and generally sound off to their hearts’ content.

"So President Trump’s impeachment trial poses a unique and particularly onerous challenge for the 100 senators of the 116th Congress: a daily vow of silence that will be in effect beginning at 1 p.m. and for the duration of the solemn proceedings, sometimes long into the night.

"Senators will be confined to their desks, forced to stash their cellphones in cubbies and barred from speaking, even in hushed tones, as seven House impeachment managers and Mr. Trump’s defense team debate whether the president committed high crimes and misdemeanors."

Wall Street Journal: "As Senate Career Draws to End, Lamar Alexander Weighs Whether to Stick With Trump" — "He has complained about President Trump’s tariffs, voted to block him from diverting military-construction funding to a border wall, and been at odds with the president’s efforts to end health-insurance subsidies benefiting low-income people.

"Republican Sen. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, who is retiring after this year, has avoided Mr. Trump’s wrath during such moments, finding political cover by keeping a low profile and being part of a small group of like-minded Republicans. But now, after joining a clutch of Republicans in forcing the Senate majority leader to guarantee a vote on new witnesses and evidence during an impeachment trial, Mr. Alexander is in a position to shape the all-important length and scope of a trial over whether to remove Mr. Trump.

"Mr. Alexander will help determine whether Democrats succeed in peeling off the four Republicans they need to proceed with separate, individual votes on witnesses such as former national security adviser John Bolton or potential subpoenas for documents and other evidence that didn’t emerge during the House process. (Republicans would likely counter with votes on witnesses such as Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden’s son, Hunter Biden, setting up a messy and public fight.)"

This program aired on January 22, 2020.

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