Members of both parties stuck together on the initial series of Senate votes, including on Democratic proposals to subpoena documents and witnesses, as the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump got underway Tuesday.
Votes were taken briskly with senators casting their ‘aye’ or ‘nay’ from their seats, where they stayed during the entire proceeding, in accordance with impeachment rules.
The scene made for a first-day-of-school tableau with each senator behind a flip-top desk, underscoring the historic significance of the occasion. Trump is just the third president (Andew Johnson, Bill Clinton) in history to be tried by the Senate following impeachment by the House.
Both Nevada senators sat on the periphery on the Democratic side of the chamber, among the more junior members. Cortez Masto sat on the aisle in the front row with Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren on her right. Rosen sat three rows behind her, the last row, in the corner, with California Sen. Kamala Harris on her right.
Asked for a comment on her votes, Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto’s office stressed her pledge to keep an open mind and the need to get all the facts.
“Senator Cortez Masto continues to believe that Nevadans and all Americans deserve to have all of the facts and see an open, full trial take place, one that honors the constitutional process laid out by our Founding Fathers,” said Cortez Masto spokesman Ryan King.
Rosen has also pledged to be impartial before rendering a decision.
The 53 to 47 party-line outcomes of the roll call votes came as no surprise as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell had announced that Republicans had the 51 votes needed to pass his resolution establishing trial rules, which left the decision of whether to allow additional evidence and witnesses for a later stage of the trial.
The Senate considered Democratic proposals to subpoena documents from the White House officials, including from acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney, the White House Office of Management and Budget, the State Department and the Department of Defense.
Other votes on Democratic amendments, designed to put vulnerable Senate Republicans on the record ahead of the November election, were expected into the evening.
House Democrats’ seven impeachment managers, including Rep. Adam Schiff of California, argued on the Senate floor in favor of both witnesses and documents for the trial to be “fair.”
Republicans, including McConnell, called the amendments “redundant.” Lawyers for the president, including White House Counsel Pat Cipollone, said the Democrats’ demand for witnesses was evidence that they had not made their case.
Democrats contend that Trump committed an impeachable offense when he pressured Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky during a July 25 phone call to interfere on his behalf in the 2020 election. The pressure came from Trump’s decision to withhold military aid to Ukraine and a White House visit for Zelensky to pressure the Ukrainian leader to announce an investigation into Hunter Biden, son of Vice President Joe Biden, Trump’s political rival. Along with abuse of power, House Democrats also charged that Trump obstructed Congress by refusing to cooperate with their investigation.