Utah Sen. Mitt Romney releases statement ahead of main stage of impeachment trial

Pres. Donald Trump and Utah Sen. Mitt Romney. Photos: Gage Skidmore

WASHINGTON D.C., Jan. 21, 2020 (Gephardt Daily) — Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) has released a statement as the first day of the main stage of the Senate impeachment trial gets underway Tuesday.

The trial is set to begin Tuesday afternoon when lawmakers in the upper chamber will convene to sit in judgement on President Donald Trump, to decide whether he abused his power and interfered in the congressional investigation.

The process will begin with the House’s rebuttal to Trump’s trial brief before the Senate reconvenes. At 11 a.m. mountain time, the Senate will sit for the impeachment proceedings, starting with a discussion of a resolution setting the rules for the trial before opening arguments.

The bulk of Tuesday is expected to be spend on establishing the rules of the trial, with opening arguments coming Wednesday.

Romney, the only senator who’s said he wants to hear from former national security adviser John Bolton, released a statement Monday evening.

The statement, which was also sent out to his Utah supporters in an email, reads in full:

As we approach the impeachment trial of the President, I feel a deep sense of responsibility to the Constitution, to the people of Utah and to the nation. I want to share my thoughts directly with Utahns -– the people I was elected to serve in the Senate — about how I plan to approach this process.

Last week, I and all senators swore an oath to ‘do impartial justice according to the Constitution and laws: so help me God’ in determining whether the president has committed impeachable offenses that merit his removal from office. Deciding whether or not a sitting president should be removed from office is perhaps the most solemn matter that can ever come before the United States Senate. I enter this task with an open mind and a recognition of my solemn responsibility to fulfill my oath.

The allegations outlined in the articles of impeachment passed by the House are extremely serious– did the President abuse his office for personal political gain, and did he obstruct Congress’ investigation by blocking subpoenas? These allegations demand that the Senate put political biases aside, and make good faith efforts to listen to arguments from both sides and thoroughly review facts and evidence. I have made clear to my colleagues and the public that the Senate should have the opportunity to decide on witnesses following the opening arguments, as occurred in the Clinton trial. The organizing resolution released tonight includes this step, and overall, it aligns closely with the rules package approved 100-0 during the Clinton trial. If attempts are made to vote on witnesses prior to opening arguments, I would oppose those efforts.

I will conclude by noting that this is not a situation anyone would wish upon our country. It is difficult, divisive, and further inflames partisan entrenchment. There is inevitable political pressure from all sides. I have spent– and will continue to spend– many hours in careful deliberation about what this process and its potential outcomes could mean for our country. The best we in the Senate can do is strive to meet the obligations outlined by our founding fathers — to honor our constitutional duty and fulfill our oath to do impartial justice. That is the commitment I make solemnly and in good faith to the people of Utah and our nation.

The trial will last for six days per week, from Monday through Saturday beginning at 1 p.m. and ending from 5 and 6 p.m., through the end of the trial. Tuesday’s session is scheduled through 6 p.m., but both sides have said they expect the initial sessions to run long.

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The Senate will come into session at noon each trial day with time for leadership remarks and potential legislative action before trial preparation begins.

The schedule for the rest of the trial will be officially determined during Tuesday’s session. Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell issued a blueprint for the rules on Monday night. It gives House Democrats and Trump’s legal team each 24 hours over two days to make their opening arguments.

Senators would then be given 16 hours to submit questions in writing to Chief Justice John Roberts, who will preside over the trial. He and every senator, who will act as jurors for the trial, were sworn in last week.

Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell has said he will seek to have the trial follow the same structure as that of former President Bill Clinton’s, but the majority leader’s outline indicates Republicans want to fast track the trial.

Senate Democratic leader Charles Schumer and House Democrats held onto the articles of impeachment for three weeks in an effort to secure assurances the trial would be fair. They want the proceedings to include key administration witnesses and new evidence that has emerged since the House impeached Trump in mid-December.

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