Here’s the card senators must use to submit questions.
Last week, Afrika Kathuria stood in line for two hours to snag a seat inside the Senate visitors’ gallery. She wanted to be there as Representative Adam B. Schiff, the lead Democratic House manager, concluded his opening argument in the impeachment trial of President Trump.
“It was a powerful closing,” said Ms. Kathuria, a Democrat from Fairfax, Va. “It was very emotional for me.”
On Tuesday, she came back, this time with her husband and 12-year-old daughter — and passes they had scored through the office of Senator Mark Warner. “I’m an avid political junkie,” Ms. Kathuria said with a smile.
For the past week, people from near and far have been rotating in and out of the gallery above the Senate floor to catch a glimpse of the impeachment with their own eyes. Wearing casual attire — at least compared to the suits and heels of Capitol Hill regular — they clutch their passes and navigate the maze of hallways, taking guidance from Capitol Police officers to find their way around.
Tours of the Capitol have been restricted during the impeachment. Each senator gets a daily allotment of four passes for every day of the trial. The gallery has not always been full.
“I thought, ‘Well, you know, you’re only going to get a chance to see a trial like this once, so we better stop and see what’s going on,’” said State Senator Dan Zumbach of Iowa, who was in Washington for two days and got passes from Senator Joni Ernst. The president’s lawyers gave a persuasive argument, said Mr. Zumbach, a Republican.
“I don’t think one side liked what he did, and I think a lot of folks may not like his style,” he said of Mr. Trump, “but he didn’t do anything illegally.”
Chris Kunkel visited from Sand Coulee, Mont.
“It’s so much smaller,” he said of the Senate in real life. “TV makes everything look so much bigger, so much grander.”
He and two friends made it into the gallery only briefly on Tuesday before Mr. Trump’s lawyers wrapped up.
“We made it for the last two minutes,” Mr. Kunkel said. “But it’s historic.”
On their way out, Mr. Kunkel’s group boarded the Capitol subway. Senator Dianne Feinstein, Democrat of California, shared their car and made small talk.
“Have a good rest of your trip,” she told them.
The Senate’s Democrats have held together in remarkable unison since the impeachment trial of President Trump began. On Wednesday, a crack appeared.
Senator Joe Manchin, Democrat of West Virginia, said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” that he would be willing to vote with Republicans for testimony by Hunter Biden, the son of former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. Mr. Manchin’s party has been stridently opposed to doing so, arguing that Mr. Biden is not only not relevant to the charges against Mr. Trump but a distraction put forward by Republicans trying to muddy the waters around his wrongdoing.
“I think so; I really do,” Mr. Manchin said when asked if he would support testimony from Hunter Biden. “I don’t have a problem there because this is why we are where we are. I think he could clear himself, from what I know and what I’ve heard. But being afraid to put anybody that might have pertinent information is wrong, whether you are a Democrat or a Republican.”
Republicans have enough votes to call Hunter Biden themselves, if they want, so Mr. Manchin’s vote on the matter does not really matter. It raises questions, though, about whether the famously moderate West Virginian is merely trying to model the bipartisanship he wants Republicans to adopt to call other witnesses more pertinent to the case or if he is willing to buck his party on a final vote on conviction or acquittal.
There has been far more attention paid so far to Republicans who could break ranks, but Mr. Manchin is among a handful of Democrats who could as well. The others are Senator Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona and Doug Jones of Alabama. All three represent traditionally Republican states.
When President Trump’s trial resumes at 1 p.m. Wednesday, senators will finally be allowed to ask whatever they want of House prosecutors and White House lawyers. But only in writing.
They will submit tan-colored cards to Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., who will read the questions aloud. The cards they submit will include their questions, names, signatures and the side they want to answer the question. Under the rules, senators cannot direct questions at other senators, but a question can be submitted by more than one lawmaker.
The questions will alternate — one from the Republicans, then one from the Democrats and so on — for eight hours, or until there are no more. Senate leaders said they expect to get through about 10 to 12 per side before taking a break. A second session, if necessary, will take place on Thursday.
More on the Trial’s Question Phase
The questioning phase is a moment of opportunity — and peril — for both parties, as 100 senators question the House impeachment managers and President Trump’s legal defense team for up to 16 hours over two days.
Senator Josh Hawley, Republican of Missouri, wants to ask the leading House manager about the whistle-blower whose confidential complaint about Mr. Trump’s dealings with Ukraine touched off the impeachment inquiry, and about Hunter Biden, whom the president asked Ukraine’s president to investigate. Senator Angus King, independent of Maine, plans to question the defense lawyer Alan M. Dershowitz’s criteria for impeachment.
Senator Kevin Cramer, Republican of North Dakota, is seeking more information about the president’s personal lawyer, who played a central role in his pressure campaign on Ukraine. “I’m a little bit curious about Rudy Giuliani,” Mr. Cramer said.
The questions, which will begin Wednesday afternoon, could go late into the evening. The proceeding will allow senators, who have been sitting restlessly in the Senate chamber for more than a week listening to dueling presentations, the chance to participate. They will be taking part indirectly, though, as the questions are read aloud by Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., who is presiding over the trial.
The result is likely to be a lively if slow-moving Senate debate. The leaders of the two parties — working with the House managers and the White House lawyers — will seek to elicit damaging admissions, highlight favorable points and give their side a chance to rebut the claims made by their adversaries since the trial opened last week.
President Trump lashed out at his former national security adviser, John R. Bolton, on Wednesday, saying Mr. Bolton “begged” him for a job that would not require Senate confirmation, and was fired because “frankly, if I listened to him, we would be in World War Six by now.”
And then, Mr. Trump said, Mr. Bolton “goes out and IMMEDIATELY writes a nasty & untrue book. All Classified National Security. Who would do this?”
Mr. Bolton provided the National Security Council with a copy of his manuscript on Dec. 30, so that officials could give it a standard review to see if there is any classified material that must be removed or redacted. This is not the first time someone has left the White House and written tell-all narratives unflattering to Mr. Trump.
But Mr. Bolton’s accounts come at a time when Mr. Trump’s future in the White House hangs in the balance.
Mr. Trump even acknowledged this last week when he was asked whether Mr. Bolton should testify in the Senate trial.
“I don’t know if we left on the best of terms — I would say probably not, you know,” Mr. Trump said in Davos, Switzerland. “And so, you don’t like people testifying when they didn’t leave on good terms.”
A vote to consider allowing new witnesses and evidence in the impeachment trial is expected to be held as early as Friday, after senators finish questioning both sides in the case. The result of that vote may be the most consequential factor remaining in the trial.
Pressure has been growing on Republican senators this week to call new witnesses in light of revelations by John R. Bolton, President Trump’s former national security adviser, that contradict a key element of the president’s defense regarding his decision to freeze military aid to Ukraine. Mr. Bolton, who has said he would be willing to testify if subpoenaed, shared the account of his time at the White House in an unpublished book, changing the calculus of the trial.
On the sidelines, a number of Republicans have publicly and privately expressed concern about Mr. Bolton’s account, and indicated that they may now be open to Democrats’ push for new witnesses. Should four Republicans join Democrats to summon witnesses for the trial, it could enter a new phase that could continue well into February. If not, the Senate could hold a final vote and render its decision on whether to remove Mr. Trump by week’s end.
During a meeting on Tuesday with his Republican colleagues, Senator Mitch McConnell, the majority leader, was said to have brandished a “whip count” of yes, no and maybe votes, taking stock of the mood. Mr. McConnell told those present that, by his count, he did not yet have enough votes to block witnesses. With two more days to go before a possible vote, however, Mr. McConnell’s allies remained optimistic that he could rally enough support to forestall calling new witnesses like Mr. Bolton.
Just after midnight, President Trump asked a question on Twitter: “Why didn’t John Bolton complain about this ‘nonsense’ a long time ago, when he was very publicly terminated. He said, not that it matters, NOTHING!”
Mr. Trump was referring to one of his former national security advisers, John R. Bolton, who has drawn the spotlight in the president’s impeachment trial without providing any testimony. Last week, Mr. Trump said he would love for Mr. Bolton to testify in his Senate trial, but his hands were tied because of national security considerations. “He knows some of my thoughts,” Mr. Trump said of Mr. Bolton when speaking to reporters in Davos, Switzerland. “He knows what I think about leaders.”
The Republican’s strategy for a fast trial and swift acquittal has been rocked by disclosures from a manuscript in Mr. Bolton’s upcoming book. In the manuscript, Mr. Bolton recounts a conversation with the president in which Mr. Trump said he wanted to withhold military aid to Ukraine until the Ukrainians announced an investigation into the family of one of his political rivals, Joseph R. Biden Jr. This directly undercuts one of the president’s central defenses. Mr. Bolton also wrote that some of the president’s senior advisers raised concerns about Mr. Trump giving personal favors to autocratic leaders. Mr. Trump has denied the account.
Democrats have been calling for Mr. Bolton to testify at the Senate trial, but the majority of Republican senators are determined to keep him out. By the end of the day Tuesday, some Republicans were leaning toward wanting to hear from Mr. Bolton. Democrats need four Republican defectors to vote with them. The Senate is expected to hold a vote on witnesses on Friday.
After more than a week of listening passively to opening arguments, senators will get their first chance to break down the cases presented to them with direct questions. However, the rules of the trial demand that they be strategic about how those queries are framed.
Senators will submit written questions to be read aloud by Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., drafted in the hopes of poking holes in the arguments laid out by the House managers and by President Trump’s legal team. Both Democratic and Republican leaders are expected to submit tough questions meant to scrutinize key parts of the case for and against removing the president from office.
This phase of the trial has been important in the past: During President Bill Clinton’s impeachment trial in 1999, Republican House managers mishandled their responses in a way that some historians believe opened the door for Mr. Clinton’s eventual acquittal. As Chief Justice Roberts begins posing questions to each side, both the impeachment managers and Mr. Trump’s lawyers will try not to cede any ground while answering questions intended to throw them off balance.
What we’re expecting to see:
House managers and White House lawyers will take turns fielding questions from senators. The questions are submitted in writing to Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., who will read them aloud.
When we’re likely to see it:
The proceedings are set to begin at 1 p.m. Eastern, and the questioning phase could last up to eight hours on Wednesday. Questions could continue on Thursday, for a total of up to 16 hours over the two-day period.
How to follow it:
The New York Times’s congressional and White House teams will be following all of the developments and streaming the proceedings live on this page. Stay with us.
Source : Link