Next phase in Trump impeachment trial begins Wednesday

File photo courtesy of © Can Stock Photo / tmainiero

The opening arguments have ended, now comes the next stage of U.S. President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial.

Trump’s defence team concluded its opening arguments in the Senate on Tuesday. Each side was given three days to present its opening case to senators. Starting Wednesday, senators will have their chance to ask questions over two days.

Senators will be allowed to submit written questions to U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts, who will pose them to the House managers who are acting as the “prosecution”, and Trump’s lawyers.

With the questioning phase about to begin, senators on both sides of the political aisle have expressed a desire to call additional witnesses. This comes in the wake of allegations made by Trump’s former national security adviser John Bolton, which may put a stopper in the defence’s plan to finish the trial quickly.

In an unpublished book that was read by journalists at The New York Times, Bolton seemed to confirm the centre of the case against Trump. Democrats had argued that Trump used the power of his office to withhold military aid from Ukraine, in exchange for that country beginning an investigation into former Vice-President Joe Biden. Biden is running for the Democratic presidential nomination and would be Trump’s general election opponent if he is successful.

Fox News reported Tuesday night that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell does not believe Republicans have enough votes to block the calling of witnesses, which may pave the way for additional witnesses to be called to testify.

In addition to the charge of abuse of power, Trump is also accused of obstructing Congress by ordering key members of his staff to ignore subpoenas issued by members of the House of Representatives during the hearing phase of the impeachment process. Trump has denied doing anything improper, taking to Twitter again Tuesday to criticize the proceedings.