Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts made an appeal for civility early Wednesday during the opening phase of President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial in the Senate.
Roberts spoke after the use of the phrase “cover-up” by House Judiciary Committee Chairman Rep. Jerrold Nadler led to an angry response from White House counsel Pat Cipollone.
Democrats were trying to amend Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s proposed rules and immediately subpoena former National Security Advisor John Bolton to testify before the Senate.
The attempt failed, and the rules proposed by McConnell were eventually adopted at about 1:40 a.m. Wednesday after a 12-hour-plus Senate session, according to Fox News.
Nadler, one of the House managers in the trial, attacked senators in his remarks while calling for passage of the proposed amendment.
“It’s embarrassing,” the New York Democrat began. “The president is on trial in the Senate, but the Senate is on trial in the eyes of the American people. Will you vote to allow all the relevant evidence to be presented here? Or will you betray your pledge to be an impartial juror?
“Will you bring Ambassador Bolton here?” he added. “Will you permit us to present you with the entire record of the president’s misconduct? Or will you instead choose to be complicit in the president’s cover-up? So far I’m sad to say I see a lot of senators voting for a cover-up, voting to deny witnesses, an absolutely indefensible vote, obviously a treacherous vote.”
Cipollone did not suffer that remark in silence.
“We’ve been respectful of the Senate,” he said. “We’ve made our arguments to you. And you don’t deserve, and we don’t deserve, what just happened. Mr. Nadler came up here and made false allegations against our team. He made false allegations against all of you; he accused you of a cover-up.”
Pat Cipollone shuts down Jerry Nadler: “the only one who should be embarrassed, Mr. Nadler, is you” pic.twitter.com/6z0HtmK8Am
— Steve Guest (@SteveGuest) January 22, 2020
“He’s been making false allegations against the president,” he added. “The only one who should be embarrassed, Mr. Nadler is you, for the way you’ve addressed the United States Senate. This is the United States Senate. You’re not in charge here.
“It’s about time we bring this power trip in for a landing.”
“It is appropriate at this point for me to admonish both the House managers and the president’s counsel in equal terms to remember that they are addressing the world’s greatest deliberative body,” Roberts said. “One reason it has earned that title is because its members avoid speaking in a manner, and using language, that is not conducive to civil discourse. “
Chief Justice Roberts admonishes House managers and White House counsel during Trump impeachment trial: “Those addressing the Senate should remember where they are” https://t.co/JJgKfwIKkI pic.twitter.com/o0VKmA3SLV
— NBC News (@NBCNews) January 22, 2020
“In the 1905 [Judge Charles] Swayne trial, a senator objected when one of the managers used the word ‘pettifogging’ — and the presiding officer said the word ought not to have been used. I don’t think we need to aspire to that high a standard, but I do think those addressing the Senate should remember where they are,” he said.
McConnell indicated that he appreciated the call for civil language.
“Thank you, Mr. Chief Justice,” he said, as The Hill reported.
Trump attorney Jay Sekulow also responded to Nadler.
“At about 12:10 a.m., Jan. 22, the chairman of the Judiciary Committee, at this body, on the floor of this Senate, said ‘executive privilege and other nonsense,'” Sekulow said.
“Now think about that for a moment. ‘Executive privilege and other nonsense.’ Mr. Nadler, it is not ‘nonsense.’ These are privileges recognized by the Supreme Court of the United States. And to shred the Constitution, on the floor of the Senate. To serve what purpose? The Senate is not on trial.”
— RNC Research (@RNCResearch) January 22, 2020
Sekulow noted that in the Obama administration, former Attorney General Eric Holder use executive privilege to shield the administration’s “Fast and Furious” gun-running project from Republican eyes.
“‘Only guilty people try to hide evidence?'” Sekulow said. “So, I guess when President Obama instructed his attorney general to not give information, he was guilty of a crime?
“That’s the way it works, Mr. Nadler? Is that the way you view the United States Constitution? Because that’s not the way it was written, that is not the way it’s interpreted, and that’s not the way the American people should have to live.”
The rules adopted by the Senate give each side 24 hours over three days to present their cases.
The initial rules proposed by McConnell called for compressing each side’s case to two days. Otherwise, the rules are largely similar to the guidelines in the impeachment trial of former President Bill Clinton.
Democrats have been demanding that the Senate consider additional witnesses.
According to the rules adopted early Wednesday, the Senate will vote on calling witnesses after each side has presented its arguments.
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