Setting The Stage: What To Expect As Impeachment Trial Starts On Capitol Hill

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Setting The Stage: What To Expect As Impeachment Trial Starts On Capitol Hill

Lawmakers are still figuring out procedures for the trial while facing comparisons to the Clinton impeachment and the political implications.

INDIANAPOLIS -- Today is the start of testimony in President Trump's impeachment hearing.

Senators, including yours from Indiana, Todd Young, and Mike Braun, will listen to the case presented by House impeachment managers as well as President Trump's defense. The whole process is expected to last at least eight weeks.

Today, senators are likely to argue over the procedures of the impeachment trial. Democrats are likely to force a vote in which they hope will allow them to call witnesses to testify in the trial. Republicans, however, are certain to try and block that vote from going through.

"The entire time it seems the parties have disagreed about the procedures," said Dr. Laura Wilson, UIndy political science professor, on Indy Politics. "You heard this in the House with Republicans complaining now you're going to hear the same thing in the Senate from the Democrats."

Democrats are insisting Senate Democrats are trying to "cover-up" wrongdoing by President Trump by not allowing witnesses to testify. 

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell released his proposed rules under which, a vote on whether to subpoena witnesses or documents would come after days of initial arguments from each side and periods for questions and debates. If witnesses are called, they will first have to be deposed before senators vote on which witnesses will testify in the impeachment trial.  

Wilson said you can expect a lot of similarities between this impeachment trial and that of President Bill Clinton's in the 1990s. But, she clarifies they are completely different cases.

"The events that transpired, the actors themselves, in most cases were completely different so I think you have to take those comparisons with a grain of salt," she said. "Many people look back to what happened during the Clinton administration, and the fact President Clinton was impeached but ultimately not removed, those could be some signals and some signs for the Trump administration to use."

Wilson added she does not expect the political climate to change all that much as the impeachment proceedings wear on, especially when it comes to the presidential election coming up in November.

"Where it will make a difference though are for those 'vulnerable' representatives, those vulnerable senators who are up for re-election in November and who might have to break with their constituencies," said Wilson.

She used Alabama Sen. Doug Jones as an example. Jones is a Democrat from a district that voted Republican in the last presidential election. Wilson said if Jones sides with the majority of Senate Democrats on impeachment that could hurt his chances of being re-elected in November.

All and all, Wilson does not expect general opinions amongst everyday Americans to change about impeachment, whether you are for or against it, as the trial presses on.

(PHOTO: Samuel Corum/Getty Images)

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