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Senate Adopts Rules For Impeachment Trial; Blocks Documents And Witnesses

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After heated overnight debate, the Senate adopted ground rules for President Donald Trump's impeachment trial.

A series of Democratic amendments calling for more documents from the White House and other federal agencies related to Trump's dealings with Ukraine, and to subpoena witnesses, were defeated by Republican lawmakers, as all 53 of them voted on party lines early Wednesday morning.

The rules resolution by Majority leader Mitch McConnell was passed by a 53-47 vote. 11 amendments that Minority Leader Chuck Schumer proposed were rejected.

It puts off a decision about seeking witnesses and documents until the opening statements are over and senators given a chance to ask questions. GOP senator Susan Collins supported an amendment to allow senators more time to file responses to motions.

Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts, who presided over the trial, admonished both the House prosecutors and the Trump legal team following a heated exchange with House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler, White House counsel Pat Cipollone and Trump's personal lawyer Jay Sekulow.

The first day of impeachment trial proceedings ended before 2 am Wednesday. Next, both sides will be given opportunity to lay out their case in opening arguments.

The Senate is scheduled to resume at 1 p.m. Wednesday.

Speaking to reporters at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Trump called the impeachment trial a "hoax."

The House of Representatives last month had approved two impeachment articles against Trump - for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress - over his alleged efforts to coerce Ukraine into investigating former Vice President Joe Biden as well as his alleged attempts to obstruct the Congressional investigation.

It requires a two-thirds majority of 67 votes to pass the articles of impeachment in the 100-member Senate, where the Republicans enjoy majority.

The Senate consists of 53 Republicans and 47 Democrats.

Unless a mass level cross voting takes place, the impeachment articles are not likely to pass in the Upper House.

The trial is expected to last many weeks.

Only two U.S. presidents have been formally impeached by Congress — Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton - but neither of them were removed from office through this political process.

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