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Trump seeks ‘immediate’ Senate impeachment trial and swift exoneration

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US President Donald Trump pressed his Republican allies Thursday to exert rigid control of his Senate trial and ensure a swift exoneration, a day after he was impeached in a historic rebuke by the House of Representatives.

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A bitter fight looms over the coming trial, expected to begin as early as the second week of January, with Senate leaders already drawing battle lines over the evidence that will be allowed.

But its fate was left in limbo late Thursday when the Senate's powerful majority leader, Mitch McConnell signalled the standoff with Democrats over trial particulars would continue into the new year.

"We remain at an impasse on these logistics," McConnell said on the floor, as he announced the Senate had completed its business until January.

Trump seized on the uncertainty to attack House Democrats for seeking to demand key witnesses or dictate how McConnell should run the process.

"I want an immediate trial!" he boomed on Twitter.

So after the Democrats gave me no Due Process in the House, no lawyers, no witnesses, no nothing, they now want to tell the Senate how to run their trial. Actually, they have zero proof of anything, they will never even show up. They want out. I want an immediate trial!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 20, 2019

Trump is charged with abuse of office and obstruction of Congress but Democrats, who led the three-month House investigation, are threatening to delay sending the articles of impeachment to the Senate until they are reassured the process will be fair.

"I got Impeached last night without one Republican vote being cast with the Do Nothing Dems on their continuation of the greatest Witch Hunt in American history," Trump tweeted.

"Now the Do Nothing Party want to Do Nothing with the Articles & not deliver them to the Senate, but it's Senate's call!"

I got Impeached last night without one Republican vote being cast with the Do Nothing Dems on their continuation of the greatest Witch Hunt in American history. Now the Do Nothing Party want to Do Nothing with the Articles & not deliver them to the Senate, but its Senates call!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 19, 2019

I got Impeached last night without one Republican vote being cast with the Do Nothing Dems on their continuation of the greatest Witch Hunt in American history. Now the Do Nothing Party want to Do Nothing with the Articles & not deliver them to the Senate, but its Senates call!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 19, 2019

Trump, the third president in US history to be impeached, suggested that the Democrats would "lose by default" if they decided not to show up at a date determined by the Senate.

Stark partisan divide

The House voted along party lines Wednesday to charge Trump with abuse of power for pressuring Ukraine's president to investigate his potential White House challenger in 2020, the veteran Democrat Joe Biden.

Lawmakers also approved a second article of impeachment, obstruction of the congressional probe into his Ukraine dealings.

The vote leaves a permanent stain on Trump's legacy — one that he appeared determined to mask with acquittal by the Senate.

At the White House Trump welcomed one of the two Democrats who voted against impeachment, congressman Jeff Van Drew, who announced he was switching parties to join the Republicans.

"You know what? It's a phony deal and they cheapen the word 'impeachment,'" Trump said.

"That should never again happen to another president."

The Senate Republicans have a 53-47 majority that makes the math for clearing Trump straightforward — conviction and removal would require a two-thirds guilty vote on either charge.

The House must formally transmit the articles of impeachment to the Senate for the case to be taken up there.

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