(Bloomberg) -- Anticipation is building in Washington ahead of the nation’s first impeachment trial in 20 years even as Democrats and Republicans continue to squabble about everything from the length of trial days to calling witnesses.
The Democratic House impeachment managers held meetings for much of Sunday. They’re expected to do a formal walk-through of the Senate chamber on Monday morning, open to the public, to get their bearings. Each of the seven managers will have their own role in the proceedings.
Both sides on Sunday stuck to familiar positions, reflecting legal filings made on Saturday. For Democrats, Trump is a “threat to the nation and the rule of law.” For Republicans, Democrats are staging a “brazen and unlawful” attempt to overturn the 2016 election.
Alan Dershowitz, a member of Donald Trump’s legal team, said earlier he sees no grounds for the impeachment of the president.
“If the allegations are not impeachable, then this trial should result in an acquittal, regardless of whether the conduct is regarded as OK by you or by me or by voters,” Dershowitz said on ABC’s “This Week.” “That’s an issue for the voters.”
‘I’m the Kicker’
Dershowitz, a constitutional law expert whose clients have included accused sex offender Jeffrey Epstein, will be part of what he characterized Sunday as “special teams” on the Trump legal roster.
“I’m the kicker, and I can kick the field goal that wins the game,” Dershowitz said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”
An initial six-page response from Trump’s legal team on Saturday took aim at the House Democrats who investigated the president.
“Well-founded articles of impeachment both allege that crimes were committed and those are the types of crimes that constitute an abuse of the public trust,” said Robert Ray, another member of the president’s legal team and former Whitewater independent counsel.
Abuse of power alone has been tried in the past, “but they have not fared well,” Ray said on “Sunday Morning Futures” on Fox News Channel.
The process starting Tuesday will be the Senate’s first impeachment trial in two decades. Democrats have called on senators to conduct a fair trial as part of the oath they took this week to “do impartial justice.”
Trump’s legal team will be led by White House counsel Pat Cipollone and Trump’s private attorney, Jay Sekulow. Other team members, including Dershowitz, expect to give discrete presentations on specific topics.
Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff is leading the Democrat’s impeachment team with six colleagues. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi selected him in September after she decided to move forward with the investigation.
Debate continued Sunday about the rules that will apply to the trial, including whether to call witnesses and whether Republicans will move to dismiss the case altogether.
“We do not know what the rules are going to be at this moment. We certainly look forward to being able to review the resolution,” Representative Hakeem Jeffries of New York, one of the impeachment managers, said on “Fox News Sunday.”
The idea of dismissing is “dead for practical purposes,” Republican Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina said on “Fox News Sunday.” “We don’t have the votes for that.”
“Dismissing this case is a much less attractive option than rendering final judgment and acquitting the president,” Republican Senator Ted Cruz of Texas said on “Sunday Morning Futures” on the Fox News Channel. “A dismissal doesn’t reach the merits. An acquittal, a verdict of not guilty, that verdict stands for all time.”
Impeachment Arguments Open With Dueling Filings: Key Takeaways
The impeachment managers, who represent the geographic and demographic diversity within the Democratic Party, walked the articles of impeachment across the Capitol to the Senate chamber last week, kicking off the symbolic start to the Senate process.
The managers, effectively serving as prosecutors, will spend the first days of the trial outlining the articles to the senators, who’ll be required to be present in the chamber. The trial, slated to begin at 1 p.m. on Tuesday, is expected to last for weeks.
Only a few Republican senators have been open to the idea of calling witnesses, which Graham opposes. “What they’re doing here is, they’ve got a railroad job in the House and they’re trying to fix it in the Senate, and I’m not going to be part of that,” he said.
Cruz also said that it witnesses are called, the trial could extend from a potential one to two weeks to six or eight weeks or longer.
“If the Senate decides, if Senator McConnell prevails and there are no witnesses, it will be the first impeachment trial in history that goes to conclusion without witnesses,” Schiff said on ABC.
Senator Richard Shelby, Republican of Alabama, also on ABC, said he was keeping an open mind on the need for witnesses.
“What we do this week and what we hear and what are the facts that we hear will probably meet the test and determine whether we get additional witnesses that will help us make a relevant and a fair decision,” Shelby said.
Senator David Perdue, a Georgia Republican, also is open to calling witnesses, but “only within the scope” of the impeachment articles, he said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”
Some Senate Republicans have called for former Vice President Joe Biden’s son Hunter to be deposed if former National Security Adviser John Bolton testifies, as Democrats want.
--With assistance from Billy House.
To contact the reporters on this story: Hailey Waller in New York at firstname.lastname@example.org;Laura Davison in Washington at email@example.com
To contact the editors responsible for this story: James Ludden at firstname.lastname@example.org, Ros Krasny, Steve Geimann
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