We now know why Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) waited until Monday night to release his proposed rules for the impeachment trial. After insisting the Senate follow the rules in President Bill Clinton’s impeachment trial, he released rules that bear little resemblance to them.

McConnell wants two 12-hour days — not three as was the case in the Clinton trial — for each side to present its case, pushing senators and viewers into the wee hours of the morning. Unlike the Clinton trial, the House’s record would not automatically be admitted into evidence, raising the possibility that the Senate could insist only the House record be considered, only to claim little or none of that should be considered. Time limits on other portions of the trial (e.g. pretrial motions, evidentiary motions) are likewise squished, making clear this is a race to a preordained acquittal.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) blasted McConnell’s proposal in a written statement, calling it “McConnell’s plan for a dark of night impeachment trial.” She added that it is evidence he “has chosen a cover-up for the President, rather than honor his oath to the Constitution. … Leader McConnell’s process is deliberately designed to hide the truth from the Senate and from the American people, because he knows that the President’s wrongdoing is indefensible and demands removal.”

House managers weighed in with their own blistering statement. “His resolution deviates sharply from the Clinton precedent — and common sense — in an effort to prevent the full truth of the President’s misconduct from coming to light,” they argued. “In the Clinton case, the President provided all of the documents — more than 90,000 pages of them — before the trial took place. McConnell’s resolution rejects that basic necessity.” They continued: “If those efforts are successful, this will be the first impeachment trial in American history in which the Senate did not allow the House to present its case with witnesses and documents. The McConnell Resolution goes so far as to suggest it may not even allow the evidence gathered by the House to be admitted. That is not a fair trial. In fact, it is no trial at all.”

Minority Leader Sen. Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) was similarly apoplectic in an appearance on Morning Joe:

Democrats can read the polls. They know 70 percent of Americans want witnesses and that McConnell’s tortuous arguments and Kafkaesque rules are designed to hide facts, not reveal the truth. In overstepping the bounds of common sense and elemental fairness, McConnell risks overplaying his hand with his own members, especially nervous moderates on the ballot this year who are already being accused of participating in a coverup.

For once the Democrats seem to have the messaging down. A trial requires witnesses. McConnell is engaged in a coverup. The message is simple and requires no mastery of legal procedure. And contrary to the cynical assumption that Trump and McConnell have operated under for three years — namely they do not need truth, merely talking points to deliver to the cult — facts and fairness still do matter with a substantial majority of Americans.

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