Republican senator breaks with party, supports Democrat amendment to change impeachment trial rules

President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial kicked off in the Senate on Tuesday with 13 hours of back-and-forth debate between Democrat House impeachment managers and White House defense lawyers over proposed amendments to the rules package put forward by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY).

Much to Democrats’ dismay, all but one of their 11 proposed amendments were soundly “tabled” and defeated in a 53–47 party-line vote, The Hill reported — save for one amendment that earned the support of one lone Republican (but was nonetheless still defeated in 52–48 vote). That lone Republican defector was Sen. Susan Collins (ME).

For her part, Collins is a moderate Republican facing re-election in November who is under immense pressure from leftist activists and some constituents, as well as the liberal media, to abandon her party and President Trump and support the effort to remove him from office. But will she go that far?

Collins breaks ranks

The issue that compelled Collins to break ranks with her fellow Republicans was a proposal from Dems that would have extended the amount of time made available to both the House managers and White House attorneys to offer responses to procedural motions submitted by their counterparts ahead of opening arguments on Wednesday.

Per the rules package put forward by McConnell, both sides had until 9 a.m. to file any motions, and their counterparts had until 11 a.m. to file a response. The amendment would have extended that allotted time to file a response until Thursday.

But with Collins being the only Republican to cross the aisle in support of the Democrat-proposed amendment calling for extra time, the measure failed to garner the 51 votes necessary for passage and was defeated, effectively rendering Collins’ defection meaningless and moot.

A defeat along party lines

ABC News provided a rundown of all of the Democrat amendments that were put forward during Tuesday’s session, which began around 1 p.m. and was adjourned just prior to 2 a.m. on Wednesday.

Those amendments included the issuing of subpoenas for prominent current and former figures in President Trump’s administration, such as former National Security Adviser John Bolton and acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, among others, as well as documents from certain sectors of the administration.

As noted, save for Collins’ lone defection, all of the rest of the amendments were defeated along strict party lines with a 53-47 vote — a predictable outcome that rendered the time-consuming process as meaningless and moot as Collins’ defection had been.

With each offered amendment, both sides were given an hour to speak either for or against the issue at hand, and early in the day, the House managers made full use of their time, not only to make their case for the particular amendment, but also to give a preview of their overall case against the president.

The White House lawyers, however, largely kept their remarks brief and limited them to the specific amendment up for a vote at that moment.

In the grand scheme of things, Collins’ defection on that sole amendment really doesn’t matter, as it didn’t actually change anything. What it did do, however, was send a signal that she was at least slightly open to being persuaded by Democrats to cross the aisle — a move that could prove detrimental to President Trump’s continued tenure in the White House.

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