Impeachment trial begins in the Senate » The Senate impeachment trial begins today—in a Senate chamber transformed to resemble a courtroom.
Workers at the Capitol dusted off rounded tables custom-built for President Bill Clinton’s impeachment trial. They hauled them back into the Senate chamber after two decades in storage.
Ahead of the trial, House impeachment managers and the president’s legal team have been prepping their opening arguments. Trump attorney Robert Ray said the president’s principle defense “is very simple.”
RAY: This is an entirely partisan, and therefore illegitimate, effort by House Democrats to remove a president from office. And the remedy for that is the United States Senate.
As Senate Republicans prepare to set the ground rules for the trial, Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said Monday that Democrats will make one last push to influence the process.
SCHUMER: We will force votes on witnesses and documents, and it will be up to four Republicans to side with the Constitution, to side with the democracy, to side with rule of law.
But Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says he has the 51 votes needed to approve rules based on President Clinton’s trial. That would push back any votes on new witnesses until later in the process.
And on Monday, he proposed rules that would do exactly that. In a four page resolution, he outlined a condensed, two-day calendar for each side to give opening statements. Senators will vote on the proposal as one as one of the first orders of business today.
Thousands gather for gun rights rally in Virginia » Thousands of demonstrators gathered at the Virginia Capitol in Richmond on Monday to protest proposed gun control legislation.
Ahead of the rally, Democratic Governor Ralph Northam declared a state of emergency and banned all weapons from the Capitol grounds—citing concerns about violence. But gun rights activist David Allen said those fears were unfounded.
ALLEN: It’s perfectly peaceful. Everybody’s polite. I believe an armed society is a polite society. And today’s an example of that. Everybody’s real cordiale, peaceful, polite.
Authorities feared fringe groups could spark a repeat of the violence at a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville in 2017. Last week, investigators arrested three men with suspected ties to a white supremacist group who were planning to attend the rally.
The event was peaceful, but at times, spirited as demonstrators blasted gun control efforts in the legislature. The proposals include measures that would limit handgun purchases and implement universal background checks.
Pompeo meets Guaido in Bogota » Secretary of State Mike Pompeo met face to face with Juan Guaido on Monday. The Venezuelan opposition leader joined Pompeo and other officials for a series of meetings in Bogota, Colombia. The leaders huddled for an annual summit on fighting terrorism. But Pompeo said they also talked strategy on restoring democracy to Venezuela.
POMPEO: At the top of the agenda was the enormous humanitarian crisis in Venezuela caused by Nicolas Maduro and his regime. I saw firsthand the devastating consequences of what Maduro brought when I traveled to Cucata a few months back.
Pompeo again called out the Cuban government for helping to prop up the Maduro regime.
In traveling to Bogota, Guaido defied a travel ban from Venezuela’s pro-Maduro Supreme Court. This is only the second time he has defied that order.
Iran says dual citizens aboard doomed jet are Iranian citizens » Iran’s Foreign Ministry says it considers passengers with dual citizenship, who died when Iran shot down a Ukrainian jetliner to be Iranian citizens.
The pronouncement came after the governments of five countries that lost citizens aboard the plane demanded that Iran pay compensation to victims’ families. Though the governments have little to offer besides moral pressure to get Iran to comply.
The victims included 57 Canadian citizens as well as 11 Ukrainians, 17 people from Sweden, four Afghans, and four British citizens.
Harry speaks out amid Royal Family split » Prince Harry spoke out on Monday about his split from the Royal Family.
In a very personal speech, he took aim at members of the media who have dissected his life since the day he was born. And he referenced his late mother, Princess Diana, who died in a car accident in 1997 while being pursued by paparazzi.
HARRY: The decision that I have made for my wife and I to step back is not one that I made lightly. It was so many months of talks after so many years of challenges. And I know I haven’t always gotten it right, but as far as this goes, there really was no other option.
Harry said he had to step away so that he and his wife, Meghan, can try to live a more peaceful life.
The comments were Harry’s first public remarks since Saturday night, when his grandmother, Queen Elizabeth II, announced the terms of his departure from royal duties.
His wife Meghan has already returned to Canada, where the couple spent a Christmas break with their 8-month-old son, Archie.