Impeachment trials are a rarity in the great American experiment: President Donald Trumps is only the third to take place in over 200 years of US history. If you want to witness this historic event yourself, get ready to hunker down and check your local listings this weekespecially given that Senate majority leader has both put it on a fast track and guaranteed much of the action will happen well after most reasonable bedtimes. While it’s unclear how much of the proceedings the major broadcast and news networks will show, you’ve got no shortage of ways to watch.
While Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts swore in the senators last week, the historic trial gets underway in earnest at 1 pm ET today, when Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell will introduce a resolution that governs how the trial will proceed. You can read it in full below. Two hours have been allotted for debate, which is likely to be rancorous given that McConnell has opted to take the express route. Because senators themselves arent allowed to speak during the trial, arguments will be made by the impeachment managers from the House of Representatives, who function like prosecutors, and Trumps legal team. (Truly, whats an impeachment these days without Ken Starr?)
Following that initial debate, Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer will offer amendments suggesting that perhaps the trial would benefit from evidence and witness testimony. Republicans are not expected to agree; the ensuing debate could take up to two hours longer. After those arguments conclude, the Senate will vote on the McConnell resolution; a simple majority will push it through.
A caution to procedural argumentation fans: While you can expect the major news networksMSNBC, CNN, Fox, and so onto carry decent chunks of the trial today and onward, there are some limitations at play. First, if the senators want to engage in debate themselves, which they likely will at this phase in particular, those deliberations happen in private. No TV cameras, no reporters, no anything. Even the parts you’re supposed to have access too seem likely to be limited, as the Senate has cracked down on everything from where reporters can sit to who controls the cameras in the chamber. Your best shot at a completist stream is going to be C-SPAN 2, which will show the action on the Senate floor in full. You can watch the embedded stream below.
After the rules of the trial are confirmed, expect things to pick up a little. Under McConnells proposed structure, House impeachment managers will have 24 hours to make their case, divided into two 12-hour chunks, starting at 1 pm ET each day. Which, yes, means that if they max out their time theyll be talking well past midnight. Trumps legal team will then get 24 hours as well, parceled out in the same manner. If this seems rushed, it is, at least compared to President Bill Clinton’s impeachment trial in 1999. Opening arguments then were still given 24 hours, but they could spread that out as they pleased, rather than squeeze it into two marathon sessions.