U.S. Senate heads for showdown over Republican police reform bill

By David Morgan

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Senate headed for a showdown on Wednesday over a Republican police reform bill that Democrats have rejected as too limited to rein in police misconduct, as public protests continue over George Floyd’s death.

The bill, crafted by the Senate’s only Black Republican, Senator Tim Scott, must garner 60 votes to move forward in the 100-seat chamber. But Republicans control only 53 votes, and Democrats have vowed to oppose the measure while urging talks on a new bipartisan measure.

“It will never get 60 votes,” Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer vowed on Tuesday. “We need a bipartisan bill and a process to get there. That’s when we will move a bill.”

The Congressional Black Caucus, which represents more than 50 African-American lawmakers, called on senators to oppose the Republican measure, calling it “a completely watered-down fake reform bill.”

A vote is expected around midday.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has pledged to take steps to allow additional votes on the measure. But Republicans warn that a failed vote could mean a political stalemate.

“This is more about campaign rhetoric and presidential elections,” Scott said of Democrats’ opposition.

Floyd’s May 25 death in Minneapolis, after a white police officer knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes, sparked weeks of protests and stirred strong U.S. public sentiment for stopping excessive force by police, especially against African Americans.

But a month later, Republicans and Democrats in Congress are pursuing partisan bills with little chance of winning approval from the Senate and the House of Representatives and being signed into law by President Donald Trump.

As the Senate moves to vote on the Republican bill, a House committee on Wednesday will debate rules for a Thursday vote on more sweeping Democratic legislation that Republicans warn would undermine American law enforcement.

(Reporting by David Morgan; Editing by Cynthia Osterman and Jonathan Oatis)

Latest on the spread of the coronavirus around the world

(Reuters) – Coronavirus cases across the globe jumped on Thursday as G20 leaders said they were committed to presenting a united front against the pandemic, the International Labour Organization warned of far more than 25 million job losses, and the U.S. Senate unanimously backed a $2-trillion aid package.

DEATHS, INFECTIONS

** Almost 489,000 people have been infected globally and over 22,000 have died, according to a Reuters tally.

** For an interactive graphic tracking the global spread, open https://tmsnrt.rs/3aIRuz7 in an external browser.

EUROPE

** The number of cases in Italy’s northern region of Lombardy increased by some 2,500, a steeper increase than in previous days.

** Spain extended its lockdown to at least April 12.

** Switzerland’s infections topped 10,000 as the government pumped money into the economy and army medical units helped hospitals handle the spreading epidemic.

** President Vladimir Putin said he hoped Russia would defeat the virus in 2-3 months, as authorities suspended international flights, ordered most shops in the capital to shut and halted some church services.

** In Lisbon, a “drive-thru” clinic is performing five-minute swab tests through car windows on people with symptoms, as Portuguese authorities ramp up testing facilities.

** Britain has placed an emergency order of 10,000 ventilators from Dyson.

** Slovakia aims to sharply increase daily testing in the next few weeks.

AMERICAS

** The U.S. death toll topped 1,000 as government data showed a record number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits and hospitals struggled to treat a surge of patients.

** Americans should receive cash payments within three weeks, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said.

** New York, experiencing more deaths and infections than any other U.S. state, is showing tentative signs of slowing the spread of the virus, while New Orleans is on track to become the country’s next epicentre.

** The U.S. ambassador to London has blamed China for endangering the world by suppressing information about the outbreak.

** Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro faced a political backlash for calling the coronavirus lockdown a crime.

ASIA AND THE PACIFIC** Japan banned entry from 21 European countries and Iran, and set up a new crisis task force.

** China ordered airlines to sharply cut the number of flights in and out of the country as Beijing worries that travellers from overseas could reignite the outbreak.

** Three more people died overnight in India as the government sought to improve basic services to 1.3 billion people locked indoors.

** South Korea warned that it will deport foreigners while its citizens could face jail if they violate self-quarantine rules after a surge in imported cases.

** Australia entered 4,000 healthcare workers into a trial to see if a century-old vaccine for tuberculosis can fight off the new coronavirus.

** New Zealand started a one-month compulsory lockdown, with warnings from authorities to stay at home or face big fines and even jail.

** Armenia and Kazakhstan reported their first deaths on Thursday.

MIDDLE EAST AND AFRICA

** About half of the countries in sub-Saharan Africa still have a “narrowing” opportunity to curb the spread of the virus, the regional head of the World Health Organisation said.

** Turkey could order the public to stay at home if infections continue to spread, the government said as it clamped down further on medical equipment leaving the country.

** Iran started an intercity travel ban, a day after Tehran warned the country might face a second outbreak. Iran has reported 2,234 deaths and 29,406 infections so far.

** Lebanon will begin an overnight shutdown from 7 p.m. to 5 a.m., as it steps up measures to combat the virus.

** The United Arab Emirates will impose overnight curfews as a temporary measure this weekend, when it will carry out a nationwide disinfection campaign.

** Qatar signed agreements to increase its strategic food stuff reserves.

** Saudi Arabia has released 250 foreign detainees held on non-violent immigration and residency offences.

** South African President tested negative for the virus, as the country begins a countrywide lockdown.

ECONOMIC FALLOUT

** A Wall Street rally powered global gains in stocks despite a record number of new unemployment filings in the United States, as traders focused on the Senate’s passage of the relief bill and the possibility of more stimulus to come.

** The number of jobs lost around the world due to the coronavirus crisis could be “far higher” than the 25 million the International Labour Organization (ILO) estimated just a week ago, a senior ILO official said.

** European Union leaders will back plans to defend healthcare, infrastructure and other firms considered strategic from hostile foreign takeovers, draft EU summit conclusions show.

** The Group of 20 major economies will do “whatever it takes” to overcome the coronavirus crisis and are injecting $5 trillion into the global economy though national measures as part of their efforts to lessen its impact.

** The United States “may well be in recession” but progress in controlling the outbreak will determine when the economy can fully reopen, Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell said.

** India announced a $22.6 billion stimulus plan that provides direct cash transfers and food security measures to millions of poor people hit by a nationwide lockdown.

** China is implementing $344 billion of mainly fiscal measures in its fight against the outbreak.

** Japan’s government offered its bleakest assessment on the economy in nearly seven years, saying conditions in March were “severe.”

EVENTS

** It is too soon to decide whether the Tour de France can go ahead, but if it does it may be without roadside spectators, France’s sports minister said.

(Compiled by Milla Nissi, Sarah Morland and Aditya Soni; Editing by Tomasz Janowski)

Senate sends House $2 trillion coronavirus bill; vote expected Friday

By David Morgan and Richard Cowan

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Senate’s unanimous passage of an estimated $2.2 trillion coronavirus relief bill sent the unprecedented economic rescue legislation to the House of Representatives, whose leaders hope to pass it on Friday.

The plan will speed direct payments on their way to Americans within three weeks, once the Democratic-controlled House passes it and President Donald Trump has signed it into law, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said.

The Republican-led Senate approved the bill – which would be the largest fiscal stimulus measure ever passed by Congress – by 96 votes to zero late on Wednesday, overcoming bitter partisan negotiations and boosting its chances of passing the Democratic-majority House.

The unanimous vote, a rare departure from bitter partisanship in Washington that followed several days of wrangling, underscored how seriously members of Congress are taking the global pandemic as Americans suffer and the medical system reels.

“When there’s a crisis of this magnitude, the private sector cannot solve it,” Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer said.

“Individuals, even with bravery and valor, are not powerful enough to beat it back. Government is the only force large enough to staunch the bleeding and begin the healing.”

The Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget estimated the price tag at $2.2 trillion.

The package is intended to flood the country with cash in a bid to stem the crushing impact on the economy of an intensifying pandemic that has killed about 1,000 people in the United States and infected nearly 70,000.

Only two other nations, China and Italy, have more coronavirus cases than the United States. The World Health Organization has warned the United States looks set to become the epicenter of the pandemic.

The American government’s intervention follows two other packages that became law this month. The money at stake amounts to nearly half of the total $4.7 trillion the U.S. government spends annually.

Trump, a Republican who has promised to sign the bill as soon as it passes the House, expressed his delight on Twitter. “96-0 in the United States Senate. Congratulations AMERICA!” he wrote.

House leaders said they would have a voice vote on Friday. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said she backed the bill, and was open to passing more legislation if needed to address the crisis in the future.

The House Republican leadership is recommending a “yes” vote. Republican leader Kevin McCarthy predicted the measure would pass. He said the voice vote would take place Friday morning following a debate, but noted the entire House might not be present.

“Remember where we are today. We have a number of members who have the virus on both sides of the aisle, we have a number of members who are quarantined, we have challenges for flying here because some flights are being canceled. So you might not have the full body, but you want to make sure you have the debate,” McCarthy said on Fox News.

The massive bill, worth more than $2 trillion, includes a $500 billion fund to help hard-hit industries and a comparable amount for direct payments of up to $3,000 apiece to millions of families.

The legislation will also provide $350 billion for small-business loans, $250 billion for expanded unemployment aid and at least $100 billion for hospitals and related health systems.

The House has 430 members, most of whom have been out of Washington since March 14. Many want to return for the vote, but for all to attend would be difficult, given that at least two have tested positive for the coronavirus, a handful of others are in self-quarantine, and several states have issued stay-at-home orders.

The Senate’s No. 2 Republican, John Thune, missed Wednesday’s vote because he was not feeling well. His spokesman said Thune flew back to his state, South Dakota, on a charter flight Wednesday, accompanied by a Capitol Police officer and wearing a mask.

There are five vacant House seats.

(Reporting by David Morgan and Richard Cowan, additional reporting by Susan Cornwell and Patricia Zengerle; Editing by Scott Malone and Jonathan Oatis)

Factbox: What’s in the nearly $2 trillion U.S. Senate coronavirus stimulus?

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Senate on Tuesday was negotiating a nearly $2 trillion emergency bill that aims to counter some of the economic toll of the coronavirus pandemic.

The talks were still in flux after Democrats pushed back against initial Republican drafts of the bill, and officials in both parties said final numbers would be known only after disputes are resolved.

Below are some details under negotiation, which would need to be passed by the Republican-controlled Senate and the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives before going to President Donald Trump for his signature:

– About $500 billion in direct payments to people, in two waves of checks of up to $1,200 for an individual earning up to $75,000 a year. Additional payments for families with children could push the total to $3,000 for a family of four, according to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, who has played a key role in the negotiations.

– Up to $500 billion in “liquidity assistance” for distressed industries. The amount allocates up to $61 billion for passenger and cargo airlines and contractors, including $32 billion in grants and $29 billion in loans, people briefed on the matter said.

A senior administration official said there was agreement the $500 billion fund should have an inspector general as well as an oversight board, with lawmakers selecting members of the board.

Also, the Treasury secretary would have to provide testimony to the board on transactions, and there would be restrictions on things like stock buybacks and chief executive pay at companies that received help.

– Some $350 billion in loans to small businesses, according to Republican Senator Marco Rubio, chairman of the Senate Small Business Committee.

– Up to $130 billion for hospitals. Republicans said on Monday they have agreed to $75 billion. Hospitals sought $100 billion, and Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer said on a conference call Tuesday he believed Democrats had secured $130 billion, according to a person familiar with the call.

– Some $250 billion for expanding unemployment insurance. Republicans say they agreed to that in response to Democratic demands.

– Over $10 billion for drug development, and $4 billion for masks, gloves, gowns and ventilators, Republican Senator Steve Daines said.

– Schumer expressed confidence that Democrats had secured $150 billion for state and local governments, the person familiar with the call said.

– The White House has proposed $45.8 billion for federal agencies; both Democrats and Republicans want more.

– House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a Democrat, unveiled her own lengthy, $2.5 trillion proposal on Monday. It included billions to help states conduct elections by mail.

Pelosi’s bill also would make coronavirus treatment free for patients, and raise the direct cash payments to individuals to $1,500 each instead of $1,200 as in the Senate plan.

Pelosi’s proposal has $500 billion in grants and loans for small businesses, $200 billion for state governments, $15 billion for local governments, $150 billion for hospitals, and $60 billion for schools and universities, a Democratic summary said. It has $61 billion in grants and loans for airlines, but requires air carriers receiving aid to cut their carbon emissions in half by 2050, the summary said.

(Reporting by Susan Cornwell, David Morgan and David Shepardson; Additional reporting by Tracy Rucinski in Chicago; Editing by Scott Malone, Peter Cooney and Bernadette Baum)

U.S. Senate nears passage of $8.3 billion coronavirus funding as concerns mount

By Richard Cowan and David Morgan

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Senate on Thursday was poised to pass an $8.3 billion bill aimed at controlling the spread of the coronavirus and help develop vaccines, as some of the Trump administration’s top health officials briefed members of the House of Representatives on the crisis.

A Senate vote would follow House passage of the legislation on Wednesday, 415-2.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Republican, said of the emergency funding bill, “It’s a serious agreement to meet a serious challenge and today we will send it to President Trump’s desk.”

Trump is expected to sign the bill into law upon final approval by Congress.

Action by Congress comes as U.S. deaths related to coronavirus infections rose to 11 on Wednesday and new cases were identified on both coasts – around New York City and Los Angeles.

The money to fight coronavirus includes over $3 billion for research and development of vaccines, test kits and medical treatments. Another $2.2 billion would aid public health activities on prevention, preparedness and response to outbreaks.

Washington would dedicate $1.25 billion in coming weeks and months to help international efforts aimed at reining in the virus, which was first detected late last year in China and has since spread around the globe.

Thursday’s briefing by U.S. health officials in the Capitol came a day after Vice President Mike Pence held separate meetings with House Democrats and Republicans to discuss plans for responding to any coronavirus outbreak.

Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar and Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, were among those taking questions from House members on Thursday.

Representative Rosa DeLauro, who chairs a House panel that oversees federal spending on health programs, said she did not get satisfactory answers from officials about access to testing and diagnostics and how to help people who do not get paid sick days through their jobs or who have no health insurance.

Republican Representative Tom Cole, however, gave an upbeat assessment. “We’re still behind the curve there, but the sense is we’ll be moving pretty quickly and able to catch up.” He was referring to the growing number of tests that will be manufactured and could total around 1 million by next week.

The funding bill moving through Congress also would provide for low-interest federal loans to businesses affected by a coronavirus outbreak.

(Reporting by Richard Cowan, David Morgan and Lisa Lambert; Editing by Dan Grebler)

Factbox: Trump impeachment – What happens next?

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Senate will conclude its impeachment trial of U.S. President Donald Trump this week, with a final vote set for Wednesday. The Republican-controlled chamber is all but certain to acquit the president.

Monday Feb. 3

– The Senate trial will resume at 11 a.m. (1600 GMT) with Chief Justice John Roberts presiding. There will be four hours of closing arguments by the House impeachment managers and White House lawyers. The trial will then be recessed and the Senate will hold a regular session to hear speeches from senators on whether Trump should be convicted or acquitted. Roberts will not be present for this session.

Tuesday Feb. 4

– Speeches by senators continue. Trump is scheduled to deliver his annual State of the Union address to both chambers of the U.S. Congress at 9 p.m. (0200 GMT).

Wednesday Feb. 5

– The trial resumes with a final vote expected on the acquittal or conviction of the Republican president by 4 p.m. (2100 GMT).

(Reporting by David Morgan, Susan Cornwell and Richard Cowan; Editing by Andy Sullivan and Sandra Maler)

Republicans hope for quick end to Trump trial as Democrats push for witnesses

By Patricia Zengerle and Susan Cornwell

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Senate is expected to wrap up the initial phase of President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial on Thursday before turning to the explosive question of whether to call witnesses such as former national security adviser John Bolton.

Republicans, who control the Senate, said there was a chance the trial could end on Friday with Trump’s acquittal on abuse of power and obstruction of Congress charges approved by the Democratic-led House of Representatives in December.

An acquittal would leave the Republican president in office and allow him to claim vindication just as the Democratic Party holds its first nominating contest for the Nov. 3 election in Iowa on Monday. Trump will hold a rally in the state on Thursday night.

Democrats accuse Trump of abusing his power by using congressionally approved military aid as leverage to get a foreign power to smear a leading contender for the Democratic nomination, former Vice President Joe Biden.

Lawyers for Trump and the House Democrats who are managing the impeachment prosecution will spend a second day on Thursday answering questions about the case written down by lawmakers and read aloud by U.S. Chief Justice John Roberts.

Then, probably on Friday, each side will present what amount to closing arguments before the senators move to the central question of whether to call witnesses to shed more light on Trump’s attempt to persuade Ukraine President Volodmyr Zelenskiy to investigate Biden.

Democrats need to persuade at least four Republican senators to vote with them to assure a majority vote in the 100-seat chamber, an effort the top Democrat in the Senate has called an uphill fight.

At least four Republicans – Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Mitt Romney of Utah, Susan Collins of Maine and Lamar Alexander of Tennessee – and two Democrats – West Virginia’s Joe Manchin and Alabama’s Doug Jones – are seen as potentially on the fence on the issue.

Democrats are unlikely to muster the two-thirds majority needed to remove Trump from office no matter what happens, but allowing witnesses could inflict political damage on the president as he seeks re-election.

Possible testimony from Bolton is of particular interest after a report – which he has not denied – that he planned to say in an upcoming book that Trump told him he wanted to freeze $391 million in U.S. military aid for Ukraine until it investigated Biden and his son, Hunter Biden.

Representative Sylvia Garcia, one of the Democratic impeachment managers, told reporters on Thursday morning she still thought it was possible that Bolton would appear.

“Today our job will be to convince them (the senators) that this will be a fair trial,” Garcia said on a conference call.

PRESIDENTIAL POWER

In questioning on Wednesday, Trump lawyer Alan Dershowitz offered an expansive defense of presidential power, saying: “If a president does something which he believes will help him get elected in the public interest, that cannot be the kind of quid pro quo that results in an impeachment.”

Representative Adam Schiff, the lead House prosecutor, responded on Thursday in a tweet: “We’ve seen a remarkable lowering of the bar. According to Trump’s lawyers, everything is okay as long as the president believes it helps his reelection. It’s not okay to solicit foreign election interference, even if you fail. It just makes you a failed crook.”

Dershowitz tweeted on Thursday that the media had “distorted” his remarks.

Senator John Barrasso, the No. 3 Republican in seniority, has said it was possible the trial could end on Friday without witnesses being called in spite of pressure from Democrats.

“The momentum is clearly in the direction of moving to final judgment on Friday,” he said. Other Republican senators were predicting a similar outcome.

Democrats were not conceding defeat, however.

“There’s tremendous pressure from a vindictive, nasty president on every Republican senator, but I think (as) they sit there … we’ve got a real shot to get witnesses and documents,” Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer said on Wednesday.

If the vote on whether to allow witnesses is 50-50, Chief Justice Roberts could step in to break the tie. There is so little precedent for impeachment trials – this is only the third of a president in U.S. history – Senate aides said there is no way to know exactly what would occur, however.

(Additional reporting by Richard Cowan, David Morgan and Mohammad Zargham; Writing by Sonya Hepinstall; Editing by Tim Ahmann and Paul Simao)

In opening salvo, Trump accused at trial of corrupt Ukraine scheme

By Richard Cowan and David Morgan

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The lead Democratic prosecutor accused President Donald Trump at his impeachment trial in the U.S. Senate on Wednesday of setting up a corrupt scheme to pressure Ukraine to help him win re-election this coming November.

Trump sounded a defiant note, telling reporters in Switzerland that Democrats did not have enough evidence against him.

In the opening argument for the prosecution, Representative Adam Schiff said Trump had pushed Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and his son on unsubstantiated corruption charges last year.

In his dealings with Ukraine, Trump solicited foreign interference to improve his chances in this year’s U.S. presidential election, Schiff said, laying out the main Democratic argument for why Trump abused his power and should be found guilty.

“To implement this corrupt scheme President Trump pressured the president of Ukraine to publicly announce investigations into two discredited allegations that would benefit President Trump’s 2020 presidential campaign,” Schiff said.

Democrats argue that Trump was trying to find dirt on Biden, a leading contender for the Democratic presidential nomination, and his son Hunter who had served on the board of a Ukrainian gas company, to help the Republican president win a second term.

Trump denies any wrongdoing and his fellow Republicans in the Senate say his behavior did not fit the description of “high crimes and misdemeanors” outlined in the U.S. Constitution as a reason to oust a U.S. president.

Trump is almost certain to be acquitted by the Republican-controlled 100-member Senate, where a two-thirds majority is needed to remove him from office. But the trial’s effect on Trump’s November re-election bid is unclear.

The case against him is focused on a July 25 telephone call in which he asked Zelenskiy to open a corruption investigation into the Bidens as well as a discredited theory that Ukraine, not Russia, meddled in the 2016 U.S. election.

“Nothing could be more dangerous to a democracy than a commander in chief who believed that he could operate with impunity, free from accountability. Nothing, that is, except a Congress that is willing to let it be so,” said Schiff, who is leading the prosecution team of Democratic “managers” from the 435-seat House of Representatives.

Democrats have up to three days to make their case. Trump’s defense team will have three days after that for rebuttal in a trial that could potentially conclude next week.

It is the third presidential impeachment trial in U.S. history. The opening days have been dominated by arguments over Democratic requests for more witnesses and records.

The Trump administration has not complied with subpoenas for documents and has urged officials like former national security adviser John Bolton and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo not to participate in the impeachment investigation.

In Davos, Switzerland, Trump told reporters at the World Economic Forum that he was happy with the way the trial was going.

“I thought our team did a very good job. But honestly, we have all the material. They don’t have the material,” Trump said.

(Reporting by Richard Cowan and David Morgan; Additional reporting by Doina Chiacu and Susan Heavey; Writing by Alistair Bell; Editing by Andy Sullivan and Howard Goller)

Democrats to make opening arguments in Trump impeachment trial

By Richard Cowan and Susan Cornwell

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Republican-controlled U.S. Senate will hear opening arguments in President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial on Wednesday, beginning up to six days of presentations on the question of whether Trump should be removed from office.

After battling into the early morning hours on Wednesday over the trial’s rules, senators voted 53-47 to approve a hastily revised set of procedures put forth by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell that allows up to 48 hours of opening arguments – 24 hours for each side – over six days.

Trump was impeached last month by the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives on charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress for pressuring Ukraine to investigate former Democratic Vice President Joe Biden, a political rival, and impeding the inquiry into the matter.

The president denies any wrongdoing.

The Senate trial, the third presidential impeachment trial in U.S. history, will resume at 1 p.m. (1800 GMT), the day after Democrats argued more witnesses and records were needed since the Trump administration had not complied with requests for documents and urged officials not to participate.

Democratic Representative Adam Schiff, who helped spearhead the House impeachment inquiry, said the evidence against Trump was “already overwhelming” but further witness testimony was necessary to show the full scope of the misconduct by the president and those around him.

“They insist that the president has done nothing wrong, but they refuse to allow the evidence and hearing from the witnesses … and they lie, and lie and lie and lie,” Representative Jerrold Nadler, one of the House’s impeachment managers, said of the president’s lawyers.

White House counsel Pat Cipollone fired back.

“Mr Nadler, you owe an apology to the president of the united states and his family,” Cipollone said. “You owe an apology to the Senate. But most of all you owe an apology to the American people.”

REMEMBER WHERE YOU ARE

That back-and-forth led Chief Justice John Roberts, who is presiding over the impeachment, to admonish both men.

“I do think those addressing the Senate should remember where they are,” he said.

Republican senators have not ruled out the possibility of further testimony and evidence at some point after opening arguments and senators’ questions, but they held firm with Trump to block Democratic requests for witnesses and evidence.

During a debate that finally wrapped up near 2 a.m. (0700 GMT) on Wednesday, 13 hours after it started, senators rejected on party lines, 53-47, four motions from Democratic leader Chuck Schumer to subpoena records and documents from the White House, the State Department, the Defense Department, and the Office of Management and Budget related to Trump’s dealings with Ukraine.

By the same tally, senators also rejected requests for subpoenas seeking the testimony of acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney, White House aide Robert Blair and White House budget official Michael Duffey.

Under the rules, lawyers for Trump could move early in the proceedings to ask senators to dismiss all charges, according to a senior Republican leadership aide, a motion that would likely fall short of the support needed to succeed.

Even if such a motion fails, Trump is almost certain to be acquitted by the Republican-majority 100-member chamber, where a two-thirds majority is needed to remove him from office.

But the impact of the trial on his re-election bid in November is far from clear.

The Senate trial is expected to continue six days a week, Monday through Saturday, until at least the end of January.

Trump and his legal team say there was no pressure and that the Democrats’ case is based on hearsay. Cipollone described the Ukraine investigation as an illegal attempt to remove a democratically elected president and avert his re-election.

No president has ever been removed through impeachment, a mechanism the nation’s founders – worried about a monarch on American soil – devised to oust a president for “treason, bribery or other high crimes and misdemeanors.” One, Richard Nixon, resigned in the face of a looming impeachment.

(Reporting by Richard Cowan, Patricia Zengerle, David Morgan and Susan Cornwell; Writing by John Whitesides; Editing by Scott Malone, Robert Birsel)

Senate approves Trump impeachment trial rules

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Senate voted early on Wednesday to approve rules governing the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump, including delaying a debate over whether to call witnesses until the middle of the trial.

With Republicans banding together, the Senate voted 53-47 to adopt the trial plan, which allows opening arguments from House lawmakers prosecuting the case to begin later on Wednesday.

(Reporting by Susan Cornwell; Editing by Eric Beech)