During the Clinton impeachment, a closed-door meeting was held and a conviction that the Senate must come before a policy moment to pass a resolution laying down the basic rules from 100 to 0. Since then, the House has taken no shortage of strikes. marked by years of virtually partisan gaps over politics, nominations and attachments to presidents.
"That's a big damn question," said Sen. Chris Koons, a Delaware Democrat who recently climbed to the floor to expose stakes – and a place in history – to his colleagues soon.
It was January 1999, and there was growing concern that lawmakers did not agree with the terms of the Clinton impeachment process. Then Vermont Sen. Patrick Liehi, a Democrat, said he went to Republican and Democratic leaders and urged them to get lawmakers into the old Senate House to cast the groundwork for the weeks ahead.
"I went to the floor around 4:00 pm. (Democratic Senator in South Dakota) Tom Dashle and (Mississippi Republican Senator) Trent Lot were there ̵
Lehi said the leaders went to the press gallery and announced it.
"We had several members in both parties who were all, 'oh, you didn't talk to us.' It didn't matter. We went in there and you had from the most conservative to the most liberal (members) kicking ideas back and forth. And the seriousness of what we were doing could make you feel established … and we ended up getting procedures, "Leahy said.
Over the past few weeks, Leahy has stated that he has tried to persuade Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer to take the same route again, individually liking each and every one of them. go to the ranking. Republican members to do his thing.
"Some are so terrified of the White House and the president may speak against them that they are receptive, but 'Pat doesn't tell anyone,'" Leahy said.
The next few months will test the Senate and its leaders and raise the question of whether the body – with its guerrilla swings and new impartial members – can separate politics from practicality. Today's negotiations come with additional complications. For one, a president who rewards loyalty above all else and can see any Republican rebate as crumbling in his defense.
Senators in both countries hope that a bilateral agreement on the process is still possible.
"Could be," Senator Roy Blunt, a Missouri Democrat who was in the House during the impeachment of former President Bill Clinton, asked whether an agreement could be reached on such a resolution. "We hope to get to that.
Whether this hope can become a reality is another question.
"It is not very useful to have a process that is fair if it does not seem fair." That was said of CNN's Kevin Cramer, a North Dakota Republican. "That is why I would be careful to impose minority rules heavily."
There are many obstacles in a chamber where non-binding resolutions are often hanged on partisan grounds. Trump's close allies have vowed to push for any charges against the House to be swiftly dismissed and to dismiss the opportunity to testify as Vice President Joe Biden or his son, Hunter, who is embroiled in unproven country-related charges.
The burden, at least initially, will fall to McConnell and Sumer to reach an agreement. The two admitted that at some point they would have to meet soon to do just that. That meeting has not yet taken place, assistants say.
"I would like to see the Senate fulfill its constitutional responsibilities and fulfill it in a fair, balanced and orderly manner," Senator Lamar Alexander told CNN. "I suspect most senators feel this way. But we start with the leaders.
One senator attending the impeachment of Clinton noted that despite the current state of US political affairs," when you are in this room, keep quiet , with no phone, the gravity of the moment you hit. You just can't ignore it. I suspect this will happen again. "
Yet, some Republicans who have already rejected the House-led process as a" shaman "and have already judged Trump innocent before presenting evidence have made it clear that they are ready to fight as soon as the House sends the items for impeachment beyond the Capitol.
Sen. Rand Paul, a Kentucky Republican, states that he will not support any judicial structure that does not give the president and his council the opportunity to ask a summoner to be called as a witness.
"I'm all for president calling joe baiden , Hunter Biden and the Whistle, and if (House Intelligence Chairman) Adam Schiff thinks he can veto defense witnesses, then this is complete fraud and farce, and I would advise Republicans not to engage in anything that does not allow witnesses to testify. defense, "Paul said.
What happens without agreement
The rules of the senate guarantee at least some enclosures. If the House passes impeachment articles only for the third time in history, it forces the Senate to work six days a week in litigation. Every day, production would start at exactly the same afternoon with senators in their seats with their lips tight. The constitution is not explicit about exactly what the Senate trial should include, but it dictates that the Chief Justice, in the case of John Roberts, has broad discretion about the scope of the trial.
The rules also dictate that all senators must be sworn in before joining the process, and this allows the chairman to appoint a committee to deal with part of the investigation's work "to obtain evidence and to testified at such times and places as the Committee may determine. " This is a step that many aides and senators have said they do not take seriously.
But if lawmakers can agree on a resolution like this during the Clinton impeachment, senators can change the process to their liking and they can potentially preserve the Senate's reputation as the largest advisory body.
"My hope is that we have leaders in both parties who admit that not only will the president be sued if impeachment gets to the Senate, but this is the Senate that is sued," Koonce told CNN.