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Schiff thanks Roberts, senators for their work

During his Senate impeachment trial opening statement Wednesday, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) thanked senators and Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts for their time and work during Tuesday’s trial session that went into the wee hours of Wednesday morning.

Tuesday’s proceedings largely revolved around Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) forcing a series of votes on amendments to the rules resolution that was put forward by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) that morning.

The changes included specific language on allowing witnesses during the trial and would have forced the White House to hand over documents about its 2019 efforts to withhold aid to Ukraine.

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Not surprisingly, all of the amendments failed along party lines, but not before tempers flared.

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (N.Y.) — one of the Democratic House managers — said late during Tuesday’s proceedings that President Trump‘s legal team didn’t want former national security adviser John Bolton to testify because “they know he knows too much.”

An ensuing back-and-forth between Nadler and Trump defense lawyers Pat Cipollone and Jay Sekulow caused Roberts to chastise both sides.

Roberts told Nadler and the president’s defense team that they should remember “that they are addressing the world’s greatest deliberative body.”

Wednesday marks the beginning of opening arguments in the trial. Both the House managers and Trump’s legal team will have three days to present up to 24 hours of arguments.

Schiff thanking the chief justice for his presence underscores Roberts’s busy schedule; in addition to presiding over the Senate impeachment trial, the chief justice remains fully engaged in the business of the Supreme Court during one of the most politically volatile terms in recent memory. 

Roberts’s public schedule Tuesday began at the Supreme Court, where the justices heard arguments in two cases that presented a series of complex and technical legal questions. By the afternoon, Roberts was in the Senate chamber, where he presided over hours of debate on rules amendments that stretched into the early morning hours.
 
At 10 a.m. on Wednesday, Roberts again joined his eight fellow justices on the bench, this time to hear arguments in a potentially landmark dispute over religious discrimination.
 
Court-watchers say the mild-mannered jurist assumes his new role with great reluctance, preferring the quiet grandeur of the high court to the partisan fracas of an impeachment trial.
 
John Kruzel contributed

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