Steven Smith on start of impeachment trial in Senate

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Steven Smith, political science professor at University of Minnesota, discusses tomorrow's beginning of the impeachment trial in the U.S. Senate. The topic of what options the Senate has is addressed. Smith also answers listener questions. Program also includes commentary from Ron Meshbesher, attorney at Meshbesher & Spence, and Suzanna Sherry, constitutional law professor at University of Minnesota.

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Good afternoon. It's 12:04 with news from Minnesota Public Radio. I'm going to Cunningham Republicans in the Minnesota house or proposing a 1.1 billion dollar tax rebate and permanent income tax cut. The new Republican majority has released a checklist of its priorities including smaller class sizes and a three strikes. You're out law says Republicans will quickly pass a rebate of the state's budget surplus it'll pass the house for before the end of January and the mechanics would be such an individual's could have their checks before the end of February. Now. There are obviously different things that will take place as we either compromised or cooperate with the other two legs of that three-legged stool until the end of June house dfl or Sayville proposed cutting property and sales taxes instead of income tax cuts Roman Catholics in southern Minnesota are getting a new bishop today. The most Reverend Bernard Harrington will be installed as a 7th Bishop of the Winona diocese Assaf.Noon at the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart in Winona. It has been serving as an auxiliary Bishop in the Archdiocese of Detroit and was named by Pope John Paul II to replace Bishop John vlazny who became Archbishop Bishop of Portland Oregon the forecast for the state of Minnesota today has a winter weather advisory in effect for most of the state today. It will be windy. Statewide cold wind chills are possible and areas of blowing and drifting snow. Some flurries are light snow is possible in the South otherwise partly cloudy skies. Statewide temperatures will be steady or falling throughout the day the ranch from 10 above and the southeast to the team's below zero in the far Northwest right now. St. Cloud reports 3 below zero wind chill index of -35 and then the Twin Cities 3 above a wind chill index of - 30 that's a news update from Minnesota Public Radio on credit Cunningham. Thank you Gratis 6 minutes past 12 programming a Minnesota Public Radio is supported by standard heating and air conditioning the Twin Cities Home Comfort Experts for 69 years featuring York Heating andclean products Good afternoon, and welcome back to mid-day on Minnesota Public Radio. I'm Gary Acton. Glad you could join us. The 106th Congress is getting underway today with the top order of business being the impeachment trial of President Bill Clinton Senate Majority Leader Trent lights as the trial Senate trial will begin tomorrow. But after the members of the Senate are officially sworn in as jurors, it's unclear. What's going to happen senators are holding closed meetings today to try to work out an agreement on what procedure is the Senate will follow during the trial and we may learn sometime today. What if anything has been agreed to of course, we'll keep you posted will also provide live coverage of the Senate proceedings starting tomorrow though. Once again, it's unclear what that coverage is actually going to consist of just how long it will run what time it would start. Whatever will broadcast what we can meanwhile today on. Midday. We're going to discuss some of the options at the Senate has how all of this might play out University of Minnesota political science Professor. Stephen Smith joins us from the University and we invite you to join our conversation as well. If you've got some questions about the Senate trial some things that are unclear in your mind. Give us a call are the twin city area number is 651-227-6006 512 to 76,000 outside the Twin Cities. You can reach us toll-free at one 802-4228 or 651-227-6000 or one 800-242-2828 were talking this hour about the the Senate impeachment trial schedule to at least officially begin tomorrow afternoon Professor. Good afternoon. How are you? I mean the trial that start tomorrow. Are you are you surprised that things are so unsettled at this point? No agree. Get on any kind of procedures really. I'm not the Senate is of course not accustomed to doing this sort of thing. And there is a are there number of procedural ambiguities that they're trying to work out. There are a large number of of political uncertainties, of course for members of both parties. So this is taking time for them to work out the questionnaire to keep in mind that The Descendants been in a journal entry recessed really for the last 2 and 1/2 months or so not all Senators have been in the Washington at the same time until this week. And so it's going to take a few days for this to get sorted out. You think they might be rushing too much that is to say given the gravity of the situation given the president's being set. And so I wanted to give themselves more time to figure out exactly how they want to handle this. Maybe they should frankly. I don't see the point in starting this week. I see no harm in starting on Tuesday or Wednesday of next week. But they really are anxious to the general agreement that they're obligated to start a trial unless they take formal action to do something else. You don't seem prepared to do that something else. So I think there's just simply a general consensus that they must get this under way. And that doesn't mean a lot will happen this week. It could very well be that the two sides will the house managers and the White House lawyers will make a set of motions that will require that the Senate give them some time. And so this could be just very preliminary action. We're not going to see Witnesses tomorrow is the Senate Bound By any kinds of rules or procedures constitutional restrictions anything are they Bound by anything in terms of how they handle this trial or am I pretty well set this up. However, they would like The Constitutional requirements are minimal send it seems to believe that they're obligated to start a trial promptly after being officially notified is impeached by the house. And so that's why they're starting tomorrow be on that the constitution provides that the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court serves as the presiding officer over the over the trial and that's about it. The rest of the procedure that you've been hearing about is a function of the Senate's own rules in the 1980s after some confusion and how to handle impeachment cases mainly relating to federal judges the Senate adopted a set of 26 rules to guide its actions in impeachment cases, and that's so what's guiding their behavior here. However, those rules are replete with exceptions. The major exception is that the Senate can always Some other procedure. So the Senate put it anytime adopt a motion to adjourn the trial could adopt a motion to proceed in some other way other than that provided in those in those rules. So as an almost all parliamentary matters, it's up to the Senate to govern itself here. And that's why we're having these protracted negotiations over how to proceed now. I see today Senate minority leader. Tom daschle is complaining about house members the people who will be prosecuting the case is at where he says, they should essentially bought out and sent it will make its own decisions as to how to handle this case is is he on firm ground or do these house members the house manager is there called do they have a legitimate reason to try to influence the way that the trial will be conducted? Well at this point the house manager is essentially are a representing the house is position that the president ought to be removed from office. So they're much like prosecutors are and they're certainly not a nonpartisan in this whole Enterprise. They are now Prosecuting a case on behalf of the House of Representatives. They do have to be diplomatic in their approach to the Senate the Senate Senators have institutional loyalties and they don't like to be pushed around by members of the House of Representatives and it is technically true that it is for the Senate to decide how to proceed in this in this manner house managers may actually be hurting their case if they if they get too pushy some of the house managers of Express the point of view that the Senate is obligated not only to start a trial but to finish it and come to some decision to acquit where to cash Removed from office the president and I think that's going too far. It's it's for the Senate to decide how far this crowd goes once once I get started. I think those house manager could be careful. Of course is doing exactly the same thing that many Republicans were doing a couple of weeks ago when they told the White House to back off and allow the Senate to proceed with these procedural and substantive decisions on its own Universe Minnesota political scientist, Stephen Smith joining us this hour to preview of the start tomorrow of the Senate impeachment trial and again, if you'd like to join our conversation, give us a call 651-227-6006 51227 6000 outside the Twin Cities one 802-422-2828. Now the Senate trial will be the first time many Americans meet the Chief Justice of the US Supreme Court William rehnquist. A Justice rehnquist will be presiding. Joining us now to give us some insight into just who chief justice William rehnquist is what is style is like and and so on Xenoverse 2 minutes of the Constitutional law professor Susanna Sherry. So who is Sir William rehnquist? How did he end up as the the king of the Court vice-president siding over the trial of the impeachment of the president because that might present some conflict of interest. So the framers put in the put in the chief justice as that, that's the presiding officer rank was himself is said to be a sort of no-nonsense jurist. He runs a very tight ship you may recall that in earlier years under chief justice Berger the Supreme Court's term off and ended late. It was supposed to end at the end of June and it went off and run well into July under chief justice rehnquist, the court gets its opinions out on Times are there was one year. In fact, we're I think he left for Europe today after the end of the term and indeed the term ended exactly is scheduled. So I suspect that he will be running a very tight ship at one of those non-refundable tickets. I suppose is he considered to be a real Rock ribbed conservative or moderate or where does he fit on the legal spectrum is considered to be a conservative but a Judicial conservative including Justice rehnquist often believes in very very strong executive. So he is a big supporter of executive power and he doesn't want Congress interfering with executive power. He's a big believer in the executive privilege generally and so he says he will probably be somewhat torn in terms of his political beliefs in this proceeding he is also a good and impartial judge and I Believe that he will simply do the best he can to make a Judicial rulings regardless of his politics. How will his role differ from Judge Wapner? You know that the traditional trial judge was pretty much the same type of operation or will he have an entirely different role in this procedure? Show he will be making the various evidentiary rulings for example of a lawyer of Jax to something. He'll rule on that objection, but he is always subject to overruling by the Senate that is if any if any Senator under the current tenant rules, if any senator of Jax to a ruling that the Chief Justice makes that senator may State the objection and then the Senate can vote on it and a majority vote can overrule the just the chief justices rulings. So it's it's a very peculiar situation and I can't say whether the Senate is likely to exercise that that power very often it it may depend on what kinds of rulings he makes does. He ever has he actually vote on anything or just issued JJ interpret? He will not vote on anything. He will he will issue the various rulings on the admissibility of evidence and other objections, but he will and if he's overruled by the Senate then he's overruled by the sea. And he will certainly not vote on the ultimate impeachment in the Andrew Johnson trial that the presiding presiding officer of the Chief Justice administered the oath to the Senators and a called the roll on polling them on their votes and I assume that if it actually comes to a to a vote that rehnquist will do the same questions. Do you expect Justice rehnquist to take a high-profile active role in this trial or served more as a train conductor? Can I keep things moving a lot? I would suspect that since he wants to keep things moving along. I'm in the one thing. He probably want is a short and efficient trial. So he will respond to all the objections that are made and he will do whatever it takes to keep the trial running smoothly. Sold to some extent. It depends on whether the lawyers are grandstanding or trying to delay or putting in irrelevancies in which case he's likely to rule it with an iron fist, but if the lawyers are simply surf moving the case along I would guess he will probably sit back and let the case proceed until there are various objections Senate trial is going to materially affect the working of the Supreme Court probably won't affect the Supreme Court much at all. No matter what rank was does if on the other hand at last six months, it could have quite a severe impact on the Supreme Court are franquist tries to participate in both know he hasn't said yet what he's going to do. I've heard rumors that he plans to continue his full participation in the court as well as do the trials that I think might Somewhat difficult because I think it would take him a little bit longer to make rulings and so on that he thinks it well. He's actually never been a trial judge. So I may be under estimating the amount of work that it will take to be a trial judge, but he has several other options. One of the things that that he could do is hold Supreme Court sessions in the morning oral arguments in the morning as saw the court normally does and then reduce the Senate trial to just afternoons and try to juggle things that weigh. Another possibility would be for him simply to be absent from oral arguments at the port for the. That the trial goes on but otherwise try to participate in the courts workload. And again, I think he would find that rather difficult if the trial goes on for any length of time probably the most sensible position for him to take would be simply to recuse himself and not be not participate in any of the cases that the court hears. During the time that he is tied up with the trial. So he would basically the court from now until the end of the trial would be operating on eight members that won't disrupt their work, but it could change some outcomes and it could lead to some ties but it's a lot for joining us University of Minnesota constitutional law professor, Susanna Sherry giving us kind of a legal preview of the trial tomorrow up Steven Smith. It just sounds like everybody is is in a position of really not knowing what to expect here. It just got to be in he has to worry about the Senate schedule as well as the Supreme Court scheduled over the course of the next few months are the Republicans. You may recall. We're beat over the head with a charge that they were a do-nothing congress as the last Congress ended and President Clinton began to score political points against them for Going to act on some of the legislation he requested earlier in the year that charge will resurface if this trial dragged out and a lot to choose among other things in charge of the of the Republican party's reputation has to worry that that has a long trial with the predictable outcome of a vote against removal really hurt his party in the Senate reputation. How important is it that whatever procedures are agreed upon be bipartisan in nature the Senate under the special rules governing a trial like this can make decisions by a simple majority. So there are four examples of peeling a decision of Chief Justice rehnquist to the Senate. I couldn't produce a series of very partisan votes that make matters worse for the Republicans. Look, like they're deciding all these procedural questions in a way to to make it harder for the president. So he has to be concerned about that from a simply. Hey you public opinion of point of view are there is a larger procedural matter of the Senate itself operates often under unanimous consent. The Senate's rules. Do not limit the bait and amending activity generally speaking. And so the Senate operates under agreements that require unanimous consent to allow the Senate to structure his proceedings in some way if this trial gets lengthy and very partisan and Trent Lott tries to get some legislative business done saved by tracking legislation in the morning hours and holding a trial in the afternoon. He might find himself with some very uncooperative Democrats on that legislative business, and so he Very careful that that the partisanship that's the drywall surface in this trial be held in check or else everything else. He wants to send it to do during the next few months may be in Jeopardy. If you have a question about the Senate impeachment trial, which is at least schedule to officially begin tomorrow. Give us a call 651-227-6000. Let Sarah Twin City area number. 651-227-6000. Side the Twin Cities one 800-242-2828 or guess this hour University of Minnesota political science Professor Congressional Watcher Stephen Smith at Amarillo your first Glen Place. My question is regarding the evidence the extra evidence of town delayed wants to have introduced and I noticed that after he has shown his evidence to the 44 them quote wavering GOP moderates that most of them did indeed and avoiding for peachment. But after the boy had been tallied and it was clear was going on to the Senate not the number of those moderate Republicans came out and said that they would have voted for censure had it been an option. This is even after seeing the supposedly damning evidence of town delay. Had you include Jane Doe number 5 yada yada yada. Do you think you know with what we've heard so far about the intense pressures to keep the trial? So you think that that that that Sprout does it mean it's probably likely that we're not going to see any of the rest of the later thrown into the mix. That any of that untested unpublicized evidence will enter into the proceedings of the trial directly after one thing as a professor. Sherry just indicated the to justice is very likely to be quite rigid about the Senate trial and he'll keep out your relevant material after all the presidents charged with two counts of impeachment anything relevant to the articles of impeachment that were not approved by the house is no longer and obviously material that's not relevant to the two remaining articles. I would be irrelevant to and it isn't in it as an any criminal trial would probably be ruled out of order by the presiding officer. Now that's not to say that that there isn't a larger political context here that that we have to worry about the sideshow might be Almost as important as the trial itself during the next couple of weeks. There will be members in the house who might be motivated to disclose some of that information on there. And there's little that chief justice rehnquist can do about that. He's merely presiding over the Senate trial. So this could be very messy. If alterations in Washington aren't careful to restrain themselves to prove. I'm understanding a professor to prove the first article of impeachment having to do with line before the grand jury could involve some really unseemly testimony as to what specific sexual activity occurred between the present Monica Lewinsky. Can we expect that? Assuming that the Senators decide that they are going to call some witnesses? Can we expect? Graphic testimony on the floor of the senate or are they going to Bob and weave there a way around that many things from both sides. Remember the White House said that this that this will get lurid once once Witnesses are called if Monica Lewinsky is there it's not only the attorneys for the two sides that will question her. But any Senator can forward a question to the chair and have it out by Chief Justice rehnquist. So, how can we possibly anticipate what any one of those 100 Senators might decide to to ask her about suing all does that does the Chief Justice have to ask those questions or could he look at that and say I'm not going to say this publicly. Well, we don't have a track record on that my interpretation. Of the existing Senate rule is that he would be obligated to to ask if they have him ask it so it doesn't become a complete free-for-all but what does fresh and he hasn't screening revising questions is is unknown. Well, I have a question from my understanding that recent impeachment proceedings in the Senate. I believe with respect to federal judges have included the process of the whole Senate referring it to a committee. And then the committee returning with a with a recommendation. Do you think there's a possibility that that that might be part of the proceedings? All right, you're exactly right. In fact, that is the standard approach of the senate in dealing with the judicial impeachment questions. They refer the matter to the Senate Judiciary Committee which then conducts whatever proceedings are required and its recommendation is in simply voted up or down without much debate on the senate floor. This is different and there seems to be a universal consensus that in dealing with the presidential impeachment of the Senate should sit as a whole body and I consider the matter. No one has discussed the seriously the possibility of finding this to a committee. I technically they could do anything they wanted for example, if there was some Laura testimony that they felt obligated to hear it conceived. Take me to sign that to a committee to formally here. It's the question the witness and then I'll provide a transcript to the rest of the Senate. So as to avoid having that done in Open session on the floor of the senate in front of all Senators, but I've heard no discussion about the options such as that are on here before we break for some news headlines, huh? Oh, thanks Gary another great show. Thank you very much for that. And I wanted to introduce a question that I've been pondering over the past couple of weeks as this moved into the Senate because this is a new brand new ground for the Senate as there is it is precedent setting and I'm wondering to questions. Should we as Americans anticipate some kind of constitutional amendments to come out of this over the next couple of years and how much time do you think should be devoted in the nation's business to revising the Constitution so that these kinds of activities will become more efficient ended. What that and then secondly is a as a kind of a purple question to that hole amendments to Constitution signed and actually putting down in a journal form. What is what the Senate is about to do you anticipate any particular Senators to publish their own journals and what should be done with that money as a result of that and I'll hang up and listen on the radio thanks constitutional amendments to clarify procedures the future. I don't think that's necessary and no one is talking about that in any serious way the house and the Senate are under the Constitution free set their own rules. We might see an effort with any chamber to modify those internal procedures. For example, there were serious complaints about the immediate disclosure of the independent counsel report and of evidence such as the videotaped grand jury testimony, and there may be in Open house in modifying its procedures so that a report of that kind or evidence of that kind is treated in in some other way, that's possible. But that's to be handled entirely within the rules of the house and the rules of the house can be modified by a simple majority a constitutional amendment requires a two-thirds majority support in both the house and the Senate so I just don't think I constitutional amendment is likely be pursued hear another question that arises the next summer is the reauthorization of the independent counsel Zack and of course, it's the independent council's report that stimulated this whole process there is increasing support for the idea that the whole idea of an independent council's office should be should be satisfied that the attorney general has plenty of authority to create two separate counsel to pursue and cases of the sort and we simply don't need to a long-term Wide-ranging investigation like this to occur again that that seems unlikely at this point and the other part of town is enriching themselves by abolishing their journals. I'm afraid they're allowed to do that. And I I don't think there is a member Newt Gingrich just made some millions of dollars on on book deals. This would be no different than that. I know what might be in these journals that might prove interesting will all be curious to know what's been happening in these behind-the-scenes discussions during the last couple of weeks, especially this week and some Senators might have some interesting things to say about about that. So we may end up getting some interesting account from the Senators. Are you and members of the House on this that will prove enlightening Columbus University Minnesota political science Professor Stephen Smith joining us this hour to preview. Tomorrow's Senate impeachment trial to trial at Officially begins tomorrow. It's unclear other than the fact that Senators will be sworn in as yours. It's unclear. What else is going to happen tomorrow. The Senators are meeting and closed sessions today trying to work out procedures. You can count on live coverage here on Minnesota Public Radio. What will be covering? Well at this point, we're not sure if you have some questions about the Senate trial give us a call 651-227-6006 51227 6000 outside the Twin Cities one 800-242-2828. Meanwhile some news headlines now from Greta Cunningham Greta the 106th Congressional session is underway today and just moments ago the US House of Representatives elected, Illinois Republican dentist Hazard as their new speaker senators were sworn in by vice president Gore today tomorrow. They become only the second group of senators ever to consider the removal of the president Senate Democratic leader at Tom daschle disagrees with a push from House GOP leaders to call witnesses during President. Senate impeachment trial Dashiell says Democrats oppose that idea and he says house members don't have a say in that decision sources say NBA Commissioner David Stern and players union Chief Billy Hunter have reached a tentative contract agreement that could end the league lock out of players are short and 50 Game season could begin next month. We're good news on Wall Street today as a New Year's rally continues. The Dow has been up more than 100 points putting it into Recker territory the NASDAQ and the S&P 500 are both extending records that yesterday the Minnesota property tax relief for Farmers Republicans want the state to pay Farmers first half a property taxes due in May at a cost of around 70 million dollars house dear fellow says that doesn't go far enough dfl representative. Ted winter folder says he'll introduce legislation to give pork producers $20 a head for up to 500 Hogs the state Commerce Department no longer objects to Blue Cross and Blue Shield plans for its tobacco settlement. Crouse wants to use the money for it. Stop smoking efforts and other health Improvement program for subscribers over the next 20 years. The Commerce department now says it won't oppose the planet of January 25th hearing and it satisfied with the plan. Now that Blue Cross has agreed to add specific regular reporting goals are requirements. That plan is still the pose by its competitor Health Partners around the region at this hour mostly sunny skies reported in cold temperatures Duluth airport Sunshine eight below zero wind chill index is -45 International Falls. Sunny skies, 13 below a wind chill index of -45 and under Twin Cities at this hour Sunshine 3 above with the wind chill index of -29 and Gary. That's a news update. Midday coming to hear on Minnesota Public Radio and we're getting ready for the you start tomorrow of the Senate impeachment trial a swearing-in ceremony scheduled for tomorrow. What else may occur tomorrow? We're just not sure if someone hasn't decided yet hasn't announced anything yet. If you'd like to call in with questions about just how this is all going to play out or how we think it might play out. Give us a call at Universal Minnesota political science Professor. Stephen Smith is with us and he's been following this process. Very very closely. 651-227-6000 is our Twin City area number. 651-227-6000. Side the Twin Cities one 800-242-2828. Meanwhile, let's assume for a moment there actually is going to be a trial question becomes then what kind of strategy will people be will the president's attorney's office managers for that matter be pursuing joining us not to talk about that part of the story is well-known Minneapolis defense attorney Ron meshbesher of meshbesher and Spence. Good afternoon run. Do you see this as primarily a legal proceeding or political proceeding political and perhaps if you were charged With trying to put together some kind of a defense at this point given the uncertainty of the format that will be followed. How would you go about it? Is it is that complicates your prop your job a lot or not too much. Well, it's a completely different for him for a trial lawyer because they're essentially there are no rules of evidence even if a judge even a judge rehnquist should rule in the president's favor of the the Senate can I vote overrule the judge that's like having the jury tell the judge said you're wrong. We want to hear that evidence and then go ahead and listen to it. So that's why it's a very political issue. I think that the president has a couple of issues that he has to pursue number one and it really can be pursued without any Witnesses, assuming the allegations of the of the Articles of impeachment whether or not they rise to the level of an impeachable offense. Ian Court, we call it a motion for summary judgment or motion for dismissal on the pleadings. That is you assume all the allegations but even so there is no legal basis to proceed. Apparently. There are some in the Senate that don't want to do that because I think it's they want to make political fodder out of this are there are some who are very upset with the president and are going to use it. They think to make political. Hay in the next election. It may Boomerang on them, but time will tell if the president and doesn't get by that Turtle event. His lawyers have to be very very careful and how they cross examine these Witnesses. Anybody who's followed the the impeachment proceedings even in a cursory Manor understands with the allegations are and they understand what these Witnesses have testified to the president has to be very careful that he doesn't strengthen the case because often times when you question a witness and you haven't had an opportunity to investigate the witness independently or had an opportunity to have your investigator question the witness, you don't always know what the witness is going to say. In this case. They have grand jury transcript supposedly and other information to the media at Witnesses have talked about but the other presidents attorneys, I think after played very close to the vest and not take any chances. They really should only ask questions to which they're almost absolutely sure what the answer will be. Would you call the president as a witness? I wouldn't because I think it just went to the circus. The president has already testified. They have his testimony even in a criminal proceeding a defendant did not testify. I don't think the president can add anything to what he said and indeed if he deviates some what he's going to look less believable if you were faced with questioning is Witnesses, you said you would want to take it pretty cautiously you make sure that you had a 99% chance of knowing what they were going to say how they are and what they were going to answer how graphic would you? Yeah, we were time before about what appears to be the need in terms of impeachment article one to get into fairly see me to Tales of just exactly what transpired between the present Ms. Lewinsky. Is there some kind of danger of getting inciting both the Senators and public opinion if you get too graphic They call her to the witness stand are they have to get into the salacious aspects of her testimony and it it will not bode. Well, either for the senate or for the president if that had happened and I think that's one of the reasons the president is dying to make a deal to prevent that from coming out it it's great to Jerry Springer atmosphere in the Senate and I think the Senators are making a big mistake by going ahead with this proceeding if they can get an agreement to Century because it's fairly obvious. They don't have the votes to convict him. Thanks a lot. Mister Crusher appreciate your joining us and Spence Stephen Smith you suppose if in fact there is a trial here. There's no censure option available. Well that the Assumption and mr. Mac measure related to this the assumption is that if there is a trial in a vote is taken out of the president be acquitted. If there's no sensor option available at the back end of that process that is to say if the Senators only have a choice of voting to totally acquit him or remove him from Office. Are we still so certain that he'll be acquitted? Well, I think the trial could end up surprising us. But the fact is it requires a two-thirds majority to convict and remove from office and that is a very very high threshold. I don't know of anyone who is willing to predict that set that that's even a reasonable probability. So while people have learned to be cautious they still no one is actually thinking that a 2/3 majority can be can be constructed. I just reviewing the mathematics has its makes the point. They're only 55 Republicans in the Senate. You need 67 votes. You've got to keep all those Republicans in favor of conviction and find twelve more and find 12 Democrats. And that seems in Super Bowl the conservative Democrats who you would look toward for votes at Icahn Vic are championing the cause of essential oil turn. So while there may end up being a few Democrats in favor of conviction of the idea that you could find a dozen of them seems very very low probability. What does it say to you sir that weekend? We approach this by counting that Republicans and Democrats and assuming that most or all Republican to a vote one way. All Democrats will vote another way. If it seems to move this out of the realm of deliberative legal process and move it purely in the pilot of the end of the political Arena think it's been there all along we we we we don't expect to send it to be a lot different than the house and we and we know that the house outcome was largely along partisan lines. So it's pretty reasonable think that that the same kind of considerations that influence members of the house before to be a deliberative process as well. I will influence Senators there. Human and Justice partisan that has house members are if you're really just a simple matter of of accounting heads. Most Senators have been reasonably quiet on the question of a removal from Office much to their credit, but there hasn't been any sign anywhere that numerous Democrats are thinking that that removal from office is is the appropriate outcome. Nothing definitive yet, but we're not expecting that he will outline procedures within 24 hours. Apparently, that's the latest word. He also says he's confident the Senate will be able to continue to conduct other business even as a trial precedes heal your question for Professor Smith plays. Good afternoon. Correct me if I'm wrong, but it's my understanding that the Senators take an oath before the Senate trial. This means they must leave their partisanship and politics out of the trial judge strictly on the fax. Call me to call me naive but could you explain the oath? What are the chances of senators will abide by this and what repercussions would they get if they didn't abide by the old thanks really do take a nose and it's unusual that Senators. There's this is really the only kind of both beyond their initial oath of office that senators are required to take in the idea is to remind Senators that they're sitting as jurors and that they are to approach it with an open mind and that's the case on constitutional and as opposed to partisan grounds. That is something I think many senators take very very seriously still be your nature of an impeachment case requires Senators to exercise judgment. Just what constitutes a high crime and misdemeanor for example, as opposed to say hello crime and misdemeanor. I is not clarified in the Constitution or elsewhere. There's room for judgment and wherever there's room for judgement by politicians Quick Connect back that there are predispositions that they bring with them into the decision-making situation will influence their their view of the of the matter. I think that's what happened in the house and I expect to see much the same in the Senate what happened to the plan that it seemed to have the support of both the Republican leader lot and Democratic leader Dashiell to have this abbreviated trial that would start a presumably next Monday house managers get a day to present their evidence present. We have a date or send his evidence third day where they be able to ask questions of both sides Senators. That is the man on the fourth day. They vote up or down as to whether or not the charges if proved would meet the standards of high crimes and misdemeanors. Whatever happened to that plan. Next Senator Lott sound however that number of his Republican colleagues in the Senate objected to it including Senator ride bands Minnesota many of those Senators believe that the Senate is obligated to a complete the trial and actually voted to acquit or to convect. Frankly. I think that's just not true. The Senate's own rules clearly provided that the trial can be adjourned even in the case of Andrew Johnson. They voted on one or two of the Articles of impeachment and then adjourned without even addressing the others. So clearly the Senate can adjourn the trial on a short of a final vote on on conviction or acquittal just how they do that when they do it is I think the real issue all that's being negotiated this afternoon. A linear question place in Clinton is called to testify will there be any limit on the types of questions that can be put to him or will they have to relate specifically to the articles of impeachment and specifically regarding the type of materials that the House Republicans apparently have regarding allegations of other affairs. Going to answer is that it depends on the attitude of the Chief Justice and of the Senate itself. I think that the chief justice is going to run a tight ship and require the questions addressed to any witness including the President Clinton. Should he testify be limited to those relevant directly relevant to the articles of impeachment are the only charges before the Senate are they can only vote up or down on the basis of those of those articles. It is conceivable that they would vote to override the chief justices ruling on the matter and allow attorneys for one side or the other to bring in extraneous matters and even to allow questions to the witnesses to address those extraneous matters, but I think that's highly unlikely. That's a simple majority vote, right? That's a simple majority vote. I think that's where the Chief Justice. Special statue in our society comes in. I think if he makes a ruling and it's clearly clearly a ruling that is trying to keep the Senate focus on the matters directly related to the to the articles. I can keep you backed up by most Republicans. Do you know a profession is Samantha if one side or the other decided that the Chief Justice actually was not being fair at all that he was clearly biased one way or the other but they asked to have him removed and replaced by another member of the Carter. Is he hit for a some alternative presiding officer. He is required to preside so he couldn't voluntarily say no. I don't have a taste for this. I'm sorry. I'm going to Florida he can't do that. He's obligated to do that. I'm sure he sees it that way and I don't think the issue would really get ever arise if he's I think the trial would be postponed until he was able to return Marion your question for Professor a Steven Smith plays the articles of impeachment impeachment. They were decided in the hundred and 5th Congress and I've read about this is 106 Congress. Are they valid since they come from an expired Congress? What happened to that question does the professor know why he thought that they do not carry over into the new Congress and the house officially notified of the Senate under means and provided for by the Senate which is to say that any message from the house can be delivered to the Secretary of the Senate when the Senate was adjourned or in recess the house did that Free days at the Articles were approved by the by the house. So those were official actions of the house. The notification was was perfectly adequate in the Senate which is not a witch is which which does not dissolve at the end of one Congress the Senate considers itself to be a continuing body since two-thirds of the Senate does not face election every two years and so they consider that to be a pending business before the Senate and that they can just proceed to consider. This is different than routine Legend. The Senate does allow routine legislation to die at the end of each new Congress and the Senate like the house requires that all legislation be reintroduced at the beginning of each new Congress, but they have treated articles of impeachment in another case involving the impeachment of a federal judge have to be handled in a similar way. Dennis your question. Is there any appeal process for the president if he is all stood and secondly what if he just refuses to leave? I meant I meant going you guys. Yes. I understand that you want me but I'm just not leaving while there was some questions about that Professor Smith during the Watergate thing. There was a lot of concern what if President Nixon at the time said it just ignored all of this. I'm not sure what would happen in that case. Let's pray the our constitutional officers have enough good judgment not to undermine the constitution in quite that way in the end. Every Constitution depends on the Goodwill of of politicians and in the general public to adhere to its basic features, and obviously we would be in deep trouble. If a president chose that path the questions I wanted on on on an appeal there is no way to appeal the outcome or any rulings of the senate in impeachment trial. Federal courts Play No official role in this process. All the authority is given by the Constitution to the president is removed from office before January 20th and vice president. Al Gore moves up to president. He could go only run one more time then or could work run twice. Do you believe he's allowed to run twice? I maybe you say can and I should know that answer but I don't right off the top of my head. I think she would be allowed to run twice long trial if we if we have a long a trial of some sort. Do you see this primarily hurting the Republicans are hurting the president or hurting everybody. I think the conventional wisdom that it hurts. The Republicans is probably right on the Democratic side. The theory is that as much harm to the president in the Democrats that can be done has been done. As long as they behave themselves reasonably well and the public seems to think that the Republicans are the partisans in this case and are pursuing this slowly partisan reasons. If that continues to be the Public's you then clearly a long drive. Trial that interferes with other public business time the Republicans more than the Democrats. Do you think the president the old will be blamed if he if there is a long trial Witnesses and so on and if he mounts of vigorous extensive defense which horse will take time and get fairly nasty the witnesses as opposed to the prosecution side, if then then there may be some of that if it drives out for whatever reason there may be more pressure on the president to Simply resign, whatever the Justice of the outcome for Of the argument might be that it's in the good as a interest in the country of the country to move on be on this and he and he by himself could could accomplish that some kind of pressure on him to do that. I don't think it's likely that he'd resign but he and he certainly doesn't want to encourage that kind of talk. Now as you know professor of the situation the house got pretty nasty and but there's it was there was talk while this would be different in the Senate the way they operate the procedures and so on this would be above politics or largely about politics more civil and so on do you think that's actually true or once I get into this a little deeper it's going to Get pretty maybe the preceding itself. However will be much different than that in the house. Remember Senators themselves do not speak during this trial. They said quietly. They do not address the attorneys for either side or Witnesses any questions, they ask in emotions. They file are written down and submitted to the presiding officer. So the testing this the edge in the voice and someone that that dominated the house judicial proceedings will not see it all in the in the Senate the question then is what Senators do outside of the trial itself when they have an opportunity to appear before cameras and there I think Senators have adopted the attitude that they are yours and I would really be inappropriate for them to us a match before the Press. But again, it's up to each individual Senator to restrain him or herself. Opportunities arise to to touch base with you and try to influence public opinion and re-hide became a household name during the house proceedings or can we look for a one Senator to really stand out is becoming the symbol of the Senate trial out the sprinklers kind of a secretive institution and we'll see a lot more of him if this drags on if there's anyone Senator, I think it would be Bob Bird by bird symbolizes the Senate as an institution more than any other single Senator and what he does on this matter will probably be more influential than what any other single Senator does. Pressure like thank you for joining us today. It should be interesting. I'm guessing we'll be talking with you more. I'll be here University of Minnesota political science Professor. Stephen Smith who keeps a close tab on what the Congress is up to and of course the big I order a business the main item on the Congressional agenda. Now the Senate impeachment trial of President Bill Clinton, the trial is scheduled to officially begin tomorrow with a swearing-in of the Senators is yours and I will be providing coverage of that event. We don't know what else will happen tomorrow. There may be some substantiv matters as well and Will have that on if if it occurs Whenever there is more you can count on us covering at the trial here on Minnesota Public Radio for tuning in to what midday I'm next All Things Considered Industrial Hemp promoters. Hope their crop will finally be legalized. Now that Jesse Ventura is in office that story on the next All Things Considered weekdays at 3 on Minnesota Public Radio k n o w FM 91.1 you're listening to Minnesota Public Radio. We have a sunny Sky. It's three degrees above windshield 29 below at Contra W FM 91.1 Minneapolis. And st. Paul winter weather advisory for the city's this afternoon windshields thirty-five to Forty Five Below tonight clear and cold with alone are fifteen below tomorrow. It will Cloud up and warm up a little bit higher five of us.


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