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What Day 1 Of Impeachment Sounded Like

AILSA CHANG, HOST:

Shortly after noon on this cold and bright Tuesday in Washington, President Trump's impeachment trial began. First, some tradition and ceremony - Senate Chaplain Barry Black opened the trial with a prayer.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

BARRY BLACK: Lord, as our senators prepare to gather for today's impeachment trial, we declare that you alone are our hope. We pray in your mighty name. Amen.

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

And then Majority Leader Mitch McConnell described the significance of the task before the Senate.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

MITCH MCCONNELL: Last Thursday, the United States Senate crossed one of the greatest thresholds that exists in our system of government. We began just the third presidential impeachment trial in American history. This is a unique responsibility, which the framers of our Constitution knew that the Senate and only the Senate could handle. Our founders trusted the Senate to rise above short-term passions and factionalism. They trusted the Senate to soberly consider what has actually been proven and which outcome best serves the nation.

CHANG: But it didn't take long for things to turn political, with the majority leader saying the Senate process would be in sharp contrast to the, quote, "unfair and precedent-breaking" impeachment inquiry of the House of Representatives.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

MCCONNELL: Here in the Senate, the president's lawyers will finally receive a level playing field with the House Democrats, and we'll finally be able to present the president's case. Finally, some fairness.

SHAPIRO: But Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, a Democrat, argued that the Senate trial was being rigged in favor of the president.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

CHUCK SCHUMER: The McConnell rules seem to be designed by President Trump for President Trump. It asks the Senate to rush through as fast as possible and makes getting evidence as hard as possible.

CHANG: And this was only the beginning. The Senate still has to come to terms on the rules that will guide the trial going forward. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.