Trump Impeachment Trial Live Updates

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“This should end now, as quickly as possible,” Pat Cipollone, one of President Trump’s lawyers, said just before 3 p.m. on Tuesday, bringing an abrupt close to the defense team’s arguments not to remove Mr. Trump from office.

In brief remarks, Mr. Cipollone spoke about the damage wrought by partisanship in an appeal to the closely divided Senate to acquit Mr. Trump.

“It will show that we can come together on both sides of the aisle and end the era of impeachment for good,” he said. “You know it should end. You know it should.”

Though in session for only less than two hours, the defense argued a day longer than they had planned. Senators will now have 16 hours over two days to question the lawyers in writing, instead of just one very long session. And a vote on whether to allow witnesses is expected on Friday.

It is all part of a plan to tamp down the frenzy from revelations disclosed in an unpublished manuscript by the president’s former national security adviser, John R. Bolton.

For the first time since details from Mr. Bolton’s manuscript were disclosed by The New York Times on Sunday, the president’s defense took direct aim at the allegations in the book that have racked Republicans. Jay Sekulow, one of Mr. Trump’s lawyers, spent a significant amount of the defense’s final session arguing that these accounts should be disregarded.

“You cannot impeach a president on an unsourced allegation,” Mr. Sekulow said.

Republicans have been in damage-control mode as more details surfaced from the book by Mr. Bolton, which he said he shared with the National Security Council at the end of last year. It is standard practice for manuscripts like Mr. Bolton’s to go through a review process to protect against the disclosure of classified information.

On Monday before the start of the trial, Republicans were so concerned about the potential fallout from the Bolton disclosures that the majority leader, Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, told them to take a deep breath at a private lunch before the trial resumed.

Details about Mr. Trump’s motivations regarding Ukraine, described in the manuscript, have undercut one of the defense’s key arguments. Another account described anxiety among some of the president’s closest advisers over concerns that Mr. Trump was granting personal favors to foreign autocrats. All of which piled on pressure for the Senate to allow new witnesses into the trial.

Mr. Sekulow called John Bolton’s claims “inadmissible” but did not directly deny them.

Senator James Lankford of Oklahoma said on Tuesday he was recommending that the White House turn the Bolton manuscript over to senators who could review it in a classified setting “and see for ourselves if there is anything significant.”

Seeing the manuscript six weeks from now is not sufficient, Mr. Lankford told CNN, because senators have to vote on whether to hear witnesses in just a few days.

“This needs to be a part of our information so we can make that decision about witnesses,” Mr. Lankford said.

Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina and one of the president’s closest allies in the Senate, expressed his support.

“It makes perfect sense to me,” Mr. Graham said Tuesday. “I don’t know if it’s achievable, but that would be a solution of voluntary choice by the White House.”

Adding to the pressure for Republicans, the president’s former chief of staff, John F. Kelly, said that he believed Mr. Bolton’s accounts.

Mr. Kelly, speaking to an audience in Florida, said that he believed the revelations in the book and that the Senate should call witnesses in the impeachment trial. Mr. Kelly and Mr. Bolton overlapped at the White House during much of 2018.

Mr. Bolton has said he would comply with a Senate subpoena to testify during the trial.

With the close of oral arguments, senators now have the opportunity to ask questions — but only in writing. Starting Wednesday, senators will submit written questions for the House managers and the president’s defense team through Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., who is presiding over the trial. The chief justice will read the questions to the lawyers, alternating between submissions from Democrats and Republicans for up to 16 hours over a course of two days.

Senators are expected to vote on whether to hear new witnesses on Friday. The Democrats would need to secure at least four Republican defectors to approve hearing new testimony.

When the session ended on Tuesday, lawyers from the prosecution and the defense shook hands, as Democratic and Republican senators, in an unusual display of harmony, breathed a sigh of relief that they could once again talk in their own chamber.

As soon as Mr. Trump’s legal team finished its oral arguments against removing the president from office, Republicans raced to a room near the Senate floor to decide whether to call witnesses — a step that most of them hope to avoid — but reached no consensus.

The move could prolong the trial and muddle what until recently had seemed to be a smooth march to a speedy acquittal of the president.

During the meeting, Mr. McConnell was said to have held a “whip count” of yes, nos and maybe votes, taking stock of his colleagues’ positions. Mr. McConnell told those in the room that, by his count, he did not yet have enough votes to block witnesses.

With two more days to go before a vote on the issue is expected, however, Mr. McConnell remained optimistic that he could rally enough support.

“It was a serious family discussion,” Senator Kevin Cramer, Republican of North Dakota, said as he emerged from Tuesday’s session. “Some people are sincerely exploring all the avenues because they are still uncommitted.”

Senator Mitt Romney of Utah is the only Republican to have publicly called for witnesses and has said he wants to hear from Mr. Bolton. Senator Susan Collins of Maine has also said she would most likely vote for witnesses. Two other Republicans, Senators Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, have expressed openness to the idea, but both were noncommittal after reports about Mr. Bolton’s manuscript, in which he said that Mr. Trump refused to release congressionally allocated military aid to Ukraine until the country furnished information about his political rivals.

Senator Mike Braun, Republican of Indiana, said the group had broken up with no agreement on what to do.

Continue reading at New York Times