The Senate impeachment trial resumes at 1 p.m. EST today. This file will be updated throughout the day.
WASHINGTON – Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said Thursday that GOP senators’ dismissive claim that they’re hearing no new material during President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial “rings very, very hollow” – considering they’re blocking Democratic efforts to call more witnesses and request more documents.
“The same Republicans saying they heard nothing new just voted nine times on Tuesday to hear nothing new,” Schumer, D-N.Y., told reporters during a pretrial news conference. “If they want new stuff, there’s plenty of it.”
Schumer was referring to the amendments Democrats offered during the first day of the trial to allow certain witnesses and records pertaining to the impeachment investigation that are not part of the House’s case. All of the amendments were defeated on a strict partly-line vote in the Republican-controlled chamber, though they could be taken up again at a later time.
Democrats have pointed to Trump’s remarks Wednesday that “we have all the material. They don’t have all the material.”
Hogan Gidley, a White House spokesman, said Trump wasn’t bragging about withholding documents from Democrats, as some lawmakers have said. “What the president was clearly saying was that the evidence was all on our side,” Gidley said.
Several GOP senators, including Ted Cruz, R-Texas; John Barrasso, R-Wyo., and John Cornyn, R-Texas, on Wednesday bemoaned the repetitive nature of the Democrat’s case during nearly eight hours of oral arguments. Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., called it “a rehashing of (Tuesday’s) charade.”
Schumer and other Democrats already shot down a rumored proposal to allow Trump’s former national security adviser John Bolton to testify if Joe Biden’s son Hunter could as well.
Democrats see Bolton as someone who could help make the case that Trump engaged in a “quid pro quo” with Ukraine. Republicans say Hunter Biden would be forced to answer pointed questions about his role on the board of a Ukrainian energy company key to the impeachment inquiry.
– Ledyard King
Schiff gets applause from an unlikely colleague: Graham
Rep. Adam Schiff, who’s leading the impeachment arguments during the Senate trial, got kudos from an unlikely source: Sen. Lindsey Graham.
“Good job today. Very well-spoken,” Graham, the South Carolina Republican, told Schiff, the California Democrat, late Wednesday during an impromptu meeting between the two near the elevators outside the Senate chamber.
Schiff and his fellow House managers had just wrapped up nearly eight hours of oral arguments when the exchange happened and the two shook hands.
It seemed an unlikely moment give how fiercely both have been regarding impeachment.
Schiff, the House Intelligence Committee chairman, had just been on the floor calling President Donald Trump’s pressure campaign on Ukraine a “gross abuse of power.” Graham, a tenacious Trump defender, had encouraged the president earlier in the day not to cooperate with Schiff, saying: “I wouldn’t give them the time of day.”
– Ledyard King and Savannah Behrmann
Senators can view classified testimony from Pence aide
When they’re not stuck in their seats at the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump, senators will have the chance to review classified testimony from an assistant to Vice President Mike Pence that Democrats have unsuccessfully tried to make public.
After Senate Republicans rejected an attempt Tuesday to allow the Senate to receive classified information into evidence, Chief Justice John Roberts late Wednesday announced an agreement to allow classified information into the record. Senators will have to review it in a secure setting.
The information is part of a description of Pence’s Sept. 18 call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky given to the committee by Jennifer Williams, a foreign policy adviser to Pence.
Democrats argue the testimony is corroborating evidence and there’s no reason it should be classified.
“Jennifer Williams has classified information to share with you that I hope you’ll take a look at because it is relevant to these issues,” House impeachment manager Adam Schiff said.
Pence’s office previously refused Democrats’ request to declassifying the information, saying in a Dec. 11 letter that it would serve no purpose.
“This call was classified when it occurred,” Pence spokeswoman Katie Waldman tweeted Wednesday night. “House Democrats knew the call was classified when they allowed and asked Jennifer Williams to discuss a classified call in an unclassified setting. They are now trying to cover their tracks.”
Pence had previously said he had no problem with the White House releasing transcripts of his conversations with Zelensky.
– Maureen Groppe
Trump attacks Democrats in morning tweet storm
Back at the White House after an overseas trip, President Donald Trump didn’t waste much time before attacking Democratic prosecutors at the Senate impeachment trial.
“The Democrats are trying hard to damage Republicans prior to the Election!” Trump said during an early morning tweet storm aimed at opponents who have accused him of abuse of power.
Trump also cited pundits who attacked the process, including conservative radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh, and singled out Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., the lead House impeachment manager, as “Shifty Schiff.”
The president, who spent the past two days at an international economic conference in Davos, Switzerland, has no public events on his schedule Thursday.
After a series of private meetings the White House, Trump leaves at mid-day for a trip to Miami; he is scheduled to give a closed-door speech to the Republican National Committee, which is holding its winter meeting at the Trump National Doral golf resort.
Trump is also expected to watch parts of the impeachment trial on television.
– David Jackson
Constitution, legal grounds for removal will be the focus
House Democrats will continue detailing their case against President Donald Trump as the Senate impeachment trial resumes Thursday and are expected to focus on the Constitution and the legal grounds for the president’s removal.
The seven prosecutors, who are called managers, spoke for eight hours Wednesday mostly about the article accusing Trump of abuse of power. They chronicled their evidence about Trump pressuring Ukraine to investigate his political rival, former vice president Joe Biden, while withholding $391 million in military aid.
“I think it’s a gross abuse of power,” said the lead manager, Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif. “And I don’t think that the impeachment power is a relic. If it is a relic, I wonder how much longer our Republic can succeed.”
On Thursday, the group is expected to focus on the Constitution and lay out the legal framework that they say merits Trump’s removal from office. Schiff said the group would “apply the facts to the law as it relates to the president’s abuse of power.”
The seven managers will have up to 24 hours spread over three sessions to make their arguments. Then Trump’s defense team, which is led by White House counsel Pat Cipollone and private lawyer Jay Sekulow, will have up to 24 hours over three sessions to rebut the charges or make their own arguments.
‘I got four hours sleep’:Takeaways from opening arguments in the Trump impeachment Senate trial
Sekulow told reporters that the defense lawyers, during their turn, would first respond to the House charges and then “we are going to make an affirmative case defending the president.”
After hearing the opening arguments, senators will have up to 16 hours to pose written questions to both sides through Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts, who is presiding.
As the arguments got underway, Trump spent Tuesday and Wednesday at an economic conference in Davos, Switzerland. But he will be in Washington Thursday as the trial continues.
Trump criticized the trial and called two of the managers – Schiff and Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y. – “major sleazebags” during a news conference Wednesday.
“It’s total hoax. It’s a disgrace. They talked about their tremendous case. They have no case,” Trump said.
Schiff summarized the case over about two hours Wednesday by offering a chronology of the events, documents and testimony that the inquiry collected.
Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., described how Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, smeared Marie Yovanovitch, the former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, before the president removed her. Democrats argued that her removal opened the door to pressuring Ukraine to investigate Biden and his son, Hunter Biden, who worked for a Ukraine gas company.
“It is beyond argument that President Trump mounted a sustained pressure campaign to get Ukraine to announce investigations that would benefit him politically, and then tried to cover it up,” Nadler said.
Rep. Sylvia Garcia, D-Texas, highlighted how Giuliani’s push for investigations benefited Trump personally rather than the national interest.
“Giuliani admitted that he was asking Ukraine to work on investigations that could be ‘very, very helpful’ to the president,” Garcia said.
Rep. Jason Crow, a former Army Ranger, focused on the suspension of military aid for Ukraine while at war with Russia.
“Ukrainian soldiers were manning the front lines against Russian-backed forces illegally occupying their country,” said Crow, D-Colo.
Rep. Val Demings, D-Fla., described how White House officials dangled the opportunity for Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky to visit the White House – if he announced investigations against the Bidens.
But former national adviser John Bolton opposed the exchange, deriding it was a “drug deal” cooked up by Gordon Sondland, the U.S. ambassador to the European Union, and acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, Demings said.
“Mr. Giuliani became an inescapable presence to both Ukrainian officials and American diplomats,” Demings said.
Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y., went line by line through the summary of Trump’s July 25 call with Zelensky, when the president asked his counterpart to investigate the Bidens.
“These words will live in infamy,” Jeffries said of Trump asking for “a favor.”
Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif., walked through the lack of public explanation for why the administration suspended military aid for Ukraine or for why it was released Sept. 11.
“Nothing to justify the president’s change in decision – except he got caught,” Lofgren said.