This file will be updated throughout the day.
WASHINGTON – The Senate impeachment trial of President Donald Trump continues Wednesday at 1 p.m., as House Democrats explain their accusations that the president abused the power of his office and obstructed Congress.
The seven House managers, led by Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., will outline their arguments Wednesday.
Rules organizing the trial were adopted on a party-line vote early Wednesday morning after a marathon session that had started Tuesday afternoon.
Now the managers have 24 hours, spread over three days, to argue in depth how Trump tried to “cheat,” in Schiff’s term, by pressuring Ukraine to investigate his political rival.
“It is the president’s apparent belief that under Article II he can do whatever he wants, no matter how corrupt, outfitted in gaudy legal clothing,” Schiff told senators.
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‘Like stealing an election’
After House managers present their case, Trump’s defense team will then have 24 hours to dispute the findings or offer their own arguments.
White House counsel Pat Cipollone and private lawyer Jay Sekulow offered a preview of their strategy Tuesday by blasting the House inquiry and arguing that Democrats have wanted to remove Trump since he was elected.
“A partisan impeachment is like stealing an election,” Cipollone told senators. “It’s a partisan impeachment that they delivered to your doorstep.”
Motions to dismiss the impeachment?
Both sides in the trial face Wednesday morning deadlines for additional motions, like those that could dismiss the entire case.
Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., a congressional member of Trump’s impeachment defense team, told reporters he did not expect the White House to file such a motion – but added he did not speak for the White House.
Speaking to reporters in the basement of the Capitol, Sen. Ted Cruz, R-TX., said he didn’t “think we’re going to see a dismissal, and I think a dismissal is not nearly as good an outcome for the president and for the country as will be a final judgment on the merits.”
White House legislative affairs director Eric Ueland, however, did not rule the option out and told reporters he would wait to see what happened in the morning.
“I think we’ll all stay tuned to see what’s filed by 9 a.m. tomorrow morning and what’s filed by 11 a.m. tomorrow morning,” Ueland told reporters of the Wednesday morning deadlines to file and respond to motions.
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Arguments: Only chance to make case?
These lengthy arguments – followed by 16 hours of written questions from senators – might be the only chance each side has to make their case. Under the rules adopted Tuesday, the Senate will postpone voting on whether to subpoena witnesses and documents until after the opening arguments and written questions.
A 51-vote majority is needed to call witnesses, in a chamber with 53 Republicans and 47 Democrats. A handful of key Republicans will decide whether to join Democrats to summon witnesses such as former national security adviser John Bolton or acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney.
Republican leaders have argued against having witnesses to bolster a House case they contend was partisan and rushed. But Schiff said that would leave only the opening arguments for senators to weigh. Republicans blocked efforts to subpoena White House and State Department documents in party-line votes Tuesday.
“If the Senate votes to deprive itself of witnesses and documents, the opening statements will be the end of the trial,” Schiff told senators Tuesday. “To say let’s have the opening statements and then let’s see, let’s have the trial and maybe we can sweep this all under the rug.”
But Trump’s defense team accused House Democrats of being unprepared for trial.
“The president has done absolutely nothing wrong,” Cipollone said Tuesday. “It is long past time to start this proceeding and we are here today to do it.”
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