Monday brings closing arguments in the Senate impeachment trial of President Trump.
Starting at 11 a.m. ET, the House managers prosecuting Trump and the president’s defense team will each get two hours to make their case one final time. Watch the proceedings live when they begin.
On Sunday, Trump repeated his oft-stated position on the abuse of power and obstruction of Congress impeachment charges pending against him in the Senate: that he is the victim of a politically motivated attempt to discredit his presidency in order to boot him from the White House.
“It’s been a very, very unfair process,” Trump told Sean Hannity of Fox News in a pre-Super Bowl interview. “It should never happen to another president.”
After Monday’s session, the Senate will adjourn until 4 p.m. ET Wednesday, when senators are set to take a formal vote on the articles of impeachment. Trump’s acquittal is nearly guaranteed, as 20 Republicans would have to join the Democratic caucus to vote against the president.
The lawyers’ final pitches to senators on Monday follow a vote Friday to block witnesses and the introduction of new evidence into the trial.
News reports about bombshell allegations contained in a manuscript of former national security adviser John Bolton’s forthcoming book renewed hope for Democrats that they could recruit the four Republicans needed to bring witnesses and evidence into the trial. But the effort fell short by two Republican votes.
The lead impeachment manager, Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., said Sunday that Democrats are considering issuing a subpoena to sit Bolton down in front of investigators in the House, where the impeachment inquiry is still open.
“Whether it’s in testimony before the House, or it’s in his book, or it’s in one form or another, the truth will come out,” Schiff said on CBS’s Face the Nation.
Prior to the House impeaching Trump, Democrats requested that Bolton appear before House lawmakers, but he refused, citing the White House’s orders that former officials close to Trump not cooperate with impeachment investigators. House lawmakers said they did not subpoena Bolton then in order to avoid a drawn-out court battle.
If the House did attempt to subpoena Bolton, the Justice Department could go to court in an attempt to block Bolton’s testimony, but it remains unclear what the administration response would be if House Democrats try to hear from Bolton.
Among the key Republicans whom Democrats hoped to sway in favor of witnesses was Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, but Murkowski said Friday ahead of the vote that she opposed prolonging a trial that had already become too partisan, in her opinion. “I don’t believe the continuation of this process will change anything,” she said.
Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, another swing Republican who voted against witnesses, said that while Trump’s actions with regard to Ukraine may have been wrong or inappropriate, using military assistance as a way to pressure a foreign country into investigating domestic rivals should not warrant removal from office.
Iowa Republican Sen. Joni Ernst conceded that the July 25 conversation between Trump and the Ukrainian president was “maybe not the ‘perfect call,’ ” as Trump has insisted.
But, she said on CNN’s State of the Union: “Whether you like what the president has done or not … does it come to the point of removing a president from office? I don’t believe this does.”
In a separate interview, Ernst reportedly made it clear that if Joe Biden were elected president, Republicans in Congress could move to impeach him over his work in Ukraine as vice president.
“I think this door of impeachable whatever has been opened,” Ernst told Bloomberg News on Sunday. “Joe Biden should be very careful what he’s asking for because, you know, we can have a situation where if it should ever be President Biden, that immediately, people, right the day after he would be elected would be saying, ‘Well, we’re going to impeach him.’ “
Ernst told Bloomberg that the basis for impeaching Biden would be “for being assigned to take on Ukrainian corruption yet turning a blind eye to [gas company] Burisma because his son was on the board making over a million dollars a year.”
There is no evidence that Biden and his son Hunter engaged in any wrongdoing when the elder Biden was vice president and his son was serving on the board of Burisma.
Meanwhile in Palm Beach, Fla., Trump spent the weekend golfing at Mar-a-Lago, tweeting that Democrats pursued impeachment as a way to destabilize the Republican Party and to improve their election odds in November.
Trump wrote: “They are playing with the people by taking it this far!”
The Radical Left, Do Nothing Democrats, don’t want justice when pushing the Impeachment Hoax, they only want to destabilize the Republican Party so they can do better in the 2020 election, & that includes the House & Senate. They are playing with the people by taking it this far!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 2, 2020