The fourth full day of Donald Trump’s impeachment trial in the US Senate has concluded. Here are five key takeaways:
The prosecution rests… for now
Democrats completed the presentation of the case against Trump on Friday evening, after taking almost all of their allotted 24 hours. The lead impeachment manager Adam Schiff ended his presentation with an appeal to senators to show the “moral courage” to invite witnesses to testify.
“Give America a fair trial,” Schiff concluded after three marathon days of argument. “She’s worth it.”
Defense preview: ‘the president didn’t do anything wrong’
Previewing Trump’s defense in a conference call with reporters on Friday, a source working on the president’s legal team said they would roll out a “straightforward” defense on Saturday morning: “the president didn’t do anything wrong.”
The Senate was scheduled to convene at 10am Saturday, with Trump’s legal team expected to give an approximately three-hour “overview” of their defense. Defense arguments were to continue on Monday and possibly Tuesday.
The silent Republicans
A familiar roster of Republicans spoke to reporters during breaks in the trial to dismiss the Democratic case along various familiar lines: they had seen no new evidence, the Democrats were repeating themselves, the conduct in question is not impeachable.
Notably absent from the TV hits, however, were members of a small group of Republican senators who have said they would be open to calling for witnesses at the trial. Their silence left the basic disposition of the trial – and the question of whether it might end next week, or go on much longer – up in the air.
Democrats preempt Trump defense
The House managers spent much of their time Friday anticipating Republican arguments and delivering pre-emptive rebuttals.
Schiff skippingly previewed more than a dozen lines of defense mooted by Trump’s team and the president himself – from “read the transcript” to “[Joe] Biden is corrupt” to “Obama did it” – and deftly eviscerated each one.
Schiff drew laughter from the Senate when he described how Trump’s legal team would brandish in the president’s defense his statement that he wanted “nothing” from Ukraine – “no quid pro quo”. That line of argument, Schiff japed, would be based on “the well known principle of criminal defense” that when someone denies a crime they didn’t do it.
Concern in the White House?
On Friday evening – apropos of nothing? – the official White House account tweeted a monotone statement delivered by Trump in July 2018 after he returned from a disastrous outing to Helsinki in which he stood next to Russian president Vladimir Putin and credited Putin’s assurances that Russia did not hack the 2016 US election.
It’s too early to know what the tone of Trump’s defense will be but the archival statement seemed like an early salvo: