Check back for updates on the Senate impeachment trial against President Donald Trump.
Roberts admonishes House managers, Trump’s defense team for heated back-and-forth
Chief Justice John Roberts admonished both the House managers and the president’s counsel after a fiery back and forth debating whether John Bolton should be subpoenaed to testify before the Senate.
“Those addressing the Senate should remember where they are,” Roberts told the panels, advising them to “use language conducive to civil discourse.”
The talking to came after the president’s legal team got into a heated back-and-forth with Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler, who said if senators voted against subpoenaing Bolton they would be “part of the coverup.”
“Either you want the truth and you must permit the witnesses or you want a shameful cover-up. History will judge and so will the electorate,” Nadler argued.
Cipollone shot back, calling for Nadler to apologize to the Senate, the president and “most of all, you owe an apology to the American people.”
“Mr. Nadler came up here and made false allegations against our team. He made false allegations against all of you. He accused you of a coverup,” Cipollone said. “The only one who should be embarrassed, Mr. Nadler, is you for the way you’ve addressed this body. This is the United States Senate. You’re not in charge here.”
– Christal Hayes
Senate votes to table Schumer’s eighth amendment as Senate trial goes on past midnight
The Senate voted 53-47 along party lines to table a measure subpoenaing former national security adviser John Bolton.
The trial seemed it would continue later into the night, though, as Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer introduced another amendment, the ninth of the day, to provide for a vote on any motion to subpoena documents and witnesses.
The rules as written, Democrats argued, did not allow for votes to be taken on documents and witnesses – only for a vote on a procedural motion to allow for later votes on documents and witnesses.
– Nicholas Wu
Collins, others were behind McConnell altering resolution
Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, was one of the leading voices that led Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to abruptly change his resolution that outlines how the president’s trial will operate.
McConnell originally established that both House managers and the president’s defense team would have 24 hours to present opening arguments and would be able to do this over two days, which would likely leave arguments stretching into the evening and early morning hours. The original resolution also did not automatically enter evidence gathered by the House into the Senate’s record.
McConnell announced Tuesday afternoon that he was altering the rules he proposed just one day earlier to allow the arguments to span over three days instead of two and allowing House evidence to automatically be entered into the Senate’s record.
Collins joined Democrats in criticizing the resolution, causing McConnell to adjust the language before it was debated on the floor throughout the day and evening.
“Senator Collins and others raised concerns about the 24 hours of opening statements in 2 days and the admission of the House transcript in the record,” said Annie Clark, a spokeswoman for Collins. “Her position has been that the trial should follow the Clinton model as much as possible. She thinks these changes are a significant improvement.”
– Christal Hayes
Senate votes to table seventh Democratic amendment as Schumer introduces subpoena for testimony from John Bolton
The Senate voted to table Schumer’s amendment on the handling of evidence by a 53-47 vote.
Shortly after, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer introduced a subpoena for the testimony of former national security adviser John Bolton.
House Democrats invited Bolton to testify during the impeachment inquiry but Bolton failed to appear. Bolton said he would appear before the Senate if subpoenaed.
– Nicholas Wu
Schumer introduces seventh amendment on handling of evidence
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer introduced Democrats’ seventh attempt to amend the rules for the Senate trial.
The measure would require that any new documents admitted in the Senate trial that had previously been subpoenaed by the House be made available to members of both parties, which Democrats said would prevent the “selective” admission of evidence from the president.
Speaking in support of the measure, Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff said the trial rules as written would allow the president to “cherry-pick documents he has failed to provide to the House in an attempt to admit them into evidence here.”
Republicans thought the amendment would not be necessary.
“This amendment doesn’t have anything to do with the rule of completeness,” shot back Patrick Philbin, Deputy counsel to the president.
– Nicholas Wu
Sixth amendment calling for subpoenas fails
The Senate voted 53-47 to kill an amendment offered by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer that would have subpoenaed testimony from Robert Blair, an assistant to the president and adviser to Mulvaney, and Michael Duffey, a senior official at the Office of Management and Budget.
Both officials were key to the House’s impeachment inquiry but were blocked from testifying by the administration.
“As a former judge, I have never seen anything like this before, where someone is ordered not to appear by one party and witnesses just don’t appear. The United States Senate should not allow the president and his admin to continue to evade accountability,” Rep. Sylvia Garcia, said in her arguments. “We need to hold him [the president] accountable because no one is above the law.”
– Christal Hayes
Senators starting to doze off after hours of debate
As the night wore on, the hours of debate in Trump’s impeachment trial appeared to take a toll on some senators. Several appeared to doze off, or at least begin to before catching themselves.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s eyes closed several times as House managers argued that officials and documents should be subpoenaed. As his body started to lean forward, falling deeper into sleep, he caught himself and jolted back.
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., also nodded off multiple times as the night wore on. At one point, she dozed off, startled, and then immediately started writing something in her notes. Afterward, she shook her head lightly and stood up, leaving the chamber for a few minutes.
Some senators got up and stood in the back of the chamber. At one point, Gillibrand went to the back of the chamber, took off her black high-heels and took a deep sigh before returning to her desk and wrapping herself with a red blanket. Sen. Tom Cotton resorted to holding up a stack of papers to hide his yawns.
-Christal Hayes and Savannah Behrmann
Schumer introduces sixth amendment
Minority Leader Chuck Schumer introduced his sixth amendment, a measure that would subpoena testimony from Robert Blair, an assistant to the president and adviser to White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney, and Michael Duffey, a senior official at the Office of Management and Budget.
Both are officials that the House attempted to question during the impeachment inquiry, but were blocked from appearing by the administration.
The Senate has already rejected five subpoena requests from Schumer on party-line votes of 53 to 47.
– Christal Hayes
Democrats’ fifth attempt to call witnesses and documents fails
The Senate voted 53-47 to table Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer’s amendment that would have subpoenaed documents relevant to the allegations against Trump from the Pentagon.
Democrats had advocated for the amendment as a necessary part of the case against Trump because of the Pentagon’s failure to comply with the impeachment inquiry.
“The Senate has an opportunity to obtain and review the full record that could fully demonstrate how and why the president was holding the aid,” Rep. Jason Crow, D-Colo., an Army veteran and one of the House impeachment managers said in remarks supporting the amendment.
Patrick Philbin, deputy counsel to the president, said the reason the Pentagon had not complied with the inquiry was because the inquiry itself was “unlawful.”
“It was unlawful and that’s why no documents were produced,” Philbin said.
– Nicholas Wu
Donald Trump impeachment trial could continue late into the night
The Senate briefly halted proceedings to take a quorum call, or what is basically a roll call of senators, in order to give Senate Republican and Democratic leaders time to negotiate over proceedings.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell had suggested Democrats bundle their amendments together for a single vote, rather than the sequence of debates and votes that have happened so far.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, however, disagreed.
“We will not back off on getting votes on all of these amendments, which we regard as extremely significant and important to the country,” he said on the Senate floor.
“We are willing to do some of those tomorrow,” he acknowledged. “There is no reason we have to do them all tonight and inconvenience the Senate and Chief Justice.”
When the Senate finished its quorum call, though, the trial continued with the introduction of Schumer’s amendment to subpoena Pentagon records, and it seemed no deal had been reached between senators.
Senate votes down Democrats’ fourth attempt to subpoena witnesses and documents
In a party-line, 53-47 vote, the Senate voted down Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer’s amendment to subpoena acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney.
Democrats sought his testimony as someone with “firsthand knowledge” of the campaign to pressure Ukraine into opening politically motivated investigations.
“Mr. Mulvaney was in the loop at each critical stage of President Trump’s scheme,” Jeffries said.
“The subject of this amendment should appear before the Senate if we’re going to have a free and fair trial,” Jeffries argued.
Mulvaney had acknowledged Trump had held up military assistance to Ukraine to pressure the country, before walking back his comments.
“We do that all that time with foreign policy,” Mulvaney had said at a press briefing in October 2019.
Republicans countered by saying the president did nothing wrong.
Michael Purpura, one of the president’s lawyers, said: “this chamber’s role is not to do the House’s job for it.”
“There wasn’t any” quid pro quo, said White House Counsel Pat Cipollone.
“Only in DC would someone say it’s wrong to not spend taxpayer dollars fast enough, even if it was on time,” Cipollone quipped.
– Nicholas Wu
Ted Cruz thinks Trump’s impeachment trial will end with an acquittal
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.”
“I think the judgment here is not going to be a dismissal but rather on acquittal on the merits at the end of both sides having an opportunity to present their case,” he continued.
He criticized Democrats for disagreeing “with the president politically” but not “satisfying the constitutional standard” to remove him.
“If you have the facts, you bang the facts. If you have the law, you bang the law. If you don’t have either, you bang the table. Well, this afternoon we’ve seen a whole lot of table banging,” Cruz continued during his condemnation of Democrats.
Klobuchar talks about running for president during an impeachment trial
2020 Democratic candidate and Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar spoke about her GOP colleagues, saying that during the trial she “keeps looking” at them “to see if they look guilty, and some of them are kind of looking down.”
“I don’t know how they can deny all witnesses. Let’s see what they do after a few days of this but I think that the House Managers made a very effective case for the fact that we have evidence, and we need to listen to evidence, and we need to listen to witnesses. You can’t have a trial with zero witnesses and zero documents. That is not how this works,” she said.
She also touched on juggling the 2020 campaign with the Iowa Caucus approaching with serving as a Senator.
“That’s always been my plan, we were prepared for this,” she said. “That’s why my husband and daughter are there right now. But, I have a constitutional duty and so whatever the president’s lawyers want to say, and poke at us for simply doing our jobs and being here, and act like it’s some kind of political disadvantage, I think the people of this country understand it,” she continued. “The people in these early states are going to understand that I have to do my job.”
Trump being ‘constantly updated,’ Ueland says
Although President Donald Trump is away at Davos, he is being “constantly updated” of events in the impeachment trial, White House legislative affairs director Eric Ueland told reporters during a break in proceedings.”
Trump was “very impressed” by how his defense team was handling themselves, Ueland added.
– Nicholas Wu
Schumer proposes to subpoena Mulvaney
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., proposed Tuesday to subpoena acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney in the Senate impeachment trial of President Donald Trump.
The Senate recessed for dinner until 8 p.m. before debating the proposal.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said there could be votes to subpoena witnesses and documents after opening arguments by the House managers prosecuting the case and Trump’s defense lawyers.
The Senate has already rejected three subpoena requests from Schumer on party-line votes of 53 to 47.
– Bart Jansen
Senate again rejects subpoena for budget documents
The Senate voted 53 to 47 to reject a proposed subpoena Tuesday for budget documents about Ukraine military aid for the Senate impeachment trial of President Donald Trump.
The defeat was the third party-line vote to reject proposals from Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y. But the Senate could vote again after hearing opening arguments from House managers prosecuting the case and Trump’s defense lawyers.
One manager, Rep. Jason Crow, D-Colo., said withholding the $391 million in military aid was personal to him after he served as an Army Ranger in Iraq and Afghanistan.
“When we talk about troops not getting the equipment they need when they need it, it’s personal to me,” Crow said. “Real people’s lives are at stake.”
He noted that 87 senators voted to provide the funding. Office of Management and Budget documents could help explain how and why the money was held, he said.
“It’s clear the president is trying to hide this evidence because he knows what they would show,” Crow said.
Jay Sekulow, one of Trump’s private lawyers, quoted Ukraine officials saying that the suspension was short enough that they didn’t notice the lack of funding. He noted that the aid was released Sept. 11 without Ukraine announcing investigations that Trump requested.
Sekulow argued that U.S. policy toward Ukraine strengthened with the security aid, rather than just humanitarian assistance.
“This president has been concerned about how aid has been put forward,” Sekulow said.
Another manager, Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., noted that the Government Accountability Office found the suspension of funding violated the law and the money was released after Congress asked about it.
“Yes, they got the money after the president got caught,” Schiff said.
– Bart Jansen
Schumer proposes subpoena for budget documents
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., proposed a third amendment Tuesday to rules for the Senate impeachment trial of President Donald Trump.
The Senate has already rejected his two earlier proposals on party-line votes to subpoena documents from the White House and the State Department.
The Office of Management and Budget defied a House subpoena for documents about withholding $391 million in military aid from Ukraine.
The online publication Just Security published emails from Michael Duffey, an associate director OMB, said that said there was “Clear direction from POTUS to continue the hold,” referring to the president of the United States. But Schumer sought more documents to explain how the money was suspended and whether there were concerns about it.
The Government Accountability Office reported that the hold on the money violated federal law because the Trump administration withheld the money for policy reasons rather than programmatic reasons.
Senate rejects subpoena for State Department documents
The Senate voted 53 to 47 Tuesday to reject a proposal to subpoena State Department documents about Ukraine for President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., proposed to subpoena department documents to overcome the administration’s stonewalling. The House impeached Trump for accusations that Trump pressured Ukraine to investigate his political rival.
But White House counsel Pat Cipollone told the House on Oct. 8 that the administration would defy subpoenas from what he called an illegitimate inquiry.
Democrats continue to seek documents about a series of four calls March 27 from Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, to the State Department switchboard. The calls came at a time when Giuliani was organizing a campaign to remove Marie Yovanovitch, the former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine.
Another document Democrats seek is a cable that William Taylor, the top U.S. diplomat to Ukraine, sent to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to describe concerns about withholding $391 million in military aid from Ukraine.
“The State Department has not produced a single document in response to the congressional subpoena,” said Rep. Val Demings, D-Fla., one of the managers prosecuting the president.
But the Senate voted against issuing a subpoena. Another vote could come after House managers and Trump’s defense lawyers make their opening arguments and senators pose written questions to them.
Jay Sekulow, one of Trump’s defense lawyers, said courts have long recognized executive privilege to protect the confidentiality of communications with the president. Sekulow argued that the privilege also applied to communications between the president’s aides, as they formulate advice.
Sekulow called it “a dangerous moment for America” if Trump couldn’t assert executive privilege and defend the claim in federal court.
“The Constitution allows it, if necessary,” Sekulow said. “The Constitution demands it, if necessary.”
– Bart Jansen
What’s it like inside the Senate trial?
Senators Ben Sasse, R-NE., and David Perdue, R-GA., sometimes whispered back and forth, resulting in quiet chuckles, while Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., handed Sen. Warner, D-VA., what appeared to be a cough drop or a piece of candy.
Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski, two Republican senators who are considered to be moderates of their party and potential key voters during the trial, sat intently when listening to House Manager Rep. Zoe Lofgren. When White House legal counsel Patrick Philbin stood up to rebuke, both GOP senators sat up and began to scribble notes.
Utah GOP Sen. Mitt Romney, who has been critical of Trump in the past, sat mostly still when listening to Trump lawyers, at one point raising his eyebrows when one of them argued their view of the use of executive privilege.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer gave his GOP colleagues a glance when Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., asked the Senate, “We are ready to present our case, we are ready to call witnesses. The question is: will you let us?”
Jay Sekulow, one of Trump’s personal lawyers, patted the backs of fellow legal team members as they filed out of the chamber for recess.
– Savannah Behrmann
Sen. Jim Risch, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, was the first senator who appeared to doze off during the hours-long debate.
Risch, R-Idaho, who was slouched back in his chair on the Senate floor, cradled his head in hand and shut his eyes as Rep. Demings argued that the chamber should subpoena the State Department for documents regarding Ukraine.
Risch perked up and opened his eyes when House managers played a video of testimony given by Gordan Sondland, the U.S. ambassador to the European Union. After looking up for a moment, Risch put his head back down and shut his eyes.
The feverish notetaking by senators slowed down as proceedings – and evening – wore on. Some fiddled with pens and eyeglasses or sipped from water glasses on their desk. Others sat with their arms crossed or leaned back further in their chairs.
– Christal Hayes
Demings becomes first African American impeachment trial manager
Rep. Val Demings, D-Fla., became the first African American to serve as an impeachment trial manager when she spoke in favor of a Democratic resolution today that would subpoena all relevant State Department documents.
Demings is one of three women on the seven-person group of House impeachment managers, who serve a role akin to prosecutors. Two of the managers are members of the Congressional Black Caucus, and one is a member of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus.
The 13 Republican impeachment managers appointed for President Bill Clinton’s trial were all white men. Cheryl Mills, an African American woman, defended Clinton during his trial.
Demings argued the documents Democrats sought could shed additional light on the alleged scheme to pressure the Ukrainian government into opening politically motivated investigations. The White House failed to comply with many of the congressionally issued subpoenas during the impeachment inquiry, so the documents needed to be called during the Senate trial, Demings said.
“The president sought to conceal evidence of misconduct,” Demings said on the Senate floor. “He did so by ordering his entire administration, every office, every agency, every official, to defy every subpoena that was served in the House impeachment inquiry. No president in history has ever done anything like this.”
Schumer introduces a second amendment
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer introduced a second amendment to the rules that would subpoena all relevant State Department documents.
It calls for all documents from Jan. 1, 2019 until the present, including President Donald Trump’s communications with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenksy, top State Department officials’ communications with Ukrainian officials about potential investigations, and communications regarding U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch’s removal as ambassador.
A similar amendment to subpoena all relevant White House documents was voted down on a party-line vote
– Nicholas Wu
First vote of the Trump impeachment trial goes against Democrats
By a 53-47 vote along party lines, the Senate voted to table Schumer’s amendment, which would change the organizing rules for the trial to subpoena all documents from the White House relevant to Democrats’ allegations against Trump.
Republicans argued Democrats’ call for more documents meant they were bringing a factually deficient case to trial, while Democrats highlighted the White House’s prior failure to comply with congressionally issued subpoenas.
Rep. Lofgren makes impeachment history
Rep. Zoe Lofgren became the first female house manager to offer an argument on the Senate floor as part of a president’s trial.
Lofgren, D-Calif., is one of three women on the seven-member team of house managers. The impeachment trials of Presidents Bill Clinton and Andrew Johnson featured an all-male team of house managers.
Lofgren offered arguments on behalf of Democrats on why the Senate should approve an amendment that would subpoena a number of key documents regarding Ukraine. The documents were among those that Democrats have been after for months but were blocked from being released by the administration.
“The Senate should act on this subpoena now at the outside of the trial,” she argued, explaining it was “common sense” to request such information now, rather than at the end of the trial after both sides have made their arguments.
“We don’t know with certainty what the documents will say. We simply want the truth, whatever that truth may be,” Lofgren said. “So do the American people. They want to know the truth.”
She concluded, explaining that how this trial is remembered will be up to senators. “History is watching.”
– Christal Hayes
“It pains me”: Jeff Flake spotted watching the trial unfold
Former Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., was among the spectators in the balcony watching today’s impeachment trial proceedings. Flake sat in the front row of the balcony ringing the Senate floor, silently observing the proceedings unfold.
On his way out of the Capitol, he told USA TODAY he was “just in town and thought I’d take a look.”
“They’re taking it seriously,” he said of his former senatorial colleagues, noting how rare it was to see the Senate with “all there, all quiet.”
Flake called the proceedings a “very solemn thing,” but was unsure if he would vote to impeach the president if he were still a senator.
“You can make a compelling argument on both sides,” he said of whether Trump’s conduct merited impeachment, but added, “what you can’t do is argue the president did nothing wrong.”
“I’ve always said I would like to see the voters remove the president,” he said.
“It pains me,” he said, to hear House Republicans insist Trump did nothing wrong with Ukraine.
Asked whether he thought proceedings were fair, Flake replied, “fairness is what the Senate decides.”
Flake said he had talked to “a number of senators” about the current proceedings but declined to elaborate on which members or about what.
– Nicholas Wu
Schumer seeks to subpoena White House records
Schumer introduced the first of what could be several amendments to the resolution setting up the rules for the trial.
Schumer’s amendment would subpoena all White House records related to Democrats’ allegations against Trump, including National Security Council records, conversations about Ukraine, and the delay in military assistance to Ukraine.
Senate Republicans have indicated they wanted to vote on subpoenaing witnesses and documents after the first phase of the trial.
“If any amendments are brought forward to force premature decisions on mid-trial questions, I will move to table such amendments and protect our bipartisan precedent,” McConnell said in a speech on the Senate floor earlier.
– Nicholas Wu
White House lawyers attack case as threat to the republic
President Donald Trump’s defense team blasted the impeachment case against him as a “ridiculous” and “outrageous” threat to the republic, rather than debate the trial rules they supported.
In a wide-ranging pair of speeches on the Senate floor, private lawyer Jay Sekulow and White House counsel Pat Cipollone accused Democrats in bracing language of seeking to remove Trump since he was elected.
Sekulow said Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., committed a “trifecta” of improprieties by denying Trump access to evidence, counsel access at hearings and the right to cross-examine witnesses during the House inquiry.
“That’s a trifecta, a trifecta that violates the Constitution of the United States,” Sekulow said.
House Democrats on three committees held closed-door depositions during the inquiry, but Republicans were allowed to attend and ask questions. The Judiciary Committee then invited Trump’s lawyers to attend and participate in hearings by questioning witnesses, but the White House declined to participate in what Cipollone called a “baseless and highly partisan” inquiry.
Cipollone called the impeachment dangerous to the republic for seeking to remove the president elected in 2016 and block him from the ballot in the 2020 election.
“A partisan impeachment is like stealing an election,” Cipollone told senators. “It’s a partisan impeachment that they delivered to your doorstep.”
– Bart Jansen
Schiff: Trump “corrupt” even if dressed in “gaudy legal clothing”
The lead House manager, Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., outlined the case against Trump while arguing the Senate needs to subpoena more witnesses and documents in order to conduct a fair trial.
Schiff said the articles accusing Trump of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress describe misconduct that “is the most serious ever charged against a president.”
The abuse of power came when Trump pressured Ukraine to investigate his political rival, former Vice President Joe Biden, “to help him cheat in the next U.S. presidential election,” Schiff said. The request came as Trump withheld $391 million in military aid that Ukraine needed in its fight against Russia, Schiff said.
“Astonishingly, the president’s trial brief, filed yesterday, contends that even if this conduct is proved, that there is nothing the House or this Senate may do about it,” Schiff said. “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.”
The charge of obstruction resulted from Trump directing his administration to defy congressional subpoenas while investigating the misconduct, Schiff said.
“This is every bit as destructive of our constitutional order as the misconduct charged in the first article,” Schiff said. “It makes him a monarch, the very evil against which our Constitution and the balance of powers it carefully laid out, was designed to guard against.”
– Bart Jansen
Schiff: ‘Process makes no sense’
The lead House impeacment manager, Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., told senators that their vote on the rules would be more important than their eventual vote on whether to convict or acquit Trump.
Schiff said a fair trial would depend on whether to subpoena witnesses or documents, or introduce evidence already gathered. He opposed McConnell’s proposal, saying it would conduct the trial backwards, with arguments first and evidence at the end.
“That process makes no sense,” Schiff said.
– Bart Jansen
‘President has done nothing wrong’
White House counsel Pat Cipollone supported McConnell’s rules package, saying that it would provide a fair process for the president to defend himself.
“The president has done absolutely nothing wrong,” Cipollone said. “It is long past time to start this proceeding and we are here today to do it.”
– Bart Jansen
Schiff plays videos of Trump
The Senate reacted sedately as Democratic impeachment managers played video and audio of Trump saying he “would love” for senior administration officials like acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney to testify.
Unlike the more raucous proceedings in the House, when Republicans would vocally voice their disapproval of Democrats’ arguments by booing Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, senators quietly took notes, intently listening to Schiff’s arguments.
Senate rules prohibit side conversations and enforce a quiet debate “on pain of imprisonment.”
– Christal Hayes and Nicholas Wu
Roberts is not wearing Rehnquist’s stripes
The last time the Senate conducted a president’s impeachment trial in 1999, Chief Justice William Rehnquist presided. And Americans immediately were struck by his fashion statement: four gold stripes on each arm.
Was it a special impeachment flourish? Nope. Rehnquist added the stripes four years earlier, in January 1995, in a whimsical emulation of Lord Chancellor in the Gilbert and Sullivan opera “Iolanthe.”
The chief justice went right on wearing those stripes for the remainder of his tenure, until his death in 2005 – both on the bench and during his public appearances, including when he delivered the oath of office at presidential inaugurations.
Roberts, who succeeded Rehnquist and is in his 15th term as chief justice, has never adorned his robe with any accoutrements. The trial of Trump will be no exception.
– Richard Wolf
Public packing balcony at trial
Members of the public packed the balcony overlooking the chamber, including actress and activist Alyssa Milano, who sat in the front row, listening intently.
As senators took their seat, they were greeted by staff passing out the trial briefs filed by both House managers and the White House. Many senators brought along notebooks.
Sen. Cory Gardner, R-Colo., came prepared with a stack of sticky notes at the ready on his desk, along with dividers.
Republican senators warmly greeted Trump’s defense team, many smiling and shaking hands or patting members of the group on the back. The team sat prepared with stacks of books and binders, including one with the White House logo that was labeled simply: “Impeachment.”
Democratic senators similarly shook hands and exchanged words with House managers before the trial got underway.
The two opposing panels sat at curved black tables, with glasses of water.
– Christal Hayes
Schumer: McConnell wants ‘rushed’ trial
Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer of New York said Tuesday he will propose changes to Republicans’ proposed rules for the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump.
“Leader McConnell wants the process rushed with as little evidence as possible in the dark of night,” Schumer said.
Schumer said the first amendment will seek to subpoena White House documents that deal with withholding $391 million in military aid for Ukraine. Democrats impeached Trump for withholding the money in order to allegedly pressure Ukraine into investigating his political rival, former Vice President Joe Biden.
A series of Schumer amendment proposals will deal with other documents and witnesses. Schumer has called for testimony from former national security adviser John Bolton and acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney.
“It cannot be overstated how serious this charge is,” Schumer said. “If foreigners can interfere in our elections and determine the outcome instead of the American people determining the outcome, our democracy is vastly eroding.”
What to expect Tuesday:What is planned to take place as the Senate trial resumes
Schumer acknowledged the difficulty he faces in changing McConnell’s proposal. A 51-vote majority will set the rules in the chamber, where Republicans hold a 53-47 majority over Democrats.
“We need four Republicans who are willing to stand up for what’s right, who are willing to stand up for what America wants and needs, and not simply bow down to the president,” Schumer said.
Schumer also accused McConnell of working with the White House on the resolution, saying it appeared the resolution was written in the White House, not the U.S. Capitol. He said it was a “blueprint for an impeachment trial on fast-forward.”
The Senate will resume its impeachment trial of the president at 1 p.m.
– Bart Jansen and Christal Hayes
Romney: late trial hours ‘a nothing issue’
Republican senators decried Democratic objections to McConnell’s proposed impeachment trial rules,saying they did not believe that Democratic amendments would garner any support from the conference.
Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah and a key potential swing vote in the chamber, said the objections over arguments being heard over two days – possibly leaving the trial in session into the early morning hours – was “kind of a nothing issue.” He explained that the media will cover the trial “whether it happens at 2 a.m. or 2 in the afternoon” and that most people would not watch the trial in its entirety but rather would watch short clips of the events.
“Our Democratic friends, I think, have failed to learn the lesson that if you call everything outrageous, then nothing is outrageous,” Romney said. “And whether it’s two days or four days, we have the time to review what is presented because we have the full 24 hours.”
Republicans pushed back on the notion that the American people would not be awake for key parts of the president’s trial. Sen. James Lankford, R-Okla., said the time difference would help those along the West Coast watch the proceedings. “It’s prime time for the West Coast,” he said.
– Christal Hayes
Schiff slams McConnell’s proposed trial rules
House managers who will prosecute the impeachment trial against President Donald Trump blasted the proposed Senate rules for how the trial will be conducted as “rigged,” just hours before the trial resumes Tuesday.
The lead manager, Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., said requiring votes to admit evidence the House has collected, and to determine whether to subpoena witnesses or documents, is a recipe for hiding evidence from the American people.
Schiff also said compressing arguments into 12-hour days that begin at 1 p.m., as proposed by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., would discourage people from watching the trial. Schiff said the argument time was expanded from six-hour days during the 1999 trial of former President Bill Clinton.
“This is not a process for a fair trial. This is the process for a rigged trial,” Schiff told reporters at a news conference. “This is the process for if you do not want the American people to see the evidence.”
‘Sham’? ‘Rule of law’?:How the House debate set the stage for the impeachment trial
As an example, Schiff cited text messages between top diplomats questioning Trump’s dealings with Ukraine, which are at the heart of his impeachment. Schiff also said it is important to hear from former national security adviser John Bolton and acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney, who each declined invitations to testify during the House inquiry.
“It will not prove the president innocent,” Schiff said of blocking their testimony. “It will mere prove the Senate guilty of working with the president to obstruct the truth from coming out.”
– Bart Jansen
Trent Lott and Tom Daschle:Senate leaders from Clinton’s impeachment trial say two sides must work together
For Senators: No gabbing, no milling
No cell phones. No talking out of turn. And stay at your desks.
And bathroom breaks? They’re allowed but only through the adjoining cloakroom.
During the impeachment trial, senators accustomed to moving about the chamber, chatting with colleagues and checking their phones will have to get used to decorum not unlike those practiced in a strictly run classroom. Even if the stakes are a little higher.
Here are some of the rules that must be followed during the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump:
- Senators should attend as much of the proceedings as they can.
- Senators will only have limited opportunities to speak. And they should refrain from conversing with other senators while the case is being presented.
- Senators can only read materials related to the matter before the Senate.
- No use of phones or electronic devices are permitted in the chamber during the proceedings.
Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., stopped by the press pen outside the chamber to do an impression of “Gollum” from Lord of the Rings to demonstrate how senators feel when they get their phones back during recess, acting out: “Oh my precious!”
– Ledyard King
Poll: majority of Americans say evidence should be allowed
A new poll found that a majority of Americans say introducing new evidence should be allowed in the impeachment trial.
In a Monmouth University poll released Tuesday before the trial, 57% of respondents said House managers should be able to present new evidence. Thirty-seven percent said they should be limited to evidence that was revealed as part of the impeachment inquiry in the House.
– Jeanine Santucci
Debate on rules to begin at 1 p.m. EST
After House Democrats and Trump’s legal team traded written jabs over the weekend, the Senate will resume its impeachment trial of the president at 1 p.m. Tuesday with a contentious debate about the rules for conducting the proceeding.
McConnell proposed allocating 24 hours to each side to present their case over two session days for each side. With sessions expected to start at 1 p.m. daily, Democrats assailed the proposal for having the trial run late into the night.
After opening arguments, senators would have 16 hours to pose written questions to both sides through Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts, who is presiding over the trial.
But the Senate wouldn’t automatically accept the House evidence gathered so far. Under McConnell’s proposal, four hours of debate over whether to subpoena witnesses or documents would come after the opening arguments and questions.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., called the proposal a “national disgrace” and said he would offer amendments.
“Under this resolution, Sen. McConnell is saying he doesn’t want to hear any of the existing evidence, and he doesn’t want to hear any new evidence,” Schumer said.
The seven House managers who will prosecute the case issued a joint statement calling McConnell’s proposal “an effort to prevent the full truth of the president’s conduct from coming to light.” The managers said it could become the first trial in history without House witnesses and documents.
“That is not a fair trial. In fact, it is no trial at all,” said the managers: Democratic Reps. Adam Schiff of California, Jerry Nadler and Hakeem Jeffries of New York, Zoe Lofgren of California, Val Demings of Florida, Jason Crow of Colorado and Sylvia Garcia of Texas. “A White House-driven and rigged process, with a truncated schedule designed to go late into the night and further conceal the President’s misconduct, is not what the American people expect or deserve.”
The Constitution sets few requirements for a Senate trial, so senators must still decide basic rules such as to when the trial will be conducted each day and how long each side will have to speak. The set of rules is called an organizing resolution.
A 51-vote majority of senators will set the rules – both at the beginning of the trial and whether to call witnesses – in a chamber with 53 Republicans and 47 Democrats.
Trump will spend the opening two days of the trial at an economic conference in Davos, Switzerland. “He has a full day here in Davos, but will be briefed by staff periodically,” said White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham.
– Bart Jansen
White House lawyer could be disqualified, Dems say
House managers who are prosecuting the case against Trump suggested Tuesday that the president’s top defense lawyer, White House counsel Pat Cipollone, could be disqualified from the trial because of his first-hand knowledge about the case.
The managers sent a five-page letter to Cipollone saying he could be a witness and should disclose any facts and information before making legal arguments on Trump’s behalf in the trial. The managers said the disclosure is important so that senators and Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts, who is presiding over the trial, could be aware of any ethics issues, conflicts or biases.
“These risks are so serious that they can require a lawyer’s disqualification,” the letter said.
Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler said Tuesday that Cipollone should be recused from the trial because of he was a “fact witness.”
“Yes, he should,” Nadler said when asked if Cipollone should recuse himself.
Cipollone is a “fact witness,” Nadler added, and “one of the participants in what we’ve accused the president of.”
What is a manager?:What is an impeachment manager, and what do they do?
Managers focused on information that Cipollone had about concerns about Ukraine that several officials raised to the top lawyer at the National Security Council, John Eisenberg. Fiona Hill, a former NSC aide, said Eisenberg became “very concerned” when he learned that Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, was involved. Other NSC staffers – Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman and Tim Morrison – also reported concerns to Eisenberg about Trump’s July 25 call to Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky.
The call is at the heart of the impeachment accusations against Trump, which accuse him of pressuring Zelensky to investigate his political rival, former Vice President Joe Biden.
“In light of your extensive knowledge of these key events, your personal representation of President Trump threatens to undermine the integrity of the pending trial,” the managers said in the letter.
White House spokesman Hogan Gidley pushed back on the request of Cipollone.
“The Democrats are an utter joke – they have no case, and this latest political stunt proves it,” he said. “The idea that the Counsel to the President has to turn over protected documents and confidential information is ludicrous, and to imply he can’t represent the President of the United States in an impeachment proceeding is completely absurd.”
– Bart Jansen, Nicholas Wu and David Jackson
Will witnesses and documents be permitted?
Whatever logistics are set for arguments, one of most contentious issues is whether the Senate will subpoena witnesses and documents, to gather additional evidence. But the final answer to that question isn’t expected Tuesday.
Schumer has proposed issuing subpoenas for four witnesses, including former national security adviser John Bolton and acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney, and three batches of documents.
But McConnell has said he has the votes to postpone that decision until after opening arguments and written questions. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., suggested that if Democrats are allowed to call their witnesses, Republicans will call witnesses such as Hunter Biden, the son of former Vice President Joe Biden, who worked at a Ukraine gas company.
The articles of impeachment accuse Trump of abuse of power for pressuring Ukraine to investigate Biden and his son, while withholding $391 million in military aid. The articles also accuse Trump of obstruction of Congress because the White House then directed aides and agencies to defy subpoenas for testimony and documents during the inquiry.
House Democrats said there was “overwhelming” evidence against Trump and said he was a danger to the country’s national security.
“President Trump’s misconduct presents a danger to our democratic processes, our national security, and our commitment to the rule of law. He must be removed from office,” the seven House managers wrote in a 111-page filing summarizing their opening arguments for the trial.
Trump’s legal team, meanwhile, called the House impeachment drive “a brazen and unlawful attempt to overturn the results of the 2016 election and interfere with the 2020 election – now just months away.”
Trump’s lawyers said the articles “do not identify any impeachable offense” and that the inquiry was “irredeemably flawed.”
“All that House Democrats have succeeded in proving is that the President did absolutely nothing wrong,” the filing said.
– Bart Jansen