Hey all, Vivian Ho on the west coast, drawing the short straw and getting liveblog duty today. Let’s hear it for my colleagues Joan Greve and Maanvi Singh, who have been doing a tremendous job keeping everyone up to date on the impeachment trial this week.
That’s it from me today. My west coast colleague, Vivian Ho, will take over the blog for the next few hours.
Here’s where the day stands so far:
- House impeachment managers wrapped up their opening arguments about the first article of impeachment, abuse of power, and are now making their case for the second article, obstruction of Congress. Today is the Democrats’ final day to present opening arguments.
- Concluding the managers’ opening arguments about the first article, lead impeachment manager Adam Schiff said Trump represented an “imminent threat to the integrity of our democracy.”
- ABC News published a report about a 2018 recording appearing to show Trump calling for the removal of then-US ambassador to Ukraine Maria Yovanovitch, whose ouster has become a key issue in the impeachment trial.
- The Pentagon confirmed 34 US soldiers suffered concussions or traumatic brain injuries from the Iranian missile strike in Iraq, contradicting Trump’s earlier statements that there were no casualties.
- Trump unveiled the new logo for the US Space Force, which prompted instant comparisons to the “Star Trek” logo.
Vivian will have more updates and analysis as the impeachment trial continues, so stay tuned.
Concluding her presentation about Trump’s alleged obstruction of Congress, impeachment manager Sylvia Garcia said Trump’s actions were “beyond comparison.”
“This president should be removed,” Garcia said.
She then ceded the floor to fellow impeachment manager Zoe Lofgren, who has jumped into a presentation about Trump’s efforts to keep administration officials from cooperating with the House impeachment inquiry.
Almost immediately after Trump unveiled the new logo for the US Space Force, Twitter pointed out its many similarities to the logo for a certain fictional space fleet.
George Takei, one of the stars of “Star Trek,” quickly jumped into the conversation to suggest the Trump administration pay the cast “royalties.”
Trump unveils Space Force logo
As impeachment managers accuse his of orchestrating a cover-up to conceal his impeachable actions toward Ukraine, Trump is busy unveiling the new logo for the US Space Force.
The massive defense spending bill Trump signed last month created the Space Force, which he has been pushing for since early 2018.
Trump’s signature made the Space Force the sixth branch of the US military, the first new service since the creation of the Air Force in 1947.
Garcia says Trump ‘orchestrated a cover-up’
Impeachment manager Sylvia Garcia accused Trump of committing obstruction of Congress in a “historic fashion.”
“In other words, he orchestrated a cover-up, and he did it in plain sight,” Garcia said.
The Texas Democrat pointed to three key points to demonstrate Trump’s obstruction: his refusal to turn over the initial whistleblower complaint, his instructions to administration officials not to cooperate with the House inquiry and his attacks on key impeachment witnesses.
Presenting impeachment managers’ arguments about Trump’s alleged obstruction of Congress, Val Demings said, “We must stop this president.”
Demings outlined the managers’ planned arguments, saying they would show Trump “took extraodinary measures” to obstruct Congress and committed impeachable offenses that merit his removal from office.
Demings has now stepped off the floor, and fellow manager Sylvia Garcia has taken the podium.
Impeachment managers begin arguments on obstruction of Congress
The Senate trial has resumed, and impeachment managers are now moving on to the second article of impeachment, obstruction Congress.
Impeachment manager Val Demings kicked off her team’s opening arguments on the second article of impeachment, calling Trump’s refusal to cooperate with the impeachment inquiry “categorical, indiscriminate and historically unprecedented.”
“This was a declaration of total defiance of the House’s authority to investigate credible allegations of the president’s misconduct and a wholesale rejection of the Congress’ ability to hold the president accountable,” Demings said.
Jay Sekulow, one of the president’s lawyers, confirmed that they intend to present opening arguments for three hours tomorrow morning.
Trump’s legal team will also have Monday and Tuesday to present their opening arguments. The president said in a tweet today that Saturday was considered “Death Valley” for TV ratings, which he reportedly tracks very closely.
The Senate trial is still in a brief recess, but Trump ally Lindsey Graham used the break to tell reporters that the Senate judicicary committee, which he leads, might investigate Joe Biden and his son’s connections to Ukraine.
The South Carolina Republican complained about no other body probing the baseless corruption claims peddled by the president and his allies. “If I have to, I will do it,” Graham told reporters.
Interestingly, Graham said earlier today that he would not support a subpoena of Hunter Biden if the Senate decided to call new witnesses for the trial.
The impeachment managers spent an additional two and a half hours today presenting opening arguments on the first article of impeachment, abuse of power.
The managers spent nine hours yesterday detailing Trump’s alleged abuse of power and have now spent more than 11 collective hours focusing on the first article of impeachment.
When the Senate trial resumes, the managers are expected to begin making their opening arguments about the second article of impeachment, obstruction of Congress.
Schiff concludes presentation on abuse of power article of impeachment
Closing the impeachment managers’ opening arguments about the first article of impeachment, abuse of power, Adam Schiff warned that Trump “remains a threat to national security and the constitution.”
The California congressman described the president as an “imminent threat to the integrity of our democracy” and predicted he would abuse his power again.
“He is who he is,” Schiff said. “That will not change and nor will the danger associated with him.”
Schiff then yielded back to Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell, who called for a 15-minute recess.
Moments ago, lead impeachment manager Adam Schiff appealed to the senators acting as jurors in the impeachment trial by asking them to imagine if Trump had asked for them to be investigated by a foreign power.
“Do you think for a moment that any of you, no matter what your relationship is with this president, no matter how close you are to this president, do you think for a moment that if he felt it was in his interest he wouldn’t ask you to be investigated?” Schiff asked.
Schiff warns Trump is ‘still trying to cheat in the next election’
Delivering a fiery denunciation of the sitting president, lead impeachment manager Adam Schiff warned that Trump’s abuse of power, the first article of impeachment, is “continuing.”
“[Trump] is still trying to cheat in the next election,” Schiff said. “Do you think it’s going to stop now? It’s not going to stop unless the Congress does something about it.”
The California congressman again warned that Trump posed a threat to American democracy. “You cannot leave a man like that in office when you think he violated the constitution,” Schiff said.
Schiff plays clip from Trump-Putin press conference
Lead impeachment manger Adam Schiff just played a clip from Trump’s 2018 press conference with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
In that Helsinki press conference, Trump cast doubt upon the US intelligence community’s conclusion that the Kremlin had interfered in the 2016 election and instead peddled a baseless claim about a missing DNC “server.”
Schiff described the moment as “breathtaking” and “the most incredible propaganda coup” for Russian intelligence. “Whatever profile Russia did of our president, boy did they have it spot on,” Schiff said.
That assessment was echoed by a New Yorker staff writer who co-authored a book about Putin’s rise to power: