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Full coverage: Trump’s legal team presents its defense

A copy of the Constitution
A copy of the Constitution sits on the desk of Rep. Norma Torres (D-Pomona) during a Dec. 17 House committee hearing in the impeachment of President Trump.
(Associated Press)

President Trump’s defense arguments began on Saturday and continue this week. Senators will then get 16 hours to submit written questions followed by an opportunity to debate whether witnesses should be called. That debate could occur as soon as Thursday.

Bolton’s claims scramble impeachment trial as Trump lawyers resume their defense

President Trump’s legal team ignored explosive claims by former national security advisor John Bolton when they resumed their defense Monday in the Senate impeachment trial, arguing instead that Democrats had mischaracterized the president’s actions in Ukraine.

“We do not deal with speculation, allegations,” said Jay Sekulow, one of the president’s lawyers, insisting that Trump was justified in asking Ukraine to launch investigations that would benefit him politically, a request at the heart of the impeachment charges.

“Asking for a leader to get to the bottom of allegations of corruption is not a violation of oath,” Sekulow said in brief comments before handing off to Kenneth W. Starr, another lawyer for Trump and the former independent counsel who spearheaded the investigation that led to President Clinton’s impeachment in 1998.

“Instead of a once-in-a-century phenomenon,” he lamented, “presidential impeachment has become a weapon to be wielded against one’s political opponent.”

Bolton reportedly wrote in a draft of a memoir of his time in the White House that Trump told him in August that he had blocked U.S. military aid to Ukraine in an effort to get the newly elected president there to investigate Trump’s political rival, former Vice President Joe Biden.

The report sent tremors through Capitol Hill as the nation’s third presidential impeachment trial began its second week.

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In recording Trump asks how long Ukraine can resist Russians

President Trump inquired how long Ukraine would be able to resist Russian aggression without U.S. assistance during a 2018 meeting with donors that included the indicted associates of his personal attorney Rudolph W. Giuliani.

“How long would they last in a fight with Russia?” Trump is heard asking in the audio portion of a video recording, moments before he calls for the firing of U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch. She was removed a year later after a campaign to discredit her by Giuliani and others, an action that is part of Democrats’ case arguing for the removal of the president in his Senate impeachment trial.

A video recording of the entire 80-minute dinner at the Trump Hotel in Washington was obtained Saturday by the Associated Press. Excerpts were first published Friday by ABC News. People can be seen in only some portions of the recording.

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Pompeo lashes out at reporter, but doesn’t dispute all of her claims

Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo did not apologize for or deny having a heated exchange with a reporter in which he lost his temper and asserted that Americans don’t “care about Ukraine.”

In a statement issued Saturday morning on official State Department letterhead, Pompeo continued to lash out at the reporter, NPR’s Mary Louise Kelly, claiming that the heated exchange, which took place after an interview, was supposed to be private — even though, according to Kelly, Pompeo exclaimed that “people will hear about this.”

“It is shameful that this reporter chose to violate the basic rules of journalism and decency,” Pompeo said in the statement. “This is another example of how unhinged the media has become in its quest to hurt President Trump and this administration.”

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Trump lawyers start impeachment defense with offensive against Democrats

President Trump’s legal team began its defense arguments Saturday morning in the ongoing impeachment trial, offering an overview of their case for acquittal after three days of arguments from House Democrats advocating for his removal from office.

After three days of lengthy presentations from the House, Trump’s lawyers are expected to speak for a few hours Saturday before adjourning until Monday, when they plan to make a more in-depth case.

Pat Cipollone, the White House counsel, began his remarks on the Senate floor by making it clear that Trump’s defense does not plan to utilize all 24 hours allotted for each side to deliver its argument.

“You will find that the president did actually nothing wrong,” Cipollone said, framing the Democratic case as driven by politics. “They’re asking you to remove President Trump from the ballot in an election that’s occurring in approximately nine months.

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In fiery close, Democrats warn that Americans are not safe if Trump stays in office

House Democrats wrapped up three days of scathing arguments against President Trump on Friday, warning at his Senate impeachment trial that Trump will cheat in the November election if he is not removed from office and that no Americans — including senators themselves — were safe from his abuses.

Trump “has acted in a manner grossly incompatible with self-governance and the rule of law,” Rep. Adam B. Schiff (D-Burbank) said in an impassioned closing argument. “That has been proved.”

Schiff, whose speeches have dominated the trial so far, pleaded with senators to look past what he portrayed as partisan politics and to subpoena new witnesses and documents to fully understand Trump’s dealings with Ukraine, the heart of the Democrats’ impeachment case.

“The American people do not agree on much, but they will not forgive being deprived of the truth, and certainly not because it took a backseat to expediency,” Schiff said.

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Trump’s lawyers prepare a blistering defense

Over the last three days, House Democrats have presented compelling evidence in the form of snappy video clips, punchy PowerPoint slides and impassioned oratory, building a case that removing President Trump from office is imperative to protect the Constitution and the country.

Starting Saturday, Trump’s lawyers will get their say — and they appear ready to deliver what the president had sought from Ukraine: the public tarring of 2020 presidential candidate Joe Biden and his son Hunter.

Unlike the trial sessions so far, which all stretched into the night, Saturday’s proceedings will last only a few hours. White House Counsel Pat Cipollone and outside counsel Jay Sekulow plan to outline a preliminary case — just enough, a source close to the legal team said, to offer fodder for Sunday morning TV talk shows.

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Adam Schiff appeals to Senate Republicans by showing clips of John McCain

Since starting their prosecution case on Wednesday, House managers have relied on brief video clips to help make their case, usually snippets from witnesses to the House impeachment inquiry or from Trump himself.

On Friday, Rep. Adam B. Schiff (D-Burbank) appealed directly to Senate Republicans by showing wrenching clips of the late Sen. John McCain of Arizona, who died in 2018. McCain, the 2008 Republican presidential nominee, frequently battled with Trump but is revered by many in the Senate, where he championed Ukraine’s fight against Russia.

Schiff spoke on the last of three days that House Democrats were given to convince the Republican-controlled Senate that Trump was guilty of high crimes and misdemeanors in his dealings with Ukraine.

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Trump in a 2018 taped conversation says he wants to oust U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, report says

President Trump with Lev Parnas in an undated photo.
(House Judiciary Committee)

President Trump can be heard in a taped 2018 conversation saying he wants to get rid of the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, whose removal a year later emerged as an issue in Trump’s impeachment. The president was talking with a small group that included Lev Parnas, an associate of his personal lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani, according to a report Friday about the audio recording.

Trump demanded the removal of Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch at an April 2018 dinner at his hotel in Washington, according to ABC News, which reported on the recording. The recording appears to contradict the president’s statements that he did not know Parnas, a key figure in the investigation.

ABC said a speaker who appears to be Trump says on the recording: “Get rid of her! Get her out tomorrow. I don’t care. Get her out tomorrow. Take her out. OK? Do it.”

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Democrats say Trump continues to abuse his power and must be removed from office

Democrats wrapped up their case Friday that President Trump abused his power by pressing a foreign government to investigate his political rival, delivering an impassioned argument that Trump must be removed from office to stop him from doing further damage to America’s democracy.

In a searing summary, Rep. Adam B. Schiff (D-Burbank), the lead House manager, warned that Trump is “still trying to cheat in the next election” and that an acquittal in his Senate impeachment trial would allow him to do so.

Portraying Trump’s agenda as “Trump First ... not America First,” Schiff argued that no American was safe if Trump was willing to override U.S. national security policy and congressional mandates in his effort to pressure Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden, a Democratic presidential candidate, the heart of the impeachment charge.

“The next time it might be you,” he said emotionally, peering around the silent Senate chamber. “Or you. Or you. ... Do you think for a moment, that if he felt it was in his interest, he wouldn’t ask for you to be investigated?”

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Critics accuse Trump of using March for Life rally to distract from impeachment trial

President Trump delivers remarks at the March for Life rally on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. on Friday.
(Associated Press)

President Trump called it his “profound honor” on Friday to be the first president to attend the annual anti-abortion gathering in Washington called the March for Life.

He used his speech to attack Democrats as embracing “radical and extreme positions” on abortion and praised those attending the event, saying they were motivated by “pure, unselfish love.” He also recited actions he’s taken as president that were sought by social conservatives, including the confirmation of 187 federal judges.

Critics, for their part, accuse Trump of using the march to try to distract from his impeachment trial in the Senate.

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House impeachment prosecutors will make final push in Trump’s Senate trial

House managers prepared to make their final impassioned arguments today for removing President Trump from office, the last of three days — and 24 hours total — they were allotted to make their impeachment case.

The presentation is expected to focus on the House charge that Trump obstructed Congress by instructing his top aides and other administration officials to defy subpoenas during the House inquiry into the president’s efforts to pressure Ukraine to investigate a Democratic rival.

“This presidential stonewalling of Congress is unprecedented in the 238-year history of our constitutional republic,” Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), one of the impeachment managers, said in a preview of the Democrats’ closing argument.

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Democrats try to preempt what they expect from White House defense team

On another nine-hour-plus session, House prosecutors focused on why abuse of power, one of the impeachment articles against Trump, doesn’t have to be a crime recognized under the law.

And they addressed head-on the topic of former Vice President Joe Biden, and his son Hunter Biden, by asserting that there’s no evidence they acted inappropriately in Ukraine — an effort to show that Trump had no credible basis for asking the Eastern European country to investigate the two men.

House managers are expected to wrap up their arguments Friday by focusing on the obstruction article, after which the White House’s lawyers will get 24 hours spread over three days to make their case.

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Adam Schiff’s role in the impeachment trial draws some unlikely praise

House prosecutors began their second day of arguments in the Senate impeachment trial of President Trump on Thursday, as lead manager Rep. Adam B. Schiff drew some unexpected praise from Republicans for his steady performance so far during the hours-long, often tedious presentations.

“Good job,” Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C), a staunch Trump ally and critic of the impeachment, told Schiff (D-Burbank) as they passed each other in the Capitol the previous evening. “Very well spoken.”

Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) told reporters Schiff has been “very eloquent” in presenting the case.

Schiff has long been a punching bag of Trump and of conservative media, particularly for his role leading the House impeachment investigation. And those attacks have continued this week on Twitter and Fox News. Trump on Wednesday said Schiff is a “corrupt politician,” which made the kind words from Republicans stand out even more.

But though Democrats once worried Schiff had become too much of a lightning rod to effectively lead the Senate trial, his reviews from colleagues so far border on effusive.

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Trapped in the Senate, candidates work to stay in touch -- and stay awake

Before Sen. Bernie Sanders jetted off from a Des Moines rally early this week to impeachment hearings that have him locked down far from Iowa, the candidate remarked on how prescient his presidential campaign slogan turned out to be.

“‘Us, Not Me’ is becoming very much a reality in the last two weeks of this campaign,” the Vermont senator told the crowd of more than 700 — slightly rewording his “Not Me, Us” slogan.

“Because I am not going to be able to be here as much as I would like. So you guys are going to have to carry the ball.”

As the Iowa campaign comes down to its critical final stretch, some Democratic senators in the race are better prepared to hand the ball over than others.

For the lawmakers anchored to Washington right now, skills on the stump are suddenly less urgent than a finely tuned and well-funded shadow campaign. The tools of modern politics — robust social media and rosters of celebrity surrogates, in particular — are being put to the test as absent candidates try to make their presence felt a thousand miles away.

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Even at 1 a.m., Chief Justice Roberts insists on Senate decorum at Trump impeachment trial

Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. had sat patiently through nearly 12 hours of back-and-forth arguments in the Senate impeachment trial of President Trump when tired, increasingly edgy speakers on both sides began to grow louder and sharper around 1 a.m. Wednesday.

New York Democratic Rep. Jerrold Nadler, one of the House managers, accused the Republican senators of “voting for a cover-up” by rejecting Democratic motions to call witnesses. “Obviously a treacherous vote,” he said.

White House Counsel Pat Cipollone unloaded on Nadler. “The only one who should be embarrassed, Mr. Nadler, is you.”

Roberts, who is unfailingly polite and courteous in presiding at the Supreme Court, had heard enough.

“It is appropriate at this point for me to admonish both the House managers and the president’s counsel in equal terms to remember that they are addressing the world’s greatest deliberative body,” he said. There, members “avoid speaking in a manner, and using language, that is not conducive to civil discourse.”

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Sen. Feinstein departs Senate chambers early Wednesday evening after becoming ill

Sen. Dianne Feinstein departed Senate chambers before the end of Wednesday evening’s hearing after falling ill. She’s expected to return this morning as President Trump’s impeachment trial continues.

Trump breaks his own record for most tweets in a day

President Trump broke his record for most tweets in one day on Wednesday. While the second day of his impeachment trial offered much cooler rhetoric on the Senate floor, Trump took to Twitter more than 140 times, tweeting about attending the March for Life rally on Friday and mocking Democratic presidential candidate Tom Steyer.

Rhetoric cooled on the second day of Trump’s impeachment trial

After a Senate trial opening so contentious after nearly 13 hours that Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. told both sides to cool it, a weary Rep. Adam B. Schiff was perhaps stating the obvious early Wednesday when he admitted, “You’re going to have tempers flare.”

But when lawmakers reconvened later for the first substantive arguments in President Trump’s impeachment trial, Democrats sought to avoid the kind of testy language and partisan free-for-all that had marred the first day and threatened to overshadow their case.

Still, Schiff could not resist adding a dig as he declared a semi-cease-fire.

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Sen. Harris hopeful some Republicans will want witnesses, evidence

U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris. (D-Calif.).
(Associated Pres)

Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) said she’s hopeful some Republicans will break ranks to support calling witnesses in the impeachment trial after both sides finish their opening presentations, expected to wrap up early next week. After that there will be another pivotal vote on whether to subpoena witnesses and evidence.

“There’s some belief around here that there are certain Republicans that are up for election in districts that are more moderate and are going to expect them to fight in the interest of what’s just, instead of just the well-being of their party,” she said in an interview during a break from the impeachment trial. “But who knows? The lock that Republican leadership have on my Republican colleagues is fascinating to watch if it weren’t so tragic in a circumstance like this.”

Even if the trial ends with an expected acquittal, Harris said, it will not have been a waste of time.

“I think there’s good reason to believe this is not going to end in a guilty verdict, but let’s measure the outcome based on a number of factors, including that it is important for us to fight for the integrity of our democracy,” she said. “There has to be deterrence … of bad behavior.”

Protester shouting ‘abortion’ removed from Senate chamber

A protester was forcibly removed from the Senate chamber during the Senate’s first full day of arguments in the impeachment trial.

The man was just a few steps into the Senate visitors gallery when he shouted “Jesus Christ would” and was tackled to the ground by Capitol Police officers. In the hallway, as several officers subdued him, he repeatedly shouted “abortion” and “dismiss the charges against President Trump.”

— Jennifer Haberkorn and Sarah D. Wire

From fiery speeches in Iowa, now back to Senate chambers: Here’s how senators running in 2020 are handling the impeachment

Bernie Sanders
Bernie Sanders’ “Medicare for all” proposal put single-payer healthcare back in the political debate.
(Associated Press)

Bernie Sanders was slumped over in his chair, his hands on his belly, struggling to keep his head up.

Rep. Adam B. Schiff, the Burbank Democrat, was only in his second of 24 hours allotted to presenting the House Democrats’ case for impeaching President Trump. But for the senators running for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, time seemed to click even more slowly.

They’ve spent weeks on the move, eating corn dogs and delivering fiery speeches in Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina. Now they are forced to sit in the Senate chamber with no crowds in front of them and no cameras documenting their trajectory as they imagine their rivals stealing their voters. Senate rules permit them no smartphones, computers or advisors with whom to consult.

Sanders, the Vermont independent who is leading the Democratic pack in some polls and near the top in others, has looked the most fidgety over the first two days of the impeachment trial. Tuesday, he was seen sucking on candy to stay alert. Wednesday, he willed himself awake by alternately reading, shifting in his chair, staring into the visitors gallery, stroking his head and reading.

Sen. Michael Bennet looked the least affected. The Colorado senator has barely moved from the bottom of the polls. And as he sat in the back of the Senate chamber, he barely moved his body, staring forward and only occasionally stroking his chin.

Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar was similarly disciplined, also toward the back of the chamber, looking at Schiff with little interruption aside from the occasional sip of water. Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, a former Harvard law professor, looked to be taking copious notes and perusing briefing binders full of block-like displays.

Pompeo: “If I’m legally required to testify, as I’ve said before, I’ll be happy to do it.”

Michael Pompeo
Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo
(Manuel Balce Ceneta / Associated Press)

Ever since the start of impeachment proceedings last year, Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo has attempted to remain aloof while keeping up a vigorous travel schedule.

But questions dog him at every turn. On Wednesday, on an official visit to Kingston, Jamaica, Pompeo was asked if he was keeping apprised of the Senate trial of President Trump.

“No,” he said brusquely.

Asked if he would testify at the trial, Pompeo said: “If I’m legally required to testify, as I’ve said before, I’ll be happy to do it.”

Pompeo, like Trump, has been contemptuous of the impeachment, dismissing it as “noise,” even though his department and foreign policy generally have major roles in the scandal that precipitated it. He refused to hand over State Department documents to House investigators and sought, unsuccessfully, to block American diplomats from testifying.

Pompeo has also been criticized for failing to publicly defend diplomats against verbal attacks from Trump and others. He did finally speak up last week following reports that former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch, whom Trump abruptly recalled, might have been under surveillance by shady characters associated with Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudolph W. Giuliani. Pompeo said he doubted the reports were true but that they would be investigated.

“It is always the case at the Department of State that we do everything we can to ensure that our officers, not only our ambassadors but our entire team, has the security level that’s appropriate,” Pompeo told a radio host on Friday.

Trump’s lawyers will not seek vote dismissing impeachment charges

President Trump’s lawyers did not file any motions before the Senate’s 9 a.m. deadline, confirming that they will not seek a vote dismissing the charges against the president before opening arguments.

Several Republican moderates had signaled they would oppose a dismissal. Those in reelection races this year, especially, did not want to appear to be ignoring their constitutional responsibility to conduct a trial.

Trump shows anxiety as arguments near

John Bolton
Then-National Security Advisor John R. Bolton listens while President Trump speaks to the press in the Oval Office on May 13.
(Brendan Smialowski / AFP via Getty Images)

President Trump hardened his opposition this morning to allowing former national security advisor John Bolton to testify in his Senate impeachment trial, citing national security but adding a note of apprehension: “I don’t know if we left on the best of terms.”

“You don’t like people testifying when they didn’t leave on good terms,” Trump said at a news conference before departing from the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. “And that was due to me, not him.”

Trump’s comments about Bolton, whom he fired in September, suggested his heightened anxiety, just hours before formal arguments for removing him from office were to begin

Republicans OK rules after 13-hour session

In an overtly partisan start to the third presidential impeachment trial in American history, Senate Republicans on Tuesday repeatedly brushed aside Democratic proposals to subpoena witnesses and documents, and approved trial rules that will punt those critical questions into next week.

As the long session reached nearly 2 a.m. EST Wednesday, the Republican-led Senate had already rejected — entirely along party lines in all but one case — 11 Democratic amendments, mostly to subpoena the White House, State Department, Office of Management and Budget, acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney, former national security advisor John Bolton and two other officials — Robert Blair, senior advisor to Mulvaney, and Michael Duffey from the OMB.

Democrats were seeking documents or testimony related to the Trump administration’s effort to hold and then release military aid for Ukraine. One amendment would have required Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. — not the Senate — to serve as the arbiter of whether potential witnesses could have “probative evidence relevant” to the case. It was also rejected.

In the end the GOP plan was adopted, clearing the way for House Democrats to start formally presenting their case to the Senate at 1 p.m. EST Wednesday.

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In first big vote of Senate trial, Republicans kill Democratic effort to subpoena White House records

The Senate on Tuesday afternoon rejected a Democratic attempt to subpoena the White House for documents related to the Trump administration’s effort to hold and then release military aid for Ukraine — the centerpiece of the impeachment trial underway.

The effort came as Republicans backed off a plan to restrict the arguments from both House Democrats and President Trump’s lawyers to four days instead of six, a retreat that Democrats hoped would signal weakness in the GOP stronghold on the trial’s blueprint.
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McConnell abandons his effort to cram arguments into two days for each side

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell abruptly backed down from his effort to cram the Senate impeachment trial arguments into two days for each side, instead allowing them to be presented over three days.

The change was announced as the clerk of the Senate read the resolution aloud at the start of a debate over whether witnesses and documents would be subpoenaed. A copy of the resolution released Monday evening said the arguments would be presented in 24 hours over two days for each side.

No explanation was immediately given.

The updated resolution also automatically accepts the House’s record of evidence in its impeachment inquiry, which was not done in the original version of the resolution.

Trump did ‘nothing wrong,’ lawyer says

Pat Cipollone
Pat Cipollone, counsel for President Trump, speaks during the opening of the Senate impeachment trial.
(Rosario Dawson / U.S. Senate Television)

Trump lawyer Pat Cipollone and lead House manager Adam Schiff began up to two hours of debate on the GOP proposal for trial rules.

Cipollone said the president’s lawyers support McConnell’s proposed trial rules, and he added that in the trial, “The only conclusion will be that the president has done absolutely nothing wrong.”

Schiff argued that McConnell’s proposed procedural rules are “completely backwards -- trial first, then evidence.”

“Although the evidence against the president is already overwhelming,” senators may never know the full extent of Trump’s wrongdoing, Schiff said.

Rep. Adam Schiff, one of eight House managers, makes a statement at the opening of the Senate impeachment trial.
(Rosario Dawson / U.S. Senate Television)

Historic trial of President Trump begins

The Senate impeachment trial of President Trump began in earnest Tuesday with a tussle between Republicans and Democrats over whether witnesses should be called immediately, a question that is all but certain to remain unresolved until after the first phase of the trial, when the two sides present their arguments.

Democrats this afternoon plan to force several votes on subpoenaing witnesses — votes that Republicans have pledged to band together to defeat.

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Watch live: Trump impeachment trial set to begin

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McConnell moves to speed up Senate impeachment trial

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., joined at right by aide Stefanie Hagar Muchow.
(Associated Press)

WASHINGTON —Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell proposed Monday to significantly speed up President Trump’s impeachment trial, offering rules that would shoehorn opening arguments into a grueling four-day period of 12-hour days, meaning a major part of the nation’s third-ever presidential impeachment trial could wrap up by the weekend.

A day before the trial starts in earnest, McConnell proposed rules that would give House prosecutors and the president’s lawyers up to 24 hours each — but a maximum of two days each — to present their arguments as to whether Trump should be removed from office.

Lawyers for the president, who initially sought a lengthy impeachment trial so he could mount a robust public defense, also signaled they were hoping to end the trial quickly, urging the Senate to “swiftly reject” the charges, calling them “deficient on their face” and an “affront to the Constitution.”

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Trump’s lawyers say no crime in impeachment charge. Democrats call it ‘absurdist’

WASHINGTON —President Trump’s legal team will argue in his Senate trial that abuse of power is not an impeachable offense, while Democrats called that claim “absurdist” and a signal that the president has no defense against the case against him.

The third impeachment trial in U.S. history will start in earnest on Tuesday, after its ceremonial opening last week with the swearing-in of senators who will serve as jurors and of Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., who will preside.

Both sides took to the TV talk shows Sunday to preview their arguments and court public opinion that has shown little movement since House impeachment proceedings began in September.

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Trump’s lawyers decry House impeachment case as ‘defective’

WASHINGTON —President Trump’s legal team on Saturday accused the House of a “brazen and unlawful attempt” to overturn the 2016 election in a scathing response to the impeachment trial summons issued by the Senate ahead of its trial to decide whether to remove the president from office.

The House, in a separate 111-page brief filed Saturday, countered by calling Trump’s alleged attempt to involve a foreign power in the 2020 election — the issue at the base of the House impeachment — the exact reason the framers of the Constitution added such a drastic remedy to check abuses by the executive branch.

The filings were the first of several arguments Trump’s lawyers and House managers are expected to file before the Senate formally begins the impeachment trial Tuesday, giving a taste of the harsh rhetoric expected for the next several weeks in only the third presidential impeachment trial in U.S. history.

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Text messages point to Rep. Devin Nunes in Ukraine scheme at heart of Trump impeachment

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif. listens on Capitol Hill in Washington.
(Associated Press)

WASHINGTON —As the top Republican on the House Intelligence Committee, Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Tulare) presented a fiery defense of President Trump during impeachment hearings last month, angrily accusing Democrats of ginning up a false narrative about the president’s efforts to get Ukraine to dig up dirt on a political rival.

But newly released text messages suggest Nunes’ staff was aware of and involved in portions of the scheme, casting a new light on his combative defense.

Documents released by the House committee show repeated contact between Lev Parnas, who worked with Trump’s personal attorney Rudolph W. Giuliani, and Derek Harvey, an aide to Nunes on the committee, about meetings with Ukrainian prosecutors to get damaging information about Democrat Joe Biden, who is running for president, and about a debunked theory about Ukrainian involvement in the 2016 U.S. election.

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Adam Schiff takes on Trump, calling him an ‘erratic hothead.’ Now he’s feeling the heat

Rep. Adam Schiff
Rep. Adam B. Schiff (D-Burbank), once described as “more labradoodle than Doberman,” has grown more aggressive in taking on President Trump.
(Alex Wong / Getty Images)

Not during the fierce competition of Harvard Law School, or the rough-and-tumble of life as a federal prosecutor. Not when he convicted the first FBI agent accused of spying for a foreign government. Not even when he won one of the most furious campaigns for a seat in the House of Representatives, defeating a Republican who had relentlessly pursued President Clinton.

Not once in the political origin story of Rep. Adam B. Schiff does the record show him being labeled as “shifty.” But, then, the 10-term congressman from Burbank never faced an opponent quite like his current one, a president of the United States happy to turn a rival’s name into a potty joke and a schoolboy’s taunt.

Read our full profile>>

Alan Dershowitz, onetime Jeffrey Epstein lawyer, named to Trump’s impeachment legal team

Alan Dershowitz in New York City in 2016.
(Getty Images)

Even as Trump’s team grows, Alan Dershowitz will hold a unique place in the constellation of Trump’s lawyers, past and present. Most have taken on the role of fixers, like Roy Cohn, Michael Cohen or even Rudolph W. Giuliani, whose attempts to dig up dirt on the president’s political enemies in Ukraine has led to the current impeachment proceedings.

But Dershowitz — constitutional law scholar, former Harvard Law School professor, brand-name legal commentator — is an emissary from a more rarefied world that Trump has always found alluring.

The president loves quoting Dershowitz’s cable news appearances on Twitter, and he’s sought out Dershowitz, an ardent supporter of Israel, for advice on Middle East politics.

Also joining Trump’s legal team is Kenneth Starr, the onetime independent counsel whose investigation of President Bill Clinton led to his impeachment. Fox News announced Friday that Starr would be stepping away from his role as a commentator because of his position with Trump.

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Chief justice, senators sworn in as Senate begins historic impeachment trial of Trump

After a brief Senate session, lawmakers have left with plans to begin the trial in earnest on Tuesday. From then on, the Senate is required to meet each day — Monday through Saturday — at 1 p.m. Eastern to hear the case. The first major hurdle next week is expected to be passage of a set of rules governing how the trial is conducted, including the divisive question of whether to make an upfront commitment to hear from witnesses, or to delay that decision until after arguments.

The Senate formally convened this afternoon to begin considering articles of impeachment against President Trump.

Supreme Court Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and the entire Senate were sworn in, promising to apply “impartial justice” as they consider over at least the next two weeks whether the two articles approved by the House in December warrant removing the president from office.

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Senators take oath of ‘impartial justice’

In this image from video, Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts prepares to swear in members of the Senate.
(Associated Press)
Senate sworn in
The 100 members of the senate are sworn in by Chief Justice John Roberts for the impeachment of President Trump.
(CNN)

Chief Justice Roberts sworn in

Chief Justice Roberts
A video screenshot shows Chief Justice John Roberts being sworn in to oversee the senate trial of President Trump.
(CNN)

Chief justice arrives at Capitol for impeachment trial

Chief Justice Roberts
In this image from video, Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts arrives to swear in members of the Senate on Thursday.
(Jim Lo Scalzo / EPA-EFE/REX)

The chief justice of the United States has arrived at the U.S. Senate to preside over President Trump’s impeachment trial, ready to swear in all 100 senators with an oath to ensure “impartial justice” as jurors.

Chief Justice John Roberts made the short trip across the street from the Supreme Court before being ushered to the Senate chamber. He was to be sworn in himself before administering the oath it to the senators.

Impeachment
U.S. Supreme Court Justice John Roberts arrives at the Capitol in Washington on Thursday.
(Mandel Ngan / AFP via Getty Images)
Impeachment
U.S. Supreme Court Justice John Roberts arrives at the Capitol in Washington on Thursday.
(Mandel Ngan / AFP via Getty Images)
Impeachment
U.S. Supreme Court Justice John Roberts arrives at the Capitol in Washington on Thursday.
(Olivier Douliery / AFP via Getty Images)

How do you conduct an impeachment trial? Chief Justice John Roberts will have to figure that out.

Supreme Court Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. will preside over the Senate impeachment trial where he is expected to almost certainly try to keep a low profile.
(Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images)

Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. will preside over the Senate impeachment trial where he is expected to almost certainly try to keep a low profile.

But given the lack of a bipartisan agreement in the Senate, Roberts may find himself nevertheless called upon to weigh in on the most difficult questions, including whether witnesses will testify.

At 11 a.m. Pacific time, Senate President Pro Tempore Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa) — the longest-serving Senate Republican — is slated to swear in Roberts. Roberts will then swear in all 100 members of the Senate.

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Schiff reads impeachment articles to the Senate

Trump impeachment
In this image from video, Senate Sergeant at Arms Michael Stenger introduces the House impeachment managers on the Senate floor as the impeachment proceedings against President Trump begin.
(Associated Press)

The Senate has formally convened to consider articles of impeachment against President Trump.

At midday Thursday, seven House Democrats who will act as impeachment managers walked across the Capitol to serve as de facto prosecutors in the third impeachment trial in U.S. history. They include Rep. Adam B. Schiff (D-Burbank), the lead House impeachment manager, and Reps. Zoe Lofgren of San Jose, Jerrold Nadler and Hakeem Jeffries of New York, Jason Crow of Colorado and Sylvia Garcia of Texas, Val Demmings of Florida.

Rep. Adam B. Schiff (D-Burbank) began by reading aloud the two articles in the well of the U.S. Senate, with members of both parties watching from their desks. Under the rules, senators are not allowed to speak during the trial.

TV networks ask Senate to use C-SPAN cameras for upcoming Trump impeachment trial

The broadcast and cable networks have issued a joint request to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell requesting that they be able to use C-SPAN cameras for coverage of the impeachment trial of President Trump.

The current plan for next week’s trial coverage has TV depending on the video feed provided by the Senate Recording Studio, which according to C-SPAN will have a restricted view of the floor debates.

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Watch live: Trump impeachment proceedings begin in Senate

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Here’s today’s impeachment schedule

Noon: Articles walked (again) from House to Senate by the impeachment managers where they will be formally received.

A manager will read them aloud to the Senate.

2 p.m.: Senate president pro tempore Chuck Grassley will swear in Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. who will then swear in senators.

Senators will sign an oath book affirming their commitment to delivering “impartial justice.”

The Senate sends a summons to President Trump.

Watch: Lev Parnas alleges to MSNBC that Devin Nunes was ‘involved’ in Ukraine scandal

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This is the oath senators will take today

I solemnly swear (or affirm) that in all things appertaining to the trial of the impeachment of Donald John Trump, now pending, I will do impartial justice according to the Constitution and laws, so help me God.

Trump administration violated the law when it withheld Ukraine aid, congressional watchdog says

The U.S. Government Accountability Office says the Trump administration violated federal law by withholding aid to Ukraine last summer, an act at the root of the House impeachment of President Trump.

“Faithful execution of the law does not permit the President to substitute his own policy priorities for those that Congress has enacted into law. [The Office of Management and Budget] withheld funds for a policy reason, which is not permitted under the Impoundment Control Act,” the watchdog agency said in its report released Thursday morning.

The report comes hours before the Senate is scheduled to receive articles of impeachment from the House.

“This bombshell legal opinion from the independent Government Accountability Office demonstrates, without a doubt, that the Trump administration illegally withheld security assistance from Ukraine,” said Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.). “The publicly available evidence also shows that the president himself ordered this illegal act.”

The agency writes in its report that while Congress makes laws, including laws deciding how public money is spent, “the President is not vested with the power to ignore or amend any such duly enacted law.”

The agency goes on to say that the Office if Management and Budget has not provided sufficient legal justification for holding up the aid, something the president is allowed to do in certain limited situations.

The OMB has called the withholding a “programmatic delay,” not a violation of the Impoundment Control Act. The Government Accountability Office said that explanation is insufficient and the Budget Office and the Department of Defense have failed to provide the agency with a satisfactory reason the hold does not violate federal law.

“The burden to justify a withholding of budget authority rests with the executive branch. Here, [the Budget Office] has failed to meet this burden. We conclude that [the office] violated the [law] when it withheld [Ukraine aid] funds for a policy reason,” the agency report states.

Read the full report>>

‘Hear ye! Hear ye! Hear ye!’

Each day of the trial, you’ll hear a proclamation telling all senators to quiet down and listen to the arguments:

Ukraine opens inquiry into possible surveillance of U.S. ambassador

Ukrainian police say they have opened an investigation into the possibility that the former U.S. ambassador came under illegal surveillance before she was recalled from her post.

The announcement Thursday came two days after Democratic lawmakers in the United States released a trove of documents that showed Lev Parnas, an associate of President Trump’s personal lawyer, communicating about the removal of Marie Yovanovitch as the ambassador to Ukraine.

The Ukrainian Interior Ministry, which runs the police forces, said in a statement that Ukrainian police “are not interfering in the internal political affairs of the United States.”

“However, the published messages contain facts of possible violations of Ukrainian law and of the Vienna Convention on diplomatic relations, which protect the rights of diplomats on the territory of another state,” the statement continued.

The Interior Ministry also said it has invited the FBI to take part in the investigation.

In another move touching on the Trump impeachment, Ukraine said it was opening an investigation into reports that Russian hackers gained access to computers of the Ukrainian gas company Burisma.

Hunter Biden, the son of Trump opponent and former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, was on the board of that company. The impeachment inquiry began with allegations that Trump had tried to pressure Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky into investigating Burisma by withholding promised military aid.

Giuliani associate Lev Parnas says Trump ‘knew exactly what was going on’

In an interview Wednesday, Rudy Giuliani associate Lev Parnas told MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow that Trump "...was aware of all my movements. I wouldn’t do anything without the consent of Rudy Giuliani or the president.”

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House formally notifies Senate of impeachment articles against Trump

With a solemn procession through the Capitol Rotunda Wednesday, the House took the final, formal steps to pave the way for the third presidential impeachment trial in the nation’s history.

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Impeachment
The House clerk and impeachment managers bring the articles of impeachment of President Trump from the House to the Senate on Capitol Hill on Wednesday.
(AFP via Getty Images)

Schiff says new evidence against Trump is likely to emerge during Senate trial

Adam Schiff
Adam Schiff speaks Wednesday after an announcement by Nancy Pelosi that he and Jerrold Nadler are among managers of the Senate impeachment trial.
(Olivier Douliery / AFP / Getty Images)

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam B. Schiff (D-Burbank) expects new evidence to come out during the course of the Senate impeachment trial, adding a possible element of surprise to the proceeding and potentially complicating Republican efforts to reach a speedy conclusion.

“There’s going to be new evidence coming out all the time. And if this is conducted like a fair trial, then that new evidence should be admitted. If it’s relevant, if it’s probative, if it sheds light on the guilt or innocence of the president, then it should be admitted,” said Schiff, who was appointed Wednesday the lead House manager prosecuting the case against Trump.

Schiff spoke to the Los Angeles Times on Wednesday as the House voted largely along party lines to approve Schiff and six other representatives, including Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), as managers in the trial.

White House downplays House impeachment vote

The White House attempted to downplay the action by the House on Wednesday sending the impeachment case to the Senate for a trial. One senior administration official, speaking with reporters on a conference call, said officials expected a trial to last no longer than two weeks and did not believe there would be a need for additional witnesses.

“These are the weakest articles of impeachment that have ever been passed,” the official said.

The official refused to offer details on the president’s legal team or whether it would seek to block former national security advisor John Bolton from testifying by claiming executive privilege, but hinted that it remained a strong possibility.

“It would be extraordinary to have the national security advisor testifying about his communications directly with the president about foreign policy and national security matters,” the official said.

The president commented on impeachment during a lengthy and scattered monologue at a White House signing ceremony for a Phase 1 trade deal between the U.S. and China.

He went to great lengths to flatter a number of Republican senators in attendance and also dipped at times into self-pity; as he recognized a couple of attorneys in attendance, he joked that he might need their services.

“I could use some good lawyers, right?” Trump said. “Ah, the hell with it. I just have to suffer along with it like I have all my life.”

Lev Parnas appearing on Maddow tonight

A closer look at the 7 House managers in Trump’s Senate trial

Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Wednesday announced impeachment managers who will act as prosecutors in the Senate trial.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Wednesday announced impeachment managers who will act as prosecutors in the Senate trial.
(Kirk McKoy/Los Angeles Times)

Reps. Adam B. Schiff (D-Burbank), Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) and Zoe Lofgren (D-San Jose) are among the House members who will prosecute President Trump during the Senate impeachment trial, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco) said Wednesday.

Pelosi’s choices are expected to be confirmed in a vote later in the day.

The House managers, as they are called, make opening and closing arguments during the Senate trial, present evidence and examine witnesses, if any are called.

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House appoints Schiff, Nadler to be among managers to prosecute Senate trial of Trump

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi.
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi
(Sam Corum / EPA-EFE/REX)

Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco) announced Wednesday that Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) and Rep. Adam B. Schiff (D-Burbank) will be among 7 House members prosecuting the case against President Trump in the Senate impeachment trial.

Pelosi also named Democratic Caucus Chairman Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.), Reps. Zoe Lofgren (D-San Jose), Jason Crow (D-Colo.), Val Demings (D-Fl.) and Sylvia Garcia (D-Texas)

The so-called House managers, give opening and closing statements, layout the facts collected in the House investigation, and will cross examine witnesses if they are allowed.

Pelosi was said to be aiming for a more diverse group than the 13 white men who acted as House managers during the Clinton impeachment trial in 1999.

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Nadler, Schiff among the 7 House impeachment managers

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