Trump tweeted a record 125 times on the day House prosecutors mounted their case against him at his impeachment trial
President Donald Trump set a new record for the most tweets posted on a single day of his presidency during opening arguments in his Senate impeachment trial, according to analysis firm Factba.se. Trump has shattered his previous record with 125 tweets (including 110 retweets) and counting. Most of Trump's postings were re-tweets of Republican members of Congress, staff on his re-election campaign, and Fox News hosts defending him against the Democrats' impeachment case. The Democratic impeachment managers and Trump's defense counsel will have 24 hours each to make their opening arguments, which will be spread over several days.
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President Donald Trump broke his record for tweets posted on a single day during the first day of opening arguments in his Senate impeachment trial, according to digital analysis platform Factba.se. Factba.se, which tracks Trump's tweets and other public statements, announced at around 5 P.M. ET that Trump had published 125 tweets (including 110 retweets) and counting posted as he traveled back from the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. Trump's previous record for most tweets in 24 hours was set on December 13, 2019, as the House Judiciary Committee held a marathon 14-hour debate on two articles of impeachment. On that day, Trump posted 123 tweets.
And, for your information, we have a record as of 4:25 pm on @realDonaldTrump. The most tweets of his presidency at 125 and counting. The most retweets ever at 110 and counting. Closing on the all time record set in 2015... pic.twitter.com/V9hLmN2lEu — Factba.se (@FactbaseFeed) January 22, 2020 To answer a question that's come in, 41 tweets in an hour (12-1 am ET / 6-7 am Davos) isn't even in the top 5 for @realDonaldTrump . The most tweets in an hour was 58, 7-8 am ET on 12/12/19 ... 1 per 62 sec. This am Davos time was 1 per 88 sec #themoreyouknow (up to 132 today) — Factba.se (@FactbaseFeed) January 22, 2020
As with his previous record, most of Trump's postings on Wednesday were re-tweets of Republican members of Congress, staff on his re-election campaign, and Fox News hosts defending him and seeking to discredit the Democrats' impeachment case. He occasionally commented on the day's events himself, calling a Democratic presidential candidate "a loser" and emphasizing in all-caps that he does not believe he improperly pressured Ukranian President Volodymyr Zelensky to open an investigation into his political rivals.
Steyer is a major loser. Just doesn’t get it. This is second time with Bernie! https://t.co/fxZh8zNhks — Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 22, 2020 “NO PRESSURE” — Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 22, 2020
The historic Senate trial weighing whether to remove Trump from office began last week when Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts swore in the Senators who will serve as jurors. On Tuesday, the seven House representatives designated to argue the case for convicting case and Trump's defense counsel team, led by White House counsel Pat Cipollone and attorney Jay Sekulow, debated the trial's rules. According to those rules, both the impeachment managers and Trump's defense counsel will have 24 hours each to make their opening arguments, which will be spread over several days. The arguments will be followed by 16-hour period when Senators can ask written questions of both sides, and then the Senate will vote on whether to subpoena additional documents and witnesses. Read more: LIVE: Impeachment manager Jason Crow makes the case that Trump's Ukraine aid freeze was 'outright illegal' Ukraine's President Zelensky said he didn't feel pressured by Trump. Here's why that's bogus. Trump says he doesn't want John Bolton to testify in his impeachment trial because 'he knows some of my thoughts' Adam Schiff just highlighted a new discrepancy in Trump's justification for freezing military aid to UkraineSEE ALSO: 28 senators who were in Congress for Clinton's impeachment, and how they voted then Join the conversation about this story » NOW WATCH: Extremists turned a frog meme into a hate symbol, but Hong Kong protesters revived it as an emblem of hope
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After a historic vote not to call witnesses in Trump's impeachment trial, the Senate is scheduled for a final vote on Wednesday
The Senate reconvened Friday to debate whether to call additional witnesses forward in President Donald Trump's...The Senate reconvened Friday to debate whether to call additional witnesses forward in President Donald Trump's impeachment trial. After several hours of debate, the Senate blocked a measure to call new witnesses, with 49 senators voting for it and 51 against. The schedule for the rest of Trump's impeachment trial is now up in the air as the Senate figures out how to "land the plane," according to one Republican senator. Scroll down to watch the trial and follow Insider's live coverage. Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories. The Senate on Friday officially blocked a measure to call additional witnesses in President Donald Trump's impeachment trial. The move came after a contentious debate during which House impeachment managers argued that the Senate has a duty to hear testimony from firsthand witnesses, like former national security adviser John Bolton, who can provide new evidence in Trump's trial. The president's lawyers, meanwhile, argued that the Senate already has enough information from the 17 witnesses who testified in the House's impeachment inquiry. Friday's proceedings came after The New York Times reported on another bombshell claim from Bolton's upcoming book, in which Bolton claims Trump personally asked him to help pressure Ukraine to cave to his personal demands. The House of Representatives impeached Trump last month for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. The two articles of impeachment relate to the president's efforts to strong-arm Ukraine to deliver politically motivated investigations targeting his rivals. While doing so, Trump withheld $391 million in military aid to Ukraine and dangled a White House meeting that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky desperately sought and still hasn't gotten. Fifty-one senators need to vote in favor of calling witnesses for the motion to pass. There are currently 45 Democrats, two independents who caucus with Democrats, and 53 Republicans in the Senate. That means four Republican senators need to side with the Democratic caucus for the Senate to call witnesses. In the Republican caucus, only Sens. Mitt Romney of Utah and Susan Collins of Maine have publicly indicated they would vote in favor of calling witnesses to testify. Sen. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, once considered a possible pro-witness Republican, announced Thursday night that he would not vote in favor of witnesses. Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, another closely-watched potential swing vote on the matter, confirmed Friday afternoon that she will also vote against calling more witnesses. Watch the trial below: Scroll down to follow Insider's live coverage of the trial.The Senate voted to reconvene on Monday for closing arguments, senators will get to speak on Tuesday, and a final vote is scheduled for Wednesday. Monday is also the Iowa caucuses (four senators, Sanders, Warren, Klobuchar, and Bennet, are running for president). Tuesday is President Donald Trump's State of the Union address. Minority Leader Chuck Schumer offers up amendments, including attempts to subpoena witnesses and documents. The Senate reconvened on Friday night, as the schedule going forward with the impeachment trial firms up: The Senate will vote on both articles of impeachment on Wednesday. On Friday night, Sen. Schumer offered up several amendments related to subpoenaing documents and witnesses. Ahead of the votes on the amendments, Chief Justice Roberts clarified that he would not break a tie in the Senate, as he is not an elected official. While all four amendments failed, it again put senators on record regarding documents and witnesses. The Senate's impeachment trial schedule is now up in the air Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell motioned for a recess after the vote but didn't indicate what the schedule would look like going forward. "Senators will now confer among ourselves, with the House managers, and with the president's counsel to determine next steps as we prepare to conclude the trial in the coming days," McConnell told reporters. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer also said he would meet with Democrats to game out how to move forward. But right now, according to Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, "nobody has any idea" what's going to happen next. "We're still trying to figure out how to land the plane," Republican Sen. John Thune said. Senate votes against calling witnesses in 51-49 vote killing the measure Prosecutors and defense lawyers conclude their debate on witnesses, and a Senate vote on the matter is coming up The Republican-controlled Senate is widely expected to vote against calling new witnesses after two key Republican senators seen as swing votes — Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Lamar Alexander of Tennessee — announced they would not vote to have more witnesses testify. In order for the motion to call witnesses to pass, four Republican senators need to defect from their party and join Democrats and two independent senators to reach a 51-vote threshold. But only two Republican senators, Susan Collins and Mitt Romney, have said they will vote in favor of calling new witnesses. Lead House manager Adam Schiff takes a shot at Trump defense lawyer Alan Dershowitz for promoting the 'principle of constitutional lawlessness' Lead House manager Adam Schiff characterized the Trump defense team's argument as implying the president "has a God-given right to abuse his power, and there's nothing you can do about it." "It's the Dershowitz principle of constitutional lawlessness," Schiff said, referring to Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz, one of Trump's defense attorneys in the impeachment trial. "That's the end-all argument for them," Schiff added. "You don't need to hear witnesses who will prove the President's misconduct because he has a right to be as corrupt as he chooses under our Constitution. And there's nothing you can do about it." Dershowitz made headlines earlier this week when he argued that Trump's conduct is not impeachable because he believes his re-election is in the public interest. Dershowitz, who has defended controversial figures like OJ Simpson and Jeffrey Epstein, faced harsh blowback afterward from observers who said he was essentially arguing that politicians can do whatever they want to get elected. Dershowitz later claimed he never said what the public heard him say. "I did not say or imply that a candidate could do anything to reassure his reelection, only that seeking help in an election is not necessarily corrupt, citing the Lincoln and Obama examples," he tweeted. "Critics have an obligation to respond to what I said, not to create straw men to attack." Fact check: It's not a straw man. Here are Dershowitz's exact words: "If a president does something which he believes will help him get elected — in the public interest — that cannot be the kind of quid pro quo that results in impeachment." Trump counsel Patrick Philbin says Trump blocked Congress' impeachment inquiry because he wanted to 'defend the separation of powers' Deputy White House counsel Patrick Philbin called the articles of impeachment against Trump "defective on their face." Referring to the second article, which charges Trump with obstruction of Congress, Philbin said the charge "is really trying to say that it's an impeachable offense for the president to defend the separation of powers." "No witnesses are going to say anything that makes any difference to the second article of impeachment," Philbin added. Fact check: The legislative branch is constitutionally tasked with the power to conduct oversight of the executive branch. Trump has not cooperated with a single congressional investigation, including the impeachment inquiry. In addition to issuing a sweeping directive ordering all executive branch officials and six federal agencies from providing any witness testimony or documents in the impeachment investigation, the president and his lawyers have also filed multiple lawsuits to stop congressional committees from obtaining any information about his presidential campaign, taxes, business dealings, or his time in office. Trump's defense lawyers argue that he has "absolute immunity" — a nonexistent legal concept — from not just prosecution but any investigation while he's in office. The president has also falsely asserted that Article 2 of the Constitution gives him the power to "do whatever I want." Trump's lawyers argue he did nothing wrong while urging Senate to vote against witnesses who could provide evidence of Trump's misconduct After House managers wrapped up their remarks, it was Trump's team's turn. Patrick Philbin, the deputy White House counsel and one of the lawyers defending the president, opened his presentation by suggesting it was absurd for the House managers to say a trial cannot be fair or complete without witnesses and documents, "as if it's just that simple." Philbin added that the managers invoked that argument as a "trope ... to disguise the real issues." He went on to say that before addressing the question of witnesses and documents in "any legal system," a court first has to decide if there's "even a triable issue." Fact check: The question of whether there's a "triable issue" has already been addressed. The House of Representatives' move to impeach Trump is akin to handing down a criminal indictment, meaning lawmakers believe the president engaged in impeachable conduct. The Constitution confers upon the Senate the "sole power to try" impeachment cases. It does not specify that the Senate must hold a trial, but current Senate rules indicate that it would. Lead House manager Adam Schiff addresses the Senate: 'You know, as well as we, that there are others you should hear from' Rep. Adam Schiff of California, the lead House impeachment manager and the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, closed out his remarks Friday afternoon by saying that a "trial without witnesses is no trial at all." "You know, as well as we, that there are others you should hear from," Schiff said, addressing the Senate. Here are the 4 witnesses Democrats want to call and why each one is relevant Former national security adviser John Bolton Bolton is a key figure in several events at the center of Trump's impeachment. He was at a July 10 meeting during which Gordon Sondland, the US's ambassador to the EU, pushed Ukrainian officials to deliver the political investigations Trump wanted in exchange for a White House meeting for Zelensky. Bolton will reportedly reveal in his upcoming book that Trump directly told him he would withhold Ukraine's aid until the country gave in to his demands for investigations. The former national security adviser also claims Trump asked him during a meeting in May to call Zelensky and push him to meet with Giuliani, who was spearheading Trump's pressure campaign. Acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney Bolton claims Mulvaney was present at the May meeting in which Trump asked him to call Zelensky. Mulvaney is also the head of the Office of Management and Budget, which took on a lead role in carrying out Trump's order to freeze Ukraine's aid. Emails and other documents also indicate that Mulvaney was in the loop on Trump's decision to withhold Ukraine's military aid from the start. Mulvaney publicly acknowledged last year that part of the reason the White House froze the security assistance was because Trump wanted Zelensky to investigate a conspiracy theory about Ukrainian election interference that targets the Democratic Party. Robert Blair, an aide to Mulvaney Blair has direct knowledge of Mulvaney's involvement in the Ukraine pressure campaign. The New York Times reported that early on as Trump debated withholding aid, Blair wrote to Mulvaney in an email that the administration should "expect Congress to become unhinged" if the White House tried to pull back spending that was approved in Congress. Michael Duffey, an OMB official Duffey officially ordered the freeze in Ukraine's aid 91 minutes after Trump's phone call with Zelensky on July 25. Duffey wrote that based on "guidance" he had gotten and in "light of the Administration's plan to review assistance to Ukraine … please hold off on any additional DoD obligations of these funds, pending director from that process." House impeachment managers dig in on calling witnesses after Murkowski deals a fatal blow to the motion House manager Val Demings displayed the graphic above as she emphasized that the Senate had called witnesses in every one of the 15 previous impeachment trials in US history. Murkowski explains her decision to vote against calling witnesses: 'Given the partisan nature of this impeachment from the very beginning and throughout, I have come to the conclusion that there will be no fair trial in the Senate' Here's her statement: "I worked for a fair, honest, and transparent process, modeled after the Clinton trial, to provide ample time for both sides to present their cases, ask thoughtful questions, and determine whether we need more. "The House chose to send articles of impeachment that are rushed and flawed. I carefully considered the need for additional witnesses and documents, to cure the shortcomings of its process, but ultimately decided that I will vote against considering motions to subpoena. "Given the partisan nature of this impeachment from the very beginning and throughout, I have come to the conclusion that there will be no fair trial in the Senate. I don't believe the continuation of this process will change anything. It is sad for me to admit that, as an institution, the Congress has failed. "It has also become clear some of my colleagues intend to further politicize this process, and drag the Supreme Court into the fray, while attacking the Chief Justice. I will not stand for nor support that effort. We have already degraded this institution for partisan political benefit, and I will not enable those who wish to pull down another. "We are sadly at a low point of division in this country." Here's what Bolton says in his upcoming book According to The Times, Trump asked Bolton during a meeting in May — shortly after Zelensky was elected — to call Zelensky to ensure he would meet with Rudy Giuliani, Trump's personal lawyer. At the time, Giuliani was planning a trip to Ukraine to push Zelensky to deliver two politically motivated investigations that Trump wanted. The first targeted former Vice President Joe Biden, who had recently launched his 2020 campaign, and his son, Hunter, related to Hunter Biden's employment on the board of the Ukrainian natural-gas company Burisma Holdings. The second was an investigation into a bogus conspiracy theory, pushed by Russia, that suggested Ukraine interfered in the 2016 US election. Bolton claims Giuliani, the acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, and the White House counsel Pat Cipollone were present at the meeting when Trump asked him to call Zelensky. Cipollone is currently leading Trump's defense in his Senate impeachment trial, raising the possibility that the president's chief defense lawyer is also now a potential witness to his alleged misconduct.
GOP Sen. Lamar Alexander called Trump's actions 'inappropriate' but says he will vote against a motion for witnesses in impeachment trial
On Thursday, the Senate will wrap up a 16-hour period of submitting written questions to prosecutors...On Thursday, the Senate will wrap up a 16-hour period of submitting written questions to prosecutors and defense lawyers in President Donald Trump's impeachment trial. Democrats focused their questions on the need to call more witnesses in Trump's trial, particularly the former national security adviser John Bolton. Republicans focused on trying to exonerate the president of wrongdoing and arguing against calling more witnesses. All eyes are on a few Republican senators who could be swing votes in the motion to call witnesses: Susan Collins of Maine, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, and Mitt Romney of Utah. Scroll down to watch the trial and follow Insider's live coverage. Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories. On Thursday, senators will wrap up a 16-hour period of submitting written questions to the prosecution and the defense in President Donald Trump's impeachment trial. The question-and-answer period comes after six marathon days of opening arguments from House impeachment managers — who act as prosecutors in the president's trial — and Trump's defense team, led by White House counsel Pat Cipollone and Trump's personal defense attorney Jay Sekulow. After the defense rested its case on Tuesday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced the 16-hour question period would be spread out over two days, and encouraged Senators to keep their questions "thoughtful" and "brief." The House of Representatives impeached Trump last month for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. Both charges related to his efforts to coerce Ukraine into launching politically motivated investigations targeting former Vice President Joe Biden, a 2020 Democratic frontrunner, his son Hunter, and the Democratic Party as a whole. While doing so, the president withheld $391 million in vital military aid to Ukraine, as well as a White House meeting that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky desperately sought and still hasn't gotten. During the first day of the question-and-answer, senators quizzed prosecutors and defense lawyers about the merits of impeaching Trump and whether there was a basis for his removal from office. Democratic senators focused on the unprecedented nature of a Senate impeachment trial with no witnesses and asked House managers to highlight the charges against the president. They zeroed in on the fact that Trump was not interested in corruption in Ukraine before Biden started running for office, and on the fact that over a dozen witnesses have so far testified to the president's misconduct. Republicans, meanwhile, focused on drawing hypothetical scenarios to try and prove that Biden inappropriately intervened in an investigation into Burisma Holdings, the Ukrainian natural gas company whose board employed Biden's son, Hunter, until last year. (There is no evidence to support the theory that the vice president improperly tried to influence the investigation.) Some Republican senators also tried to use their questions to reveal the identity of the whistleblower who sparked the impeachment inquiry. But Chief Justice John Roberts, who reviewed the questions beforehand, made it clear that he would not read aloud any question that named the individual who filed the whistleblower complaint against the president. On Thursday, Democratic senators will likely use their time to help House managers make a compelling case to call John Bolton, the former national security adviser, to testify in the trial. Republicans will likely use their time to try to exonerate the president and argue that the Senate doesn't need to call more witnesses because Congress has all the evidence it needs. Watch the trial below: Scroll down to follow Insider's live coverage:Sen. Lamar Alexander, a Republican from Tennessee, says he will vote against a motion to call witnesses. Alexander told reporters earlier in the night that he would make his "decision after the last question tonight." Shortly after he left the US Capitol, Alexander released a statement that he would not vote for a motion to call witnesses. Alexander was viewed as a potential swing voter — one of four in the GOP who could vote with Democrats to call witnesses. In his statement he called the president's actions "inappropriate" but said that they did not rise to the bar of impeachable offenses and should be decided at the ballot box. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, a moderate Republican from Alaska, said she will announce her decision on Friday. Sen. Susan Collins, a Republican from Maine, releases a statement saying she'll support a motion calling witnesses. After the trial adjourned on Thursday, Collins said she "will vote in support of the motion to allow witnesses and documents be subpoenaed." The vote will come on Friday, and according to her statement, she will join Democrats in voting to call witnesses in the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump. Tweet Embed: //twitter.com/mims/statuses/1223091529872564225?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw I will vote in support of the motion to allow witnesses and documents to be subpoenaed. My full statement: https://t.co/VuhZv6CO5e pic.twitter.com/LhQlnvPaoc Pence aide who testified against Trump will be leaving his office earlier than planned Jennifer Williams, a State Department official detailed to Vice President Mike Pence's office, will be leaving her position earlier than planned, CNN reported. Her detail was reportedly supposed to end in two months, but she will be leaving early next week. Williams was a firsthand witness to Trump's July 25 phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. She testified that what she heard on the call was "unusual" and that she flagged it to her superior. During the phone call, Trump deviated from the talking points that had been set by senior national security aides and instead pressured Zelensky to launch investigations targeting former Vice President Joe Biden and the Democratic Party as a whole. Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, the top Ukraine expert on the National Security Council, also heard the call and reported it to John Eisenberg, the NSC's chief lawyer. Vindman testified that Eisenberg took note of his concerns and told him not to tell anyone else about what he had heard. White House lawyers then took the unusual step of moving the transcript of the call to a top-secret, codeword NSC server typically used to house sensitive information pertaining to US national security. The White House has not yet released the full transcript of the conversation. Trump's lawyers keep pushing a bogus talking point about the impeachment process Here's what White House counsel Pat Cipollone said: "If you feel confident in your facts then why do you design a process that completely shuts out the President? Why do you cook up the facts in a basement SCIF instead of in the light of day?" SCIF stands for Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility. Cipollone added that Democrats "locked out the President's counsel." Fact check: The House Intelligence Committee conducted the initial impeachment hearings behind closed doors to protect potentially classified information from spilling out. The committee subsequently released transcripts of all the closed-door depositions. The private hearings were also open to every Republican and Democratic member of three committees, which is approximately 100 lawmakers. Counsel for Democrats and Republicans were also allowed to participate, which they did. Trump's lawyers were later invited to attend public hearings in the impeachment inquiry. They declined every invitation. At a campaign event during his impeachment trial, Trump rails against Democrats for impeaching him after he signed 'the biggest tax cut in the history of our country' into law. CNN reported that while he was at a campaign event in Michigan during the impeachment trial, Trump mentioned that he signed "the biggest tax cut in the history of our country" into law. "And what do they do? They impeach you," he said. "It's frankly a disgrace to our country." Fact check: Trump was impeached for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, not for passing a tax cut. Bipartisan group of senators takes aim at Rudy Giuliani's role as Trump's bag man in Ukraine A bipartisan group of senators — Democratic Sens. Kyrsten Sinema and Joe Manchin, and Republican Sens. Lisa Murkowski and Susan Collins — asked a question to Trump's defense team that appeared to take aim at the president's decision to have his personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, carry out his pressure campaign in Ukraine. The senators noted that the Logan Act bars any United States citizen without the authority of the State Department from communicating with any foreign government to influence that government's conduct in relation to any controversy with the US. They then asked the defense team if the president will "assure the public" that private citizens will not be directed to conduct US policy unless they've been "specifically designated" by the president and State Department to do so? Here's the Trump team's response: Deputy White House counsel Patrick Philbin acknowledged that the question was made in reference to Giuliani but went on to say he wanted to "make clear" that no private person was carrying out foreign policy in the Trump administration. He pointed to testimony from Kurt Volker, the US's former special envoy to Ukraine, in which Volker said he believed Giuliani was merely a "source of information" for the president, and "someone who knew about Ukraine and someone who spoke to the president." Philbin also pointed out that the Ukrainians approached Giuliani as a nexus to Trump because "he was someone who could provide information to the president." He added that Volker testified he did not believe Giuliani was carrying out Trump's policy directives but rather "indicating his views" of what he thought "would be useful" for the Ukrainians to use to convince Trump of their "anti-corruption bona fides." Regardless, Philbin said, Trump's policy is to "always abide by the laws." Fact check: It is not true that Giuliani was merely a "source of information" for Trump vis-a-vis Ukraine. More than a dozen witnesses have testified that Giuliani spearheaded the Trump administration's "irregular" foreign policy channel in Ukraine and was instrumental in engineering the ouster of Marie Yovanovitch, the US's ambassador to Ukraine, after he and Trump carried out a smear campaign against her. Here's what Bill Taylor, the US's former interim ambassador to Ukraine, testified (emphasis ours): "As the acting ambassador, I had authority over the regular, formal diplomatic processes, including the bulk of the U.S. effort to support Ukraine against the Russian invasion and to help it defeat corruption. My colleague, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State George Kent, and our colleagues at the National Security Council (NSC) were my main points of contact in Washington in this regular channel. This channel is formally responsible for formulating and overseeing the implementation of U.S. foreign policy with respect to Ukraine, a policy that has consistently enjoyed strong, bipartisan support, both in Congress and in all administrations since Ukraine's independence from Russia in 1991." "At the same time, however, I encountered an irregular, informal channel of U.S. policy-making with respect to Ukraine, unaccountable to Congress, a channel that included then-Special Envoy Kurt Volker, U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland, Secretary of Energy Rick Perry, White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney, and, as I subsequently learned, Mr. Giuliani. I was clearly in the regular channel, but I was also in the irregular one to the extent that Ambassadors Volker and Sondland included me in certain conversations. Although this irregular channel was well-connected in Washington, it operated mostly outside of official State Department channels." Trump's team could presumably point to these comments to show Giuliani was not, in fact, engaged in official US policy, but rather a side errand for Trump's personal interests. However, that claim is undercut by testimony from Gordon Sondland, the US's ambassador to the European Union (emphasis ours): "The suggestion that we were engaged in some irregular or rogue diplomacy is absolutely false. I have now identified certain State Department emails and messages that provide contemporaneous support for my view. These emails show that the leadership of State, NSC, and the White House were all informed about the Ukraine efforts from May 23, 2019, until the security aid was released on September 11, 2019." Fiona Hill, the National Security Council's former senior director for Russian and Eurasian Affairs, testified that it wasn't until she heard Sondland's testimony that she fully understood what was going on when she served in the White House: Sondland "was being involved in domestic political errand. And we were being involved in national security foreign policy and those two things had just diverged…I did say to him…I do think this is all going to blow up. And here we are." Trump's impeachment trial by the numbers (so far) In response to a question from a group of five Republican senators, including Ted Cruz and Lindsey Graham, asking how many witnesses have testified in Trump's impeachment trial and how much documentary evidence has been submitted into the record, deputy White House counsel Patrick Philbin laid out a few statistics: The Senate has seen 192 video clips from 13 witnesses. Over 28,000 pages of documents — specifically, 28,578 pages — have been submitted into the record. Each side had up to 24 hours to make opening arguments. House impeachment managers used more than 21 hours of their time, while Trump's defense team used significantly less. Philbin pointed to the numbers and said, "At this point there has been a lot put on here in terms of a trial. You've seen the witnesses in the clips, all of the most relevant parts, you've seen the documents put up in excerpts on the screens." Trump lawyer Eric Herschmann mentions the border wall as a defense against impeachment In response to a question from a Republican senator, which asked whether Trump has "the best interest of America and its citizens in mind," defense attorney Eric Herschmann rattled off a list of the president's accomplishments. He said Trump is only an "immediate, legitimate threat" to Democrats "because the election is only eight months away." (Fact check: It's nine months away.) Herschmann went on to praise Trump for: Replacing NAFTA with USMCA Overseeing the assassinations of ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and Iran's top military general Qassem Soleimani Job creation and a low unemployment rate Cutting illegal border crossings down and building 100 miles of the wall along the US's southern border with Mexico Fact check: It's unclear where Herschmann was going with this, or why the president's defense team was using his impeachment trial to make a political pitch for his reelection. But The New York Times' Maggie Haberman reported that she heard from several Trump advisers who said Herschmann is making a play for Trump's chief of staff. House impeachment manager Adam Schiff: 'The Constitution is not a suicide pact' "The Constitution is not a suicide pact," the lead House impeachment manager, Adam Schiff, said after detailing President Trump's repeated efforts to strong-arm Ukraine into pursuing the investigations he wanted. "It does not require us to surrender our common sense. Our common sense, as well as our morality, tells us what the president did was wrong. When a president sacrifices the national security interests of the country, it's not only wrong but it's dangerous. When a president says … he will continue to do it if left in office, it is dangerous. The framers provided a remedy, and we urge you to use it." Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon uses Mike Pompeo's own words against him Here's what Wyden asked the House managers: "The [US] intelligence community is prohibited from requesting a foreign entity target an American citizen when the intelligence community is itself prohibited from doing so." He then referenced Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's own words from a 2017 Senate confirmation hearing when he was tapped to head up the CIA. At the time, Pompeo said, "It is not lawful to outsource that which we cannot do." Wyden's question continued, "So when President Trump asked a foreign country to investigate an American and the US government had not established a legal predicate to do so, how is that not an abuse of power?" Here's what Rep. Adam Schiff of California, the lead impeachment manager, said in response: "It is absolutely an abuse of power. And what's more, if you believe that a president can essentially engage in any corrupt activity as long as he believes that it will assist his reelection campaign and that campaign is in the public interest, then what's to stop a president from tasking his intelligence agencies to do political investigations? What's to stop him from tasking the Justice Department? If he can come up with some credible or incredible claim that his opponent deserves to be investigated, their argument would lead you to the conclusion that he has every right to do that." "But you're absolutely right. If Secretary Pompeo was correct and you can't use your own intelligence agencies, you sure shouldn't be able to use the Russian ones, or the Ukrainian ones." Pat Cipollone calls impeachment "domestic election interference" even though impeachment is in the Constitution In response to a question from several Republican Senators as to whether they should reject Trump's impeachment based on its "partisan nature," White House counsel Pat Cipollone mischaracterized the nature of impeachment itself. Cipollone argued that impeachment in an election year is tantamount to "canceling an election" and "ripping up" Americans' ballots. The merits of the impeachment case aside, Trump's lawyers have frequently argued throughout the trial that Senators should acquit Trump because removing him would "overturn" a fair election and the will of the voters. "We've never been in a situation where we have the impeachment of a president in an election year, with the goal of removing the president from office," Cipollone argued. "That is the most massive election interference we've ever witnessed." Fact check: Impeachment is a specific constitutional remedy for removing a president who has committed high crimes and misdemeanors, treason, or bribery. Impeachment and conviction do not, in fact, overturn an election or constitute malicious interference. If Trump were removed from office, his Vice President and 2016 running mate Mike Pence would become president, not 2016 Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton or the third-in-line to the constitution, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Chief Justice John Roberts declines to read aloud a question from a Republican senator from Kentucky Chief Justice John Roberts, who is presiding over the impeachment trial, refused to read aloud a question from a senator from Kentucky. "The presiding officer declines to read the question as submitted," Roberts said. It's unclear which senator — Rand Paul or Mitch McConnell — submitted the question. But on Wednesday, Roberts refused to read out a question that Paul submitted because it reportedly named the whistleblower who first reported Trump's alleged misconduct toward Ukraine. Roberts told the Senate this week that he would not read out any questions that tried to out the whistleblower or which contained significant identifying information about the individual, who belongs to the US intelligence community.
The Senate began a marathon 16-hour question-and-answer session on Wednesday. Here are the key moments.
The Senate on Wednesday began a 16-hour period of submitting written questions in President Donald Trump's...The Senate on Wednesday began a 16-hour period of submitting written questions in President Donald Trump's impeachment trial. This comes after six marathon days of opening arguments from House impeachment managers, who act as prosecutors in the trial, and Trump's defense team. The question-and-answer session will be split into two eight-hour days and will likely be pivotal in helping Republican senators decide whether to join Democrats in voting to call additional witnesses to testify. Scroll down to watch the trial and follow Insider's live coverage. Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories. On Wednesday, senators began a 16-hour period of submitting written questions to the prosecution and the defense in President Donald Trump's impeachment trial. The question-and-answer period comes after six marathon days of opening arguments from House impeachment managers — who act as prosecutors in the president's trial — and Trump's defense team, led by White House counsel Pat Cipollone and Trump's personal defense attorney Jay Sekulow. After the defense rested its case on Tuesday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced the 16-hour question period would be spread out over two days, and encouraged Senators to keep their questions "thoughtful" and "brief." The 16 hours during which senators submit their written questions will likely be pivotal ahead of a vote on whether the Senate will call additional witnesses to testify in Trump's trial. That vote is scheduled to take place on Friday. The House of Representatives impeached Trump last month for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. Both charges related to his efforts to coerce Ukraine into launching politically motivated investigations targeting former Vice President Joe Biden, a 2020 Democratic frontrunner, his son Hunter, and the Democratic Party as a whole. While doing so, the president withheld $391 million in vital military aid to Ukraine, as well as a White House meeting that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky desperately sought and still hasn't gotten. On Monday and Tuesday, Trump's defense team said the Senate didn't need to subpoena John Bolton, the former national security adviser, to testify in the trial after a leak of his unpublished book manuscript threw a wrench into their defense strategy. The New York Times reported on the manuscript Sunday night, in which Bolton wrote that Trump personally told him he would withhold Ukraine's military aid until Zelensky agreed to deliver politically motivated investigations targeting the Bidens. On Tuesday evening, multiple outlets reported that McConnell emerged from a closed-door meeting with Senate Republicans without the necessary votes to block witnesses. Senators must approve witnesses with a 51-vote majority, meaning four Republicans would need to side with Democrats to call Bolton. Watch the trial below: Scroll down to follow Insider's live coverage:Trump's lawyers refuse to say whether he believes foreign interference in elections is illegal Sen. Chris Coons of Connecticut asked Trump's legal team whether the president believes foreign intervention in US elections is illegal. Here's what Coons' question said: "In June, 2019, President Trump said that if Russia or China offered information on his opponent, 'there's nothing wrong with listening,' and he might not alert the FBI because, 'give me a break, life doesn't work that way.' Does President Trump agree with your statement that foreigners' involvement in American elections is illegal?" Here's what deputy White House counsel Patrick Philbin said in response: "I think Congress has specified specific ways in which foreigners cannot be involved in elections. The Department of Justice concluded that there was no such violation here," he argued, "So that is not something that is involved in this case." Democratic senator and 2020 candidate Amy Klobuchar points out that the Senate heard from 26 witnesses, including 17 new ones, in a judge's impeachment trial in 2010 Klobuchar, who represents Minnesota, recounted her time serving on the Senate trial committee during the impeachment of Judge Thomas Porteous in 2010. At the time, the Senate heard from 26 witnesses, including 17 whom the House of Representatives had not heard from. Porteous was ultimately removed from office. "What possible reason could there be for having 26 witnesses in a judicial impeachment trial and hearing none for a president's trial?" Klobuchar asked. Lead House impeachment manager Adam Schiff responded: "There is no difference in terms of the Constitution. I would say that the need for witnesses in the impeachment trial of the president of the United States is a far more compelling circumstance than the impeachment of a judge." According to CNN, Chief Justice John Roberts reviewed senators' questions before the trial and decided he wouldn't read any that could out the whistleblower CNN reported that Roberts told Republican senators after he reviewed the questions that he wouldn't read the name of the whistleblower if it was included in a question submitted for the prosecution or defense. Since Roberts conveyed that message to Republicans, they've reportedly been trying to figure out a way to work around his decision. Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul was blocked from asking his question because it would reportedly reveal the whistleblower's identity The Republican senator was preparing to ask a question about the origins of the impeachment inquiry but was stopped from doing so to protect the whistleblower, The New York Times reported. Trump lawyer defends his flip-flop on what constitutes an impeachable offense Sen. Joe Manchin, a West Virginia Democrat, asked Trump defense attorney Alan Dershowitz why he's changed his position on whether an impeachable offense must be an indictable crime. "What has happened in the last 22 years to change the original intent of the framers and the historic meaning of the term 'high crimes and misdemeanors?'" Manchin asked. Dershowitz said that over the last two decades he had "read more," conducted more research, and changed his view on the matter. He now says a president must commit a crime or "criminal-like behavior" in order to be impeached. Trump lawyer can't say whether Trump was interested in the Bidens' involvement in Ukraine before Joe Biden entered the 2020 race Republican senators Lisa Murkowski and Susan Collins asked Trump's lawyers on Wednesday whether the president expressed any concern about corruption relating to the Bidens or Burisma before Joe Biden entered the 2020 race. Trump defense attorney Patrick Philbin couldn't provide any evidence Trump had done so. He argued that he couldn't mention anything that hadn't been submitted by the House into the Senate record, despite there not being any rule governing that. "I'm limited to what's in the record," Philbin said. "I can't point to something in the record that shows President Trump at an earlier time mentioning specifically something related to Joe or Hunter Biden." Republican senator asks Trump's legal team to speculate on whether the whistleblower worked with National Security Council officials to 'take out' Trump "The only knowledge that we have … comes from public reports," deputy White House counsel Patrick Philbin said in response. "I gather there is a news report … that suggests a name for the whistleblower, suggests where he worked … at that time while detailed at the NSC staff for then Vice President Biden and that there were others who worked there," he added. "We have no knowledge of that other than what is in those reports and I don't want to get into speculating." Trump lawyers repeat misleading claim that the Trump administration is tougher on Russia, and more of a friend to Ukraine, than Obama was Republican senators on the Armed Services Committee asked Trump's lawyers which of the following two they believed was a greater harm to the US's national interest: Trump's decision to "temporarily pause" Ukraine's aid, which was ultimately delivered, or President Obama's refusal to provide lethal weapons to Ukraine for three years. Deputy White House counsel Patrick Philbin responded by highlighting the Trump administration's decision to provide lethal aid to Ukraine after the Obama administration declined to. He added that the move proves Trump is tougher on Russia, and more of a friend to Ukraine, than Obama was, a talking point that many Republican lawmakers have put out. Fact check: It's true that the Obama administration declined to send lethal aid to Ukraine, and that the Trump administration approved it. However, as Insider's John Haltiwanger wrote, under the rules of the sale, the javelin missiles have to be stored in western Ukraine, which is far from the frontlines of the ongoing conflict in eastern Ukraine against pro-Russia separatists. In other words, the javelins were essentially provided to Ukraine under the condition that they not be used in the conflict zone. GOP Sens. Lindsey Graham and Ted Cruz draw a bogus comparison between Trump-Biden and Obama-Romney Republican Sens. Lindsey Graham and Ted Cruz, both of whom are staunch Trump allies, posed a hypothetical scenario to House impeachment managers: In the run-up to the 2012 election, what if then President Barack Obama, who was running for re-election, had evidence that Mitt Romney's son "was being paid $1 million per year by a corrupt Russian company," and that Romney, who was the Republican presidential candidate at the time, had "acted to benefit that company?" "Would Obama have authority to ask that that potential corruption be investigated?" the senators asked. Fact check: This question has a false premise. Cruz and Graham were presumably drawing a hypothetical parallel to former Vice President Joe Biden's demand that Ukraine fire Viktor Shokin, the prosecutor general who had investigated Burisma Holdings, whose board employed Biden's son Hunter until last year. Trump and Republicans claim the elder Biden had Shokin ousted to protect Burisma and his son. But there's no evidence of that. In fact, Biden was representing the US's official policy position — as multiple witnesses in the impeachment inquiry have testified — when he called for Shokin's removal. The US's view was also in line with that of the rest of the western world, as well as the International Monetary Fund. Moreover, Shokin's investigation into Burisma was largely dormant when he was fired. And Yuriy Lutsenko, the prosecutor general who succeeded Shokin, acknowledged last year that he had no evidence of any wrongdoing on the part of the Bidens. Trump lawyers argue he can set US foreign policy however he wants Trump's defense team argued in response to a question from Republican Sen. Mike Lee of Utah that the president is the only one who has the power to set US foreign policy. Lee's question appeared to address the crux of the first article of impeachment against Trump, which accuses him of abusing his power by hijacking US foreign policy and using it to cater to his personal interests at the cost of US national security. In response to Lee's question, deputy White House counsel Patrick Philbin referenced prior Supreme Court rulings and said they concluded the president is the "sole organ of the nation in foreign affairs." CNN conducted a broad overview of Trump's foreign policy mandate in November. It found that the Constitution is very specific in its outline of presidential powers. The document says the president is the commander-in-chief of the US armed forces and has the power to make treaties and appoint ambassadors. But it doesn't specify any other powers related to foreign policy. Trump defense lawyer Alan Dershowitz makes bizarre claim that Trump's election itself is in the public interest Here's what Dershowitz said: "If a president does something which he believes will help him get elected in the public interest, that cannot be the kind of quid pro quo that results in impeachment." Fact check: This is a bizarre claim, because it implies Trump's election itself — an inherently political outcome — is in the public interest. Earlier, Dershowitz also laid out a hypothetical scenario in which a Democratic president told Israel he would withhold all aid until the Israeli government stopped all settlement growth, or if he told Palestine he would withhold aid until the Palestinian government stopped "paying terrorists." "And the president said: quid pro quo," Dershowitz added. "If you don't do it, you don't get the money. If you do it, you get the money. There is no one in this chamber that would regard that as in any way unlawful." It's unclear where Dershowitz was going with this line of thinking, because it seems to confirm what House Democrats have argued: while previous US presidents routinely engaged in "quid pro quos" with other nations, they did so in matters of official foreign policy or national interest. But according to witness testimony, documentary evidence, and Trump's and his allies' own comments, the president's efforts to strong-arm Ukraine into delivering investigations that would personally benefit him were not in the US's interest, but rather his personal interests. Here's a clip of the moment: Tweet Embed: //twitter.com/mims/statuses/1222600255369359362?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw Trump attorney Alan Dershowitz: "If a president does something which he believes will help him get elected in the public interest, that cannot be the kind of quid pro quo that results in impeachment." https://t.co/jKErQcS1Iy pic.twitter.com/zo4rL6Zbla White House deputy counsel Patrick Philbin points to 2 documents that he says prove Trump's interest in European burden-sharing Trump's defense team was asked to respond to Schiff's argument, and deputy White House counsel Patrick Philbin made a few points that he said proved Trump's interest in European burden-sharing with respect to Ukraine's military aid. He pointed to two documents: A June 24 email from one Defense Department official to another, titled "POTUS follow-up." The email said, "What do other NATO members spend to support Ukraine?" The White House's summary of a July 25 phone call between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, which showed Trump telling Zelensky: "We spent a lot of effort and a lot of time for Ukraine. Much more than the European countries are doing, and threshold be helping you more than we are." Lead House manager Adam Schiff replays Trump lawyers' own comments to prove why the Senate should subpoena John Bolton As he continued explaining why the Senate needed to hear testimony from Bolton himself, Schiff played several clips of the president's lawyers saying they hadn't gotten all the facts from the House impeachment inquiry. The first clip featured White House counsel Pat Cipollone, who's leading Trump's defense team. "House managers' ... goal should be to give you all the facts," Cipollone said. "Ask yourself, given the facts you heard today that they didn't tell you, who doesn't want to talk about the facts? Impeachment shouldn't be a shell game. They should give you the facts." The second clip featured Cipollone's deputy, Michael Purpura. "And once again, not a single witness in the House record … provided any firsthand evidence that the president ever linked a presidential meeting to any investigations," Purpura said. "Anyone who spoke with the president said that the president made clear that there was no linkage between security assistance and investigations." Purpura's statements were misleading — Mick Mulvaney, the acting White House chief of staff, publicly confirmed that Trump held Ukraine's military aid in part because he wanted Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to launch an investigation looking into a bogus conspiracy theory suggesting Ukraine meddled in the 2016 election. Lead House manager Adam Schiff turns Trump's lawyers' own argument against them Schiff also addressed the first question that GOP Sens. Susan Collins, Lisa Murkowski, and Mitt Romney asked the president's defense team regarding a scenario in which Trump had several motives, in both his personal interest and the public interest, in withholding Ukraine's military aid. Trump's lawyers said that if Trump had a "mixed motive" in withholding aid, that was even more reason that the House's articles of impeachment were invalid. But Schiff noted that "if any part of the president's motivation was a corrupt motive — it was a causal factor in the action to freeze the aid or withhold the meeting — that is enough to convict him," Schiff said. "It would be enough to convict under criminal law." He added that if senators have any questions about Trump's motivation, however, that "makes it all the more essential to call the man who spoke directly with the president, that the president confided in and said he was holding up this aid because he wanted Ukraine to conduct these political investigations that would help him in the next election." Here, Schiff was referring to Bolton, who claims the president personally told him he would not release Ukraine's aid until the country launched the politically tilted investigations he wanted. "If you have any question about whether it was a fact, the factor, a quarter of the factor, all of the factor, there is a witness a subpoena away who can answer that question," Schiff said. John Bolton looms large over Trump's trial in the wake of his bombshell book revelation Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer asked the following question to House impeachment managers: "John R. Bolton's forthcoming book states that the president wanted to continue withholding $391 million in military aid to Ukraine until Ukraine announced investigations into his top political rival and the debunked conspiracy theory about the 2016 election. Is there a way for the Senate to render a fully informed verdict in this case without hearing the testimony of Bolton, Mulvaney, and the other key eyewitnesses or without seeing the relevant documentary evidence?" Here's what prosecutors said: "The short answer to that question is no," lead House manager Adam Schiff said. There's "no way to have a fair trial without witnesses, especially one who is as plainly relevant" as Bolton. The former national security adviser "goes to the heart of the most serious and egregious of the president's misconduct" and has "volunteered to come and testify." "To turn him away, to look the other way, I think, is deeply at oddes with being an impartial juror," Schiff added. Key Republican Sen. Cory Gardner announces he'll vote against calling new witnesses Gardner, the most vulnerable Senate Republican, was closely watched as being a potential "yes" vote on calling witnesses. He threw cold water on that on Wednesday, telling reporters, "I do not believe we need to hear from an 18th witness." GOP Sens. Lisa Murkowski, Susan Collins, and Mitt Romney kick off the questioning The first question came from Republican Sens. Lisa Murkowski, Susan Collins, and Mitt Romney — all of whom are key swing votes in the question of whether to call more witnesses in Trump's trial. The question was posed to the president's defense team. Here's the question: "If President Trump had more than one motive for his alleged conduct, such as the pursuit of personal political advantage, rooting our corruption, and the promotion of national interest, how should the Senate consider more than one motive in its assessment of Article 1?" (The first article of impeachment charges Trump with abuse of power). Here's what Trump's defense said: Deputy White House counsel Patrick Philbin took the lead on answering this question and said there were "two layers" to the defense's response. The first is that "abuse of power" in and of itself is not an impeachable offense and is therefore "constitutionally ineffective." The second is that a mixed motive — meaning if the president carried out his actions out of personal interest as well as public interest — "it follows even more clearly" that there cannot "possibly" be a basis for impeaching Trump. Philbin pointed to the House Judiciary Committee's report on Trump's impeachment, which said the standard House Democrats set for themselves was to show the investigations he asked for were "sham" and "bogus" investigations that served no public purpose. But, Philbin said, Democrats themselves discussed the Bidens during the impeachment inquiry, which in the defense's view demonstrated that there was some evidence that Trump was acting in the public or national interest. "And if there's anything that shows a possible public interest motive … that destroys their case," Philbin said. "So once you're into mixed motive land, it's clear that their case failed. It can't possibly be an impeachable offense at all." Chief Justice John Roberts asks that prosecutors and defense lawyers limit answers to questions to five minutes each