Impeachment manager describes moment of historic national crisisAfter rejecting fresh witnesses, Republicans say they heard nothing newSome senators exit chamber despite trial rulesStriving to make himself heard across partisan lines, the lead impeachment prosecutor filled his opening argument against Donald Trump on the Senate floor on Wednesday with invitations, warnings and appeals designed to win Republican backing for a substantial trial.Using flowing evocations of constitutional history, the global promise of US democracy, and the stakes should it all be allowed to slip, Democrat Adam Schiff framed his story of Trump’s wrongdoing as a national crisis demanding a non-partisan remedy. Continue reading...
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How did Trump and his team pull off his successful defense? Here’s a look at key...How did Trump and his team pull off his successful defense? Here’s a look at key factorsWill historians find Donald Trump’s impeachment remarkable because Republican politicians turned a blind eye to such egregious wrongdoing and acquitted him? Or will they find it remarkable because it was the last time a cadre of Republican officials publicly turned against Trump?While most of the career civil servants who defied the president by testifying in the impeachment inquiry do not publicly identify as Republican, many were Trump appointees with strong Republican ties, while other key figures such as former national security advisor John Bolton are wizened party warriors. Continue reading...
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
House manager says case against Trump ‘overwhelming’Schiff says Trump’s comment about him intended as a threatOne...House manager says case against Trump ‘overwhelming’Schiff says Trump’s comment about him intended as a threatOne of the prosecutors in Donald Trump’s impeachment trial insisted on Sunday that “the country’s fate is hanging” on the outcome of the showdown now taking place in the US Senate, in which she declared the case against the president regarding his conduct with Ukraine “overwhelming”.Zoe Lofgren, a California congresswoman and one of the senior Democrats presenting the evidence against the president for abuse of power and obstructing Congress, said senators trying the case needed to hear additional witnesses and evidence this week in order to provide the “impartial justice” that America depends upon. Continue reading...