Trump’s Impeachment Trial: Democrats Wrap Up Opening Arguments

January 24, 2020 Updated: January 26, 2020

Friday’s session of the Senate impeachment trial for President Donald Trump will start at 1 p.m. Please refresh for updates (all times ET).

Democrats are again expected to elaborate on their case against Trump and will make their conclusion before Trump’s legal team will make their case starting on Saturday. It would take a simple majority of 51 senators to vote for more documents or to call witnesses. Previous attempts to call witnesses or subpoena documents were rejected by the Republican-held majority. Reps. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) and Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) are leading the House’s case against Trump, while Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts oversees the trial.

9:10 p.m. – Democrats Wrap Up Opening Arguments

The House managers’ remarks have concluded and the impeachment trial is set to resume 10 a.m. tomorrow when Trump’s legal team will begin their arguments.

Jay Sekulow, Trump’s attorney, told reporters in Washington: “We’re going to rebut and refute, and we’re going to put on an affirmative case tomorrow.”

House managers claimed that the president will persist in abusing his power and threaten democracy unless Congress removes him before the 2020 election.

In concluding remarks, Schiff summarized the main points over the past three days, repeatedly following up allegations against Trump related to the two articles of impeachment with the phrase “That has been proved.”

“The facts have been proved. Those facts are not contested. We have met our burden,” he said.

He also laid out what he anticipates will be the defense team’s arguments, and attempted to rebut them.

As he wrapped up his speech, Schiff appeared to appeal to the senators—when it comes time later in the trial for them to vote—to allow further motions for subpoenaing witnesses, documents, or further evidence.

“I implore you—give America a fair trial. She’s worth it,” Schiff said.

7:40 p.m. – Senate Trial Resumes After Dinner

The Senate resumed the trial shortly after 7:30 p.m. as their dinner break wrapped up.

Impeachment House manager Jason Crow (D-Colo.) proceeded with arguments as to why the president has allegedly obstructed justice.

5:45 p.m. – Graham Wants Investigation Into Bidens, Ukraine After Trial

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said that “someone” should investigate the Bidens and Ukraine after the impeachment trial of Trump wraps up, The Hill reported.

Graham also added that he will carry out an investigation if an outside counsel doesn’t step forward, telling reporters: “Nobody has done an investigation anywhere near like the Mueller investigation of the Bidens, and I think they should. And when this is over the Congress will do it, if we can’t have an outside entity do it.”

5:30 p.m – Sekulow Says Hunter Biden Will be Part of Argument

The president’s counsel Jay Sekulow stated that Burisma Holdings, former Vice President Joe Biden, and his son Hunter are going to be part of Republican opening arguments on Saturday.

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Jay Sekulow, a member of President Donald Trump’s defense team, speaks to journalists in Washington on Jan. 24. (Samuel Corum/Getty Images)

“Why they opened up the door as wide as a double door on the Hunter Biden, Joe Biden, Burisma issue, I guess they figured that was their way of getting ahead of it,” he told reporters. “We will address it.”

5 p.m. – Trump Pushes Back Against ABC Report

President Trump pushed back against an ABC News report that alleged he told associates of Rudy Giuliani to “get rid” of former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch.

President Donald Trump in DAvos
President Donald Trump (L) shakes hands with World Economic Forum (WEF) founder and executive chairman Klaus Schwab after he delivered a speech at the Congress centre during the WEF annual meeting in Davos on Jan. 21, 2020. (Fabrice Coffrini/AFP via Getty Images)

“Well, I wouldn’t have been saying that,” Trump told Fox when he was asked about it. “I probably would have said if it was Rudy there or somebody. But I make no bones about it. I won’t have ambassadors, I have every right. I want ambassadors that are chosen by me.”

Trump also pushed back against a claim that he relied on Parnas to oust Yovanovitch. “No, no, but I have a lot of people and he’s somebody that I guess, based on pictures that I see, goes to fundraisers,” Trump said of Parnas. “But I am not a fan of that ambassador.”

4 p.m. Trump Lawyer: Saturday’s Arguments Will Last 3 Hours

During a break, Jay Sekulow, a member of President Trump’s defense team, said their arguments will be a “trailer and a coming attractions.”

“Obviously, three hours to put it out, so we will take whatever time is appropriate in the three hours to lay out how the case is going to look like and next week is the full presentation,” he told reporters.

3:05 p.m – Graham Opposes Hunter Biden Testimony

Senate Judiciary Chairman Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), a key ally of President Trump, said he opposes calling former Vice President Joe Biden’s son Hunter Biden to testify in the trial.

“To my Republican friends, you may be upset about what happened in the Ukraine with the Bidens but this is not the venue to litigate that,” he said, reported The Hill. “I need some Republicans who would say, ‘As much as I want to know more about Burisma and the Bidens, this is not the venue.’ I’ve got to find four,” he added.

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Senate Judiciary Chairman Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) holds a press conference at the U.S. Capitol in Washington on Dec. 9, 2019. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Hunter Biden is a central figure in the impeachment trial as he sat on the board of a Ukrainian gas company, Burisma Holdings, that has been accused of corruption for years while his father was in office. President Trump, in a July 25 call with Ukraine’s president, made a mention to Biden’s reportedly lucrative position and sought an investigation.

3 p.m. – GOP senators: We’ve Discussed Q&A Part of Trial

Sens. Mike Braun (R-Ind.) and Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) told reporters that they’ve discussed the question-and-answer portion of the trial.

“It’ll be back and forth until all questions are answered within the time slot,” Braun said. “If one side has more and we run out, we’ll address that.”

Joni Ernst, a newly elected senator from Iowa, rehearses the Republican party's response to US President Barack Obama's State of the Union address on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, January 20, 2015. (Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images)
Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) in a file photo. (Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images)

“The way we have envisioned it is that there likely are to be multiple questions of [the] same topic, and then we would condense that like ‘Braun and Ernst ask,'” Ernst said of the next phase.

2 p.m. – Rep. Crow: Ukraine Was Extorted

“It doesn’t matter if extortion last two weeks or two months—it’s still extortion. And Ukraine certainly felt the pressure,” claimed Rep. Jason Crow (D-Colo.). He was speaking on the Senate floor. Trump and Ukraine’s president have both denied there was any quid pro quo or pressure.

Crow added: “The question for you is whether it is OK for the president to withhold taxpayer money, aid for our ally, our friend at war, for a personal political benefit, whether it is OK for the president to sacrifice our national security for his own election,” he continued. “It’s not OK to me, it’s certainly not OK to the American people, and it should not be OK to any of you.”

1:10 p.m. – Senate Trial Starts

Chief Justice Roberts gaveled in Friday’s session of the impeachment trial after 1 p.m. local time. The House managers then began the final leg of their arguments against the president, starting with Schiff and Rep. Jason Crow (D-Colo.).

12:57 p.m. – Collins Wrote a Note to Roberts

Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) said she was “stunned” by remarks made by Nadler earlier in the week. She told Politico in an interview on Friday that she wrote a note to Justice Roberts about decorum on the Senate floor.

“It reminded me that if we were in a normal debate in the Senate, that the rule would be invoked to strike the words of the senator for impugning another senator,” she told Politico. “So, I did write a note raising the issue of whether there’d been a violation of the rules.”

Nadler, during the first day of arguments, had accused Republicans in the Senate of engaging in a “cover-up,” which triggered a tense exchange between him and White House lead lawyer Pat Cipollone.

Roberts then admonished the two sides and called on them to show more respect to the institution.

11:45 a.m. – Schumer: Democrats Set ‘High Bar’

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said in a morning press conference that House managers set a “high bar” for Trump’s team to reach.

He then claimed that the “American people continue to be overwhelmingly on our side,” without elaborating.

Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer
Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) calls on reporters during a news conference at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, on Jan. 22, 2020. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

His side also still wants more witnesses, reiterating that subpoenas for testimony would require the vote of four Republican senators and would have to be signed off by Justice Roberts.

“They would be given very prompt judicial review given the urgency and the stakes of an impeachment trial,” she said.

11:30 a.m. – Graham: Democrats are ‘Professional,’ ‘Repetitive’

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), the chairman of the Judiciary Committee, praised the Democrats’ arguments as being “very respectful” during an 11:30 a.m. press conference. However, he said they got repetitive after a while.

“It became mind-numbing after a while,” said Graham. “Eventually it gets just hard to follow.”

“They are overtrying their case,” he told reporters. “I would urge them to not do that because eventually, it gets just hard to follow.”

10:45 a.m. – Schedule

On Friday, ahead of the impeachment trial, several senators are slated to hold news conferences.

At 11 a.m. ET, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-Calif.) will hold a news conference to speak about the trial.

At 11:40 a.m., Republican Sens. Lindsey Graham, John Barrasso (Wyo.), Mike Bruan (Ind.), and Mike Lee (Utah) will have a news conference.

And at 12:15 p.m., President Trump will speak at the anti-abortion March for Life rally in Washington. It’s unclear if he will reference impeachment.

The Senate then gavels in the impeachment session at 1 p.m.

10:30 a.m. – Trump: Lawyers’ Arguments Are During TV ‘Death Valley’

On Twitter, President Trump wrote that after hours of Democratic arguments in the trial, his lawyers would start their opening arguments at a time when television viewership is typically lower.

“After having been treated unbelievably unfairly in the House, and then having to endure hour after hour of lies,” it appears that his “lawyers will be forced to start on Saturday, which is called Death Valley in T.V.,” Trump wrote on Friday morning.