Trump’s Impeachment Trial: Dems Push for Abuse of Power Charge

January 22, 2020 Updated: January 24, 2020
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House managers are now expected to begin making the case that President Donald Trump’s actions violated the Constitution.

The House’s impeachment managers are led by Reps. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) and Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), the Democratic chairmen of the House Intelligence and Judiciary Committees, respectively. Trump has a legal team consisting of White House counsel Pat Cipollone, personal lawyer Jay Sekulow, Harvard professor Alan Dershowitz, former prosecutor Robert Ray, and more. The team did not take the opportunity on Wednesday to file a motion to dismiss the impeachment case. Chief Justice John Roberts, meanwhile, is presiding over the trial.

10:35 p.m. ET – Senate Wraps Up Day’s Hearing

The Senate around 10:35 p.m. concluded the second day of opening arguments from House managers. Throughout the day, House Democrats presented arguments pushing for the charge of abuse of power.

During the day, House managers argued that no crime is required for a president to be removed from office.

They characterized Trump’s seeking Ukraine’s cooperation in investigations into Burisma and the Bidens, as well as Crowdstrike, as being part of “quid pro quo” efforts for the president’s personal benefit. They said the president did so to gain advantage over Joe Biden in the 2020 presidential election, and that the motivation was not to investigate corruption. They also alleged that such efforts have compromised U.S. national security.

In concluding remarks, Schiff thanked those sitting in the Senate chamber for their “empathetic listening” and their “listening with an open mind.”

“An open mind for us and an open mind for the President’s counsel. That’s all that we can ask for,” he said. “And having watched you now for three days, whether it is someone you are predisposed to agree with or predisposed not to, it is abundantly clear that you are listening with an open mind.

“And we can’t ask for anything more than that, so we are grateful,” he added.

The trial is set to resume 1 p.m. Friday when House Democrats are set to present arguments about obstruction of Congress.

7:30 p.m. ET – Graham “Not Going to Give In” to Pressure to Subpoena Bidens

As dinner wrapped up and senators headed back into the trial, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said he would resist calls to subpoena the Bidens, the whistleblower, and Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) to testify at the trial.

“I’m not going to give in to that pressure, because I don’t think it will serve the Senate and the country well. There’s ways to do this outside of this trial,” Graham told reporters, according to CBS.

When asked whether he had spoken to the president recently, Graham said that Trump is “having the reaction that a normal person would have if they thought they were being accused of something they didn’t do.”

Graham also said he “[doesn’t] know why” House Democrats chose to focus their arguments on debunking accusations against the Bidens on Thursday, according to Politico.

“I don’t know why they chose to do that,” Graham said. “Joe Biden—if he was not before going to have to answer questions, he sure will now because the way they’ve conducted this trial.”

6:30 p.m. ET – Trial on Break

The Senate is on break for 30 minutes for dinner, where there is also cake for Sen. Tom Carper’s (D-Del.) birthday.

The Senate will resume their arguments at 7 p.m. and Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.), one of the House managers, will continue his presentation.

Prior to the break, Jeffries claimed that Trump used a White House meeting to pressure Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky into making a public announcement that Ukraine was conducting an investigation into Burisma and the Bidens. To make his point, he referred to testimony from former and current administration officials, as well as messages that House Democrats collected during their impeachment inquiry.

4:30 p.m. ET – White House ‘Ready to Go’

Eric Ueland, the White House legislative director, told CNN that Trump’s defense will be “fully engaged” and “ready to go.”

“We’ll be fully engaged, ready to go, on Saturday,” Ueland said.

3:50 p.m. ET – GOP Senator Reads Book

Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) confirmed she was reading a book during the trial.

“It provides good insights into today’s proceedings. Second—busy mamas are the best at multi-tasking. Try it,” Blackburn wrote on Twitter.

The book is Kimberley Strassel’s “Resistance (At All Costs): How Trump Haters Are Breaking America.”

3:30 p.m. ET – Schiff Says Trump Sacrificed Security

The trial has resumed. Schiff is speaking and claims that Trump sacrificed security by allegedly withholding aid to Ukraine in light of Russia’s threats after Russia invaded Ukraine in 2014 and annexed Crimea. He attempted to link Trump to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

3 p.m. ET – Break

Senators take a short break, according to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.).

2:45 p.m. ET – Garcia Outlines Trump’s Alleged Motive

House manager Rep. Sylvia Garcia (D-Texas) explained why Trump could want to criticize former Vice President Joe Biden.

“It wasn’t until Biden began beating him in polls that he called for the investigation,”  Garcia claimed, alleging that he wanted Biden’s reputation damaged. “He had the motive, he had the opportunity, and the means to commit this abuse of power.”

Therefore, she alleged, Trump sought to push for investigations into Biden’s dealings in Ukraine when he was in office. His son, Hunter, sat on the board of a Ukrainian gas company accused of corruption.

2 p.m. ET – Trump Posts About Trading Witnesses

Trump wrote on Twitter about trading witnesses shortly after the trial started.

“The Democrats don’t want a Witness Trade because Shifty Schiff, the Biden’s, the fake Whistleblower(& his lawyer), the second Whistleblower (who vanished after I released the Transcripts), the so-called ‘informer’, & many other Democrat disasters, would be a BIG problem for them!” the president wrote on Twitter.

Schiff and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) criticized the idea and said the Bidens wouldn’t be material witnesses.

1:30 p.m. ET – Nadler’s Turn

Nadler, the Judiciary Committee chairman, attempted to argue that Trump’s actions were abuse of power.

“In contemporary terms, the founders had three specific offenses in mind. Abuse of power, betrayal of the nation through foreign entanglement, and corruption of elections. You can think of these as the ‘ABCs’ of high crimes and misdemeanors,” he said.

1 p.m. ET – Day 3 Begins

Chief Justice Roberts gaveled in the trial shortly after 1 p.m.

12:45 p.m. ET – Murkowski ‘Offended’ by Manager’s Charge

Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), a key swing-vote senator, pushed back against the “cover-up” claim levied by Nadler earlier in the week.

“I took it as offensive,” she told reporters. “As one who is listening attentively and working hard to get to a fair process, I was offended.”

Her colleague, Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.), echoed her statement.

Epoch Times Photo
Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) speaks during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington on Jan. 12, 2019. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)

“I mean, that’s an extraordinary thing to say on the floor of the United States Senate, the middle of the trial, and that’s what drew the rebuke, and rightly so,” Hawley told reporters. “I can tell you, there was an open, open gasping on the Senate floor when Nadler was saying these things. I mean, it’s really, really extraordinary.”

11:45 a.m ET – Schumer Again Criticizes GOP

Schumer again criticized Republicans in a press conference—about two hours before the trial is slated to start—accusing them of “inventing shiny objects and so-called outrages.” He said Democrats “don’t know what the next one will be,” adding that the GOP is trying to deflect press attention.

Schumer again said he would push to call up witnesses and documents.

9:15 a.m. ET – Trump Pillories Schiff on Twitter

Trump dismissed Schiff’s arguments on Wednesday as “lies and misrepresentations,” adding that the Obama administration withheld aid to a number of countries.

“The Democrat House would not give us lawyers, or not one witness, but now demand that the Republican Senate produce the witnesses that the House never sought, or even asked for? They had their chance, but pretended to rush. Most unfair & corrupt hearing in Congressional history,” he also wrote.

9 a.m. ET – Update

Thursday’s impeachment trial session is slated to start again at 1 p.m. ET. House Democrats are expected to make their case for why Trump should be impeached. Wednesday was spent laying out the evidence, and House managers are now expected to begin making the case that Trump’s actions violated the Constitution.

9:45 p.m. ET – Trial is Adjourned

Schiff made his closing statements for the House’s first day of arguments, revisiting the chronology of the events surrounding what he called the president’s “corrupt scheme.”

“We’ve introduced the case, we’ve gone through the chronology, and tomorrow we will apply the effects of the law as it pertains to the president’s abuse of power,” Schiff said.

Schiff also suggested that more people may be involved in the “scheme” as he called for the inclusion of more witnesses and evidence near the end of his statement.

“You and the American people should know who else was involved in this scheme,” he said. “You should want the whole truth to come out, you should want to know about every player in this sordid business.”

The trial was adjourned and will resume at 1 p.m. on Thursday.

9:10 p.m. ET – Schiff Resumes the Floor

Schiff returned to the mic, saying that House Managers have about 20 minutes left in the presentation, and that he would “now go through with you the president’s efforts to hide this corrupt scheme even as it continued well into the fall of last year.”

He turned his focus to events that came after Aug. 12, 2019, when the whistleblower complaint was submitted to the intelligence committee.

8:45 p.m. ET – Lofgren Continues From Schiff

House manager Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) proceeded to speak about events that occurred after news of U.S. military aid being withheld from Ukraine first became public on Aug. 8, 2019, leading up to when the hold was lifted on Sept. 11, 2019.

8:25 p.m. ET – Schiff Calls For More Evidence

In his remarks to the Senate after dinner, Schiff revisited accounts of events that came after the July 25 phone call, as well as the Trump administration’s temporary hold on military aid to Ukraine. He also played several clips of testimony from Ambassador William Taylor, the charge d’affaires at the U.S. embassy in Ukraine.

Schiff went on to push for access Taylor’s notes to be turned over by the State Department and presented in the trial—mainly those related to a phone call he had with Gordon Sondland, the U.S. ambassador to the European Union.

“We want to know exactly what happened in that conversation when it was fresh in Sondland’s mind, and he told Taylor about it, and Taylor told it in his notes. You’re going to want Taylor’s notes,” Schiff said.

“In any courtroom in America holding a fair trial, you would want to see contemporaneous notes. This Senate should be no different.

“Demand those notes, demand to see the truth,” he said, adding that the House managers hadn’t seen them.

“Maybe those notes say something completely different. Maybe those notes saw no quid pro quo. Maybe those notes say it’s a perfect call. I’d like to see them.

“They’re yours for the asking,” he told the Senate.

Shortly after, Schiff also pushed for notes taken by Tim Morrison, a senior National Security Council official. According to Schiff, Sondland called Morrison to update him on a conversation that Sondland had with Trump on Sept. 7, 2019.

“Unlike Sondland who testified that he never took notes, Morrison took notes of that conversation and recalled it during his public testimony,” Schiff said. “There’s a written record of what President Trump told Ambassador Sondland right after that call, would you like to see that written record? It’s called Morrison’s notes.

“There’s a good way to find out what happened on that call because it’s in writing,” Schiff told the Senate. “Is there any question why they’re withholding this from Congress?”

7:20 p.m. ET – Senate Back in Session

Schiff has taken the floor. He said he expects the session to end around 10 p.m. after he and Lofgren give their presentations.

“As an encouraging voice told me, keep it up, but don’t keep it up too long,” he said. “So we will do our best not to keep it up too long.”

Trump Impeachment
In this image from video, House impeachment manager Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) speaks during the impeachment trial against President Donald Trump in the Senate at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, on Jan. 22, 2020. (Senate Television via AP)

6:35 p.m. ET – Senate in Recess

Sen. Ted Cruz (R- Texas) said during a dinner break, “The need for the Senate to hear the testimony of Hunter Biden has become more relevant,” following Jeffries speech summarizing the Trump-Zelensky July 25 phone call during which the president asked Ukraine to investigate the Bidens.

Cruz said Senate Republicans will “do a better job” than House Democrats to allow both sides the “full opportunity” to present their cases.

“Today Adam Schiff said [that] if a defendant is denied the right to call witnesses to prove his innocence, that’s not a fair trial. Well, the problem is that is exactly what House Democrats did where they put on prosecution witnesses, they refused to allow Hunter Biden to be called.

“The House Democrats have now made Hunter Biden central to the question of the president’s interest and yet they did exactly what they said,” he said.

House Managers have used 4 hours and 55 minutes of their time, and will have another 19 hours 5 minutes to make arguments.

5:50 p.m. ET – Jeffries Refers to Trump-Zelensky Call

In a speech over half an hour long, Jeffries told the Senate that he questioned why Trump would mention Giuliani’s name in a July 25 phone call with Zelensky as Giuliani is not part of the White House.

Trump Impeachment
In this image from video, House impeachment manager Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, (D-N.Y.), speaks during the impeachment trial against President Donald Trump in the Senate at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, on Jan. 22, 2020. (Senate Television via AP)

“On multiple occasions, President Trump directed Ukraine’s new leader to speak with his personal lawyer, Rudolph Giuliani, on an official call,” Jeffries said. “Mr. Giuliani is not a member of the Trump administration.”

During the call that took place on the morning of July 25, Zelensky was the first to bring up Giuliani. Giuliani had looked into the Ukrainian business dealings of Hunter Biden. In response, Trump noted that Giuliani is a “respected man” and told Zelensky that he would like to have Giuliani call him, along with Attorney General William Barr.

In a separate part of his speech, Jeffries said, “Giuliani is not the secretary of state. He’s not an ambassador. He’s not a member of the diplomatic corps.

“Rudolph Giuliani is a cold-blooded political operative for President Trump’s re-election campaign. That is why he was referenced multiple times on that July 25 phone call. And it is evidence of corrupt intent by President Trump,” Jeffries added.

Just before dinner, Capitol police swiftly grabbed and dragged out of the chamber a man in the visitors’ gallery who was yelling, The Associated Press reported. As he was being held in a hallway outside the chamber, the gray-haired man could be heard shouting, “Dismiss the charges!” He also yelled “you’re hurting me!” as police subdued him, according to the AP.

5:40 p.m. ET – Demings Calls on Senate to Compel Bolton Testimony

Demings called on the Senate to compel testimony from former White House national security adviser John Bolton. Some witnesses claimed Bolton told another official that the Ukraine affair was a “drug deal.” Bolton, however, has never confirmed those statements.

“The American people want to hear from [John] Bolton,” she said.

Previously, Bolton said he would be willing to testify in the Senate trial.

5:10 p.m. ET – House Manager Jason Crow Speaks

House manager Rep. Jason Crow (D-Colo.), an Army veteran, spoke to the Senate and aided to make House Democrats’ opening argument.

Of the withheld aid to Ukraine, he said Kyiv “can’t fight effectively without it.”

4:45 p.m ET – GOP Senator Says House Managers’ Arguments Are Repetitive

“I think we’re already beginning to lose certainly the television audience and maybe the press to some extent, but certainly senators are struggling to try to see why we have to sit there, sit hearing the same arguments over and over and over and over again,” Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) told reporters.

He also said the Senate is being tied up by the trial.

“Let’s say a witness like Mick Mulvaney or John Bolton come. invariably the White House would claim executive privilege. There’d be a lawsuit filed in District Court in the District of Columbia that would then go to the Court of Appeals and then potentially the Supreme Court. That could take months,” he said. “In the meantime, the Senate can’t do anything else, we can’t confirm judges we can’t have hearings, we can’t even introduce legislation.”

Trump Lawyer Responds

Jay Sekulow, one of Trump’s lead attorneys, said House Democrats need to move forward without any documents or witnesses. He told reporters during the break in proceedings that “the more they do these two-and-a-half-hour events at a time, it undercuts their entire argument.”

“Unless he’s making it up, it seems like he’s got a lot of information,” Sekulow told reporters of Schiff. “So proceed with your case.”

Sekulow continued, “Look, they’re putting on their case. The good news is we only have 22 hours more to go of their side and we’ll go. Let them put their case on and we’ll continue.”

4 p.m. ET – Impeachment Trial Back on, Nadler Speaks

Nadler is now speaking on the House floor and defended former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch, who was recalled by the White House last year. He accused Trump of engaging in a “campaign of slander” to try and push out  Yovanovitch.

3:30 p.m. ET – Senate in recess

The Senate has gone into recess until at least 3:50 p.m. local time. It follows more than two hours of opening remarks from Schiff.

3:15 p.m. ET – White House Responds to Schiff

“Schiff keeps lying. At no point on the call did President Trump ask President Zelensky to announce investigations. It’s all in the transcript,” the White House wrote on Twitter as Schiff spoke.

2:53 p.m. ET – Schiff Describes Military Aid

Schiff said that U.S. military aid to Ukraine was designed to help Kyiv “defend itself from the Kremlin’s aggression. More than 15,000 Ukrainians have died fighting Russian forces and their proxies. 15,000.” He said that the aid was Congressionally approved.

“Should Congress just get over it? Should the American people just come to expect that our presidents will corruptly abuse their office to seek the help of a foreign power to cheat in our elections? Is that what we’ve come to? I hope and pray that the answer is no,” he later asked.

2:30 p.m. ET – Schiff Describes Texts

Schiff went over text messages between White House officials before the July 25 call.

Schiff said a text between envoy Kurt Volker and an aide to Ukraine’s president occurred 30 minutes before the call.

“They [Trump’s team] don’t want you to look at the months that went into that call or the months of pressure that followed,” Schiff said. “He was prepped … Of course he was been prepped.”

1:45 p.m ET – Schiff Says Senators Need to Act Impartially

“The Constitution entrusts you to the responsibility of acting as impartial jurors, have a fair trial and weigh the evidence before you no matter what your party affiliation or vote in the previous election or the next, our duty is to the Constitution and the rule of law,” said Schiff during the trial.

“You have the added difficulty of having to weigh the facts and the law, so I want to begin today by thanking you for the conduct of the proceedings yesterday and for inviting your patience as we go forward,” Schiff also said.

1:15 p.m. ET – Impeachment Back in Session

The Democratic House impeachment managers are making their opening statements today, starting with Schiff.

Schiff laid out the Democrats’ inquiry findings against Trump, saying that Trump pushed for investigations “completely without merit.”

He claimed Trump wanted to investigate “debunked” claims about former Vice President Joe Biden, son Hunter Biden, and alleged Ukrainian election interference in 2016. Trump has defended the investigations and denied allegations of quid pro quo.

12:45 p.m. ET – Adam Schiff Lays Out Plan

“We will go into extensive detail about what happened and when and how we know that it happened. We do not assume everyone in the Senate was able to watch all of the house testimony. Some of you in the press were not able to do that. We can’t assume the senators were even as we were, let alone the American people were able to do so. We will lay out the facts and chronology and new facts continue to come to light,” Schiff told reporters just minutes ahead of the trial start.

11 a.m. ET – Schumer Criticizes GOP in Press Conference

Schumer held a press conference two hours before the impeachment session on Wednesday, saying that a “particular amendment revealed the charade that the Republicans are participating in here.”

“It meant that presentations could not rely on this important evidence. That senators cannot ask questions about this evidence,” Schumer added.

Earlier Updates:

On Tuesday, none of the Democrats proposed amendments were approved, with all 53 Republicans blocking them from moving forward. McConnell also offered a concession, allowing for the House and Trump’s legal team to make their arguments in three days instead of two. He also loosened a restriction on the Senate records.

Trump said Wednesday he would like to see some of his top aides testify, but he suggested there were “national security” concerns regarding their testimony.

“We have a great case,” Trump told The Associated Press at a global economic forum in Davos. The president said his legal team was doing a “very good job.”

After one politically charged exchange between Trump’s lawyers and the House managers, Chief Justice John Roberts intervened, and told both sides to “remember where they are.”

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

The Senate will decide whether Trump should be removed from office for abuse of power stemming from his alleged pressure on Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and Biden’s son Hunter, who sat on the board of a Ukrainian energy company, and for obstructing Congress’ ensuing probe. Trump has denied the allegations of quid pro quo.

Epoch Times Staff and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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