Democrats will wrap up their case against Donald Trump on Friday and cede the Senate floor to the president’s legal team, who is under growing pressure from Republicans to mount a credible defense of Trump.
‘We will conclude the presentation on article 1. We’ll then begin the presentation on article 2, once again applying the constitution and law to the facts on the president’s obstruction of congress. We will then have some concluding thoughts, and then turn it over to the president’s counsel,’ Adam Schiff, the lead impeachment manager for Democrats, told senators on Friday morning.
Democrats are coming off two 12 hour days where they argued the president committed an impeachable offense and Republicans have complained they have heard nothing new from the prosecution.
And it all sets the stage for next week’s big fight in the impeachment trial – whether or not to call additional witnesses.
With Democrats wrapping their case on Friday, Trump’s defense is scheduled to start on Saturday. On that day, the Senate will come into session at 10 a.m. – earlier than the 1 p.m. it has usually been starting.
And while the president is expected to acquitted of the two articles of impeachment against him in the Republican-controlled Senate, some GOP senators have made it clear they don’t want Trump’s legal team to phone it in.
Adam Schiff told Senators that Democrats are prepared to wrap their case and turn it over to the president’s defense team
Chief Justice John Roberts prepares to open Friday’s impeachment trial
Democratic impeachment managers – led by Adam Schiff – will wrap up their case Friday
President Trump has complained of the Saturday start time for his defense team
The president, meanwhile, complained about the start time for his side of the case, saying Saturday was ‘death valley’ on television. Viewership numbers tend to be lower on weekends.
Large contingent of senators misses opening prayer and start of the day’s impeachment arguments AGAIN
Once again Friday, a substantial contingent of senators opted to ignore an admonishment that they be in their seats for the Senate’s impeachment trial of President Trump.
More than 20 weren’t around for the opening prayer, when Senate chaplain Barry Black prayed that god’s will be done, that senators find ‘civility and respect’ even for those they disagree with, and that God give them ‘the wisdom to distinguish between facts and opinions without lambasting the messengers.’
Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.)
They also weren’t there when the Senate sergeant at arms commanded them to keep silent during the trial ‘on pain of imprisonment, or shen Rep. Adam Schiff made his opening remarks.
Among them were: Sens. Pat Toomey (R-PA.), Richard Burr (R-N.C.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Michael Bennett (D-Colo.), Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Patric Leahy (D-Vt.) Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Todd Young (R-Alaska), and Rick Scott (R-Fla.), who was seen conducting a live TV interview at 1:01 pm, when the Senate was to go into session.
Also not there at the top were Sens. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Mike Braun (R-Ind.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), and Ted Cruz (R-Tex.).
Some senators weren’t in the chamber when Rep. Jason Crow began his substantive remarks on the first article of impeachment that millions in aid to Ukraine only got released after President Trump ‘got caught.’. They included , Sen. Bill Cassidy, Tim Scott, James Inhofe, Elizabeth Warren, Jerry Moran, and Mike Lee.
On Thursday, Schiff admonished senators about the rules that they be present, after lawmakers were seen leaving their chairs and missing arguments. Burr brought fidget spinners on the floor Thursday.
The president blamed Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer and Schiff for the time slot but it was Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell who set the rules that govern the impeachment trial, including the timing for both sides to speak.
‘After having been treated unbelievably unfairly in the House, and then having to endure hour after hour of lies, fraud & deception by Shifty Schiff, Cryin’ Chuck Schumer & their crew, looks like my lawyers will be forced to start on Saturday, which is called Death Valley in T.V.,’ the president wrote on Twitter.
There was talk on Capitol Hill that Saturday could be a shorter session for the viewership reason and because signs of fatigue are growing among both sides after multiple 12 hour plus days of the trial.
A shorter session would allow lawmakers to get a weekend break and for the senators running for the Democratic presidential nomination – Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, and Amy Klobuchar – to get some time on the campaign trail.
Trump complained Friday morning the trial was interfering with the November election, but likely meant his re-election bid and not the Democratic primary contest.
‘The Impeachment Hoax is interfering with the 2020 Election – But that was the idea behind the Radical Left, Do Nothing Dems Scam attack. They always knew I did nothing wrong!,’ he tweeted.
Meanwhile, there are mutterings among some Republicans that the Trump legal team needs to mount substantive defense on the merits of the case and not just phone it in, Politico reported.
Saturday’s presentation by Trump’s team, which includes White House Counsel Pat Cipollone and the president’s private attorney Jay Sekulow, will be the first time the public has seen Trump’s side fully present its case.
Trump’s team ‘has never presented its case since it did not do so in the House,’ said Republican Sen. Susan Collins. ‘Unlike the House managers, who partially presented when the motions were being debated, the president’s attorneys chose not to do that. It’s not finished yet … so it’s difficult to judge.’
Sekulow told reporters in the Capitol on Thursday the defense will argue Trump’s conduct does not constitute an impeachable offense by laying out that there are ‘multiple schools of thought on what is and is not an impeachable offense.’
That will show ‘the actions alleged and the actions of the president do not reach that level no matter which school of thought you’re on,’ he said.
Republican Senator Susan Collins is among those saying Trump’s legal team needs to mount a credible defense of the president
Trump attorney Jay Sekulow – with White House deputy press secretary Hogan Gidely behind him – is under pressure not to phone in a defense of the president
The next big fight will be over calling additional witnesses to the impeachment trial; Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is against that
Trump’s legal team has 24 hours spread over three days to defend the president. The attorneys do not have to use all that time and there is some thought they may not.
READ THE ARTICLES OF IMPEACHMENT AGAINST DONALD TRUMP
In 1,414 words, the articles of impeachment passed by the House of Representatives lay out two charges against President Donald Trump.
Article I: Abuse of Power
Using the powers of his high office, President Trump solicited the interference of a foreign government, Ukraine, in the 2020 United States Presidential election.
He did so through a scheme or course of conduct that included soliciting the Government of Ukraine to publicly announce investigations that would benefit his reelection, harm the election prospects of a political opponent, and influence the 2020 United States Presidential election to his advantage.
President Trump also sought to pressure the Government of Ukraine to take these steps by conditioning official United States Government acts of significant value to Ukraine on its public announcement of the investigations.
President Trump engaged in this scheme or course of conduct for corrupt purposes in pursuit of personal political benefit. In so doing, President Trump used the powers of the Presidency in a manner that compromised the national security of the United States and undermined the integrity of the United States democratic process.’
Article II: Obstruction of Congress
As part of this impeachment inquiry, the Committees undertaking the investigation served subpoenas seeking documents and testimony deemed vital to the inquiry from various Executive Branch agencies and offices, and current and former officials.
In response, without lawful cause or excuse, President Trump directed Executive Branch agencies, offices, and officials not to comply with those subpoenas. President Trump thus interposed the powers of the Presidency against the lawful subpoenas of the House of Representatives, and assumed to himself functions and judgments necessary to the exercise of the ‘sole Power of Impeachment’ vested by the Constitution in the House of Representatives.
In the history of the Republic, no President has ever ordered the complete defiance of an impeachment inquiry or sought to obstruct and impede so comprehensively the ability of the House of Representatives to investigate ‘high Crimes and Misdemeanors.”
This abuse of office served to cover up the President’s own repeated misconduct and to seize and control the power of impeachment — and thus to nullify a vital constitutional safeguard vested solely in the House of Representatives.
That would set up a vote next week on what is expected to be the most contentious issue in the trial – whether or not to call additional witnesses.
Schumer wants to bring in four – including acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney and former National Security Adviser John Bolton.
McConnell has been reluctant to call in any additional witnesses despite President Trump saying he’d like to hear from Hunter Biden about his work in the Ukraine.
There was talk earlier in the week of a witness deal – Democrats get Bolton and Republicans get Hunter Biden – but Schumer later said that was ‘off the table.’
Democrats only need four Republicans to join them to vote to hear from additional witnesses. There are some GOP senators who have indicated they’d be opening to hearing more evidence but it’s unclear if there are enough votes to make that happen.
But first Democrats need to wrap up their case. They spent Thursday focused on the first article of impeachment – abuse of power.
There were a sense of restlessness among senators as the day drug on with several of the president’s allies complaining they were hearing no new information.
Schiff tried to make nice with Republican senators late Thursday night, thanking them for their attention to Democrats’ case – despite some of them showing their contempt by playing with toys and others making paper airplanes and reading a book.
He and the other Democratic impeachment managers had spent hours calling the president an abuser of his power who is, he said, a ‘danger’ to national security.
‘You cannot trust him to do what is right for his country,’ he said at the end of a day which lasted from 1 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. ‘You can trust that he will do right for Donald Trump. That is why you must vote to remove him.’
Exhaustion seemed to be the theme of Thursday as the long hours appeared to get to both sides.
Schiff declined to answer reporters questions after the day wrapped, saying he was tired.
And Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski told reporters ‘one pooped puppy’ who was headed home for a glass of wine and a bath.
The Alaska senator had spent the 12 hour day sitting diligently at her desk in the chamber, listening intently and wearing an orange shaw wrapped around her shoulders in the chilly room.
Sen. Richard Burr of North Carolina presented some of his colleagues with fidget spinners to help them pass the time – in a gesture that underlined the GOP’s talking point that the trial is dragging on without presenting new information.
The children’s toy, which features three metal or plastic arms that can be spun around a center, is touted as a stress-reliever and sometimes recommended for kids with attention-deficit issues.
Republicans also have complained about the repetitive nature of the trial.
‘You want to take an aspirin to get away from the repetitive headache,’ said Congressman Mark Meadows, a staunch Trump ally, said of the trial on Thursday morning.
At the end of Thursday, Sen. Lisa Murkowski told reporters she was ‘one pooped puppy’
Senator Mike Rounds plays with a fidget spinner handed out to Republican senators during the trial
THE TRUMP DREAM TEAM: WHO’S DEFENDING PRESIDENT IN SENATE
Lead counsel: Pat Cipollone, White House Counsel
Millionaire conservative Catholic father-of-10 who has little courtroom experience. ‘Strong, silent,’ type who has earned praise from Trump’s camp for resisting Congress’ investigations of the Ukraine scandal. Critics accused him of failing in his duty as a lawyer by writing ‘nonsense letters’ to reject Congressional oversight. His background is commercial litigation and as White House counsel is the leader of the Trump administration’s drive to put conservative judges in federal courts. Trump has already asked aides behind the scenes if he will perform well on television.
Jay Sekulow, president’s personal attorney
Millionaire one-time IRS prosecutor with his own talk radio show. Self-described Messianic Jew who was counsel to Jews for Jesus. Longtime legal adviser to Trump, but he is himself mentioned in the Ukraine affair, with Lev Parnas saying that he knew about Rudy Giuliani’s attempts to dig dirt on the Bidens but did not approve. Michael Cohen claimed that Sekulow and other members of Trump’s legal team put falsehoods in his statement to the House intel committee; Sekulow denies it. The New York Times reported that he voted for Hillary Clinton.
Alan Dershowitz, Harvard law professor
Shot to worldwide fame for his part in the ‘dream team’s’ successful defense of OJ Simpson but was already famous for his defense of Claus von Bulow, the British socialite accused of murdering his wife in Rhode Island. Ron Silver played Dershowitz in Reversal of Fortune. In 2008 he was a member of Jeffrey Epstein’s legal team which secured the lenient plea deal from federal prosecutors. But Dershowitz was a longtime friend of Epstein and was accused of having sex with two of Esptein’s victims. He denies it and is suing one of them, Virginia Roberts Giuffre, for libel, saying his sex life is ‘perfect.’ He admits he received a massage at Epstein’s home – but ‘kept my underwear on.’ Registered Democrat who spoke out against Trump’s election and again after the Charlottesville violence. Has become an outspoken defender of Trump against the Robert Mueller probe and the Ukraine investigation.
Ken Starr, former Whitewater independent counsel
Famous and reviled in equal measure for his Whitewater investigation into Bill and Hillary Clinton’s finances in Arkansas which eventually led him to evidence of Bill’s affair with Monica Lewinsky. He was a federal appeals judge and George H.W. Bush’s solicitor general before that role. He later became president and chancellor of Baylor University in Waco but was removed as president in May 2016 for mishandling the investigation into allegations of multiple sexual assaults by football players and other students, then quit voluntarily as chancellor. Is the second Jeffrey Epstein defender on the team; he was present in 2008 when the plea deal with prosecutor Alex Acosta was made which let Epstein off with just 13 months of work release prison.
Pam Bondi, White House attorney
Florida’s first female attorney general and also a long-time TV attorney who has been a Fox News guest host – including co-hosting The Five for three days in a row while still attorney general. Began her career as a prosecutor before moving into elected politics. Has been hit by a series of controversies, among them persuading then Florida governor Rick Scott to change the date of an execution because it clashed with her re-election launch, and has come under fire for her association with Scientology. She has defended it saying the group were helping her efforts against human trafficking; at the time the FBI was investigating it over human trafficking. Went all-in on Trump in 2016, leading ‘lock her up’ chants at the 2016 Republican National Convention. Joined the White House last November to aid the anti-impeachment effort.
Robert Ray, Ken Starr’s successor
Headed the Office of the Independent Counsel from 1999 until it closed for business in 2002, meaning it was he, not Ken Starr, who wrote the final words on the scandals of the Clinton years. Those included the report on Monica Lewinsky, the report on the savings and loan misconduct claims which came to be known as Whitewater, and the report on Travelgate, the White House travel office’s firing and file-gate, claims of improper access to the FBI’s background reports. Struck deal with Clinton to give up his law license. Went into private practice. Was charged with stalking a former lover in New York in 2006 four months after she ended their relationship. Now a frequent presence on Fox News.
Jane Raskin, private attorney
Part of a husband-and-wife Florida law team, she is a former prosecutor who specializes in defending in white collar crime cases. Their connection to Trump appears to have been through Ty Cobb, the former White House attorney. She and husband Martin advised Trump on his response to Mueller and appear to have been focused on avoiding an obstruction of justice accusation. That may be the reason to bring her in to the impeachment team; Democrats raised the specter of reviving Mueller’s report in their evidence to the impeachment trial.
Patrick Philbin and Michael Purpura, Deputy White House Counsels
Lowest-profile of the team, they work full-time for Cipollone in the White House. Philbin (left) was a George W. Bush appointee at the Department of Justice who helped come up with the system of trying Guantanamo Bay detainees in front of military commissions instead of in U.S. courts. He was one a group of officials, led by James Comey, who rushed to seriously-ill John Ashcroft’s bedside to stop the renewal of the warrant-less wiretap program. Unknown if Trump is aware of his links to Comey. Purpura (right) is also a Bush White House veteran who shaped its response to Congressional investigations at a time when there were calls for him to be impeached over going to war in Iraq. His name is on letters telling State Department employees not to testify. Has been named as a possible Trump nominee for federal court in Hawaii.
THE IMPEACHMENT MANAGERS: MEET THE SEVEN DEMOCRATS PROSECUTING DONALD TRUMP
Adam Schiff of California: The chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, 59, led the impeachment process against Donald Trump. He became a frequent target of Trump’s fury: the president called him ‘Liddle’ Adam Schiff and made fun of his neck. But Schiff won praise for his leadership during witnesses hearings. Schiff served in the California State Assembly and was a federal prosecutor in the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Los Angeles for six years. He oversaw the prosecution of Richard Miller, the first FBI agent ever to be indicted for espionage. Elected to Congress in 2012.
Jerry Nadler of New York: The Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, 72, led the series of hearings that developed the two articles of impeachment against the president: abuse of power and obstruction of justice. He’s in his 15th term in Congress and was a New York State Assembly man before joining Capitol Hill. He was in law school when he was first elected to state office and completed his J.D. while serving in Albany. He and Schiff were expected to be named. Elected to Congress in 1992.
Zoe Lofgren of California: A close Nancy Pelosi ally and a long time friend of the speaker, Lofgren, 72, has the unique experience of playing a role in three presidential impeachment proceedings: as a Judiciary Committee staffer during Richard Nixon’s in 1974, as a Judiciary Committee Member during Bill Clinton’s 1999 impeachment, and now in President Trump’s. Additionally, she heads the Committee on House Administration, a position that has the moniker ‘Mayor of Capitol Hill’ given the panel’s jurisdiction over the everyday running of the Capitol, including members’ allowance, office space, and rules of the House. Elected to Congress in 1994.
Hakeem Jeffries of New York: Jeffries, 49, was a litigator in private practice before running for elected office. He worked in the litigation department of Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison before becoming assistant litigator for Viacom and CBS, where he worked on litigation stemming from the Super Bowl XXXVIII halftime show controversy, when Janet Jackson’s breast, adorned with a nipple shield, was exposed by Justin Timberlake for about half a second, in what was later referred to as a ‘wardrobe malfunction’. The Federal Election Commission fined CBS $550,000 after a long legal case. The Chair of the House Democratic Caucus, Jeffries serves on the House Judiciary Committee. Before Congress, he was in the New York State Assembly for six years. Elected to Congress in 2012 and a member of the House Judiciary Committee.
Val Demings of Florida: Demings, 62, served in the Orlando Police Department for 27 years, including serving as the city’s first female chief of police. She is one of seven children born in poverty – her father worked in Florida orange groves and her mother was a housekeeper. She was the first member of her family graduate from college. She worked as a social worker before joining the Orlando police department. A member of the House Intelligence panel and the Judiciary Committee, Demings won plaudits for her careful questioning of witnesses during the impeachment hearings. She wrote on Twitter in December, during the impeachment process: ‘I am a descendant of slaves, who knew that they would not make it, but dreamed and prayed that one day I would make it. So despite America’s complicated history, my faith is in the Constitution. I’ve enforced the laws, and now I write the laws. Nobody is above the law.’ She spends her free time riding her Harley-Davidson Road King Classic motorcycle. Elected to Congress in 2016.
Jason Crow of Colorado: Crow, 40, was an Army Ranger in Iraq and Afghanistan, where he served three tours and was awarded a Bronze Star. He was a private litigator with the Holland and Hart Law Firm before running for Congress. He was elected to Congress in 2018 and serves on the House Armed Services Committee.
Sylvia Garcia of Texas: Garcia, 69, has a strong judicial background. She was the director and presiding judge of the Houston Municipal System and was elected city controller. She was also the first Hispanic and first woman to be elected in her own right to the Harris County Commissioner’s Court. Elected to Congress in 2018, she serves on the House Judiciary Committee.