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Impeachment trial: Democrats finish opening arguments

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Washington — House impeachment managers finished their opening arguments in President Trump's impeachment trial on Friday with an impassioned plea for a fair trial. Mr. Trump's lawyers will start their opening arguments on Saturday.

"Give America a fair trial," Congressman Adam Schiff said. "She's worth it."

Congressman Jerry Nadler, meanwhile, called Mr. Trump a "dictator" and said "this must not stand." 

Schiff outlined what arguments he thinks Mr. Trump's attorneys will use in their defense. 

"So what do all these defenses mean?" Schiff said. "What do they mean? What do they mean collectively when you add them all up? What they mean is under article 2, the president can do whatever he wants. That's really it. That's really it, stripped of all the detail and all the histrionics, what they want us to believe is the president can do whatever he wants under Article 2, and there is nothing that you or the House can do about it."

The House impeachment managers are not guaranteed closing arguments, so this could be their last chance to speak. The president's team will begin its opening arguments Saturday. Saturday's session is expected to run from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m..

Download the free CBS News app for complete coverage of the president's impeachment trial in the Senate or watch live in the player above.  


House managers rest their case

9:28 p.m.: Schiff rested the Democrats' case after summarizing arguments and pleading with senators to care about the future of the nation. In his closing comments, Schiff appeared to be making a case to senators to allow for witnesses and documents.

"I implore you — give America a fair trial. She's worth it," Schiff said in closing. 

Closing arguments aren't guaranteed under the trial rules, meaning House managers might not have another chance to speak. 

The president's legal team will begin their opening arguments Saturday at 10 a.m. 

By Kathryn Watson

Schiff tries to anticipate and refute Trump attorney arguments

8:35 p.m.: Schiff, noting that he might not have another opportunity to address the Senate, tried to anticipate the Mr. Trump's  attorneys' arguments and rebut them.

The lawyers will say House Democrats didn't allow Republicans into secret meetings in the basement, Schiff said — even though he pointed out that 100 members of Congress and dozens of Republicans were allowed into the depositions. And, Shiff said, it wouldn't matter if it took place on the first floor, pointing out that calling the SCIFF a basement is merely a rhetorical tool.

Schiff said Republicans will insist Democrats didn't let them ask questions in those depositions, even though Republicans had equal time, which Schiff said the public can see by reading the transcripts. Questions that weren't allowed involved the identity of the whistleblower, he said. 

Schiff said senators will hear arguments from Mr. Trump's attorneys claiming the president had no rights in the House Judiciary Committee, when Mr. Trump had the same rights as Bill Clinton and Richard Nixon. Pelosi invited the president to testify whenever he wanted. 

Mr. Trump's attorneys will argue abuse of power is not an impeachable offense, Schiff said. But he noted that the Republicans' own witness in the House proceedings, lawyer and CBS News contributor Jonathan Turley, said abuse of power can be an impeachable offense.  

By Kathryn Watson

Senate trial reconvenes

7:40 p.m.: The Senate returned from recess shortly after 7:30, after a slightly longer break for dinner than expected. Impeachment manager Jason Crow resumed the argument for why Mr. Trump obstructed justice. 

By Grace Segers

Republican senators say they don't expect to go into a closed session for questioning

7:31 p.m.: Republican Senators John Thune and John Cornyn said that they do not expect to go into a closed session next week to formulate questions for the impeachment managers and White House attorneys. As senators aren't allowed to speak during the trial, they will need a plan for coming up with questions without talking. 

"My sense is neither side wants to have any kind of closed session. I think everybody is very much in favor of this being as transparent as humanly possible," Thune told reporters. "In terms of a formal deliberation, I suspect it's going to probably most of this is going to be happening in the light of day."

Cornyn said going into a closed session "invites suspicion and skepticism."

"I think one of the advantages of this process compared to what the House did is everything's transparent and the American people could see everything that I see," Cornyn said. 

By Grace Segers

Senate recesses for dinner break

6:50 p.m.: After Jeffries concluded his remarks, McConnell announced a half-hour recess for senators to take a dinner break. House managers will resume their arguments after the recess.

By Grace Segers

Nadler and Jeffries call Trump a "dictator"

House managers accuse Trump of covering up conduct 02:01

6:33 p.m.: Nadler had harsh words for the president during his remarks, calling Mr. Trump a "dictator."

Jeffries also called Mr. Trump a "dictator" and a "despot."

By Kathryn Watson

House managers turn to second article — obstruction of Congress

4:05 p.m.: House managers resumed arguments after a recess, turning to the case for removing Mr. Trump under the second article of impeachment, obstruction of Congress.

"His obstruction was historically unprecedented," impeachment manager Val Demings said. She argued that Mr. Trump had directed the entire administration to obstruct the congressional inquiry into the withholding of aid to Ukraine.

"Following President Trump's order, 12 current or former administration officials, continue to refuse to testify as part of the House impeachment inquiry," Demings said, noting that nine of those officials refused to testify, in defiance of congressional subpoenas. "And yet, despite President Trump's obstruction...the House gathered overwhelming evidence of his misconduct from courageous public servants who were willing to follow the law, comply with subpoenas and tell the truth."

The impeachment managers opening arguments will conclude today with their case for the second impeachment article.

By Grace Segers

Trump attorney says Saturday presentation will be like a "trailer" of "coming attractions"

Trump attorney says Saturday session will be a "trailer" for their arguments 06:01

4:02 p.m.: Lead Trump attorneys Pat Cipollone and Jay Sekulow will present arguments "for sure" Saturday, a source tells CBS News White House correspondent Paula Reid. It's unclear if anyone else on the team will also testify Saturday. 

The president's team is expected to present the bulk of their presentation next week, when more viewers are likely to be tuned in. Mr. Trump complained on Twitter Friday morning that his team would begin arguments on Saturday, which he called "Death Valley" for television. 

McConnell was seen speaking to Sekulow as the Senate broke for recess shortly after 3:30.

Speaking to reporters during the break, Sekulow said his team will present from 10 a.m. to about 1 p.m. on Saturday, and return on Monday. Sekulow said Saturday will serve like a movie "trailer" of "coming attractions." 

"Trust me, there will be plenty to cover," Sekulow said. 

Sekulow declined to say how he's being paid. 

By Kathryn Watson

Schiff concludes laying out case for abuse of power before Senate recess

Senate Impeachment Trial Of President Donald Trump Continues
In this screengrab taken from a Senate Television webcast, House impeachment manager Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) speaks during impeachment proceedings against U.S. President Donald Trump in the Senate at the U.S. Capitol on January 24, 2020 in Washington, DC.  Senate Television via Getty Images

3:47 p.m.: Schiff concluded the presentation for House impeachment managers on the first article of impeachment, which is centered around how Mr. Trump abused his power by pressuring the president of Ukraine to investigate his political rivals for his own personal and political gain.

In Schiff's closing remarks on the first article of impeachment, the House Intelligence Committee chairman used the president's own comments, including during a July 2018 press conference alongside Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki, to demonstrate how Russia mounted the "most incredible propaganda coup."

"I hope it was worth it for the president. Because it certainly wasn't worth it for the United States," he said, urging senators to remove Mr. Trump from office.

The Senate is taking a 15-minute break, and then they will reconvene to hear the impeachment managers detail why they believe the president obstructed Congress during the course of the House's investigation into his conduct, which is the heart of the second article of impeachment. 

By Melissa Quinn

Schiff on why Americans should care about Ukraine

Schiff reiterated arguments he made late Thursday night — that if a president cannot be trusted to faithfully execute their oath of office to put the country above his or her own interests, then that president should be removed. 

"If you cannot faithfully execute that responsibility, if you cannot bring yourself to put your nation's interest above of your own, it must be impeachable or the nation remains at risk," Schiff said. 

Schiff then got at a key "so what" question — namely, why should the U.S. care about Ukraine? He conceded that "we're talking about a small country many people know very little about."  

Schiff said Ukraine and small countries like it look to the United States to fight "our fight against authoritarianism." 

"At least it used to be our fight, and God help us if it's not our fight still," Schiff said.

But Schiff also made the case that Ukraine is fighting a war against Russia in our stead, so the U.S. doesn't have to, and he said that it's in America's national security interests to support Ukraine. 

By Kathryn Watson

GOP senators say they've discussed Q&A portion of trial

2:10 p.m. With House managers nearing the end of their opening arguments and the president's legal team set to begin laying out their defense of Mr. Trump on Saturday, Republican senators are learning about the next stage in the impeachment trial: the written questions.

GOP Senators Mike Braun of Indiana and Joni Ernst of Iowa told reporters that the structure of the questions round was discussed during their luncheon Friday.

"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."

"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 Q&A phase.

Republican Senator John Thune of South Dakota said the structure would be similar to the written question portion of the Senate's impeachment trial for President Bill Clinton in 1999.

"The questions are asked through the chair, and I think it's (for) all intents and purposes, first come, first served, but we'll have more about that," he said.

House managers are expected to wrap up their opening arguments Friday, and Mr. Trump's legal team will begin its arguments after the Senate convenes Saturday at 10 a.m.

Under the rules set by an organizing resolution passed early Wednesday, senators are allotted a total of 16 hours for questions.  — Melissa Quinn and Alan He


Jeffries argues Trump White House "tried to bury" summary of Zelensky call

1:41 p.m.: House manager Hakeem Jeffries, using witness testimony from the House proceedings, argued the summary of Mr. Trump's July 25 call was hidden in a secure server because it was politically damaging for the president. The White House "tried to bury" the summary of the call to protect the president, Jeffries said. 

Former NSC official Tim Morrison testified that he learned in late August, after he raised concerns the call record might leak, that the call summary had been placed on a highly sensitive server reserved for the nation's most sensitive national security secrets. That server was not meant for "routine calls with foreign leaders."

John Eisenberg, a lawyer with the National Security Council, said placing the call record there was an administrative error, according to other witnesses' testimony. Eisenberg declined to show up for House proceedings to testify further.

It wasn't until the launch of the impeachment inquiry that the call summary was released. It's unclear, Jeffries said, exactly how the call ended up on that server for the most sensitive national security information.

"Who ordered the cover-up of the call record? The American people deserve to know," Jeffries said. 

By Kathryn Watson

Schiff provides blueprint for final hours of House managers' arguments

1:20 p.m. Schiff, the House Intelligence Committee chairman, provided senators with a roadmap for the remaining hours of the managers' opening arguments, and he again pressed for witnesses to be heard during the Senate trial.

The House managers were allotted 24 hours over a period of three days to lay out their case for why Mr. Trump should be convicted on the two articles of impeachment, abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. Roberts said the lawmakers have seven hours and 53 minutes remaining, though it's unclear whether they will use all of their remaining time. 

Schiff informed senators at the start of the session that Crow would finish his presentation on the conditionality of U.S. military aid to Ukraine and the application of the Constitution and law as it relates to the first article of impeachment, abuse of power. 

The House managers will then conclude their presentation on the first article of impeachment and move on to detailing Mr. Trump's alleged obstruction Congress, the second article of impeachment, Schiff said. They will then walk senators through the application of the law and Constitution to the second article.

The House's opening arguments will then end with concluding thoughts, the California Democrat told senators. 

By Melissa Quinn

Senate resumes impeachment trial with final day of House managers' opening arguments

1:06 p.m.: Chief Justice John Roberts gaveled in the Senate, kicking off the third and final day of House managers' opening arguments. Friday's testimony is focusing on the second article of impeachment — obstruction of Congress.

The trial began with the daily reminder from the sergeant-at-arms that isn't heeded by most senators or enforced: "Hear ye! Hear ye! Hear ye! All persons are commanded to keep silent, on pain of imprisonment, while the House of Representatives is exhibiting to the Senate of the United States articles of impeachment against President Donald John Trump, President of the United States."

McConnell announced Saturday's session will begin at 10 a.m. and go for several hours. 

By Kathryn Watson

Trump complains House managers want to use up all of their time, which is "wrong"

12:30 p.m.: Before his speech at the March for Life in D.C., the president clearly has impeachment on his mind. Mr. Trump complained that House Democrats "want to use up ALL of their time, even though it is the wrong thing to do."

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell set forth the rules for the trial, which give both the House managers and the president's own team equal time — 24 hours to argue over three days. Mr. Trump's team is expected to begin their opening arguments on Saturday.

"The Do Nothing Democrats just keep repeating and repeating, over and over again, the same old "stuff" on the Impeachment Hoax," the president tweeted. "They want to use up ALL of their time, even though it is the wrong thing to do. They ought to go back to work for our great American people!"

The president said it's unlikely that his team will use up its full 24-hour allotment. 

By Kathryn Watson

Trump retweets GOP senator's smear of witness Alexander Vindman

12:15 p.m.: Senator Marsha Blackburn continued her attacks on House witness Alexander Vindman overnight, after claiming without evidence that he had "badmouth[ed]" the United States. Blackburn was on Fox News' Laura Ingraham's show Thursday night and tweeted video of her appearance.

"The American people deserve the truth on the 'whistleblower,' Vindman and how this impeachment got started," Blackburn wrote in the tweet accompanying the video, adding in a separate tweet that Vindman, the White House National Security Council's top Ukraine expert, is a "political activist in uniform." The president retweeted the pair of tweets.

Mr. Trump was criticized during the House proceedings for blasting former Trump National Security Council official Fiona Hill while she was testifying. 

By Kathryn Watson

Lindsey Graham weighs in on Hunter Biden and opening arguments so far

11:50 a.m.: Republican Senator Lindsey Graham praised the House managers for being respectful during their opening arguments.

"I believe the House managers are being very professional, very respectful," Graham said in a news conference at the Capitol. He added, however, that he found their arguments Thursday to be repetitive.

"I don't know about you, but it became mind-numbing after awhile," Graham said, opining that they were "over-trying their case."

Graham also said that he believes a non-partisan investigator should look into Hunter Biden's ties with a Ukrainian gas company.

"I'd prefer it to be somebody like Mueller that we can all trust," Graham said. He also disputed Schiff's closing argument that Mr. Trump must be removed because senators can't trust Mr. Trump to put the national interest over his own.

"I trust Donald Trump to do best by the country," Graham added.

By Grace Segers

Senator Pat Toomey has candy desk restocked

The Senate candy desk, undated. U.S. Senate

11:36 a.m.: Republican Senator Pat Toomey sits at a desk in the Senate chamber which, by tradition, must always be stocked with candy. Toomey's office received a shipment of candy from Hershey's Friday morning to restock his desk.

Eating isn't allowed on the Senate floor, and as we have noted, water and milk are the only beverages allowed. The exception for the candy desk goes back decades, though, beginning in 1968 when Republican Senator George Murphy, who sat in that chair, began stocking his desk with candy and offering it to his colleagues.

By Grace Segers

Schumer: House managers have set "very high bar" for president's counsel

11:05 a.m.: Speaking to reporters ahead of the third and final day of the House impeachment managers' arguments, Schumer praised the managers' performance on Thursday as "precise," "dramatic" and "emotional."

"The American people continue to be overwhelmingly on our side," Schumer said.

He also anticipated the arguments from the White House counsel, which begin tomorrow (Mr. Trump has lamented the timing of his team's arguments). 

"The House managers have already set a very high bar for the president's counsel to meet," Schumer said.

Despite Schumer's words of praise for the House managers, one test of their abilities will be whether they succeed in convincing some Republican senators to join Democrats in approving a vote to call witnesses and subpoena documents later in the trial, and Schumer pressed GOP senators on this point, saying, "It is on the shoulders of four Republican senators to join us in demanding" a fair trial."

By Grace Segers

House lawyers: Trump team's arguments over witnesses at odds with Justice Dept

10:30 a.m.: While Mr. Trump legal team argues the matter of witnesses is an issue for the courts, the Trump administration's own Justice Department is arguing just the opposite. And lawyers for the Democratic-led House of Representatives are pointing that out in court. 

House general counsel Douglas Letter cited the president's legal team in two late-night letters to the D.C. Court of Appeals Thursday, one in the case to decide whether former White House counsel Don McGahn must testify before the House Judiciary Committee, and the other in a case that will decide whether grand jury material from the Russia investigation should be handed over to House investigators. 

One of the Justice Department's central arguments against McGahn's testimony is that a subpoena dispute between the president and Congress should not be decided by the court. But House lawyers stipulate that a key part of Mr. Trump's defense argument in the impeachment trial — that the House should have pursued witness subpoenas in the courts — contradicts that point. 
"It is not clear whether [the Justice Department] still maintains its position that courts are barred from considering subpoena-enforcement suits brought by the House," the filing from the House attorney reads. "The executive branch cannot have it both ways."  
— Rob Legare and Kathryn Watson


Trump says his lawyers' arguments start on Saturday, the "Death Valley" of TV

President Trump complained over Twitter that after the long hours this week of Democrats' opening arguments, he said his lawyers would begin their opening arguments at a time when the viewership would be smaller.

To Mr. Trump, appearances on TV are just about everything — he picked some members of his legal team because he's been impressed by their TV performances.

The Senate is likely to hear just some arguments from the president's defense team Saturday, with the bulk of the arguments slated for Monday and possibly Tuesday. 

By Kathryn Watson

Schiff caps off trial for the night, completing arguments for abuse of power article

Schiff signaled the final minutes of the evening's remarks by thanking the senators for their patience and listening ears. All the House managers can hope for, he said, is that everyone keeps an open mind.

Schiff encouraged senators to follow the president's own words and read the transcript summary of Mr. Trump's July 25, 2019 call with Zelensky.

He also recounted key points of the day's testimony, before posing the question of whether the president's conduct, even if he's guilty of the House managers' assertions, merits removal from office.

"This is why he needs to be removed," Schiff said. "Donald Trump chose Rudy Giuliani over his own intelligence agencies … when all of them were telling him this Ukraine 2016 stuff is kooky, crazy Russia propaganda, he chose not to believe them, he chose to believe Rudy Giuliani. That makes him dangerous to us, to our country."

By Grace Segers

Most Republicans remain somber as Schiff gives concluding statement

When impeachment manager Jason Crow announced Schiff would be giving his concluding remarks, Republican Senator Tom Cotton laughed and walked over to where Senator Ben Sasse was standing. He spoke with Sasse throughout Schiff's concluding remarks. Senators Ron Johnson and Kevin Cramer were also chatting and laughing.
But far more of the Republican senators were somber and attentive. Senator Marco Rubio took notes throughout Schiff's conclusion.

By Grace Segers

WH impeachment team feeling confident after second day of opening arguments, source says

A member of the White House impeachment team told CBS News that the group is feeling well-positioned ahead of their opening arguments this weekend.

The source said the team believes Democrats are failing to make their case, and the facts are on the president's side.

White House feeling confident as Democrats "failing" to make case for Trump's impeachment 01:49
By Grace Segers
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