Impeachment trial: Democrats highlight Trump abuse of power chargeget the free app
Washington — Senators concluded the second day of opening arguments in President Trump's impeachment trial on Thursday night, with House Democrats arguing the president abused his power by pressuring Ukraine for his own personal gain.
Over the course of eight hours, all seven of the impeachment managers argued that Mr. Trump had abused his power by ordering a hold on foreign aid to Ukraine, claiming that the president was conditioning the release of aid on Ukraine opening an investigation into former Vice President Joe Biden and his son. The managers also argued that abuse of power was sufficient basis for an article of impeachment.
Managers supplemented their arguments with a slideshow and video clips from previous testimony of current and former administration officials, as well as quotes from the president. But Republicans seemed unmoved by the Democrats' presentation.
Thursday was the second of three days of opening arguments by the House managers. Democratic senators in the Capitol seemed bolstered by the previous day's proceedings.
But they also highlighted key portions of the factual record that remain a mystery, urging senators to issue subpoenas to compel the administration to produce key documents and witnesses that could shed more light on the president's actions and motivations.
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White House 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 side of President Trump.
Senate adjourns after second day of opening arguments
The Senate ended the second day of opening arguments at 10:33 p.m. The trial will resume at 1 p.m. on Friday.
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.
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 cooky, crazy Russia propaganda, he chose not to believe them, he chose to believe Rudy Giuliani. That makes him dangerous to us, to our country."
On Friday, House managers will deliver their case for the president's obstruction of Congress. Throughout their arguments, House managers have pointed to witnesses and documents they'd like to hear from and read but cannot because the Trump administration has blocked them.
Blackburn slams Vindman in tweets during trial
Republican Senator Marsha Blackburn tweeted criticism of Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman Thursday evening. Impeachment managers have used several video clips from Vindman's testimony before the House Intelligence Committee in December to bolster their argument during the Senate trial.
"Adam Schiff is hailing Alexander Vindman as an American patriot. How patriotic is it to badmouth and ridicule our great nation in front of Russia, America's greatest enemy?" Blackburn wrote in the first of several tweets slamming Vindman. She pinned a tweet from November to the top of her profile calling Vindman "vindictive."
Blackburn cited no evidence for her claim that Vindman badmouthed the U.S. in front of Russia. But the president's defenders have attempted to smear Vindman, who earned a Purple Heart medal while serving in the Iraq War in 2004.
Blackburn, a fiery defender of the president, was quickly criticized for her tweet.
"It is insulting, embarrassing and disgraceful that this person sits as a U.S. senator, especially as a member of whistleblower caucus," Mark Zaid, who has been representing the whistleblower, posted to Twitter. "Vindman serves our country in uniform, risked his life in war zones, awarded purple heart, and is a lawful whistleblower. He honors America."
—Kathryn Watson and Grace Segers
Graham says he's "not going to give in" to pressure to subpoena Bidens, Schiff and the whistleblower
Key Trump ally Senator Lindsey Graham said he's "not going to give in" to pressure to subpoena the Bidens, Schiff and the whistleblower, despite intense pressure that he said is sure to come next week. The president himself has said he wants to hear from the Bidens and the whistleblower, something echoed by the staunchest Trump allies in the House.
"I am not going to give in to that pressure, because I don't think it will serve the Senate and the country well," Graham told reporters during the dinner break.
Asked if he's spoken to the president recently, Graham said the president 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 thinks the House managers have done a good job, something he told Schiff himself on Wednesday night after testimony concluded.
— Lauren Peller and Kathryn Watson
Trial resumes with Jeffries continuing arguments
The trial resumed at around 7:15 p.m. Jeffries continued his presentation, providing more details about the hold on U.S. aid to Ukraine over the summer.
Senate recesses for 30 minutes
The Senate stands in recess for 30 minutes, after which Jeffries will resume his presentation.
Jeffries is using testimony from former and current administration officials and messages collected by House Democrats in the course of their impeachment inquiry to demonstrate how Mr. Trump used a White House meeting to pressure Zelensky to publicly announce an investigation into his political rivals.
Jeffries invokes baseball to drive home point about the Constitution
Congressman Hakeem Jeffries opened his presentation with an anecdote about an encounter he had earlier Thursday, providing a brief moment of levity in the Senate chamber amid the impeachment trial.
Jeffries recalled running into a fellow New Yorker who works in Washington who asked whether he had heard "the latest outrage."
"I wasn't really sure what he was talking about, so to be honest I thought to myself, well, the president is now back in town, what has Donald Trump done now?" Jeffries said.
"So I said to him, 'What outrage are you talking about? And he paused for a moment, and then he said to me, 'Someone voted against Derek Jeter on his Hall of Fame ballot,'" the New York Democrat continued as laughter rippled throughout the otherwise quiet chamber. "Life is all about perspective."
Jeffries said that while he and his fellow impeachment managers hope they can subpoena Bolton and Mulvaney for testimony — a subject that has divided senators — "perhaps we can all agree to subpoena the Baseball Hall of Fame to try to figure out who out of 397 individuals, one person voted against Derek Jeter."
Jeffries said he was recounting that experience as he prepared to present the House's case against Mr. Trump and wondered, "What's more American than baseball and apple pie?"
"Perhaps the one thing that falls into that category is the sanctity and continuity of the United States Constitution," he said.
Jeffries then launched into his presentation, which is focusing on how Mr. Trump conditioned a White House meeting with Zelensky on the public announcement of an investigation into Biden and why that constitutes an abuse of power by the president.
Impeachment managers cite new Parnas documents
In her presentation, impeachment manager Zoe Lofgren used documents that former Giuliani associate Lev Parnas provided to the House Intelligence Committee after the House adopted the articles of impeachment. Parnas, who has been indicted on campaign fraud charges, has been working with Democrats on the committee to add further information about Giuliani's efforts in Ukraine.
Lofgren highlighted excerpts which show Parnas acting as a conduit between Giuliani and current and former Ukrainian officials, including several close aides of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. One handwritten note reads: "get Zalensky to announce that the Biden case will be investigated" — a reference to the ongoing efforts to get Ukraine to announce probes to benefit Mr. Trump politically.
More documents provided by Parnas were released last week.
Schiff: Trump pushed conspiracy theory "brought to you by the Kremlin"
The Senate reconvened shortly before 3:30 p.m., with Schiff continuing arguments for the impeachment managers.
Schiff said a conspiracy theory embraced by the president about Hillary Clinton's email server and Ukraine was "brought to you by the Kremlin" as part of a concerted disinformation campaign. Rudy Giuliani, the president's personal lawyer, was a key player in the campaign to pressure Ukraine, Schiff said, but Mr. Trump was the driving force behind all decisions.
"You can say a lot of things about President Trump, but he is not led by the nose by Rudy Giuliani," he said.
Schumer "not sure" Pence aide's testimony should be classified
With the Senate in a short break following presentations from Nadler and Garcia, Schumer told reporters he had seen supplemental testimony from Pence aide Jennifer Williams that was classified and made available to senators in a secure setting.
While the New York Democrat said he could not comment on the testimony, Schumer said he is "not sure it should be classified" and agreed with House managers that it should be released.
Schumer praised the House managers for a "masterful" presentation and said they are driving a "knife through the heart" of the forthcoming arguments from Mr. Trump's legal team.
"They are preempting the president's lawyers, who we know will make false arguments, and they are meeting those arguments before the president's lawyers get their chance because they won't be rebutted," he said.
Schumer doubled down on his demand for the Senate to hear from four more witnesses and receive four sets of documents, and said he is "more hopeful than ever" that four "conscientious, brave" Republican senators will join Democrats in their push for more evidence.
"We are standing by the four witnesses we need and the four sets of documents we need," he said. "There are no discussions with Republicans. We're not trading. We're not whittling down the list. Those four are all very important and if we want a fair trial, a trial that brings out the evidence, just the facts, the best way to go is the four witnesses we've asked for and the four documents."
Jonathan Turley, House GOP witness, says impeachment articles are legitimate
Senate stands in recess for 15 minutes
Following presentations from Nadler and Garcia, the Senate has recessed and will reconvene in roughly 15 minutes.
Nadler and Garcia detailed to senators how Mr. Trump's conduct with Ukraine constituted an abuse of power and laid out the constitutional framework for the first article of impeachment against the president.
As the Senate took its break, Mr. Trump departed the White House for Florida where he will deliver remarks at the Republican National Committee's winter meeting at his resort in Doral. He did not stop to take questions from reporters before boarding Marine One.
Garcia plays clips of Trump officials dismissing Ukraine theories
To make her case, House manager Sylvia Garcia played video clips of the president's own top officials debunking Ukraine theories the president and some Republican allies in Congress have entertained, namely that Ukraine interfered in the 2016 presidential election and was involved in the hacking of the DNC server.
In one clip, FBI Director Christopher Wray told ABC News there is simply no evidence supporting the theory that Ukraine interfered in the 2016 election.
"We have no information that indicates that Ukraine interfered with the 2016 presidential election," Wray told ABC News in December.
In another clip, former homeland security adviser Tom Bossert said multiple administration officials tried to dissuade the president from false theories about supposed Ukraine involvement with the DNC server.
"I am deeply frustrated with what he and the legal team is doing and repeating that debunked theory to the president," Bossert said in the clip, which aired on ABC News in late September. "It sticks in his mind when he hears it over and over again, and for clarity here, George, let me just again repeat that it has no validity."
Mostly silent senators settle in for lecture on Constitution
The atmosphere in the chamber, as observed from the press gallery, has often been reminiscent of a college lecture. That is especially true today, as senators sit silently as House managers explore the constitutional basis for the abuse of power article of impeachment, aided by video clips of testimony by constitutional scholars.
Senators have fallen into a familiar rhythm on the third day. Some senators take frequent notes, such as Susan Collins, Mitt Romney, Rob Portman, Kelly Loeffler and James Lankford. Others often chat in the back — Tim Scott and Ben Sasse, Jim Risch and Mike Crapo — disregarding the mandate to remain silent.
Tom Cotton often seems disdainful of the proceedings. He frequently leans over to say something to Joni Ernst. Rand Paul does not seem to have taken any notes, but he did a passable doodle of what appeared to be the Capitol building.
The tables for the impeachment managers and the White House legal team are noticeably different. The managers' table is cluttered, with various documents scattered about. The White House table is far neater. While most of the president's lawyers seem to be taking notes, White House counsel Pat Cipollone spends much of his time staring straight ahead.
Nadler plays clip of Lindsey Graham arguing impeachment doesn't require a crime in 1999
Republican Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina was one of the House managers in President Clinton's impeachment trial in 1999. Nadler played a clip of Graham arguing that the president can be impeached on articles that don't include an accusation of a statutory crime:
Top White House official: "I can't wait for the revenge"
As the House managers make their case on the Senate floor, the White House is relying on the president's Twitter feed and allies on Capitol Hill and on television to respond.
Walking by reporters near the chamber Thursday, White House legislative director Eric Ueland said, "I can't wait for the revenge."
Meanwhile, the president has been trying to defend himself on Twitter whenever he gets a chance. Like his lawyers in their initial statements, the president is expressing frustration with the process.
"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!" the president tweeted Thursday morning.
The president's legal team will have to wait until Saturday at the earliest to formally present their defense in the Senate.
Trump: White House's witnesses would be "BIG problem" for Democrats
Mr. Trump claimed on Twitter that Democrats rejected the idea of a possible trade for witness testimony in the Senate impeachment trial because it would pose a "big problem" for them.
"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 tweeted.
Reports earlier this week suggested some Democrats and aides were considering an agreement on witnesses in the Senate's proceedings, under which testimony from Joe or Hunter Biden would be exchanged for testimony from Bolton or other White House officials.
But top Democrats on Wednesday rejected the notion. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer told reporters a witness trade with Republicans is "off the table," and Schiff said "trials aren't trades for witnesses."
Nadler details abuse of power charge against Trump
Nadler, the Judiciary Committee chairman, said he would focus on reviewing the legal context for the charge of abuse of power, including the constitutional basis for impeaching the president for the offense.
"Since President George Washington took office in 1789, no president has abused his power in this way," Nadler said. "Let me say that again: No president has ever used his office to compel a foreign nation to help him cheat in our elections. Prior presidents would be shocked to the core by such conduct, and rightly so."
Nadler indicated his colleagues will apply the law to the facts at hand, namely the president's dealings with Ukraine. The managers will take the same approach to address the second impeachment article, obstruction of Congress.
"Taken together, the articles and the evidence conclusively establish that President Trump has placed his own personal political interests first. He has placed them above our national security, above our free and fair elections, and above our system of checks and balances," he continued. "This conduct is not America first. It is Donald Trump first."
Senate reconvenes for 3rd day of impeachment trial
The Senate reconvened for the third day of the impeachment trial shortly after 1:00 p.m., beginning with a prayer from the Senate chaplain and the pledge of allegiance.
The House impeachment managers will focus on the constitutional basis for the first impeachment article on abuse of power, Schiff said. Friday's arguments will focus on the second article, obstruction of Congress.
Roberts said that Schiff and other managers have 16 hours and 42 minutes remaining to make their case.
After a brief introduction from Schiff, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler began his opening presentation.
Trump will "catch parts" of impeachment trial, White House official says
A White House official told CBS News that Mr. Trump will likely "catch parts" of the impeachment trial.
"The president is working today, as he always does," the official said. "When they do begin, I'm sure he will catch parts of it between meetings and and phone calls, and he will also be briefed by staff throughout the day."
Mr. Trump broke his previous record of number of tweets in one day of his presidency on Wednesday, tweeting over 140 times, mostly about the impeachment trial. — Gabrielle Ake and Grace Segers
Pompeo says he'll testify before Senate if "legally required"
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said he would testify before the Senate in the impeachment trial if he were "legally required" to do so.
In an interview Thursday with the radio station WFLA Orlando, Pompeo was asked about comments Mr. Trump made Wednesday in Davos, Switzerland, in which he said he would "love" to have Pompeo and other top administration officials testify.
"If the Senate makes that decision and that's what's legally required, I'm happy to participate in that process," Pompeo said.
The secretary of state reiterated in a separate interview with Miami's WIOD-AM that he would testify if called by Democrats and required by law to appear.
"President Trump has always made clear to everyone on his team that we'll always comply with every legal requirement," Pompeo said.
House Democrats subpoenaed Pompeo in September for documents related to Mr. Trump's July phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, but the secretary of state refused to comply.
The president's dealings with Ukraine and subsequent efforts to block officials from complying with congressional subpoenas for documents and testimony are at the heart of the two articles of impeachment charging Mr. Trump with abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.
The president told reporters in Davos that having Pompeo, as well as acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney and former national security adviser John Bolton, testify in the impeachment probe raises national security concerns. — Melissa Quinn and Camilla Schick
Murphy: Pence aide's testimony should be declassified "immediately"
Democratic Senator Chris Murphy of Connecticut says he read the classified supplemental testimony from Jennifer Williams, an aide to Vice President Mike Pence, that's now available to senators.
Murphy said the document includes details about a phone call between Pence and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on September 18, 2019, and accused the administration of improperly making it classified:
Senator Cory Booker echoed Murphy's comments, telling reporters he "learned there's no reason that should be classified" after viewing the testimony.
Democrats zero in on State Department cable to call for documents
Democrats are focusing on a classified cable written by the top U.S. diplomat in Kiev as a missing piece of evidence that could shed more light on the president's dealings with Ukraine.
Bill Taylor, a Marine veteran and career public servant for 50 years, transmitted the cable to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in August 2019 as he became increasingly alarmed that the delay in aid was tied to efforts to pressure Ukraine to open investigations. He testified about what he wrote when he appeared before House lawmakers in the fall, but the State Department refused to provide the cable to impeachment investigators.
Schiff brought up the document toward the end of the House managers' presentation on Wednesday, citing it as an example of a missing piece of evidence that the Senate should demand from the administration.
"Taylor sent that cable on August 29," Schiff said. "Would you like me to read that to you right now? I would like to read it to you right now, except I don't have it because the State Department wouldn't provide it. But if you would like me to read it to you, we can do something about that. We can insist on getting that from the State Department."
Speaking to reporters in the Capitol before Thursday's proceedings, Democratic senators echoed Schiff's point, with Senator Bob Casey from Pennsylvania calling the cable "proof positive of how important a document can be."
"We're told by the evidence that Secretary of State Pompeo brought the cable with him to a meeting in the White House in the Oval Office with the president" to convince him to release the aid, Casey said.
"[Republicans] know how important that cable is. They know how relevant it is to the underlying charges," Casey said. "They also know that to make the case, as the lawyers do in their brief, or try to make the case that the president did nothing wrong — no one believes that."
Schumer: Schiff "may have planted the first seed" of doubt in minds of Republicans
Minority Leader Chuck Schumer spoke to reporters before the third day of the impeachment trial began on Thursday. Schumer praised the impeachment managers' performance during their arguments on Wednesday, saying that some Republican senators may have heard the full timeline of the hold on aid to Ukraine for the first time.
"It may have planted the first seed in their minds that yes, perhaps the president did something very wrong here," Schumer said, mentioning lead manager Adam Schiff in particular. "It has been only one day, but House managers are setting the bar very high for the president's counsel to meet."
Schumer said that Senate Republicans' eyes were "glued" on Schiff during his argument on Wednesday. However, several Senate Republicans in the chamber reacted to Schiff with clear disdain, with many muttering, shaking their heads or even laughing as he spoke.
Senators allowed to see classified testimony from Pence aide
As proceedings Wednesday night winded down, Chief Justice John Roberts announced a classified document would be made available to senators to view in a classified setting.
"A single, one-page classified document identified by the House managers for filing with the Secretary of the Senate, that will be received on January 22, 2020, shall not be made part of the public record and shall not be printed, but shall be made available" to senators, Roberts said.
The document in question relates to supplemental testimony provided to the House late last year by Jennifer Williams, an aide to Vice President Mike Pence, who spoke to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in a September 18, 2019, phone call.
A Democratic official working on the impeachment trial said in a statement Wednesday that the House Intelligence Committee received the supplementary testimony from Williams on November 26, one week after she testified publicly before House investigators. Schiff, who chairs the panel, transmitted that testimony to the House Judiciary Committee on December 11 "to be made part of the record in consideration of articles of impeachment," the official said.
Schiff asked Pence's office to declassify the supplemental testimony in early December, but the vice president declined to do so. The Democratic official said the supplemental testimony "will allow the Senate to see further corroborative evidence as it considers articles of impeachment, and, if declassified, it would provide the public further understanding of the events in question." — Melissa Quinn and Olivia Gazis
Jeffries says House could still subpoena Bolton
Congressman Hakeem Jeffries of New York, one of the seven House impeachment managers, indicated the House could still issue a subpoena to former national security adviser John Bolton.
During an interview with "CBS This Morning," Jeffries was pressed on whether the House would seek to compel Bolton to testify.
"That's a question that remains to be seen," he said. "Speaker Pelosi has indicated that she hasn't ruled it in and she hasn't ruled it out."
Bolton said this month he would testify before the Senate if he received a subpoena. House Democrats requested Bolton's testimony during the initial impeachment inquiry but stopped short of issuing a subpoena.
Jeffries also said the evidence and witness testimony collected during the House's impeachment investigation and presented to the Senate is new to some members.
"Some of them have acknowledged that the information that they are receiving they are hearing and processing for the first time," he said. "That's a good thing."
The House impeachment managers will continue their opening arguments Thursday.
Schiff urges senators to demand more witnesses to fill in gaps
Toward the end of Wednesday's arguments, Schiff pointed out instances when the Senate could compel more documents or witnesses to provide a fuller record of the president's actions with Ukraine.
In one instance, Schiff referred back to a conversation U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland had with Ukraine presidential adviser Andriy Yermak. Sondland said he didn't think aid to Ukraine would be released until Ukraine moved forward with an announcement of investigations.
In another example, former top National Security Council official Tim Morrison witnessed a conversation between Sondland and Yermak and reported back to National Security Adviser John Bolton. Bolton, Schiff noted, told Morrison to talk White House lawyers.
"You know, if you keep getting told you gotta go talk to the lawyers, there's a problem. If things are perfect, you don't get told go talk to the lawyers time and time again," Schiff said.
"That record exists within the White House. Would you like me to read you that record? I'd be happy to read you that record. It's there for your asking," Schiff said. "Of course, the president has refused to provide that record. Precisely why did Ambassador Bolton direct Morrison ... to talk to the lawyers? Would you like Ambassador Bolton to tell you why he said that? He'd be happy to tell you why he said that. He's there for your asking."
When Schiff made these comments, Schumer stared pointedly at McConnell, smiling. McConnell stared straight ahead and did not acknowledge Schumer.
There was also widespread muttering on the Republican side when Schiff raised his voice during his argument, with some senators shaking their heads and smiling. — Grace Segers and Kathryn Watson
How senators stuck in D.C. for impeachment are keeping their 2020 campaigns going
With the Iowa caucuses twelve days away and New Hampshire's primary soon after, the 2020 presidential candidates who are sitting senators have decamped to Washington. But while they're participating in the impeachment trial, these senators have launched contingency plans, sending surrogates across early-voting states to talk them up with voters.
Perhaps the biggest star hitting the early-state trail is Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who's slated to hold campaign events for Senator Bernie Sanders at the University of Iowa and Iowa State University on Friday and Saturday. Sanders is still expected to make an appearance at the Saturday night rally depending on the impeachment schedule.
Read more about how supporters of Sanders, Amy Klobuchar and Elizabeth Warren are dealing with the impeachment schedule.