Trump Impeachment Trial: Live Updates
Here’s what you need to know:
Managers accused Trump of using his power ‘to cheat’ in the election.
House managers began laying out their case for convicting and removing President Trump from office, accusing him of a corrupt scheme to enlist the help of a foreign government to tarnish his domestic political rivals and pave his way to a second term.
In a series of sober, methodical speeches, the Democratic managers, or prosecutors, presented extracts of testimony from the House inquiry, emails, text messages and other evidence to argue that Mr. Trump’s pressure on Ukraine to incriminate Democrats amounted to an assault on America’s constitutional democracy.
“President Trump solicited foreign interference in our democratic elections, abusing the power of his office to seek help from abroad to improve his re-election prospects at home,” Representative Adam B. Schiff, a California Democrat and the lead manager, said from the well of the Senate. “President Trump,” he added, “withheld hundreds of millions of dollars in military aid to a strategic partner at war with Russia to secure foreign help with his re-election. In other words, to cheat.”
While the Senate has so far refused to allow witnesses, Mr. Schiff and his fellow managers in effect brought a few to the floor anyway by playing video clips from current and former officials like Fiona Hill, Gordon D. Sondland, William B. Taylor Jr. and David Holmes, who testified before Mr. Schiff’s House Intelligence Committee last year. And they played several from Mr. Trump himself, showing the president in 2016 publicly calling on Russia to hack Hillary Clinton’s email and last year publicly calling on Ukraine and even China to investigate former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr.
“Shocking video,” Representative Sylvia Garcia, Democrat of Texas, said after showing Mr. Trump telling George Stephanopoulos of ABC News last spring that he would still be willing to accept damaging information about a campaign opponent from Russia or another foreign government.
With three days to make their case, the seven House impeachment managers started outlining the events in narrative form, how the president and his associates sought to pressure Ukraine to announce investigations of Mr. Biden and Democrats while withholding $391 million in American aid. The managers will later explore the constitutional ramifications of the case.
Mr. Schiff was followed by Representative Jerrold Nadler of New York. Next came Ms. Garcia, then Representatives Jason Crow of Colorado, Val Demings of Florida and Hakeem Jeffries of New York. The seventh manager, Representative Zoe Lofgren of California, will have moments at the microphone in the hours to come.
“If not remedied by his conviction in the Senate and removal from office,” Mr. Schiff said, “President Trump’s abuse of his office and obstruction of Congress will permanently alter the balance of power among the branches of government, inviting future presidents to operate as if they are also beyond the reach of accountability, congressional oversight and the law.”
Mr. Schiff went on to reject the notion that impeachment is outdated and therefore no longer a viable instrument to hold a president accountable. “If it is a relic,” he said, “I wonder how much longer our republic can succeed.”
Trump set a new Twitter record as he lashed out at House managers seeking his removal from office.
The defendant was not in the room or even in the country, but he made his views known. Mr. Trump fired off so many Twitter messages as his fate was being debated on the Senate floor that he set a record for any single day in his presidency.
As of 4:45 p.m., he had posted or reposted 132 messages on Twitter, surpassing the previous record of 123 set in December, as he defended himself and lashed out at the House managers. Most of the messages were retweets of messages from allies and supporters assailing Mr. Schiff and others prosecuting the case.
Mr. Trump reposted a tweet from Senator Rand Paul, Republican of Kentucky, who wrote: “The more we hear from Adam Schiff, the more the GOP is getting unified against this partisan charade!” Mr. Trump added: “True!” He also reposted a tweet from Mr. Paul in which the senator invited the president to attend the trial as his guest.
Mr. Trump began his Twitter blitz around midnight Washington time while still in Davos, Switzerland, where he attended an economic forum. He fired off 41 tweets over the next hour, or one every 88 seconds, according to Bill Frischling of Factba.se, a service that compiles and analyzes data on Mr. Trump’s presidency.
Some of the messages later in the day came even as he flew on Air Force One back toward Washington and amplified the broadsides he delivered at a news conference before leaving Davos, where he called Mr. Nadler a “sleaze bag” and Mr. Schiff a “con job” and a “corrupt politician.”
Mr. Trump told reporters at the news conference that he would love to attend the trial — something that no other president has done and that his lawyers have advised against — so he could “sit right in the front row and stare into their corrupt faces.”
But he praised his lawyers for their performance on Tuesday. “We’re doing very well,” he said. “I got to watch enough. I thought our team did a very good job. But honestly, we have all the material. They don’t have the material.”
The last comment about the material immediately provoked criticism from Democrats, who called it a boast about the president’s success at withholding documents and evidence from Congress. But it was unclear from the context whether he was instead saying, however inartfully, that his side had the stronger argument.
Schumer ruled out witness bargain that would call both Bolton and Hunter Biden to testify.
Senate Democrats ruled out any bargain that would involve calling Hunter Biden, the son of the former vice president, as a witness in the trial in exchange for Republicans agreeing to hear testimony from John R. Bolton, Mr. Trump’s former national security adviser.
“That trade is not on the table,” Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the Democratic leader, told reporters during a break in the trial.
Hunter Biden served on the board of a Ukrainian energy company while his father was vice president. In a July phone call, Mr. Trump asked the president of Ukraine to do him “a favor” and investigate both Bidens, a request that is now at the heart of the impeachment charges.
Democratic leaders regard the idea of calling Hunter Biden as a nonstarter, arguing that he is not relevant to the case.
“This isn’t like some fantasy football trade,” he told reporters before beginning arguments against Mr. Trump. “Trials aren’t trades for witnesses.”
The former vice president’s many allies in the Senate have been particularly insistent on the point. “The president is on trial here, not anyone with the last name Biden,” Senator Chris Coons, Democrat of Delaware and a close ally of the elder Mr. Biden, said in a tweet Tuesday night. “VP Biden and Hunter Biden are not relevant witnesses.”
Bound to silence on the floor, Trump’s lawyers and allies stewed with no chance to respond until later in the week.
While Mr. Trump used his telephone to make his views known, the next three days may prove uncomfortable for his lawyers and Republican allies stuck on the Senate floor as the House Democrats have exclusive access to the microphone.
Unlike the procedural arguments on Tuesday in which both sides went back and forth offering their points, the trial rules now provide the House managers with 24 hours over three days to make their case uninterrupted by the other side or any of the senators.
For hour after hour, the president’s lawyers and their Republican allies are being forced to sit silent in their seats, listening to the most nefarious interpretations of Mr. Trump’s actions without any ability to rebut the points except during breaks in front of television cameras in the hallways.
But it may also be the first time that some senators have heard the totality of the evidence presented in a sustained way. Always on the move, constantly running from one meeting to another, senators almost never have hours on end, much less three days straight, to focus on a single subject. Few if any of them are likely to have watched all of the House hearings that led to the impeachment.
The White House team will get its turn, though, and the House managers will be the ones having to sit quiet as the president’s lawyers present their case uninterrupted and unrebutted.
The White House ceded a chance to try to swiftly dismiss the case.
The White House passed up a chance to force a vote to dismiss the impeachment charges against Mr. Trump before arguments get underway.
Both the president’s defense lawyers and the House Democratic impeachment managers had until 9 a.m. to offer motions related to the trial, except for ones that would call for witnesses and new evidence, issues that will be dealt with next week. Neither side did so, aides in both parties said.
The White House’s silence was more significant. Though Republican leaders have been discouraging the president’s team from seeking a swift dismissal, Mr. Trump had endorsed the idea and his conservative allies said the Senate ought to vote promptly to do so. A dismissal vote this week would almost certainly have failed to attract a majority of senators, dividing Republicans and dealing Mr. Trump an early symbolic defeat.
A motion to dismiss could still be offered later in the trial. For now, Republican congressional leaders have counseled the White House that it is better politically for the trial to run its course and deliver a full acquittal of the president, rather than cutting it short and enabling Democrats to argue the result is illegitimate.
— Nicholas Fandos
Republicans bristled at House managers for their aggressive tone during the procedural debate.
On Tuesday, House managers repeatedly criticized the Republican senators who will decide Mr. Trump’s fate, with one manager accusing them of “treacherous” behavior. By Wednesday morning, it was clear that the tone did not go over very well.
Republicans laced into Representative Jerrold Nadler, Democrat of New York and the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, whose aggressive tone toward senators — and accusation of treachery — during his remarks after midnight were too much for some in the chamber.
“What Chairman Nadler said and how he conducted himself was outrageous and an insult to the Senate,” said Senator John Cornyn, Republican of Texas. “We don’t need to continue the clown circus that started over in the House.”
Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina, lashed out at the managers for suggesting that Republican senators were part of a cover-up by not voting in support of subpoenaing additional documents and witnesses. “You can say what you want about me but I’m covering up nothing,” Mr. Graham told reporters.
Even some Democrats offered some mild criticism. Senator Jon Tester of Montana told reporters that Mr. Nadler “could have chosen better words” and Senator Chris Coons of Delaware told CNN that “frankly, several of those folks who were making arguments in the chamber took an aggressive tone. The tone in the Senate has always been and tries to remain measured and civil.”
All of which may explain why Mr. Schiff opened Wednesday’s presentation with an olive branch to the senators, heaping praise on them for their forbearance. “I want to begin today by thanking you for the conduct of the proceedings yesterday,” he told the senators. “And for inviting your patience as we go forward.”
— Michael D. Shear
Chief Justice Roberts spent the morning at his day job before reporting to the Senate chamber.
The only liquids allowed on the Senate floor during the trial are water and milk, but Chief Justice Roberts could be forgiven for wishing for a good jolt of coffee.
After presiding over the Senate trial until nearly 2 a.m., the chief justice reported to his day job for oral arguments at the Supreme Court at 10 a.m. before then returning to the Senate chamber for the session that started at 1 p.m.
The arguments at the Supreme Court focused on a different issue than the one at stake on the Senate floor but one that has been hotly disputed nonetheless. The case, Espinoza v. Montana Department of Revenue, focuses on a since-disbanded voucher program in Montana that provided tax breaks for donors to scholarships for private schools, including religious schools.
After running the oral arguments at the court in the morning, the chief justice resumed his temporary assignment as presiding officer at the Senate proceeding, a role that so far has been essentially ministerial with the exception of his late-night chiding of both sides to keep civil.