In six days of presentations, the president’s defence team and Democratic legislators from the House of Representatives will attempt to convince senators to join their side to either acquit or convict Trump.
Democratic House managers on Thursday focused on the abuse of power article of impeachment against Trump in arguing the constitutional basis for the president’s removal from office. They also pre-empted a likely line of attack from the president’s defence, arguing there was no evidence that former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter acted improperly in Ukraine.
Trump’s defence team is expected to start its arguments on Saturday.
Here are all the latest updates as of Friday, January 24:
Democrats have about five and half hours left on their time
House managers presenting the case for impeachment have so far used about 18 and half hours of their allotted time.
Under the rules resolution passed at the beginning of the trial, the prosecution team had 24 hours over three days to present their case.
So far on Friday, the House managers had used about two and half hours.
House Managers have 7 hours and 53 minutes remaining for opening oral arguments.
— Senate Cloakroom (@SenateCloakroom) January 24, 2020
Schiff: ‘Flattery and propaganda, that’s all the Russians needed’
Lead House manager Adam Schiff, in an increasingly impassioned argument, said Trump had parroted “Russian propaganda” in his statements on Russian interference in the 2016 election and by perpetuating a Russian-spread theory that the meddling actually originated in Ukraine.
Schiff referenced Trump’s 2018 comments at the Helsinki summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin, in which he openly questioned US intelligence and appeared to side with Putin.
Schiff called it a “pattern”.
“President Trump solicited interference from Russia as a candidate in 2016 and then his campaign welcomed Russian interference in the election,” he said.
Poll: Majority of Americans want new witnesses
A new Washington Post-ABC News poll has found that 66 percent of Americans support the Senate calling more witnesses.
Meanwhile, Americans remain split on whether Trump should have been impeached, with 52 percent in favor of the House’s vote and 45 percent were against.
Schiff: ‘We must not become numb to foreign interference in our elections’
Lead House manager Adam Schiff said not removing President Trump from office would be “corrosive to our elections and our values”.
“We must not become numb to foreign interference in our elections,” Schiff said.
He added that Trump’s actions, if unchecked, will set a precedent to future presidents that “they too can cheat to attain power and keep it”.
“That way lies disaster for the great American experiment in self governance,” he said.
Pompeo makes first trip to Ukraine next week
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will visit Ukraine next week, making his first trip to the country at the heart of President Donald Trump’s impeachment, likely while the Senate trial is still ongoing.
The State Department announced Friday that Pompeo would travel to Kyiv as part of a five-nation tour of Europe and Central Asia.
Schiff references Budapest Memorandum on Security Assistance
Lead House manager Adam Schiff, in arguing the precarious position of Ukraine, referenced the Budapest Memorandum on Security Assistance.
Under three identical agreements, the nuclear powers of Russia, the US, and the UK gave assurances that the political sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine, Kazakstan and Belarus would be protected. In return, the three countries turned over their nuclear stockpiles.
Russia was considered in breach of the memorandum when it annexed Crimea in 2014.
Crow pre-empts Trump defence argument on military aid hold
House manager Jason Crow combated some defense arguments Trump’s legal team is expected to make as the prosecutors finished the last day of their arguments.
In particular, Crow rebutted that military aid was eventually released to Ukraine with “no harm, no foul”, saying the aid had only been released after Congress launched an investigation.
“This defense would be laughable if this issue wasn’t so serious,” he said.
Jeffries: There’s “toxic mess” at the White House
House manager Hakeem Jeffries said there was a “toxic mess” at the White House, with the president actively working to cover up his wrongdoing, and it’s legislators job to clean it up.
“The President tried to cheat. He got caught, and then he worked hard to cover it up,” Jeffries said.
What else is happening today?
The US has confirmed it’s second case of coronavirus that has infected at 830 people, left 26 dead and have left several Chinese cities on lockdown. Read the latest updates here.
Thousands of Iraqis have heeded the call of an influential Shia cleric and took to the streets of Baghdad to demand the withdrawal of US troops. Read about the most recent protests in Iraq here.
The Palestinian Authority has warned Israel and US that it would not recognise any Middle East plan it had previously rejected. On Thursday, Trump said he would likely release his long-awaited plan before Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visits the US capital next week. Catch up on the upcoming visit here.
Can Democrats successfully make the case for witnesses?
The Democrats want to hear further testimony from former National Security Adviser John Bolton, White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney, White House budget office official Michael Duffey, and top adviser to the White House Chief of Staff Robert Blair.
But first they will have to make the case to Republican Senators, and convince at least four that that testimony is needed.
Read more about how likely that is.
Trump unhappy his defence will begin in ‘Death Valley in T.V.’
President Donald Trump’s defence will begin on Saturday – much to his chagrin.
In a tweet on Friday, Trump said his defence will be “forced to start on Saturday, which is called Death Valley in T.V.”
The Saturday session is expected to be relatively short, with more time used when the trial resumes on the more desirable Monday evening time slot.
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.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 24, 2020
Trump retweets Senator’s tweet about Lieutenant-Colonel Alexander Vindman
President Donald Trump, who was attending the anti-abortion ‘March for Life’ rally in the capital, has continued to tweet criticism of the Senate impeachment trial throughout the day.
One of those tweets included a retweet of Senator Marsha Blackburn, who criticised Lieutenant-Colonel Alexander Vindman.
Vindman, an Army officer assigned to the National Security Council, had testified as part of the House impeachment inquiry.
Blackburn’s tweet, said to be citing Vindman’s commanding officer, described him as a “political activist in uniform”.
The Do Nothing Democrats just keep repeating and repeating, over and over again, the same old “stuff” on the Impeachment Hoax. 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!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 24, 2020
Trump also criticised Democrats for wanting ‘to use ALL of their time, even though it is the wrong thing to do”.
Senate impeachment trial resumes
Lead House manager Adam Schiff has opened the fifth day of the Senate impeachment trial.
Schiff said today will include House managers finishing their presentation on the abuse of power article of impeachment before presenting their case for obstructing Congress article.
Schumer: It is on the ‘shoulders of four Republican Senators’ to get witnesses, documents
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer urged four Republican Senators to join Democrats in voting to be able to subpoena more witnesses and documents in the Senate Impeachment trial.
“Will four Republican Senators, just four, rise to the occasion?” said Schumer, who spoke to reporters before the start of the fifth day of the trial.
Here are the Senators to watch in the trial.
Graham Says House managers’ lengthy arguments ‘mind numbing’
Senator Lindsey Graham accused Democratic House managers of “over-trying their case” shortly before the fifth day of the impeachment trial began in the Senate on Friday.
“It became mind-number after a while,” said Graham, referring to the two days of lengthy argument presentation by the House managers.
However, Graham noted the House managers have been “very professional, very respectful”.
Report: Recording appears to show Trump saying he wants former Ambassador to Ukraine fired
A recording appears to show US President Donald Trump tell associates at a small gathering that he wanted the then US Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch fired, according to a report by ABC News, who also reviewed the recording.
That gathering included Giuliani associates Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, who have since been indicted on federal campaign finance fraud. The recording contradicts repeated claims from the president that he does not know Parnas.
The recording appears to capture Parnas and Fruman, both associates of Trump’s personal Lawyer Rudy Giuliani, telling the president that Yovanovitch has been disparaging him.
A voice that appears to be Trump’s is then heard saying: “Get rid of her”. The meeting reportedly took place a year before Yovanovitch was removed from office, following what she described as a smear campaign by Giuliani and his associates.
Trump referenced Yovanovitch during his July 25 phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, which is at the heart of the impeachment inquiry, and was accused of intimidating a witness by tweeting about Yovanovitch as she testified before the House intelligence committee as part of the impeachment inquiry.
Read more about Yovanovitch’s testimony in the impeachment inquiry here.
White House Reportedly Warns GOP Senators Against Crossing Trump
Republican Senators have been warned by the White House not to vote against President Donald Trump during the impeachment proceedings, according to a report Friday morning from CBS News.
“Vote against the president and your head will be on a pike,” the senators have been told, according to the network’s chief congressional correspondent, Nancy Cordes, who sourced the threat to a “Trump confidant.”
Whether the threat applies to a vote in favour of removal from office or merely any procedural questions such as whether to call witnesses or allow for new evidence is unclear.
The votes taken so far, all over procedural issues, have hewed strictly along party lines, with 53 Republicans voting in lockstep with the Republican leadership and 47 Democrats voting in opposition.
Trump starts morning, again, with impeachment tweets
Trump began the fifth day of the impeachment proceedings against him by again tweeting, this time derision for Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and praise for his biggest Republican defenders.
“Cryin’ Chuck never had what it takes, and never will!” he tweeted along with an article about Democrats’ attempts to be able to call more witnesses in the trial.
Jim is great! https://t.co/SxjDSlaP7J
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 24, 2020
“Jim is great!” he wrote in another post, referring to Republican Representative Jim Jordan, who has been one of the most vocal defenders of the president.
On Wednesday, the second day of opening arguments in the trial, Trump broke his record for most tweets or retweets in a single day while in office, according to Factba.se, a service that compiles and analyses data on Trump’s presidency.
Who is on Trump’s defence team?
Trump’s defence team will likely begin their arguments on Saturday.
Like the House managers, they will be given 24 hours over three days to lay out their defence.
Read more about the key players in the trial here.
Who are the House managers?
The House of Representatives appointed seven Democrats to make their case against Trump, which they will conclude on Friday. They were granted 24 hours over three days to lay it all out.
Read more about them here.
What happened to the debate about more witnesses, documents?
Tuesday’s ruling on the rules resolution has relegated the debate over whether more witnesses or documents can be subpoenaed after the arguments by the House managers and Trump’s defence time. It is likely to happen sometime next week.
Despite attempts by Democrats, the Senate will first vote generally on whether new witnesses or documents can be subpoenaed. If that passes, they will then vote on specific cases.
The Democrats want to hear from former National Security Adviser John Bolton, White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney, White House budget office official Michael Duffey, and top adviser to the White House Chief of Staff Robert Blair.
Meanwhile, Republicans have suggested a swap, with Joe and Hunter Biden testifying in exchange for Democrats’s desired witnesses. Democrats have largely resisted the prospect of the Bidens testifying.
Read more about the rules resolution here.
Fidget spinners, possible naps, and book reading: How Senators pass the time
Press covering the impeachment trial has highlighted how Senators are passing the lengthy proceedings, which are only part of many of the legislators’ punishing schedules.
Because only government cameras have been allowed onto the Senate floor, many of the time-passing techniques have escaped the public eye, but media have documented instances of senators playing with fidget spinners, reading books, and appearing to take power naps to get through the proceedings.
Some senators have also begun to flout the strict rules for a Senate impeachment trial, which include no pacing, note-passing, working on other matters or talking.
What happened on Thursday?
On Thursday, House managers focused on the abuse of power article of impeachment against Trump, which says the president misused his authority to pressure Ukraine into the politically motivated investigation of former Vice President Biden’s son, Hunter.
The House managers argued that a crime did not need to be committed for the president to abuse his power, and cited previous comments by Attorney General Bill Barr, Trump defence team lawyer Alan Dershowitz, and Trump ally Republican Senator Lindsey Graham. They also spent a good deal of time arguing that there is no evidence the Bidens acted improperly in Ukraine – pre-empting the likely argument from the president’s defence team.
Read more about Thursday’s proceedings here.
What happened at start of trial?
The trial began last week, with the swearing-in of Chief Justice John Roberts, who is constitutionally required to preside over the trial. Roberts then swore in the 100-member US Senate.
On Tuesday, the second day of the trial but the first full day of proceedings, the Senate voted along partisan lines to approve Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s rules resolution after nearly 12 hours of debate. Meanwhile, 11 amendments introduced by Democrats were blocked. Read more about what happened here.
Then on Wednesday, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, the lead House manager in the trial, began the presentation of the case against Trump by laying out the timeline of his alleged pressure campaign on Ukraine. Read more about Wednesday’s proceedings here.