***Live Updates*** Trump Impeachment Trial: Senators Ask More Questions

WASHINGTON, DC JANUARY 16: (L-R) Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts arrive to the Senate chamber for impeachment proceedings at the U.S. Capitol on January 16, 2020 in Washington, DC. On Thursday, the House impeachment managers will read the articles of impeachment against President Trump …
Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Senators will have eight more hours on Thursday to ask questions in President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial.

Stay tuned to Breitbart News for live updates. All times eastern.

11:00 PM: Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) is reportedly a “no” on witnesses.

 

10:40 PM: McConnell asks the the trial adjourns until 1 PM on Friday.

10:37 PM: Klobuchar asks the House managers to respond to the answer just given:

Nadler says Trump’s team gave their “usual nonsense.” Nadler says this is a trial and there should be witnesses. He says there is only one real question (did Trump abuse his power to extort Ukraine to help him slander his potential 2020 opponent) and everything else is a distraction and irrelevant (whistleblower, House procedures, Hunter Biden, Obama’s withholding of lethal aid).

10:33 PM: Braun and Lee ask Trump’s team if Biden could be impeached under Dershowitz’s theory.

Philbin says if all the facts line up it would be in the “problematic category” (personal/pecuniary motivation)

10:27 PM: Merkley and other Senate Dems ask House managers if the White House’s and Trump team’s views prevail, will presidents have an unchecked ability to manipulate future elections like corrupt leaders in Russia and Venezuela.

Schiff says there is no limiting principle here so long as the president think it is in the public interest because the principle can be applied to any situation.

10:20 PM: Romney asks both parties if they have any evidence Trump directed anyone to hold security assistance until the Ukrainians investigated the Bidens.

Schiff claims Sondland (not a “Never Trumper”) even though he testified there was no quid pro quo and Mulvaney. Schiff says Mulvaney has been trying to walk back his “get over it” remarks. Schiff says the third direct witness will be Bolton if he is allowed to testify. Schiff claims the conditionality was made clear to all of them.

Purpura says the answer in the House record is no as he has previously described at length in his opening arguments on Saturday. He says Sondland, who came to the presumption before speaking to Trump, testified that Trump told him: “I want nothing… no quid pro quo.” He says Sen. Johnson asked Trump directly and Trump answered: “No way. I would never do that. Who told you that?”

10:15 PM: Bennet and Warner ask the House managers if it is true that the Senate can establish the number of witnesses that can be called by majority vote and past trials in the Senate included witnesses who did not testify in the House.

Jeffries says all they are asking the Senate to do is to hold a “full and fair trial consistent with the Senate’s responsibilities.”

10:10 PM: GOP Senators ask the White House’s team about Biden’s opposition to witnesses in 1999 in Clinton’s impeachment trial. They ask why the Biden rule should not apply here when Schumer agreed with him.

Sekulow reads Biden’s memo and calls it the “Biden doctrine” that some managers and Senators agreed with. He jabs Schiff for trying to create another conversation before he was cut off.

He also wants to address the executive privilege issue. He says his first Supreme Court client lost in the lower courts and the Court reversed 9-0 and that’s why you continue to utilize the courts and not rely on what a district court just says when it comes to executive privilege as it relates to the president of the United States.

10:05 PM: Durbin asks the House managers to respond.

Schiff says he thinks they all know what Trump did and claims there is no question about why the military aid was withheld and why Trump wanted Biden investigated. Schiff says that Trump’s team, even though Philbin said there was no quid pro quo, is saying accept all of the allegations against Trump and “you can’t do anything about it except hold up nominations.” He says Republicans don’t want Bolton to testify because they don’t want Americans to hear all the dirty details. He runs out of time before he can make up another quote.

9:58 PM: Graham and other GOP Senators ask Trump’s team to assume that Bolton were to testify in the light most favorable to the allegations contained in the articles, it still would not be enough to impeach and remove Trump.

Philbin says there is no evidence to show a quid pro quo. But he says assuming for the sake of argument, if Bolton does testify, the articles of impeachment would not rise to an impeachable offense. Philbin says the articles do not rise to the level of impeachable offenses because the House managers have not charged Trump with statutory crimes. Philbin says the theory of abuse of power that the House managers have asserted is not something that conforms with the Constitution’s “high crimes and misdemeanors” standard.

9:53 PM: Markey tees up a question for House managers about Russia hacking into Burisma to look for information on Hunter Biden. He asks what recourse will Congress have under the Dershowitz standard if Trump is later found to have invited Russian interference.

Schiff says there will be no recourse whatsoever. He says this is a recipe for a president who is above the law.

9:47 PM: Moran and other GOP Senators ask Trump’s team if Congress has other means than impeachment that are less damaging to the nation in an election year than impeachment.

Philbin says Congress has a lot of incremental steps short of impeachment to address friction/conflicts with the executive branch (not passing legislation, holding up judges, etc…) and the House did not even try to accommodation process.

9:40 PM: Rosen asks the House managers about Sondland’s testimony about “no quid pro quo.” She wonders if Sondland, though, described a quid pro quo in the rest of the testimony.

Schiff claims that is exactly what he did. He says they should ask to see Taylor’s and Morrison’s notes if they have questions about that. He now again goes through the chronology that House managers repeated over and over again during opening arguments.

9:38 PM:

9:35 PM: Blackburn and other GOP Senators ask Trump team’s how many times House staff members have communicated with the whistleblower since the first date of contact.

Philbin says he doesn’t know, nobody knows, because they don’t know when the first contact was, what the substance of the contact was. He says that all remains “shrouded in secrecy.” He again says if they were to go down the road of more evidence/witnesses, these would be relevant questions to ask. He then rails against the “partisan charade” with “bipartisan opposition” that “should not be condoned.”

9:29 PM: Jones, Manchin, and Sinema ask the House managers about the accommodation process and what duty the Senate owes the public that all relevant facts are known at the trial.

Schiff says it was apparent from the very beginning that they were not interested in any accommodation. He brings up McGahn’s situation and says Trump’s team was adamant that they were going to fight in every single way. He says if they were interested in accommodation, there would have been more documents provided.

Schiff says the Senate has the sole power to try impeachment and they get to decide how to try the case. He says if they decide they have confidence in the Chief Justice to rule on witnesses/documents/privileges they have the sole power to make that happen.

9:26 PM: Ernst and Lankford ask Trump’s team if they have been provided a transcript of Michael Atkinson’s testimony.

Philbin says it was not turned over and they have not seen it. He says they don’t want to go down the road of more evidence/witnesses but if they were to go down the path it could be helpful because he was asked questions about the whistleblower and the contact he may had with staffers on Schiff’s committee. He says it would help figuring out the whistleblower’s possible biases/motivations/connections to the Bidens.

9:07 PM: Blumenthal asks the House managers about Trump recalling Yovanovitch a day after Biden entered the race. He asks why Trump wanted to “take her out.”

Schiff says Giuliani has provided the answers when he stated publicly that she was going to get in the way of the investigations that Trump wanted.

9:05 PM: MSNBC Sad Senate “Has No John McCain”:

9:04 PM: Trump’s team asked if the House managers’ contention that they have “overwhelmingly” proven their case contradict their desire for  more witnesses.

Philbin says it does contradict their claims that they need more witnesses. He again says Nadler has asserted that they have proven their case beyond any doubt. Philbin says it is “self-contradictory” for House managers to want more witnesses.

8:57 PM: Brown asks another Dem. question about Russian interference what are national security implications nothing prevents Trump from siding with Putin over U.S. intelligence agencies.

Crow uses his time to hammer home the point that there is no data to suggest that Ukraine was involved in the 2016 election interference. He says the precedent that will be set is all of the adversaries will understand that they can play to the whims of one person and get that individual to propagate their propaganda and undermine U.S. intelligence officials and agencies.

8:51 PM: Scott and other GOP Senators ask Trump’s team about Benghazi and requests for information that were denied for years and the report found that the administration “did not cooperate.” They ask if Trump owes more compliance than other presidents given Trump was impeached for obstruction of Congress after three months of not cooperating.

Sekulow also brings up the lack of cooperation in Fast and Furious as well. Sekulow says, with all sincerity,  again says it’s not the Chief Justice’s call re: witnesses.

8:50 PM: Biden argued against witnesses according to an impeachment memo from 1999:

8:46 PM: Manchin asks both parties why the Senate should not wait until the McGahn case is decided.

Philbin says that case will likely go to the Supreme Court and it is a dangerous idea to wait for litigation. He says if the House managers were not ready to present a case that could win, there should be an acquittal.

Schiff making the case that “absolute immunity is absolute nonsense.”

8:40 PM: Rubio and other GOP Senators ask both parties to address whether Trump was impeached for abuse of power because he did not follow the advice of his advisers while he was impeached for obstruction of Congress because he followed the advice of his advisers.

Schiff says that is not their argument at all. He talks about corruption and says Trump actually ordered his advisers to defy subpoenas and his lawyers were just responsible for legal window dressing. Schiff says you can say what you want about Trump but he is not led around the nose by his legal counsel.

Cipollone says Trump has been impeached for obstruction for Congress for exercising his constitutional rights and for looking out for future presidents and the executive branch. Cipollone asks what sort of precedent would Trump set if he just surrendered. He says the articles do not allege a crime and the House cannot charge a president with something and say he is guilty for asserting his rights and privileges.

8:33 PM: Peters and Cornyn ask both parties how the verdict would alter the balance of power between the executive/legislative branches in the future.

Cipollone says a final judgment of acquittal would be the best thing for the country and would help in the separation of powers. He says acquitting Trump is the only decision that will not damage the country for generations/permanently. Cipollone also says if the Senate can just decide if there is no executive privilege, the Senate will destroy executive privilege.

Schiff says if the president is allowed to determine which subpoenas are valid, Congress’s oversight power will be “eviscerated.” He warns against Article II meaning the president can do “whatever he wants.”

8:28 PM: Kennedy asks Trump’s team about Shokin’s belief that his ouster was because of Burisma holdings and he would have questioned Hunter Biden had he not been booted. He asks if the House managers have ever looked into that.

Philbin again says there is no proof that this has been debunked and every witness has said there was an appearance of a conflict of interest. He says they don’t know if Biden ever sought an ethics opinion.

8:25 PM: Schatz and other Senate Dems ask both parties if the White House can’t admit that King’s hypothetical about Israel is not wrong.

Schiff rips the Trump’s team and pivots and warns of the precedent that could be set if the Senate concludes the trial without witnesses.

Philbin says it’s a little bit rich for Schiff to say Trump is denying witnesses when the White House was denied witnesses. Philbin says if a president insisted that a foreign leader come to the U.S. to lie about someone, that would be wrong but that is not this case.

8:20 PM: Murkowski asks Trump’s team about Bolton’s book (quid pro quo). She asks why the Senate should not call Bolton when a dispute in material facts “weighs heavily” on calling additional witnesses.

Philbin says the House could have pursued Bolton and chose not to subpoena him. Philbin again warns of the precedent that will be set if the Senate is turned into an investigatory body that finishes the House’s “half-baked” impeachment investigations. Philbin also says it’s an alleged accusation made in a book.

8:15 PM: King asks Trump’s team if it would be permissible if Trump told Israel’s prime minister he would be withholding aid unless he came to the United States and charged his opponent with antisemitism.

Philbin says this is irrelevant here because the standard the House managers set was that they had to establish there was no public interest in asking for an investigation. He says it is “preposterous” for House managers to say there can’t be any legitimate interest because it has been debunked. Philbin asks how it has been debunked. By whom? Where are the reports? He says every witness has said there has been an appearance of a conflict of interest and two Obama administration officials raised the conflict of interest question with Biden’s office.

8:10 PM: Blunt and other GOP Senators ask Trump’s team what responsibilities does the president have to safeguard taxpayer dollars and root out corruption.

Cipollone says the president has an important responsibility and it cannot be disputed that Trump has wanted taxpayer dollars to be used responsibility. He says Trump has also repeatedly spoke about burden-sharing. He also says, addressing Warren’s previous question, the most important thing re: the fairness of the proceedings is that there cannot be one standard for one political party and another for the other political party.

8:05 PM: Hirono asks the House managers what the consequences are of revealing a whistleblower’s identity.

Schiff says he can’t give examples who were targets of retaliation though there have been many. He takes the opportunity to speak about the “unique importance of whistleblowers in the intelligence community.”  Schiff take his chance to hit Trump for saying whistleblowers should be treated like traitors and spies. He says you have to step back and realize how “abhorrent” this is.

8:00 PM: Collins and other GOP Senators ask the House managers why they didn’t pursue their legal remedies to get their subpoena for Kupperman.

Schiff says they didn’t want to go through the process because Trump should not be allowed to defeat requests for subpoenas through endless litigation.

7:52 PM: Wyden and other Democrats ask the House managers about Barr’s emails that indicate that Trump was granting favors to Turkey’s Erdogan. They ask if Trump has engaged in a “pattern of conduct” in which he places his personal interests above the national security interests of the United States.

Jeffries says there has been a “troubling pattern of possible conflicts of interests.” He says that in this specific instance, Trump “tried to cheat” by soliciting foreign interference in an American election.

7:47 PM: Tillis and Cruz ask the House managers if they agree with Chris Heinz that working with Burisma was unacceptable. They ask if John Kerry or Joe Biden agreed with Heinz and, if not, why not.

Schiff, changing the subject and deflecting, says Joe Biden is not material to these proceedings because the issue is not whether Hunter Biden should have sat on the board.

7:42 PM: Van Hollen and Klobuchar ask both parties if they are opposed to the Chief Justice ruling on witnesses/documents.

Sekulow says, no disrespect to the Chief Justice, but they do not think that is the way to go Constitutionally. He says that is not a position they will accept.

Schiff asks why it would not be Constitutionally appropriate. He claims it is permitted by the Constitution and Trump’s team fears Chief Justice Roberts will be fair in his rulings. He says their witnesses will be for “retribution” or “distraction.”

7:37 PM: Grassley and other GOP Senators ask Trump’s team if Trump’s concerns about a partisan impeachment process justified.

Philbin says they are and framers like Hamilton saw partisan impeachment as one of the greatest dangers. He again stresses that there was actually bipartisan opposition to impeachment in the House and it reflects very poorly on the process that was run in the House and the charges that were ultimately adopted as well. Philbin says the House managers at the time of the Clinton impeachment warned against partisan impeachments because they knew a partisan impeachment would not be valid and create deep divisions. He warns that the greatest danger is the one Schumer warned about in 1998–once we normalize partisan impeachments in election years, we just turn impeachment into a partisan impeachment tool that will be used again and again and more frequently. Philbin says that is not a future the country the Senate should accept.

7:35 PM: Trial about to resume. Alexander says he will announce his decision tonight on witnesses after all of the questions have been asked:

6:40 PM: Senate takes a 45-minute break for dinner.

6:35 PM: Coons/Klobuchar asks if other witnesses other than Bolton would have firsthand knowledge about Trump’s actions.

Schiff making the argument against calling Republicans calling himself/Biden. He says Republicans can call Mulvaney or Pompeo. He says their own people will incriminate the president and that is why they don’t want you to hear what they have to say.

Sekulow says what Schiff is saying that Trump’s team can only call witnesses Democrats want. He says Democrats are insisting that the Bidens and the whistleblower are irrelevant and only the witnesses they want are relevant.  Sekulow says Democrats raised Burisma for half a day and he should be able to find out more about it via cross-examination.

 

6:28 PM: McConnell asks Trump’s team to respond to the question about bipartisanship and any other questions.

Philbin says in the Nixon case, the impeachment resolution was passed 410-4. In Clinton’s authorizing resolution, 31 Democrats joined Republicans to authorize (258-176). In HR 660, there was bipartisan opposition (all Republicans and two Democrats).

Philbin says they are not arguing that the president can do whatever he wants to get elected. He reiterates his argument that “information” is “not a thing of value” under the campaign finance laws.

Philbin says the House managers set the standard for themselves and they have to establish that there is not a “scintilla of evidence” that there was no policy interest in raising a question about Burisma/Bidens.

6:25 PM: Schumer asks House managers to reassure Senators that they can examine witnesses/documents in a week.

Schiff says the documents have been collected and can readily be provided to the Senate. He says they can agree on a one-week period for depositions while the Senate conducts its business and neither side would have the capacity to call unlimited witnesses. He says the Chief Justice could make rulings on privileges.

6:19 PM: Alexander asks House managers asked about the bipartisan nature in the House of the last three impeachment proceedings.

Lofgren says in the Nixon impeachment, it didn’t start in a bipartisan manner and parties were dug in as the parties are dug in today. She says a bipartisan consensus emerged as the evidence emerged. Lofgren says the Clinton impeachment started along partisan lines and ended along partisan lines because, unlike Nixon, “we never had a high crime and misdemeanor.” Lofgren says she was disappointed there was no bipartisan consensus after the “evidence” came in against Trump. She says “a lot” of things have happened since the impeachment articles were adopted (e-mails, Bolton).

 

6:15 PM: Baldwin asks both parties about the Jennifer Williams documents. She asks for assurance that they were not classified to prevent embarrassment to the president. If yes, she wants to know what damage will be done to national security by declassifying them.

Philbin says they were derivatively classified and properly classified according to procedures.

Schiff says the classified portion goes to the phone call between Trump and Zelensky and ask if it was classified for “some legitimate reason.”

6:08 PM: Burr and other GOP Senators ask both parties about Hillary Clinton’s campaign and the Steele Dossier. They ask if this would be considered a foreign intervention in U.S. law/violation of the law/impeachable offense under the House managers’ standards.

Jeffries says the analogy is not applicable to the present situation because the “opposition research” was “purchased.” He now rails against various conspiracy theories (Schiff, whistleblower, Crowdstrike).

Sekulow wonders if you can “buy a foreign interference. If you purchase their opposition research, I guess it’s okay.” Sekulow says it is not a conspiracy that Steele utilized his network of assets to draft the dossier, which was shared with the Department of Justice through Bruce Ohr because his wife had been working for the group that was putting the dossier together. He says it sounds like one (conspiracy) but it’s real. Sekulow says it is not a conspiracy that the FBI used the dossier to get a FISA warrant on an American citizen.

6:03 PM: Carper and other Senate Dems ask the managers how Trump’s withholding of security assistance was different from how the U.S. uses foreign aid to achieve national security objectives.

Crow again says the difference is there is a process for doing this and none of the witnesses who testified knew the reason the aid was being withheld. He then again makes the case for Senators to subpoena Bolton to get answers.

6:00 PM: Inhofe and other GOP Senators ask Trump’s team if Democrats will say they got a fair trial even if they get all of the witnesses but do not get the result they want. Sekulow says the short answer is no. He says even if they get witnesses, they will then push for documents and, if the trial comes to a close, say Republicans shut it down just before they were about to get various documents. He says Democrats will only say they got a fair trial if Trump is convicted.

5:51 PM: Warner and other Senate Dems ask the managers if it is proper for the president to encourage Russia, China, or other foreign countries to produce damaging information about political opponents so long as the information is “credible.”

Schiff says that is the natural conclusion of what Trump’s lawyers argued.

5:46 PM: Shelby asks Trump’s team about House managers accusing Trump of criminal bribery. He asks can it be reconciled with the Supreme Court’s decision in McDonnell v. United States. 

Philbin says the answer is no. Philbin says the case made clear setting up a meeting with other government officials could not be treated as a thing of value under the bribery statute. And government officials making introductions is not an “official act.” They can’t raise bribery because it is not in the articles, Philbin says. In addition, even if if they did, McDonnell prohibits them from making the bribery case, Philbin says.

5:41 PM: Warren asks the managers if the proceedings (Roberts presiding over a trial with no witnesses and documents) will result in a loss of confidence in the Supreme Court/Chief Justice .

Schiff says it wouldn’t contribute to a loss of confidence in the Chief Justice but he says the trial is a part of the country’s Constitutional heritage and “reflects adversely on us” and “will feed cynicism on this institution.”

5:38 PM: Barrasso and other GOP Senators ask Trump’s team if it is within the president’s authority to address corruption with foreign leaders.

Philbin says the short answer is yes because he is vested with the entirety of executive power and is the sole organ in foreign affairs. Philbin says corruption is not taken off the table, even if it involves an official from a prior administration if it relates to the national interest of the United States just like anti-trust matters.

5:35 PM: Both parties asked why did Trump withhold military aid against the warnings of the Department of Defense.

Philbin says there was a serious of communications and most of the funds were eventually obligated.

Crow says none of the 17 witnesses had an explanation.

5:25 PM: Graham and other GOP Senators ask both parties about the DOJ IG’s testimony about the low threshold to investigate the Trump campaign after getting information from a friendly foreign government. They ask why the standard to investigate Trump is lower than what is needed to investigate Biden and why is it okay the DOJ got information from a friendly foreign government to investigate Trump.

After Schiff gives a weaselly answer about FISA “flaws,” Sekulow rips into Schiff about all of the FBI abuses. He says Schiff knows better than to “belittle” what happened in the FISA proceedings (refers to the fact that the DOJ just admitted the Carter Page warrant lacked probable cause and IG report found nobody involved in the process was vindicated) and says it is an “understatement” to say there are two different standards.

5:19 PM: Stabenow and other Senate Dems ask both parties about how valuable a public announcement of an investigation be to Trump’s campaign.

Philbin says the idea that these investigations were a thing of value was examined by the DOJ and they announced in September that there was no election violation because it did not qualify as a thing of value.

Philbin also clarifies what he said about information coming from abroad. He says he was arguing getting information from abroad would not violate campaign finance laws because it would not be a thing of value. If it were, then any bit of information a campaign receives at home would have to be reported.

Schiff says why would Trump withhold the aid if he didn’t think it would be valuable to him. He says Trump would have made use of the investigation like he used the Wikileaks documents against Clinton. Schiff says Trump’s action show he thought it was “immensely valuable.”

5:15 PM: Lee and other GOP Senators ask Trump’s team if Obama (Benghazi, Bergdahl, DACA) or Bush (waterboarding, NSA surveillance) would have been subject to impeachment charges under the House managers’ standard?

Cipollone says the House managers don’t have a standard so any president could be impeached for anything under their “vague theory of abuse of power.”

5:11 PM: Both sides asked if they have been in a trial where they were unable to call witnesses or submit relevant evidence.

Demings says only in a case where there are no available witnesses/evidence has she seen that occur.

Cipollone says the House managers controlled the process in the House and they chose not to allow the White House’s team to have any witnesses and they chose not to call the witnesses they are now demanding the Senators call. He says the House wanted a do-over because they didn’t like Mueller’s finding of “no collusion.” He says the House doesn’t care about truth. They just care about a political outcome so they keep investigating if they don’t like the result.

5:01 PM: Cassidy and Risch ask both parties about Lofgren’s remarks in the Clinton proceedings re: undoing free elections and damaging the faith the American people will have in their institutions and democracy while future presidents will face election and litigation. They ask what is different now. They ask if impeachment is not the ultimate interference.

Cipollone says he agrees 100 percent with Lofgren’s comments from the past. “There’s no better way to say it,” he says. He also rips the House managers, particularly Schiff, for smearing Trump’s team over and over again: “Calumny after calumny in dulcet tones.”

Lofgren says anybody would have lied (except he lied under oath) like Clinton did after getting caught cheating. She says impeachment power was misused against Clinton. She says Trump is like Nixon–trying to gain political advantage through corrupt means. She doesn’t say anything about if Clinton abused his power to gain politically.

4:56 PM: Leahy asks House managers if Senators accept Dershowitz’s argument, what would stop a president from withholding disaster aid or parts of the budget for his political benefit?

Jeffries says it would be “unacceptable” because a president could tell cities they are not going to get grant money unless mayors. He says a president could say the same to any of the governors as well. Jeffries says Jefferson defined tyranny as that which is “legal for the government but illegal for the citizenry.” He says Trump’s team has suggested that Trump can do anything that he wants and escape accountability.

4:48 PM: Sullivan and other GOP Senators ask Trump’s team how the Senate can be accused of engaging in a “cover up” if the Senate makes its decision based on the exact same evidentiary record the House did.

Philbin says it is “preposterous” to suggest the Senate is engaging in a cover-up to rely on the same record the House managers have said was “overwhelming” and was enough to establish their case beyond a reasonable doubt. He says the House managers want more documents and witnesses because “they haven’t proved their case.” Philbin says more than one country can be doing different things for different reasons to try to interfere in elections and rips House managers for insinuating that anyone who claims anyone other than Russia could have interfered is just Putin’s puppet.

4:45 PM: In response to a question from Murray about how Congress will be able to conduct its oversight duties if there are no consequences for defying subpoenas, Garcia says a vote against obstruction of Congress will grant Trump and every other president from now until forever the power to simply ignore all congressional subpoenas.

4:37 Johnson and other GOP Senators ask both parties about two Obama holdovers talking loudly about needing to do everything they could to “take out” Trump. They ask why Trump hired one of those people (Misco) on his staff  after the phone call and to discuss the connections between Vindman/Misko/whistleblower.

Schiff, dodging the question, says he is “appalled” by the smearing of people who work in the intelligence community and his staff. He says he will not dignify those smears. Schiff says Trump is probably applauding the question and claims he doesn’t know who the whistleblower is and says everyone should be the whistleblower.

Sekulow says Schiff put the whistleblower front and center. He says “retribution” is prohibited but you can’t say it is not relevant to inquire about the whistleblower’s relationships/motives.

4:32 PM: Menendez asks the House managers about Russian propaganda and election interference. He asks why should Americans be concerned about foreign interference and why it matters that Trump continues to solicit foreign interference.

Crow says none of the 17 witnesses were aware of anything that indicated Ukraine–and not Russia–interfered in the 2016 presidential election. He cites past statements from Messrs. Wray/Bossert about the “conspiracy theory” that has been “debunked.”

4:26 PM: Murkowski and Schatz ask where the line is between permissible and impeachable political actions.

Cipolline says elected officials have one eye on the next election and there is nothing wrong with that. He says that’s how representative democracy works. Cipollone warns of going down an “amorphous” and “dangerous” path in trying to impeach a president solely based on motive. He says the standard will be so “malleable” that it will allow presidents to be impeached for policy differences (other party will always attribute bad motives).

Schiff says public officials are political animals but again makes the “political punishment for political crimes” argument. He says you can draw a line between corrupt/non-corrupt activities and says Trump is not going to jail if found guilty.

4:21 PM: House managers asked to reply to Trump’s team’s response to Sinema’s question (Logan Act).

Schiff says it is “remarkable” to claim that Giuliani was not conducting policy. He says if Giuliani was not conducting foreign policy, he was conducting a personal errand and Trump’s team “undermined” their argument.

4:15 PM: Kennedy and Ernst ask both parties (Nadler, Philbin) if a president asks for an investigation of possible corruption by a political rival that has a legitimate national interest, should the president be impeached if a majority of the House believed he did it for the wrong reasons.

Nadler says the president is not entitled to target an American citizen specifically. Nadler insists Trump decided Ukraine ought to look into the Bidens only after he announced his candidacy.

Cipollone says the short answer is no. He says the question is getting to the issue of mixed motives. He says it is unacceptable to impeach a president by putting him on a psychiatrist’s chair to inquire about his motives to “decapitate” the executive branch. He says if it is a legitimate inquiry in the national interest, then “that’s the end of it.”

Roberts tells the Senators to leave it up the to the teams to decide who will come up to bat.

4:10 PM: Sinema–along with Manchin, Collins, Murkowski–asks the White House about the Logan Act. Question is will the White House assure that no private citizen will be deployed to conduct foreign policy unless the State Department sanctions the person.

Cipollone says there was no foreign policy being carried out by a private counsel. He is assuming they are referring to Giuliani. Cipollone says Volker understood that Giuliani was just someone who was a source of information. Cipollone says it is the president’s policy to abide by the law. He also says presidents since Washington have relied on personal confidantes who were not in the government to assist them in foreign policy matters

4:05 PM: Senate back from break, and Crapo and other GOP Senators ask the White House how many witnesses have been presented and  how many documents have been put in the record.

Cipollone says they have seen a lot of witnesses. Seventeen were deposed and testified (12 in public). He says Senators have seen video testimony from 13 witnesses and 28,578 pages of documents have been submitted into the record provisionally as evidence. He says House mangers continue to say they have proven their case “beyond a reasonable doubt” even though Trump’s team does not think so. Cipollone says you can have a fair proceeding without having someone testify live. He stresses that there will have to be witnesses and depositions on both sides and again says House managers should not have to do that since they have insisted they have proven their case beyond a reasonable doubt.

3:30 PM: Schumer’s question is about absolute immunity. He asks both if they can name a single witness or document that Trump turned over.

Cipollone again explains the administration’s rationales for resisting the subpoenas. He says there was no “absolute defiance.” He again says there were no documents produced because the administration explained why all of the subpoenas were invalid. Cipollone says there were subpoenas for three senior advisers and Trump’s team argued they had absolute immunity and so they were not produced. He notes 17 witnesses did testify. Cipollone says if when Democrats followed the law  and made valid document requests, documents were produced.

Schiff says witnesses came in defiance of Trump’s orders and no documents were produced. He wonders about the motive of fighting all of the subpoenas. Schiff says they were covering up Trump’s misconduct. He says Senators can ask Bolton if they want to know if there were mixed motives.

3:25 PM: Collins and other Senators ask both parties if there are legitimate circumstances in which a president can ask a foreign country to investigate an American citizen who is not under investigation.

Schiff says it would be hard to contemplate a situation in which that would be appropriate. Cipollone says the question assumes there is a request for an investigation. He brings it back to the transcript and says Trump did not specifically ask Zelensky for an investigation into the Bidens. Cipollone says there was “a lot of loose talk” but Trump was not calling for an investigation into the Bidens. He wanted the Ukrainians to look into how the prosector was fired. He says if there was a national interest in conduct by somebody, even a rival candidate, that violated the laws of another country but not the laws of the United States, a president could ask for an investigation.

3:20 PM: Duckworth asks the House managers if there is documentary evidence that Trump was briefed on burden-sharing/anti-corruption issues during the period of the hold during the summer of 2019. She asks if Trump ordered any policy changes re: burden-sharing/anti-corruption measures.

Crow says there would be a lot in the record had legitimate policy changes been requested. He claims all the evidence shows Trump withheld taxpayer dollars to coerce Ukrainians to conduct an investigation to benefit him. He says Bolton can provide additional information and it is still a good time to subpoena him.

3:15 PM: Perdue and other GOP Senators ask Trump’s team to summarize how Trump was denied due process in all three stages of the impeachment process and if that makes all of the evidence the fruit of the poisonous tree.

Cipollone says the short answer is yes and the entire investigation is the fruit of the poisonous tree. Cipollone says the first error was that the House began the proceedings with an unlawful and illegitimate manner (no resolution).

He says the Judiciary Committee decided they were not going to hear from any fact witness because impeaching Trump was a foregone conclusion.

He says the third error is Schiff was in charge of all of the fact-finding and he shut down questioning about the whistleblower’s motives/biases. He says all the errors “infected” the process from the very beginning. Cipollone says the record cannot be relied on because the House conducted a partisan charade without allowing cross-examinations because they wanted to wrap it up before Christmas.

3:08 PM: Bennet and other Senate Dems ask the House managers what the consequences will be if Trump asserts blanket privileges and if Trump’s advisers are entitled to the same protections as the whistleblower.

Nadler says privileges are limited and Trump’s categorial defiance is a claim to monarchial, dictatorial power. He says that’s why they are impeaching him for abuse of Congress. Nadler keeps saying the motives are “clearly dictatorial.” He now addresses the mixed motives question and says Dershowitz’s argument is “nonsense” to point away from the fact that Trump has been proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that he has abused his power.

3:01 PM: Braun and Barrasso ask Trump’s team if they want to respond to the claim by House managers that Trump doesn’t have the country’s best interest in mind.

Herschmann says the American people are telling you just the opposite. He cites Trump’s approval rating that has hit an all-time high. He says polls have found Americans are happiest they have been in 15 years. Herschmann says Trump is an “immediate” and “legitimate” threat to them and their candidates. He lists Trump’s accomplishments and the record-low unemployment rates for non-whites. He says maybe Trump could get even more done if the House managers stopped harassing him.

2:56 PM: Wyden asks the House managers how it is not an abuse of power when Trump outsourced an investigation to the Ukrainians.

Schiff says it is absolutely an abuse of power. He says if you believe that a president can engage in any corrupt activity so long as the campaign is in the public interest, then what will prevent him from tasking the Justice Department from doing his dirty work.

2:51 PM: Scott and other GOP Senators ask Trump’s team why House Republicans were denied substantive rights afforded to the minority during Clinton’s impeachment. Also ask why they were denied the right to cross examination during hearings.

Cipollone says he doesn’t know and they violated all forms of due process. He says it’s more than a process argument. He asks why they designed such a process if they felt confident in their facts.

2:47 PM: Kaine asks if Trump is not convicted for obstruction of Congress, what will stop him from refusing to cooperate with Congress in the future on any matter.

Schiff says a president who can and will ignore all oversight is a threat to the American people.

2:39 PM: Boozman and GOP Senators ask both side how will acquitting Trump prevent voters from making a decision.

Cipollone says the voters should decide who should be president because all power comes from the people.

Schiff says the framers were concerned about a president who would cheat to get re-elected. He says he has more confidence in the American people that Trump’s team does re: accepting a conviction.

2:33 PM: Hirono asks House managers about Mulvaney’s remarks (“we do that all the time with foreign policy”). She asks what was different about Trump’s withholding of aid.

Schiff says it is appropriate to ask the question. He says the law did not authorize the hold the way it was held. He says there was nothing that would allow for a hold once Ukraine met its anti-corruption benchmarks.

2:25 PM: Lankford and other GOP Senators ask Trump’s team if there was a national security risk to Ukraine or United States when the funds went out in September the last two years?

Philbin says the short answer is there was no jeopardy.

2:20 PM: Reed and other Dem. Senators ask both parties about Giuliani. They want to know who has paid for Giuliani’s travel and legal fees.

Schiff says the short answer is he doesn’t know. He says if he is not being paid by Trump and he is being paid by other clients then it raises “profound questions” that they can’t answer at this point. He says Giuliani is not doing foreign policy by his own admission.

Sekulow says the Bidens “were open for business” and Democrats are concerned about Giuliani. He says it is ironic that three Senate Democrats are asking whether foreign investigations are appropriate when they wrote a letter to the Ukrainians asking them to give Mueller information on Trump.

2:15 PM: Thune and other GOP Senators ask Trump’s team if the Senate should take into account the partisan nature of the impeachment proceedings in the House.

Cipollone says “absolutely you should take that into account. That’s dispositive. That should end it.” Cipollone cites the remarks Democrats previously made and Pelosi’s remarks the Senators quoted. Cipollone says unfortunately Pelosi didn’t follow her own advice. Cipollone calls it “domestic election interference” and “political election interference” and “it is wrong.” He says it would tear the country apart for generations and the American people would not accept it.

2:11 PM: Cantwell asks the House managers if there is any evidence that people like Pompeo, Mulvaney, Barr, or anyone on the outside was involved in Trump’s “scheme.”

Demings says Sondland testified that everybody was “in the loop.” Demings says the Senators should at least start by issuing subpoenas for State Department emails if they are concerned about finding out the truth.

2:06 PM: Hawley and Lee ask Trump’s team if there is any application here to a federal court ruling that held that public officials can condition official acts by other public officials.

Philbin says a quid pro quo has not even been established here.

2:00 PM: Brown and Wyden ask the House managers about Trump’s team failure to give an adequate response about foreign interference in elections and whether it should be reported to the FBI and is a violation of law. They ask if Trump stays in office, what signal would that send to other countries that want to interfere in elections.

Jeffries says it would send “a terrible message to autocrats and dictators and enemies of democracy and the free world.”

 

1:55 PM: Portman and other GOP Senators as Trump’s team about Jonathan Turley’s testimony. They ask if Turley said abuse of power is difficult to prove without criminal allegations and was not proven in this case.

Philbin says Turley was very critical of the process in the House and the charges that the Democrats were considering. Philbin says Turley explained that this was a rushed process that did not adequately pursue an investigation. Philbin points out Nixon was charged with criminal violations within the abuse of power article.

1:49 PM: Rosen asks the House managers what precedent (putting personal interest above national security) they believe Trump is setting for future presidents.

Crow references his service and says it has taught him that the country is strong not just because of the sacrifice of people in uniform but because the nation has friends and doesn’t go it alone. Crow says if other nations will not stand by the country if they do not feel that its word/handshake do not mean anything.

1:41 PM: Cruz and other Senators ask about Hunter Biden and Burisma and Hunter contradicting his dad’s claim that he never spoke to Hunter about Biden. They ask both parties if the House asked anyone about these conflicting remarks.

Bondi says Biden was paid $80,000+ without any experience in the energy sector and Joe Biden was the point man for Ukraine. She says the arrangement “raised eyebrows” worldwide and Joe Biden never asked his son to leave the board even though he knew all of the corruption surrounding Burisma.

Demings says the Bidens are not relevant witnesses. She pivots and makes the case for calling people like Mulvaney to testify.

1:35 PM: Jones asks the House managers to identify which provision or provisions authorized the subpoenas before HR 660. Schiff says they didn’t have the Justice Department do the original investigation because Barr turned it down. Schiff warns that Congress will be stripped of its oversight powers and thus its legislative powers as well.

Schiff lists the subpoenas that went out after HR. 660, including the one that went out to Mulvaney.

1:31 PM: In response to a question about whether Trump is the first innocent defend not to waive his rights, Philbin says it is “antithetical to the American system of justice and due process” to argue someone is guilty for reserving Constitutional rights.

 

1:25 PM: Tester asks the House managers if there is any limit to the type of quid pro quo a sitting president can engage with a foreign entity so long as the president believes he is doing what he believes is in the public interest. Tester giving Democrats a chance to whack Dershowitz.

Schiff says there is no limiting principle to Dershowitz’s arguments. He said it is “astonishing” that someone would make that argument. Schiff says there has been a “descent into Constitutional madness.” Schiff says you only make that client when you know your client is guilty and dead to rights. He says the White House’s argument is a “normalization of lawlessness.”

1:20 PM: Toomey and other GOP Senators ask Trump’s lawyers how much weight Senators should give to Trump potentially being removed and kicked off the ballot.

Sekulow says it does a disservice and complicates the matter for the American people because this is occurring at the dawn of a new election season. Sekulow says Pelosi claimed it was such a national urgency and yet let the articles linger for a month. He says Democrats are trying to take the vote away from the American people.

1:16 PM: Baldwin asks the House managers what witnesses could answer Romney’s question about when Trump first ordered the hold.

Crow cites emails from Bolton,  Cooper, Croft and testimony from Vindman. He says they could subpoena Bolton and send subpoenas to the State and Defense Departments.

 

1:15 PM: Chief Justice Roberts declines to read Rand Paul’s question as submitted.

1:10 PM: Murray asks the managers about why the managers did not issue subpoenas. She wants them to elaborate why their authority (full power of impeachment) controls.

Lofgren claims they were validly issued subpoenas under House rules. She says the White House’s argument about a full House vote is just an “excuse” because the White House did not comply with subpoenas before and after the vote. Lofgren says what the White House is arguing would also curtail the Senate’s subpoena power as well.

12:58 PM: Senators arriving as the trial is expected to resume at the top of the hour.

12:55 PM: Pelosi doesn’t seem confident Senators will ask for witnesses:

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