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982d ago / 3:55 AM UTC

Schiff's closing: 'You can’t trust this president will do what’s right for this country'


Schiff gave an impassioned closing argument on Thursday of the Democrats' case against Trump’s alleged abuse of power. 

In his final speech of the day, Schiff gave a detailed recitation of the facts, arguing that the evidence shows how Trump pressured Ukraine, a vulnerable U.S. ally, by withholding military aid and a White House meeting in exchange for investigations into former Vice President Joe Biden. 

Schiff then said that senators should consider the consequences of not holding Trump accountable and the dangers it could pose to American democracy. 

"How much damage can he do between now and the next election? A lot. A lot of damage,” Schiff said. 

He said that if Trump is not found guilty and removed, Russia or other foreign governments could interfere in the 2020 election. 

"Let's say they start to blatantly interfere in our election again to help Donald Trump," Schiff said. "Can you have the least bit of confidence that Donald Trump will stand up to them and protect our national interest over his own personal interest? You know you can't, which makes him dangerous to this country. You know you can't. You know you can't count on him, none of us can."

Schiff, speaking directly to a packed and attentive Senate floor with every senator at his or her desk or standing in the back, repeatedly stated that Trump cannot be trusted and is inherently self-interested. 

"If right doesn't matter, we’re lost; if the truth doesn't matter, we’re lost," he said. 

Schiff argued that the Ukraine scandal is a part of the president’s pattern of corrupt behavior and not a one-off issue. 

“You can’t trust this president will do what’s right for this country. He will do what's right for Donald Trump,” Schiff said. “The American people deserve a president they can count on to put their interests first.”

He added, "If you find him guilty you must find that he must be removed because right matters, the truth matters, otherwise we are lost."

980d ago / 3:55 PM UTC

Trump's defense says Ukraine felt 'no pressure.' Dems say how could Ukrainian leaders assert otherwise?

Purpura presented a key part of Trump's defense early on Saturday, saying Zelenskiy and his top aides said publicly that the Ukrainian president felt no pressure in his July 25 phone call with the president.

Purpura said such an assertion from Ukraine amounts to case closed, saying a judge would "toss" such a case based on that evidence. He added that the Democrats are essentially calling these Ukrainian officials untruthful.

Of course, Democrats have argued that Ukrainian officials had to say such publicly, because if they said Trump pressured them, it would almost certainly result in Ukraine facing negative consequences.

"They will also make the argument Ukraine thinks the call was perfect and they said there was no pressure," Schiff said in his closing argument. "That really means Ukraine knows it's beholden to us for aid. Ukraine still hasn't gotten into the door of the White House."

"Ukraine knows if they acknowledge they were shaken down by the president of the United States, the president of the United States will make them pay," he continued. "So when you hear them say Ukraine felt no pressure that's because [Zelenskiy] doesn't want to call him a bad name. You well know why because they need America. The framers did not expect you to leave your common sense at the door."

981d ago / 3:24 AM UTC

'I hope they'll make it public': Parnas's lawyer says he turned over Trump recording to House Intel

Lev Parnas's attorney Joseph Bondy told MSNBC's Rachel Maddow that he has turned over a 2018 recording of President Donald Trump appearing to order the firing of former Ukraine Amb. Marie Yovanovitch to the House Intelligence Committee as of Friday evening. 

Bondy said that he turned over the tape to the panel, which took the lead on the impeachment inquiry, and wants them to make it public because it could help his client's case. 

"I hope they'll make it public," he said. "I think it's of critical importance that we hear the evidence. I think that's the best was we have to ensure our chances of having a fair trial, real trial if you will." 

MSNBC has heard portions of the recording, which was first reported by ABC News. 

Bondy said that he and his client are not the source of ABC's story.

981d ago / 2:21 AM UTC

Collins: 'Not true' GOP senators risked heads 'on a pike' if they vote against Trump

During Schiff's closing remarks the chamber was almost entirely full expect for three empty seats on the Republican side. The room was very engaged with Schiff's remarks— many never breaking their gaze. 

When Schiff mentioned the CBS report that said Republican senators were told their heads "will be on a pike" if they vote against Trump, Collins said "that’s not true" fairly loudly multiple times and shook her head vigorously. 

The floor was almost completely captivated by Schiff, especially during the emotional family stories, with no one taking notes or reading.

Later, Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, called the story "baloney."

"It's hard to keep an open mind when there's so much baloney being thrown at you," she said.

981d ago / 2:08 AM UTC

Schiff wraps: 'Give America a fair trial, she’s worth it.'

Schiff concluded Democrats' opening arguments on Friday night, appealing to the senators' faith in American ideals and urging them to consider this trial's place in history and the world.

Schiff said he believed this trial was "a moment when our democracy was gravely threatened and not from without from within. Russia too has a constitution. It’s not a bad constitution, it’s just a meaningless one."

He argued that America is a beacon of democracy and fairness around the world while suggesting the outcome of this trial could threaten it.

"From all over the world, they look to us — and increasingly, they don't recognize what they see," Schiff said. "Americans get a fair trial — and so I ask you, I implore you. Give America a fair trial. Give America a fair trial. She’s worth it."

981d ago / 1:44 AM UTC

Dem senator: GOP senators will 'be haunted' by the truth

A number of senators spoke to reporters during the dinner break about what they’ve witnessed so far today. Some Republican senators took aim at the House managers— in particular, Nadler's "dictator" comment seemed to strike a nerve.

"Nadler's disposition and tone throughout this entire process, I don't think, it doesn't reflect well on the House process," said John Thune, R-S.D. "I mean I think it's been very partisan and he's got a very partisan tone which is carried over into the, into the Senate, and so it's, you know, it probably doesn't matter to that many people in this room, because everybody kind of knows what they're dealing with there but I don't think it probably helps them with the American public."

"I feel like I'm, like, the prop in the longest political commercial that's ever been produced," said GOP Sen. Roy Blunt of Missouri. "Did y'all get that?”

Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn, said that his Republican colleagues will "be haunted" if they keep "refusing to see the facts."

He said they "have to understand the truth will come out sooner than they think, and they're gonna be haunted by it, because they'll have to justify refusing to see the facts that are fully available to them and witnesses and documents and that's going to be a pretty tough burden for them to carry into this election."

981d ago / 1:41 AM UTC

Schiff says Trump defense will be ‘Obama did it’

Schiff attempted to preview some of Trump’s potential defenses, seeking to debunk the various arguments as he went along. 

"I expect you’ll hear the argument Obama did it! Obama did it. Now that may take several different forms, but the form of Obama did it I’m referring to is Obama also held aid. I think that argument is an insult to our intelligence," Schiff said, pointing to how then-President Obama withheld aid during Egypt’s revolution.

"You will hear the call was perfect, you’ll hear the call was perfect. Now I suspect the reason they will make the argument the call was perfect is that because the president insists they do," he said. "I don’t think they really want to have to make that argument — you wouldn’t either. But they have a client to represent so they will make the argument the call was perfect."

He continued: "And they will also make the argument Ukraine thinks the call was perfect, Ukraine says there was no pressure. What that really means is Ukraine wants a future. Ukraine knows it’s still beholden to us for aid. Ukraine still hasn’t gotten through the door of the White House. Ukraine knows that if they acknowledge that they were shaken down by the President of the United States, the President of the United States will make them pay."

981d ago / 1:40 AM UTC

Schiff recalls Trump's ire when he mocked Ukraine call


Schiff, as part of his closing remarks, said that Trump and his allies haven't seemed particularly invested in answering the gravity of the charges the House has laid out against the president — choosing instead to attack the process and the Democratic House managers, including himself. 

He then recalled a moment that Trump revisits often — when he parodied Trump's phone call with Ukraine's president while chairing a hearing of the House Intelligence Committee last September. 

"I discovered something very significant by mocking the president and that is for a man who loves to mock others, he does not like to be mocked. As it turns out, he's got a pretty thin skin. Who would have thought it?” Schiff said. “Never mind that I said I wasn't using his words before I said, and I wasn't using his words after I said it, and I said I was making a parody of his words — 'It's an outrage! He mocked the president, that Schiff! Terrible!'"

Trump has said Schiff should resign and be investigated for his mocking interpretation of that July phone call, in which Trump asked a foreign leader to look into the Bidens, as well as a conspiracy involving the 2016 election.

"He is a sick man!" Trump tweeted last September.  

981d ago / 1:23 AM UTC

981d ago / 1:18 AM UTC

Schiff wraps Democrats’ case: 'That has been proved'

Schiff read through the articles of impeachment on Friday night, arguing that the managers had proved each element with the refrain 'that has been proved.'

“President Trump solicited the interference of a foreign government in the 2020 election," he began. "That has been proved."

981d ago / 12:52 AM UTC

Schiff says he’ll be the last speaker tonight

Looks like tonight could be an early night for impeachment watchers, as manager Schiff says he’ll be the last speaker tonight.

"I'm tired! I don't know about you but I'm exhausted,” he said.

Schiff joked that he was hoping to keep things short tonight, the conclusion of House Democrats' case against the president.

"To be immortal, you don’t need to be eternal."

981d ago / 12:33 AM UTC

Democrats' top lines

A Democratic staffer working on the impeachment trial lays their case out as follows:

  • Democrats made an overwhelming, compelling and airtight case — the evidence is absolutely incriminating, the facts are uncontested.
  • It’s clear that the President is an ongoing threat to our national security and the upcoming elections. That’s why he must be removed.
  • House Managers made a direct appeal to the Senators to consider the lasting impact of the President’s actions on our democracy, constitutional framework and Congress’ ability to exercise oversight of the executive branch. 
  • Americans overwhelmingly want a fair trial. All trials include documents and witnesses – in this case, the hundreds and hundreds of pages of documents and dozen witnesses the President has blocked.