The Democratic House managers used their final day of arguments on Friday — the fourth full day of President Donald Trump's impeachment trial — to make their case that President Donald Trump obstructed Congress in denying them witness testimony and documents.
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Highlights from the Senate trial
- Democrats finished hours of arguments in which managers called Trump a "dictator" and a danger to the nation with a plea to the Senate: "Give America a fair trial, she's worth it," lead House manager Rep. Adam Schiff said.
- The White House is set to begin laying out Trump's defense Saturday morning.
- "Get rid of her": A voice appearing to be Trump's is heard on tape demanding Ukraine ambassador Marie Yovanovitch's ouster.
- Schiff warned his fellow lawmakers that "the next time, it just may be you" who Trump targets.
- Democratic House manager Rep. Val Demings says the evidence is "pretty painful" for senators.
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McConnell's evidence proposal explained
McConnell's organizing resolution for the Senate impeachment trial has a provision that would allow a vote on whether to include evidence presented in the House investigation, as well as evidence that emerged after the articles were sent to the Senate, into the official trial record.
The vote would occur after the Senate takes up the issue of calling additional witnesses or documents, which is after the arguments and question-and-answer portion of the trial (which would hypothetically discuss all this evidence).
What does it mean?
Team McConnell sees the issue as a vote on the legitimacy of the House impeachment investigation. If Republicans think it was a sham process, then they’d vote with the majority leader on the evidence issue.
“Impeachment rules do not automatically admit evidence from the House into the Senate trial,” a senior Republican leadership aide told reporters. “This is an important fact specific to this trial because the White House was denied due process throughout the 12 weeks of partisan House proceedings. That makes this record meaningfully different from the House record in Clinton, which consisted primarily of evidence compiled by court-appointed prosecutors in the federal grand jury process.”
House managers will be able to discuss the information during their arguments and senators will still have access to all the House evidence during the trial, a senior Republican leadership aide said. Those documents will be printed and placed on senators' desks.
But if McConnell wins this vote, then the evidence will not be included in the official Senate impeachment record. In the impeachment trial of President Bill Clinton, the House record was admitted as evidence as a part of the organizing resolution.
“A trial with no evidence — no existing record, no witnesses, no documents — isn’t a trial at all,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., tweeted after the resolution was released, “It’s a cover up.”
Schiff rips McConnell's impeachment rules proposal as “process for a rigged trial"
House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., the lead House impeachment manager, on Tuesday blasted Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s impeachment trial rules proposal as "a process for a rigged trial.”
"This is not a process for a fair trial. This is the process for a rigged trial,” Schiff said at a brief press conference alongside the six other House managers for the trial.
“This is the process if you do not want the American people to see the evidence. This is a process you use if you want to, hand in hand, working in concert with the president, allow the president to continue to obstruct the Congress and deny the truth to the American people.”
The proposal by McConnell, R-Ky., allots each side a total of 24 hours to present arguments, although that time is confined to two working days. Additionally, it suggests that none of the House evidence will be automatically admitted into the trial. Instead, the Senate will vote later on whether to admit the documents.
Arguments will begin Wednesday afternoon, according to those rules, which are expected to be adopted Tuesday. The proposed 12-hour sessions to present each side's case could lead arguments to extend well into the night and possibly the early morning hours.
Schiff took particular aim at that aspect of the rules, accusing McConnell and the Republicans of “compressing the time of the trial” so that “the proceedings could conceivably go well into the night when apparently Sen. McConnell hopes the American people will not be watching.”
House managers call White House counsel a fact witness, warn of 'disqualification' from defense team
The House managers in the impeachment trial have told President Donald Trump's lead lawyer, White House counsel Pat Cipollone, that they believe he is a fact witness to the charges and are demanding he disclose all related information so that the Senate and Chief Justice John Roberts "can be apprised of any potential ethical issues, conflicts, or biases.”
The managers sent a letter to Cipollone on Tuesday saying that the risks associated with his being an advocate for Trump and an alleged witness "are so serious that they can require a lawyer's disqualification."
The White House responded in a statement later Tuesday, calling the Democrats "an utter joke."
"The idea that the Counsel to the President has to turn over protected documents and confidential information is ludicrous, and to imply he can’t represent the President of the United States in an impeachment proceeding is completely absurd," the statement said.
'Appalling,' a 'national disgrace,' 'designed to hide the truth': Democrats blast McConnell's impeachment proposal
Democrats on Tuesday called Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's proposal for President Donald Trump's impeachment trial "appalling," a "national disgrace," and "deliberately designed to hide the truth."
"This is just appalling," Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., told MSNBC's "Morning Joe," adding that McConnell, R-Ky., was seeking to turn the trial into "a farce" and that under this proposal it would be a "national disgrace."
Schumer pledged to offer amendments to change the "most egregious things" McConnell proposed, pleading for four Republicans — the total needed to form a majority — to vote with the Democrats.
Trump calls impeachment trial a long-running 'hoax' at Davos summit
President Donald Trump called the impeachment trial set to start in Washington later Tuesday a long-running "hoax" after landing in Davos.
"It's been going on for years," the president said at the Swiss mountain summit of the world's elite hours before senators in Washington kick off the proceedings.
"Look forward to being here, meeting with biggest companies in the world, for the benefit of the United States," he added in a speech to some of the world's richest and most influential people.
Trump is using the moment on the world stage to divert attention from the drama playing out back home and give the appearance of a president hard at work. It’s a strategy used by former President Bill Clinton, who scheduled events across the country during his impeachment, though he didn’t travel abroad.
Trump impeachment trial: The rules and everything else you need to know
The Senate impeachment trial of President Donald Trump — only the third in U.S. history — is scheduled to get fully underway Tuesday, with Democrats and Republicans potentially clashing over whether to call witnesses.
The proposed rules for the trial, which Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., released Monday evening, are similar but not identical to the format of President Bill Clinton's impeachment trial in 1999. McConnell's rules would set aside up to four hours of debate, equally divided between both sides, on whether there should be subpoenas for witnesses or documents, and then the full Senate would vote on the issue.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., could seek to amend the rules Tuesday to ensure that his side can call witnesses, a process that could take several hours and could even include closed-door debates.
Read about the rules and everything else you need to know.