Fact check: White House lawyer omits whistleblower, flubs impeachment timeline
Cipollone falsely described the genesis of the president’s impeachment on Tuesday, with a confusing timeline that completely omitted the whistleblower complaint that led to the House inquiry and blames it all on Democrats.
"Let's remember how we all got here: They made false allegations about a telephone call. The president of the United States declassified that telephone call and released it to the public. How's that for transparency? When Mr. Schiff found out that there was nothing to his allegations, he focused on the second telephone call,” Trump’s attorney began.
Trump’s impeachment inquiry began when a whistleblower filed a complaint alleging the president was holding up foreign aid and had sought political favors in a July telephone call. It did not begin with Democratic complaints.
There were two calls — one in July, in which Trump asked for Ukraine to dig up dirt on his political rival — and another in April, which was not substantive and has largely been irrelevant to the impeachment inquiry. Democrats did not seek the April call.
Cipollone continued: “When Mr. Schiff saw that his allegations were false, and he knew it anyway, what did he do? He went to the House and he manufactured a fraudulent version of that call. He manufactured a false version of that call, he read it to the American people and he didn't tell them it was a complete fake.”
We’ve been over this before: Schiff parodied — with disclosure — Trump’s words.
Analysis: Here's the problem with Trump's 'due process' claim
Is the presidency Donald Trump's property?
The president's lawyers have argued repeatedly that he was denied "due process" by the House. The Constitution, which gives full authority to the House and Senate to conduct impeachment proceedings under the rules that they choose rather than under any other legal framework, holds that no person will be denied life, liberty or property without "due process of law."
"Due process is designed to protect the person accused," Jay Sekulow, one of Trump’s longtime attorneys, said on the Senate floor on Tuesday.
But the impeachment-and-removal provision of the Constitution is not built to punish an official. It exists, instead, to prevent an officeholder from doing damage to the public interest. Trump is at no risk of losing his life, being imprisoned or denied any right — other than that of holding future office — in this trial.
The idea of "due process" denial suggests that the White House lawyers are contending the president has the right to the presidency or that it is his personal property.
Fact check: Trump lawyers say GOP blocked from impeachment inquiry
Trump lawyer Pat Cipollone complained that Schiff barred his colleagues from attending witness depositions during the House impeachment inquiry.
This is false. Republicans whose committee assignments involved them in impeachment were welcome to, and did attend, the witness depositions held in a secure chamber, known as a SCIF.
House rules bar members who are not part of the committees conducting the impeachment inquiry, and Republicans sought to use this rule to make a political stink: During one deposition, Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., stormed the SCIF with 30 colleagues.
Schumer proposes first rule change: Allow the Senate to subpoena White House records
After the initial debate around McConnell's organizing resolution, Schumer is proposing his first amendment to those rules, which would have the Senate subpoena White House documents related to the charges against the president.
Those documents, which pertain to the hold on military aid to Ukraine, among other things, were requested by the House as part of its impeachment inquiry, but the Trump administration refused to comply. (Obstruction of Congress was one of the articles of impeachment ultimately adopted by the House.)
Read: McConnell's revised rules for Trump's Senate impeachment trial
The new version of Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's organizing resolution, read aloud on the Senate floor Tuesday, now gives both side 24 hours to make their case over three days, instead of the two initially proposed by McConnell on Monday.
The Kentucky Republican also tweaked another controversial provision that could have barred all the evidence against Trump gathered by the House Democrats' inquiry from being entered into the Senate record.
Under the resolution unveiled Tuesday, evidence now will be admitted automatically unless there's an objection, rather than requiring a pro-active vote to admit it.
Fact-checking Trump's lawyer's math
Trump’s lawyers keep saying Democrats held the articles of impeachment for 33 days, an inaccurate number.
Trump was impeached on Dec. 18; the articles of impeachment were delivered 28 days later, on Jan. 15.
McConnell makes last-minute, handwritten changes to Trump impeachment trial rules
McConnell changed a controversial provision in the rules for the impeachment trial that would have required House prosecutors and White House lawyers to make 24 hours of legal arguments in just two days and could have barred evidence gathered by the House.
The last-minute changes — which were written by hand on the resolution, with other lines crossed out — were revealed on Tuesday as the organizing resolution for President Donald Trump's Senate trial was being read into the record on the Senate floor. The new version gives both sides 24 hours to make their case over three days, instead of the two initially proposed by McConnell on Monday.
Democrats complained that the two-day limit would have meant that they would be making the arguments until 1:00 a.m. or later, depriving much of the public from being able to watch the proceedings.
It wasn't only Democrats who had issues with the timeline. Sens. Susan Collins, R-Maine, and Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, raised "concerns" about the resolution, playing a role in the changes, their spokespersons said.
The White House apparently got at least a little bit of a heads-up about the last-minute changes, according to a source familiar.
Read the full revised resolution here.
Trump as Senate trial gets underway: 'READ THE TRANSCRIPTS!'
As the Senate trial got underway on Tuesday, Trump weighed in on Twitter.
"READ THE TRANSCRIPTS!" he tweeted, pointing to the White House summaries of two phone calls with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy.
It's Trump's July 25 call with Zelenskiy that launched a series of events that led to his impeachment. In that call, Trump asked his counterpart to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden, his son Hunter Biden and Democrats.
Schiff gives overview of House case, says Trump should be removed
Schiff spoke from the Senate floor, giving an introduction of the case House managers will present against Trump.
Schiff said the House managers believe Trump should be convicted or else "the power of impeachment must be deemed a relic."
The evidence against Trump is "overwhelming," Schiff said, and that if the Senate does not expand on the House record the "full scale" of his conduct toward Ukraine may never be known.
Pointing to changes made to McConnell's process resolution just moments before speaking, Schiff criticized the idea that the Senate must conform to the process from the Clinton impeachment trial.
Schiff also called on the Senate to have a series of Trump administration officials testify in the trial.
Got Milk? Senate rules allow for only water, milk on the floor
If you’re lactose intolerant, stop reading here.
FUN FACT: The only beverages allowed on the Senate floor is water and MILK. It’s an arcane Senate rule, per multiple Senate leadership aides.
- The Senate historian’s office told NBC News that the "current practice in the Senate is to allow only water into the Senate Chamber. Technically, milk is also allowed, but in recent years the practice has been to allow only water (still or sparkling)."
- We have not seen anyone with milk in the chamber.
As we’ve already noted:
- Food is not allowed in the Chamber. The exception to that regulation is the candy desk, which is stocked with candy and available to senators.