EVENT ENDED

Trump impeachment trial live coverage: Democrats make case for obstruction

In their final day of arguments, House Democrats presented their case alleging Trump obstructed Congress.
Image: Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the House voted to send impeachment articles against President Donald Trump to the Senate, where Majority Leader Mitch McConnell officially received the House managers on Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2020.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the House voted to send impeachment articles against President Donald Trump to the Senate, where Majority Leader Mitch McConnell officially received the House managers on Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2020.Chelsea Stahl / NBC News

Breaking News Emails

Get breaking news alerts and special reports. The news and stories that matter, delivered weekday mornings.
SUBSCRIBE

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.

Follow us here for all of the latest breaking news and analysis on impeachment from NBC News' political reporters, as well as our teams on Capitol Hill and at the White House.

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.

Download the NBC News mobile app for the latest news on the impeachment inquiry.

Live Blog

Ex-GOP rep. calls for allowing docs, witnesses

Dershowitz says he was wrong during Clinton trial to say impeachment doesn't require 'technical' crime

Dershowitz on Tuesday said he was retracting comments he made in 1998 about then-President Bill Clinton's impeachment.

In an interview with CNN's Larry King that year, Dershowitz said impeachment "certainly doesn't have to be a crime if you have somebody who completely corrupts the office of president and who abuses trust and who poses great danger to our liberty. You don't need a technical crime."

Lofgren: 'A trial without all the relevant evidence is not a fair trial'

House impeachment manager Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif., argued that evidence should be introduced into the impeachment so that the Senate could conduct a "fair trial."

Lofgren, the first woman to act as an impeachment manager, laid out the timeline of events surrounding Ukraine and argued that more evidence was needed so that senators can get a full picture of the president's conduct.

She also took the White House to task for stonewalling Congress' efforts to hear from eyewitnesses.

Watch her arguments below:

Schumer assails 'name calling' and 'finger pointing' by Trump defense team

Schumer, speaking to a group of reporters outside the Senate chamber during the recess, said that the "public realizes how unfair the McConnell proposal is" and that the pressure that Democrats put on Republicans forced the changes made earlier. 

On the president’s counsel, Schumer said they did "a lot of finger-pointing" but "not a single sentence as to why there shouldn't be witnesses and documents in this trial."

"I think they're weak. They duck," he said. "The arguments that we heard are not too different than the arguments we've been hearing all along, diversionary, nothing to do with the actual argument that we're making, documents and witnesses. We'll see if they can answer it in reference to my amendment, but so far zero, zero rebuttal."

Asked how many amendments would be offered, Schumer replied, "Stay tuned."

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.