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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

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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

One amendment out, one amendment in

McConnell moved to table the third Democratic amendment, which would have subpoenaed OMB documents related to the charges against the president and regarding the suspension of assistance to Ukraine.

Schumer introduced a fourth amendment to subpoena acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney. 

Senators will now take a 30-minute recess to eat dinner. It'll be pizza for both sides, Republicans will eat Ledo's in the Mansfield room, where they usually hold their policy luncheons, and Democrats will eat Ledo's in the cloakroom.

During dinner, they will discuss what happens next. When they return from this recess they will debate, for up to two hours, the Mulvaney amendment. Then there will be another vote to kill the amendment.

Article II: Inside impeachment — Rewriting the rules

On Tuesday’s bonus episode of Article II, host Steve Kornacki explains the last-minute changes that Mitch McConnell made to the impeachment trial rules in response to pressure from moderate Republican senators.

Download the podcast.

Yawning, note-taking, sharing breath mints: What senators are doing during arguments

Some senators appear to be losing steam as the trial headed into the night.

There were many yawns, including from Sens. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., Roy Blunt, R-Mo., and Richard Shelby, R-Ala. Sen. James Risch, R-Idaho, was most definitely sound asleep for the majority of Rep. Val Demings' presentation. When Jay Sekulow took the stand, speaking audibly louder, Risch was jolted awake.

GOP Sens. Susan Collins of Maine, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Mike Lee of Utah and Chuck Grassley of Iowa took copious notes throughout Demings’ presentation. Grassley and Sen. Cory Gardner, R-Colo., were noting each piece of evidence presented on the screens. New Sen. Kelly Loeffler, R-Ga., also took notes throughout.

When Lev Parnas' interview with Rachel Maddow was shown, Sen. Lindsay Graham, R-S.C., began laughing and writing something down. Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., was smiling from ear to ear, sitting up in his chair and looking at Republicans. Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., remained still and serious throughout. Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., passed a note to Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Neb., and the two laughed and nodded.

Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wisc., passed breath mints from his desk to senators sitting nearby, including Republican Sens. Dan Sullivan of Alaska and Mitt Romney of Utah. Sen. Martha McSally, R-Ariz., sat with a blanket over her lap. Schumer appeared to be quite thirsty, with pages refilling his water glass every 10 minutes. Grassley had a sheet of paper on his desk with photo identifiers.

2020 split screen: Stuck in D.C. for Trump's trial while rival candidates crisscross Iowa

AMES, Iowa — The campaign trail and impeachment trial were on dual tracks Tuesday, showing that no matter how hard Democrats try, the 2020 election is very much about one thing: President Donald Trump.

The primary campaign rolled on in Iowa, where campaign organizers are preparing for the final push before the state's critical first-in-the-nation caucuses just two weeks away on Feb. 3, but the bigger political story — and a handful of the leading candidates — were pinned down in Washington for the president's impeachment trial in the Senate.

Sens. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota had to abandon the campaign trail to report for "jury duty" in Washington, trading the frigid plains of Iowa for the stately and climate-controlled halls of Congress. Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet, who is running a long-shot campaign focused mostly on New Hampshire, was also confined to the Senate.

Senate GOP votes down second Schumer amendment

McConnell moved to kill the Democrats 2nd amendment, which would subpoena State Department documents related to the charges against the president.

The amendment failed, with the motion to table passing 53-47.

How the Senate entered Trump impeachment trial mode

One senator wandered around the Senate floor doing mini-squats, as if to prepare for a long day ahead in his seat. Another senator who normally travels home from Washington daily told his wife he might not be home for two weeks. Still another filled his desk on the floor with a candy smorgasbord, to keep fellow lawmakers from going hungry.

The Senate was deep in prep mode as the trial began in earnest Tuesday, as House impeachment managers argued in favor of removing the president from office and the president’s legal team debated the trial’s rules, introduced by McConnell in an organizing resolution Monday evening that outlined the proceeding's initial parameters.

Read more about how senators prepared for the trial.

Schumer announces third amendment: to subpoena White House budget office

Schumer’s office released the text of their third amendment, this time to subpoena documents from the White House Office of Management and Budget.

This amendment will be considered after they vote on the second amendment, which is currently being debated.  

What it is: Schumer’s third amendment will be to have the Senate subpoena OMB documents related to the charges against the president and regarding the suspension of assistance to Ukraine.

Why it’s important: The OMB is in possession of highly relevant records and communications related to the charges against the president. These include communications involving or referring to acting chief of staff and OMB Director Mick Mulvaney, senior adviser to the acting chief of staff Robert Blair, and OMB Associate Director Michael Duffey, all of whom defied lawful subpoenas for their testimony. A reminder, on Jan. 2, Just Security revealed emails from OMB in which Mr. Duffey wrote regarding aid to Ukraine that there was "Clear direction from POTUS to continue to hold." More information about why these specific OMB documents are so important can be found in Schumer’s Dec. 23 letter to his colleagues. 

 

Trump's allies in the House take in Senate debate

As Schiff spoke on the floor, Trump's House allies Mark Meadows, R-N.C., Louie Gohmert, R-Texas, and Lee Zeldin, R-N.Y., watched from the back row on the Republican side of the chamber.

Gohmert occasionally whispered something to the others that he appeared to find entertaining, while they sat silently.

Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala., appeared to nod off during the presentation. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., seemed among the least impressed of the senators about the arguments being presented.

Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, passed a handwritten note to McConnell’s aide in the front row.

Upon the Senate’s vote to block the Democrats’ amendment calling for White House documents, Sens. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, and Chris Murphy, D-Conn., chatted at the back of the chamber. Murphy initially addressed Romney, who listened intently, before the two exchanged their thoughts, smiling.