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.
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.
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: Trump was trying to put his 'alibi out there' in key call with Sondland
Schiff pointed to a September phone call between Trump and Sondland as an example of the president's suspect conduct as his efforts in Ukraine were coming under more scrutiny.
The call Schiff highlighted was the one in which Trump insisted there was "no quid pro quo" with regard to pushing the Ukrainian president to investigate the Bidens and Democrats as he was withholding an official White House visit and nearly $400 million in military aid to the country.
"During this call between the president and Ambassador Sondland, without a prompt, President Trump told Sondland there's 'no quid pro quo,'" Schiff said. "Now, why would he do that? ... That's the kind of thing that comes up in a conversation if you're trying to put your alibi out there."
In November, Sondland testified that he did believe there was at least one quid pro quo with Ukraine, alleging that a White House visit was conditioned on the announcement of investigations. That same day, Trump read his side of that conversation, in which he claims to have said, "I want nothing" and "I want no quid pro quo."
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37d ago / 1:28 AM UTC
ANALYSIS: Sekulow reads over 'quid pro quo' in article of impeachment
Trump defense lawyer Jay Sekulow said Wednesday that Democrats were leveling new charges against the president when they repeatedly said the president offered a "quid pro quo" to Ukraine — military aid and a White House meeting in exchange for investigations Trump desired.
"Notice what's not in the articles of impeachment — allegations or accusations of quid pro quo," Sekulow told reporters. "That’s because they didn't exist. So you know, there’s a lot of things we’ll rebut but we’ll do it in an orderly and I hope more systematic fashion."
But while the first article of impeachment doesn't use the Latin phrase — which means "what for what" — it charges the president with "conditioning" official acts of the U.S. government on acts by Ukraine. The House impeached Trump for a quid pro quo in plain English.
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37d ago / 1:11 AM UTC
Here's the dramatic moment the impeachment protester was tackled by police
The protester who interrupted Jeffries was charged with unlawful conduct later Wednesday. See the dramatic moment he was tackled by Capitol Police as he burst through the chamber doors, as depicted in a courtroom sketch by artist Bill Hennessy.
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37d ago / 1:24 AM UTC
Schiff uses text messages to paint picture of shadow Ukraine policy
"Think about how unusual this is. This is the president's personal lawyer who's on this personal mission on behalf of his client to get the investigations in Ukraine. The president of Ukraine can't get in the door of the Oval Office and who are they going to? Are they going to the Security Council? No. Are they going to the State Department? No. They tried all that, they're going to the president's personal lawyer,” Schiff said.
“Does that sound like an official policy to try to fight corruption?” he added.
Republicans say they haven't heard anything new today
Republican lawmakers, as well as the president's legal team, echoed one another in saying they had heard nothing new Wednesday as they emerged during a brief break in the impeachment trial.
Speaking with Fox News, Trump's attorney Jay Sekulow said the case presented by House impeachment managers amounted to "repeat cycles" within the first five hours of the presentation.
"We're hearing the same things each time," he said,
Sens. John Cornyn of Texas, Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania, and John Barrasso of Wyoming expressed similar sentiments as they left the Senate floor.
"Six hours of testimony so far today since I didn't hear anything new, at all," Barrasso said. "We were here all day yesterday for about 13 hours, no new material presented."
Democrats have been pleading for the Senate to allow for additional witnesses like Bolton and Mulvaney, who have first-hand knowledge of the president's actions toward Ukraine. Republicans voted Tuesday into Wednesday morning to table motions made by Schumer to allow for additional witnesses and documents.
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37d ago / 11:56 PM UTC
Jeffries wraps up; Senate breaks for dinner
Jeffries has just wrapped up his remarks — all focused on the July 25 call — concluding them with a sharp rebuttal to Trump’s repeated claims that his phone conversation with Zelenskiy that day was “perfect.”
"This was not a perfect call,” Jeffries said in closing. “It is direct evidence that President Donald John Trump corruptly abused his power and solicited foreign interference in the 2020 election."
With that, Chief Justice John Roberts announced a 30-minute break for dinner.
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37d ago / 11:45 PM UTC
Impeachment coverage draws 11 million TV viewers
The Senate impeachment trial is becoming must-see TV.
About 11 million people tuned in to at least part of the first day of the trial across the broadcast networks and cable news channels, according to Variety.
And Fox News viewers are showing particularly strong interest, outpacing even the broadcast channels in daytime viewership. The Trump-friendly cable news channel drew 2.7 million viewers from 12:30 p.m. ET to 5 p.m. ET, beating out CBS (1.9 million), ABC (1.6 million) and NBC and CNN (1.4 million). MSNBC drew 1.9 million.
Fox News also drew the biggest audience in primetime (from 8 p.m. ET to 11 p.m. ET) with 3.5 million viewers. MSNBC drew 2.5 million, while CNN attracted 1.5 million.
NBC took the top spot in evening coverage from 5:18 p.m. ET to 7:40 p.m. ET with 2.8 million viewers, topping Fox News (2.6 million), MSNBC (2 million) and CNN (1.5 million). ABC and CBS did not cover the trial in the evening hours.
NBC is owned by NBCUniversal, the parent company of NBC News and MSNBC.
Trump — who has sought to block White House documents and aides from offering evidence in the trial and insists there is no basis to Democrats' claims — repeatedly said that Ukraine got their foreign aid early and that Ukrainian officials have said he did nothing wrong.
Neither claim is completely true, but the president's remarks — made from Davos, Switzerland — suggest that his defense against the impeachment charges will be rooted in his own reading of the facts.