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

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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

Here's what Trump's defense team has been up to

Here's how things look from where Trump and his legal team sit:

How's the president dealing with Democrats' monopoly on floor time?

House managers have the stage all to themselves for the next couple days but the president and his defense team are doing everything they can to try to pull the spotlight their way because that’s what the president wants. He’s anxious to get his arguments out there. His surrogate team, including lawmakers he’s been on the phone with, is out in full force. And during two breaks today and immediately after the day ended, one of his lead attorneys, Jay Sekulow, beelined to television cameras to get the defense’s messaging out there, and squeezed in a Fox hit to boot.

How does the president's team think this is playing out politically?

Generally, allies think the Democrats' arguments are repetitive and unlikely to change minds. And the Trump campaign is trying to capitalize: the campaign is highlighting continued financial gain from the impeachment trial overall. Some of the highest-ever fundraising days occurred around the release of the Mueller report in April and initial impeachment inquiry news in September.   

Tell us more about the president's opening arguments!

Sure thing, especially since we’re learning more about how it’ll play out. In one of the clearest indications yet of how the defense is looking directly rebut managers, Sekulow hinted that the defense team would reference the same career diplomats Democrat did but cite different comments where these staffers praised the president and his policies. He also signaled the team may wrap arguments Monday, but left the door open to continuing Tuesday as well. Earlier, Sekulow told NBC News that the defense's arguments could take "10 hours, 14 hours, 24 hours, or six hours," emphasizing they want to be flexible and fluid.

Per multiple sources close to the team, Cipollone will do the initial opening, where he will address “substantive and constitutional and procedural” positions. Sekulow will likely go next with an overview from beginning to end on how they got here. Then, it sounds like Alan Dershowitz and Ken Starr will make the Constitutional argument that the articles of impeachment don’t meet the threshold for impeachment. There will then be what the team refers to as fact presentations and that’s when you’ll see other team members make their oral arguments. 

Do you think the president will actually show up at the Senate trial?

Almost certainly not. Sekulow made it clear when he said, "presidents don’t do that."

After trial adjourns, Graham and Schiff spotted shaking hands

Podcast: NBC News' Frank Thorp breaks down the first day of arguments

On today’s bonus episode of NBC News' Article II impeachment podcast, Steve Kornacki talks to Frank Thorp, an NBC News producer covering the Senate, about the first day of opening arguments and the case House managers are making to a few select senators they hope to bring to their side.

The two discuss:

  • How House managers presented their case to the Senate
  • The three Republican senators Democrats hope they can persuade to join them in a vote for witnesses
  • Whether there’s any likelihood that Democrats will get the four votes they need in total to subpoena witnesses and change the trajectory of the trial

Trial ends for the day

The first day of the House managers' arguments ended around 9:45 p.m. eastern.

McConnell said everyone will return on Thursday at 1 p.m. for the second day of the House managers' arguments.

“We’ve introduced the case, we’ve gone through the chronology, and tomorrow we will apply the facts to the law as it pertains to the President’s abuse of power,” Schiff said.

All seven of the impeachment managers spoke during today’s session.

Sekulow says he's confident Trump will be acquitted by Senate

Trump counsel Jay Sekulow declared Wednesday after the first day of opening arguments by Democrats that "the president will be acquitted."

“Without a question, the president will be acquitted,” he told reporters after the trial adjourned for the night. 

“The whole fact that we are here is ridiculous,” he said, suggesting that the president’s impeachment may not be just over the July 25 phone call but a “three-year attempt” by the Democrats to reverse the 2016 election. 

'Do you want to know the full truth now?': House managers continue push for more evidence

For roughly eight hours Wednesday, House impeachment managers outlined their case against Trump, repeatedly hammering him for calling on foreign nations to investigate the Bidens, detailing what they said was a quid pro quo with Ukraine and never missing a chance to highlight why additional documents and witnesses were necessary for the Senate trial.

"Do you want to know the full truth now?" Schiff said as he neared the end of Wednesday arguments, adding, "Want to know how broad this scheme was?"

"We can and will prove President Trump guilty of this conduct and of obstructing the conduct," he added. "You should want the whole truth to come out" and "want to know about every player in this sordid business."

House managers pointed to Trump's defenses throughout the day, seeking to poke holes in claims such as "no quid pro quo" and that his July 25 phone call with Zelenskiy was "perfect."

"The president claims that his call was perfect," Jeffries said. "Nothing can be further from the truth. The call is direct evidence of President Trump's solicitation of foreign interference in the 2020 election as part of a corrupt scheme."

The House managers pleaded for the Senate to allow for additional witnesses and documents after Republicans voted Tuesday into Wednesday morning to table motions made by Schumer to allow for them. At the end of Wednesday's proceedings, Roberts entered classified testimony from a Pence aide into the official record — evidence that was not yet available during the House investigation.

Fireworks were few and far between throughout the day, a far cry from the prior day's proceedings where the House managers and Trump's legal team traded turns arguing for and against amendments to the process resolution.

Schiff: 'You should want to know about every player in this sordid business'

As Wednesday's session approached its conclusion, Schiff said that the articles on impeachment implicate more than just Trump.

"We can and will prove President Trump guilty of this conduct and of obstructing the investigation into his misconduct,” said Schiff, the lead House manager in the Senate trial. "But you and the American people should know who else was involved in this scheme ... You should want to know about every player in this sordid business."

Throughout the House impeachment inquiry, witnesses testified in public about how people close to the president, including Giuliani, Sondland, then-Energy Secretary Rick Perry and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, played key roles in the campaign to pressure Ukraine to announce investigations into the Bidens and a debunked 2016 conspiracy theory.

Schiff quoted Sondland’s testimony from the inquiry in which he stated that “everyone was in the loop” about the president’s efforts.

A moment of levity: applause for the outgoing Senate pages

The Senate chamber burst into applause when, just before the chief justice adjourned, McConnell thanked the outgoing class of Senate pages.

The last day of their term is January 23.

"In addition to witnessing this unusual event that we're all experiencing, they're studying for their final exams as well, and we wish them well, as they head off back to boring normal high school," McConnell said. 

Schumer also thanked the pages, all high school juniors, according to the Senate, for their work. Pages largely serve as messengers and prepare the Senate chamber for each day's business. Schumer also noted that the standing ovation the pages inspired was a "rare" moment of bipartisanship.

Lofgren suggests Pence hiding testimony of key aide

Democrats' impeachment formula is easy math

WASHINGTON — The plot is intricate, but the math is simple.

The latter requires senators and the American public to understand only that "two plus two equals four," Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., the lead House manager in President Donald Trump's Senate impeachment trial, said Wednesday.

That basic math is all it takes, he argued, to conclude that Trump prioritized his own interests over American national security by using U.S. foreign aid as leverage to force Ukraine into helping his re-election effort. The Ukrainians knew the score — "they're not stupid," Schiff said — and he left unspoken his thoughts on the intellectual capacity of senators who couldn't or wouldn't perform the same addition with the facts in front of them.

Of course, the arithmetic of the eventual Senate vote is nothing like the formula for determining whether the president abused the powers of his office in the very ways the founding fathers envisioned a chief executive might when they vested Congress with removal authority.

Read more here.

House managers hammer hard on Trump's call for China to probe Bidens

Schiff just highlighted Trump's public call in October for China — in addition to Ukraine — to probe the Bidens.

It's a moment that's been highlighted repeatedly in the first two days of Trump's impeachment trial.

At the time, a handful of Republicans criticized Trump for calling on China to probe the private U.S. citizens. Romney called it "wrong and appalling." Collins said she was "stunned" to hear Trump call on China to to launch an investigation into the former vice president and his son. And Sasse said "Hold up: Americans don't look to Chinese commies for the truth."

Others said Trump was just joking.

Rubio said Trump was "needling the press, knowing that you guys were going to get outraged by it." And Blunt expressed "doubt" that Trump "was serious."