Executive privilege can't stop John Bolton from testifying, House manager says
Rep. Zoe Lofgren, one of the House managers presenting arguments in the impeachment trial, said Thursday that the president would not be able to block former national security adviser Bolton from testifying before the Senate.
"Executive privilege cannot be used to prevent a witness who is willing to testify from appearing, and certainly not one who no longer works in government. It’s not a gag order," the California Democrat tweeted along with a link to an NBC News story on Republicans predicting a fight over the issue.
Trump has repeatedly suggested he might assert executive privilege if Bolton is called to testify.
"There are things that you can't do from the standpoint of executive privilege. You have to maintain that,” Trump said earlier this month. "You can't have him explaining all of your statements about national security concerning Russia, China, and North Korea — everything — we just can't do that."
Bolton's lawyer has said his client has relevant information about Trump's dealings with Ukraine, and Bolton has said he'd be willing to testify if subpoenaed by the Senate.
A senior administration official told NBC News this week that it would be "extraordinary to have the national security adviser testifying about his communications directly with the president," and Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, said Bolton's testimony could lead to a legal fight that would temporarily pause the trial.
Lofgren maintained there is no legal rationale that would block Bolton from being able to take the witness stand.
"Bolton has a right to testify if he wants to," she wrote.
Graham: I won't be voting for any witnesses
Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said Thursday that he's not voting for calling witnesses in the impeachment trial.
"The country needs a break from this," he told reporters. "We're going to listen to the case. And then we're going to vote."
Of the witnesses that some Republicans want to hear from, Graham said that can be dealt with "outside impeachment."
Key moderate Republicans 'offended,' 'stunned' after Nadler accuses senators of 'cover-up'
Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, said she was "offended" by House manager Jerry Nadler's comments this week that Republican senators would be involved in a cover-up if they did not agree to call former national security adviser John Bolton to testify in the impeachment trial, one of her aides said Thursday.
Murkowski is one of a handful of moderate GOP senators who have expressed openness to calling witnesses, including top Trump administration officials. Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, another Republican who has been open to witnesses, wrote a note to Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts which took issue with Nadler's remark, according to a spokesperson.
For Democrats in need of four Republican senators to support them on the issue, Murkowski and Collins are critical votes.
Other moderate senators also weighed in Thursday on Nadler's late-night remark on the Senate floor, which drew a pointed response from White House counsel Pat Cipollone, prompting Chief Justice John Roberts to admonish the two.
“I appreciated the chief justice admonishing the House managers and White House counsels," Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., said. "Senators do their best to conduct their debates in a civil manner and have rules to encourage it.”
Another Republican senator who has expressed willingness to call witnesses, Mitt Romney of Utah, said, “I won’t speak to the process until the entire thing is done.”
Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., also chimed in on the issue, saying, “It was late at night, I think, when Nadler spoke, and it came off pretty hard and strong, which I thought was Ill-advised.”
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Trump and team feeling 'huge frustration' over wait for floor rebuttal
Here's the latest on what's happening inside Trump's defense team.
So what's the president's status this morning?
A source familiar with the president's thinking said there’s “huge frustration” on the part of the president and his allies that the House managers still have Thursday and Friday to present arguments without any Senate floor rebuttal, so it puts a big emphasis on messaging. (For example, we’re told the defense team on Wednesday counted what they considered some dozen false or misleading arguments that Schiff and company made, and they’re eager to push back on those sooner rather than later.) It’s why you should expect to see another full-court press from the president’s defense team during breaks, and from his allies in Congress on the TV today. The strategic teams have been huddling twice daily ahead of arguments as well, and the president has been working the phones with his allies. Overall, though, multiple sources say the president has generally been pleased with his defense team’s presentations, although there’s really only a been a day of it.
What does the defense expect to see from Democrats today?
The spin from sources close to the team: a theatrical yawn, basically. Expecting what they describe as more repetition from Wednesday, with Democrats taking the facts they laid out in their timeline and applying that to the law and Constitution, as Rep. Schiff previewed last night.
Schumer: If Republicans want to hear 'new stuff, there's plenty of it'
Schumer hit Republicans on Wednesday for saying they hadn't heard anything "new" during opening arguments, adding, "If they want new stuff, there's plenty of it."
"What are the Republicans saying after yesterday? Well, the same Republicans are saying that they heard nothing new," Schumer said at a press conference. "But these Republicans voted nine times on Tuesday against amendments to ensure new witnesses and new documents to come before the Senate."
"This argument that they've heard nothing new when they vote repeatedly against witnesses and documents rings very, very hollow," he added.
A number of Republicans said Wednesday and Thursday that they were just hearing the same things being repeated over and over by Democrats, though they mostly avoided discussing the substance of that evidence.
Barrasso told CNN Thursday that he's "expecting to hear a repetition of what they said yesterday (Wednesday)" during Thursday's proceedings.
Speaking with Fox News on Wednesday, Trump's attorney Jay Sekulow said of the case presented by House impeachment managers: "We're hearing the same things each time."
Democrats have been pleading for the Senate to allow for additional witnesses like Bolton and Mulvaney, who they say have first-hand knowledge of the president's actions toward Ukraine, as well as documents the Trump administration has withheld.
Sen. Murphy: 'I don't support bringing in Joe Biden or Hunter Biden'
House impeachment manager: More details of Trump's Ukraine efforts are 'going to come out'
Rep. Jason Crow, D-Colo., told MSNBC's "Morning Joe" on Thursday that more details will come out regarding Trump's efforts to have Ukraine investigate the Bidens and Democrats "whether it's now or down the road.
Crow, one of the House impeachment managers, has focused his presentation on the national security implications of Trump withholding military aid to Ukraine as he was asking Zelenskiy to announce the sought-after investigations.
"If the president of the United States wants to use national security funds and jeopardize our national security and put our men and women in uniform at risk as a result of it, and our allies at risk for his own political campaign, the American people are going to know about it," Crow said. "And they’re going to know about it whether it’s now or down the road."
"This stuff is going to come out, whether it's in books, whether it's in movies, whether it's in some future administration that releases these records, it's going to come out," Crow added. "So the question right now in front of everybody is whether or not they want it to come out now when it matters the most, during this trial, and what side of history they want to be on."
Trump rages against impeachment in tweetstorm
Trump opened up Thursday posting a series of tweets lamenting the ongoing impeachment trial, which he called "unfair" and "corrupt."
The president also made a series of misleading assertions or outright false claims as he tweeted.
Read more here
Trump tweets against the trial and 'Shifty Schiff'
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."