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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

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

Finally, some sweet news: Toomey gets 700 pounds of chocolate

Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., got a special delivery Friday morning after news got out about senators only being allowed to eat candy while on the floor during the impeachment trial: 700 pounds of Hershey's chocolates.

The sweet treats, which arrived at his office in dozens of boxes, will help resupply the Senate candy desk, which Toomey has kept stocked since 2015. 

“This week, there has been a great amount of interest in the candy desk — from inquiring journalists and also hungry senators," a spokesperson for Toomey said. "Thankfully, Hershey’s is sending reinforcements that have just been delivered." 

It has worked out well for senators that Toomey is in charge of the desk, which is located in the back row of the Republican side of the chamber, since the Hershey Co. is headquartered in his home state of Pennsylvania.  

During the impeachment trial of President Bill Clinton in 1999, Rick Santorum, then a Republican senator from Pennsylvania, ran the drawer, providing senators with York Peppermint Patties. Only water, milk and candy are allowed to be consumed on the Senate floor.

Toomey also provided baskets of chocolates and treats to the Senate press galleries, to help reporters through the long days of covering the trial.

The case of the vanishing fidget spinners (another Senate mystery)

Unlike during Thursday’s arguments, no fidget spinners were spotted in the chamber on Friday, including on the desk of fidget spinner supplier Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C.

NBC News is checking to see if they have been banned from the Senate floor.

The absence of the toys is a stark departure from the day before, when restless senators, sitting through endless hours of the trial, were spotted playing with them.

Burr on Thursday had handed out the fidget spinners to several of his fellow senators in the chamber, and was seen playing with a blue one while listening to arguments. Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., was spotted playing with a purple one during arguments.

Burr said Friday he'd handed them out because they "are just an obvious way to keep people awake.”

'Get rid of her': A voice appearing to be Trump's heard on tape demanding diplomat Yovanovitch's ouster

A voice that appears to be that of President Donald Trump ordered aides to "get rid" of U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch after two now-indicted Rudy Giuliani associates told him she had been badmouthing him, according to an audiotape reviewed by ABC News.

The network said the tape appeared to include a discussion between Trump and Giuliani associates Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman at a small private dinner. Trump has denied knowing the pair and dismissed numerous pictures of them together as just photos taken at public events.

NBC News has neither obtained nor heard the recording and cannot verify the authenticity of the ABC report.

Read the full story.

Senate GOP expresses unhappiness in heavily edited 'Groundhog Day' video

Jeffries kicks off arguments for obstruction of Congress article against Trump

Democratic House impeachment managers have turned their attention during Friday’s proceedings — the third and final day of their opening arguments — to the second article of impeachment against President Donald Trump: Obstruction of Congress.

After Reps. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., and Jason Crow, D-Colo., wrapped up unfinished arguments related to Thursday’s proceedings, Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y., kicked off the case being made on obstruction.

"At the heart of Article II, Obstruction of Congress, is a simple troubling reality” Jeffries said. “President Trump tried to cheat, he got caught and then he worked hard to cover it up."

"The president tried to cheat, he got caught and then he worked hard to cover it up,” he repeated, for emphasis.

How to keep your spine healthy while sitting on a Senate seat

Glasses of milk, birthday cake, and now this ...

Democrats, presenting case on obstruction of Congress, have some questions for Republican senators

A Democratic staffer working on the impeachment trial provided the following information on Friday's presentation:

Yesterday, the House managers laid out a powerful case to both senators and the American people: President Trump abused his power to cheat our elections, and in so doing,  jeopardized our national security interest. Today, we’re going to go through the open-and-shut case on President Trump’s unprecedented obstruction of Congress. 

In the face of overwhelming facts and a mountain of evidence, Senate Republicans continue to deflect, distract and distort the truth. The American people and our democracy deserve better. Every Republican senator should answer the following questions at the center of the case against President Trump.  

  • The president refused to produce any documents. At least some clearly should have been produced to Congress. There is no possible claim that they are covered by executive privilege. They are even being produced in FOIA lawsuits. Aren’t you worried that a future president could use the same argument against you in a Senate investigation to refuse to produce any documents?
  • Aren’t you worried that if you do not subpoena documents and witnesses after the opening arguments, that new information will come out at a later that could have been relevant to your decision? Will that make your decision look political?
  • In his own words, the president said he wants a foreign government to investigate his political rival.  If you do not vote to remove him, are you saying it is OK for the president to go right back to doing that? Do you agree that this activity is “perfect” and should continue, especially before the election?

ANALYSIS: Trump's impeachment lawyers undercut DOJ on witness testimony

President Donald Trump can’t keep his story straight when it comes to blocking White House officials from testifying before Congress, and House lawyers asked a federal court to resolve the discrepancy as quickly as possible in a late Wednesday filing. 

Trump’s impeachment trial defense team has said that the House rushed to judgment without waiting for federal courts to decide whether to compel testimony from witnesses who were subpoenaed. But his Justice Department lawyers have told those same federal courts for months that the House didn’t have the right to subpoena the witnesses because the impeachment investigation wasn’t real.

Trump can’t “have it both ways” House general counsel Douglas Letter wrote to the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, citing the words of the president’s impeachment counsel on the Senate floor as evidence of the contradiction in a case involving former White House counsel Don McGahn.

Well, it’s worth asking, which is it? Did the House have no power to subpoena the witnesses or did it rush forward without witnesses? This is part of the reason the House felt comfortable impeaching Trump on an obstruction of Congress charge — his strategy appeared to the House Democratic majority to be aimed more at obfuscation.

“In light of President Trump’s argument, it is not clear whether DOJ still maintains its position that courts are barred from considering subpoena-enforcement suits brought by the House,” Letter wrote. “At the very least, President Trump’s recognition that courts should resolve such suits undermines DOJ’s contrary threshold arguments in this case, which seek to prevent the House and its committees from seeking judicial resolution of subpoena-enforcement disputes. The executive branch cannot have it both ways. Because the impeachment trial has now begun, the need for Mr. McGahn’s testimony is more urgent than ever. We respectfully urge the court to rule expeditiously.”

In a second letter to the court, Letter argued that the beginning of the Senate trial should trigger the release to the House of grand jury material from former special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation.