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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

Sekulow says Saturday will be 'kind of a coming attractions' for defense's case

White House counsel Jay Sekulow, during the break, said the defense team will begin Saturday at 10 a.m. ET and speak for three hours.

"I guess I would call it a trailer, kind of a coming attractions, would be the best way to say it," he said.

Graham says he doesn't want to investigate Joe Biden, but he will if he has to

Graham on Friday said that he doesn’t want to investigate Biden, but he will if he has to. 

“You know why I don’t want to do it? Because I love Joe Biden,” Graham, a former colleague of Biden’s in the Senate, told reporters during an afternoon break in the trial. 

Graham said it was a conflict of interest to have Biden put in charge of Ukraine corruption efforts as vice president at the same time that his son Hunter was on the board of Burisma. 

“Here’s what I can say: if this was Liz Cheney or Pence’s son doing this in the Ukraine, Adam Schiff would be leading the charge for an investigation of what happened,” Graham said. 

Graham said that no one has investigated the Bidens and said, “I think they should.”

“The Congress will do it if we can’t have an outside entity do it,” he said. “We’re not going to live in a country where only Republicans get looked at.”

He also said that he doesn’t believe either side — the Democratic House managers or the president’s legal team — should be able to call witnesses in the Senate trial.

Biden says Trump 'wouldn't be there' if he wasn't 'trying to go after me'

Former Vice President Joe Biden said from the campaign trail in New Hampshire on Friday that he isn't surprised his name keeps getting mentioned on the Senate floor during the impeachment trial.

Asked by NBC News' Mike Memoli about his name coming up a lot during the trial, Biden said, "I'm sure it did. He wouldn't be there if he was not trying to go after me."

Senators face midnight deadline for next week's questions

As the House managers work through their third (and last) day of arguments, senators are already preparing for the question-and-answer portion of the trial that will happen after Trump's lawyers finish their arguments, which are expected to start Saturday.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer's office has sent Democratic senators a letter, obtained by NBC News, with guidelines for the questions they will submit, including guidance on what font to use (Times New Roman, 14 point font, which the letter says will be easier for Chief Justice John Roberts to read), and a request to rank questions in the order of priority. 

Democratic senators have until midnight to submit their questions, and Schumer’s office will gather them, organize them thematically and work to avoid redundant questions, according to the letter.

"We will do everything possible to ensure that senators are able to ask as many questions as possible," the letter says. "When necessary, we will seek to combine duplicate questions so that they are 'sponsored' by multiple senators in order to maximize the total number of questions asked and the number of questions each senator is able to offer."

It adds: "We are setting this deadline because we don’t know how much time the presentation by the president’s counsel will consume, so we need to begin work organizing questions this weekend in order to be prepared for the senators’ question period to begin as early as Monday."  

The Q&A portion of the trial is expected to begin Wednesday.

Schiff warns: 'The next time, it just may be you' who Trump goes after

Schiff turned his attention directly to his fellow lawmakers as he explained why the president must be removed.

"It shouldn't matter that it wasn't you" that Trump was trying to investigate, Schiff said. "It shouldn't matter that it was Marie Yovanovitch, it shouldn't matter that it was Joe Biden."

"Because I will tell you something," Schiff continued. "The next time, it just may be you. It just may be you. Do you think for a moment that any of you, no matter what your relationship with this president, no matter how close you are to this president, do you think for a moment that if he felt it was in his interest, he wouldn't ask you to be investigated?"

Graham says he's not feeling well

Some have observed Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., has been leaving the chamber a number of times during the trial, and he even missed when his name was dropped during Thursday’s session. 

We asked him what he’s been doing: “I have been sick  as a dog, have spent more time in the bathroom than I normally do," Graham said. "If I were you I wouldn't get too close to me. See if I would have known I was coming up I would have stayed to watch. Nobody likes watching me more than me.”


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.”