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

Schiff recalls Trump's ire when he mocked Ukraine call

Schiff, as part of his closing remarks, said that Trump and his allies haven't seemed particularly invested in answering the gravity of the charges the House has laid out against the president — choosing instead to attack the process and the Democratic House managers, including himself. 

He then recalled a moment that Trump revisits often — when he parodied Trump's phone call with Ukraine's president while chairing a hearing of the House Intelligence Committee last September. 

"I discovered something very significant by mocking the president and that is for a man who loves to mock others, he does not like to be mocked. As it turns out, he's got a pretty thin skin. Who would have thought it?” Schiff said. “Never mind that I said I wasn't using his words before I said, and I wasn't using his words after I said it, and I said I was making a parody of his words — 'It's an outrage! He mocked the president, that Schiff! Terrible!'"

Trump has said Schiff should resign and be investigated for his mocking interpretation of that July phone call, in which Trump asked a foreign leader to look into the Bidens, as well as a conspiracy involving the 2016 election.

"He is a sick man!" Trump tweeted last September.  

Schiff wraps Democrats’ case: 'That has been proved'

Schiff read through the articles of impeachment on Friday night, arguing that the managers had proved each element with the refrain 'that has been proved.'

“President Trump solicited the interference of a foreign government in the 2020 election," he began. "That has been proved."

Schiff says he’ll be the last speaker tonight

Looks like tonight could be an early night for impeachment watchers, as manager Schiff says he’ll be the last speaker tonight.

"I'm tired! I don't know about you but I'm exhausted,” he said.

Schiff joked that he was hoping to keep things short tonight, the conclusion of House Democrats' case against the president.

"To be immortal, you don’t need to be eternal."

Democrats' top lines

A Democratic staffer working on the impeachment trial lays their case out as follows:

  • Democrats made an overwhelming, compelling and airtight case — the evidence is absolutely incriminating, the facts are uncontested.
  • It’s clear that the President is an ongoing threat to our national security and the upcoming elections. That’s why he must be removed.
  • House Managers made a direct appeal to the Senators to consider the lasting impact of the President’s actions on our democracy, constitutional framework and Congress’ ability to exercise oversight of the executive branch. 
  • Americans overwhelmingly want a fair trial. All trials include documents and witnesses – in this case, the hundreds and hundreds of pages of documents and dozen witnesses the President has blocked.


It's baaaack: Tom Cotton's purple fidget spinner makes a reappearance

Milk is out. Fidget spinners, still in!

Just when you thought the demise of another recent quirk of the Senate — fidget spinners — was imminent, Tom Cotton has breathed new life into the use of the toy on the Senate floor.

The Arkansas Republic was spotted Friday evening with his purple fidget spinner, which he had put into use Thursday during arguments but which disappeared along with the other senators' fidget spinners for most of Friday.

Rather than the packets of paper and binders that occupy most senators’ desks, Cotton just had a few sheets in a manila folder. Arriving a little late after the afternoon recess, he kept checking something in his inner jacket pocket, and later brought out the fidget spinner.

Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C. — who also started playing with a blue fidget spinner as he sat behind his desk — had handed out the popular toys to several of his fellow senators in the chamber on Thursday. He said Friday he'd passed them out because they "are just an obvious way to keep people awake.”

Also of note: Water seems to be the beverage of choice (that is, of the two possible choices) on the floor on Friday, with nary a glass of milk to be found. That's in stark contrast to a couple of days earlier, when some senators were spotted downing the dairy product (Cotton drank at least two glassfuls).

ANALYSIS: Impeachment managers have trigger man and motive. GOP has the votes.

Democrats believe they have more than a smoking gun in President Donald Trump's impeachment trial. They have a trigger man, they have a motive and they have a record of the key moment.

What they would like more of — but do not believe would be necessary in a jury trial — is access to documents they know exist and witnesses close to Trump that they believe would further support the case for removing him from office.

"This is airtight," said a person familiar with the prosecution, who noted that all of the witness testimony obtained during the House investigation corroborated a long campaign by top Trump lieutenants to effect the president's Ukraine plan. "What [we] don't have is someone saying, 'I helped orchestrate that months-long effort.'"

Read the full analysis.

Nadler: Trump 'is a dictator'

Nadler had harsh words for the president during his Friday remarks: He's a dictator.

"He's the first and only president ever to declare himself unaccountable and to ignore subpoenas backed by the Constitution's impeachment power. If he is not removed from office, if he is permitted to defy the Congress entirely, categorically, to say that subpoenas from Congress in the impeachment inquiry are nonsense, then we will have lost — the House will have lost, the Senate will certainly have lost — all power to hold any president accountable," Nadler said. "This is a determination by President Trump that he wants to be all-powerful; he does not have to respect the Congress, he does not have to respect the representatives of the people. Only his will goes. He is a dictator. This must not stand and that is why — another reason he must be removed from office."

Trump isn’t the first president to fight subpoenas, but he has made unprecedented comments about the reach of his own executive authority.

Engel blasts State Dept. over Yovanovitch threats

House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Eliot Engel, D-N.Y., said in a statement Friday that the State Department has failed to meet a deadline to turn over documents related to a potential threat to the security of former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch last year.

"I have serious concerns that the security of an American ambassador and an American embassy were compromised. When she was called in the middle of the night and told to get on the next plane out of Ukraine, Ambassador Yovanovitch was warned, 'this is about your security'," he said. 

Engel said that he would use certain tools to obtain the answers, which could include a congressional subpoena. 

"I want to know what the State Department knew about it then and what actions have been taken. I’ll use all the tools at my disposal to get the answers I’m seeking from the department," he said. 

There has been renewed attention about Yovanovitch's security after House Democrats released text messages showing Giuliani associate Lev Parnas appearing to discuss the whereabouts of the then-Ukraine ambassador with a Republican congressional candidate, Robert Hyde. It's unclear whether they were actually surveilling Yovanovitch, though.