President Donald Trump's lawyers on Tuesday wrapped up their final day of arguments in his impeachment trial, calling the charges against him unfounded and politically motivated.
After previewing their case in a short session on Saturday, Trump’s legal team doubled down on Monday, insisting there was nothing improper about his dealings with Ukraine's government and casting blame on former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden.
The president's defense largely avoided direct mention of a bombshell report involving John Bolton.
Highlights from the impeachment trial
- White House counsel Cipollone and lawyer Jay Sekulow wrap up the defense's arguments, which Democrats blasted as 'extremely weak.'
- McConnell outlines rules for next phase of the trial: questions and answers.
- GOP mulls calling witnesses, which a new poll says three-quarters of voters support doing.
- The president praises Pompeo's 'good job' on NPR reporter, while GOP senator acknowledges 'we knew what we were getting' with Trump.
- Ex-White House chief of staff Kelly says, "I believe John Bolton," while Lindsey Graham says he supports providing access to Bolton's manuscript.
Graham supports making Bolton's manuscript available to senators
What to expect from Trump's defense team Tuesday
It wouldn't be surprising to see extended wrap-up arguments from White House counsel Pat Cipollone and lawyer Jay Sekulow on Tuesday. (Note that by now, we’ve seen every attorney from the president’s legal team present at least once: Pam Bondi, Cipollone, Alan Dershowitz, Eric Herschmann, Jane Raskin, Robert Ray, Sekulow and Ken Starr.) Remember, Sekulow has repeatedly pledged to be “efficient” in the team’s presentations.
Timing-wise: A Republican close to the legal team told NBC News, “Bolton news makes those who wanted to vote for witnesses a lot less resolved. It makes the task for the Trump defense team more important to keep this moving quickly and be done this week.” The source also said the Bolton reporting "has sucked a lot of energy out of the room. They are having to build that back with a compelling case.”
Plus: A person close to Bolton told NBC News that a single hard copy of his book was delivered last month to the White House for the National Security Council to review. What happened to the copy of the book is unknown to Bolton’s team, but it appears copies of it were made. Bolton’s team submitted the book “in good faith” and now feels that process was corrupted. Bolton doesn’t intend to speak publicly about the Ukraine issue until questions about his potential testimony are resolved. If he were to testify, he plans to do so as a fact witness.
Have on your radar: More from the Bolton manuscript, per NYT: that he told Barr last year about concerns the president was effectively granting personal favors to the leaders of Turkey and China.
FIRST READ: For the GOP on impeachment, it's Trump's way or the highway
After Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, voiced support Monday for calling witnesses after news of John Bolton’s claims from his new book, the newest GOP senator — Georgia’s Kelly Loeffler — fired back at her colleague.
“After 2 weeks, it’s clear that Democrats have no case for impeachment. Sadly, my colleague @SenatorRomney wants to appease the left by calling witnesses who will slander the @realDonaldTrump during their 15 minutes of fame. The circus is over. It’s time to move on! #gapol,” Loeffler tweeted.
(Later on Monday, we learned why Loeffler might have fired off that tweet — Rep. Doug Collins, R-Ga., one of Trump’s biggest defenders in the House, is planning to primary her.)
It’s all a reminder that, for Republicans in the Trump Era, there is no breathing room — unless you’re a Susan Collins or Lisa Murkowski.
Rep. Crow: Trump's legal team 'peddled Russian propaganda'
Everything you need to know about the impeachment trial
Tuesday marks the third and final day of arguments from Trump's defense team.
Here's a brief recap of the trial so far: