President Donald Trump's defense lawyers on Monday presented the thurst of their defense against the president, undermining the testimony of key witnesses as well as raising questions about the conduct of former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden.
The defense team has also attacked the impeachment proceedings themselves, arguing a lack of due process and accusing House managers of trying to interfere in this year's election.
They also largely avoided an explosive report that alleges former national security adviser John Bolton says in an unpublished book that the president personally tied aid for Ukraine to an investigation into the Bidens — an account that conflicts with the president's.
Highlights from the impeachment trial
- Trump impeachment defense team turns attention to Bidens, Burisma.
- Dershowitz says 'nothing' impeachable about Bolton allegations.
- Trump lawyer suggests Ukraine call wasn't quite perfect.
Romney says 'increasingly likely' GOP senators will support witnesses at Trump trial after Bolton revelations
Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, said Monday it's "increasingly likely" that there will be enough Republicans to vote in favor of calling witnesses in President Donald Trump's Senate trial in the wake of the major revelations from a soon-to-be released book from former national security adviser John Bolton.
At least four Republicans would need to vote alongside all Democratic senators in order to secure new testimony.
Romney, Susan Collins, R-Maine, Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, and Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., are considered to be most likely Republicans to vote in favor of witnesses.
Other Republicans cast doubt on the bombshell report that Bolton alleges in his book that Trump directly linked the withheld Ukrainian military aid and his push for investigations into Democrats. And they also said that if the Senate now votes to hear from witnesses such as Bolton, senators better allow for Trump's preferred witnesses to be called to testify as well.
Trump disputes Bolton bombshell book, tweets he 'NEVER' linked Biden investigation, Ukraine aid
President Donald Trump tweeted on Monday that he "NEVER" told former national security adviser John Bolton that the hold on nearly $400 million in military aid was tied to investigations of Democrats after it was reported Bolton insisted as much in an upcoming book.
"I NEVER told John Bolton that the aid to Ukraine was tied to investigations into Democrats, including the Bidens," Trump wrote. "In fact, he never complained about this at the time of his very public termination. If John Bolton said this, it was only to sell a book."
"The Democrat controlled House never even asked John Bolton to testify," Trump added, though the House asked but did not subpoena Bolton for testimony. "It is up to them, not up to the Senate!"
According to a manuscript of Bolton's book, obtained by The New York Times and not seen by NBC News, Trump told Bolton in August that nearly $400 million in aid to Ukraine would not be released until it provided all of the information it had in connection to the investigations of Democrats that the president sought. One month earlier, Trump asked Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden, his son Hunter Biden and Democrats.
Democrats demand Bolton testify after report his book says Trump tied Ukraine aid to Biden probe
Democrats stepped up their calls Sunday night for former national security adviser John Bolton to testify at President Donald Trump's impeachment trial after an explosive report alleged that in his unpublished book, he said Trump personally tied aid for Ukraine to an investigation of the Bidens — an account that conflicts with the president's.
"John Bolton has the evidence," Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., tweeted.
According to the manuscript, as reported by The New York Times on Sunday night, Trump told Bolton that nearly $400 million in aid to Ukraine would not be released until it offered assistance with investigations of Democratic targets, including former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, Hunter.
NBC News has not seen a copy of the manuscript or verified the report, which cited multiple sources familiar with Bolton's account.
OPINION: Trump's impeachment trial has a lot to do with his inability to fire Marie Yovanovitch
The formal documents on the impeachment of President Donald Trump ring with charges of greed and betrayal. But presidents don’t get impeached only because — or even mainly because — they’re egregiously corrupt. They get impeached because they don’t know how to get what they want without violating laws, rules and norms in order to do it.
With Trump, we have a president who regularly demonstrates he has no knowledge of the intricacies of how the government works — and didn’t think he had to learn.
We are watching this play out now in his Senate impeachment trial. The House managers have been presenting their case of alleged corruption. But they’ve also exposed the sheer dumbness of Trump's efforts to get the Ukrainians to produce anti-Joe Biden campaign fodder for him. Even with administration partisans, including the attorney general, in control of the Justice Department, Trump couldn't figure out how to use the regular levers of government to get what he wanted. He had to resort to his private lawyer Rudy Giuliani and his "associates." That was a potentially disastrous choice — and the disaster has now materialized.Read the full opinion piece.
GOP senator: Impeachment should encourage Trump to be more 'careful' next time
Sen. Mike Braun, R-Ind., said Sunday that he hopes President Donald Trump's impeachment "will be instructive" to the president so that he is more "careful" about his actions going forward.
"Hopefully it will be instructive to where ... I think he'll put two and two together," Braun told NBC's "Meet the Press." "In this case, he was taken to the carpet."
"I think he’ll be instructed by what has occurred here and certainly any individual would want to avoid whatever might need to be modified to go through this again because the threat is already been out there that 'we might find something else to impeach you on," Braun added, pointing to Democrats. "Which I think is a mistake because I think we need to get back to what most Americans are interested in, the agenda."
The Hoosier State senator said the process "ought to be instructive to anyone here that if you're pushing the envelope or doing things that may not feel right, let alone be right, you better be careful."
As some Americans closely watch Trump's impeachment trial, others say their interest has faded
The Senate’s trial into the charges against Trump began last week, marking it only the third time in American history that a president has been impeached.
While the trial has been live on TV and the internet and made the front pages of newspapers across the country, the public’s interest has waxed and waned. Some people say they believe the outcome of the trial has been predetermined, causing their interest to fade. Others have remained engaged, following every detail, while still others have pulled away completely.
Senators spar over witnesses after first week of Senate impeachment trial
Alan Dershowitz labeled Trump 'destabilizing and unpredictable' in 2016 book
As part of President Donald Trump's impeachment defense team, Alan Dershowitz is expected to argue on behalf of the president this week. But in a 2016 book he authored, the famed defense attorney called Trump a “destabilizing and unpredictable candidate,” warning that the then-presidential candidate “openly embraces fringe conspiracy theories peddled by extremists.”
Dershowitz wrote those statements in his book titled “Electile Dysfunction: A Guide for Unaroused Voters.” As part of Trump’s defense team, Dershowitz will outline the “foundations of what it means to rise to the level of what is impeachable and what is not,” Jay Sekulow, one of Trump’s lead impeachment lawyers, said last week on Fox News.
In a phone call with NBC about his comments in the 2016 book, Dershowitz clarified his views about the president. “I was campaigning for Hillary Clinton at the time. I hadn’t really ever met President Trump and it was just typical campaign rhetoric," he said. "I would not repeat that characterization today having met him.”