EVENT ENDED

Trump impeachment trial live coverage: The president's defense begins

Senators heard from House prosecutors for three days. Now, Trump's team is making the case in his defense.
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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President Donald Trump's lawyers began their case in his defense Saturday as the Senate impeachment trial concludes its first week of arguments.

The defense phase of the trial follows three days of arguments against the president from House impeachment managers.

Trump's lawyer Jay Sekulow said Friday that Saturday's arguments, which lasted only about two hours, would be "our sneak preview" of their broader case.

Highlights from the Senate trial

Live Blog

Trump hints his defense team will begin by attacking Democrats

Moments ahead of the start of his impeachment trial defense, Trump tweeted: "Our case against lyin’, cheatin’, liddle’ Adam “Shifty” Schiff, Cryin’ Chuck Schumer, Nervous Nancy Pelosi, their leader, dumb as a rock AOC, & the entire Radical Left, Do Nothing Democrat Party, starts today at 10:00 A.M. on @FoxNews, @OANN or Fake News @CNN or Fake News MSDNC!"

It's a clear sign that the president's defense will rely heavily on criticizing prominent Democrats.

The tweet comes after House managers spent three days pressing their case that Trump should be found guilty and removed from office over his efforts to push Ukraine to probe the Bidens and Democrats as he withheld nearly $400 million in military aid and an official White House visit for Ukraine's president, as well as his obstruction of Congress' investigation into the matter.

Democrats tweeted ahead of Saturday's proceedings, too.

"As we head into today’s arguments, I implore the White House counsel to present a substantive argument as to why the President shouldn’t be impeached," Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa., tweeted. "Don’t continue to insult the country by saying he did nothing wrong."

"Conducting this impeachment trial is one of our biggest responsibilities as senators," Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., posted. "Let’s focus on the facts. Let’s focus on the law. Let’s ensure this is a fair trial—and that we deliver fair and impartial justice."

Who is Dmytro Firtash? The man linked to $1 million loan to Giuliani ally has a shadowy past

In September, one month before Lev Parnas was indicted on campaign finance charges, his wife received wire transfers from a bank account in Russia.

The sum was $1 million, and the source was a lawyer for Dmytro Firtash, according to a court filing by U.S. prosecutors.

Firtash, a Ukrainian oligarch who made a fortune in the natural gas trade, is perhaps the most enigmatic figure in the scandal that has played a key role in President Donald Trump’s impeachment.

A billionaire with alleged ties to the Russian mob, Firtash is facing bribery-related charges in the U.S. and fighting extradition from Vienna. He once attempted to buy and redevelop the famous Drake Hotel in New York with the now-incarcerated Paul Manafort, Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman. And he’s seen by Ukrainian anti-corruption activists and Western governments as a corrupt instrument of Russia.

Read the full story.

House Dems to deliver 28,000 pages of their trial record to Senate

The managers plan to deliver their trial record for the official senate record this morning around 9:30.

It's more than 28,000 pages. 

GOP senators incensed by Schiff 'head on a pike' remark at impeachment trial

Senate Republicans said lead impeachment manager Rep. Adam Schiff insulted them during the trial on Friday night by repeating an anonymously sourced report that the White House had threatened to punish Republicans who voted against President Donald Trump.

Schiff, who delivered closing arguments for the prosecution, was holding Republican senators rapt as he called for removing Trump from office for abusing his power and obstructing Congress. Doing anything else, he argued, would be to let the president bully Senate Republicans into ignoring his pressure on Ukraine for political help.

"CBS News reported last night that a Trump confidant said that key senators were warned, 'Vote against the president and your head will be on a pike.' I don't know if that's true," Schiff said.

After that remark, the generally respectful mood in the Senate immediately changed. Republicans across their side of the chamber groaned, gasped and said, "That's not true." One of those key moderate Republicans, Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, looked directly at Schiff, shook her head and said, "Not true."

Read what else Republican senators said.

Trump's team plans to kick off arguments with discussion of Biden, Burisma and Steele dossier

President Donald Trump's defense team on Saturday morning will begin the first of up to three days — 24 hours maximum — to make their case against the articles of impeachment.

The session begins at 10 a.m., and Trump's lawyer Jay Sekulow told reporters said it will only go for three hours, saying it will be a “a trailer, kind of a coming attractions” ahead of the trial resuming on Monday.

We do not expect Ken Starr or Alan Dershowitz to speak during Saturday's session, but Sekulow said Friday that the defense plans to discuss Biden, Burisma and the origins of the Steele dossier during their arguments. 

OPINION: Not surprisingly, Trump's impeachment defense team has a woman problem

There's been a lot of talk about President Donald Trump's choice of Alan Dershowitz and Ken Starr as lawyers participating in his Senate impeachment trial defense. Most of this has rightly focused on the arguments both men presented at President Bill Clinton's impeachment in 1999, which stand in almost laughable contradiction to the arguments they now seek to present.

But when these two hired guns are examined alongside their latest famous client, another more troubling thread emerges, one that has been all too common for those in Trump's orbit. These guys really don't like women.

While the president still stands accused of sexual misconduct, including rape, by more than 20 women, both of these lawyers are deeply embroiled in their own sexual misconduct and assault scandals.

Read more here.

Democrats hope they persuaded these Republicans to back impeachment witnesses

The House managers have finished up their opening arguments in their case against President Donald Trump — but it's still unclear whether they'll be able to present any new evidence.

"Every day more and more of the public is watching," Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said Thursday. "I am more hopeful than ever that four conscientious brave Republicans will come forward and tell (Senate Majority Leader) Mitch McConnell you can't shut this down without witnesses, you can't shut this down without documents."

With the GOP holding a 53-47 majority in the Senate, Democrats would need at least four Republicans to cross party lines in order to be able to call witnesses or subpoena documents in the third presidential impeachment trial in American history.

Here's a look at some of the Senate Republicans who could cross party lines and where they stand.

Just catching up? Here's what you missed

House impeachment managers presented their case against the president over three days this week, and Trump's legal team launched its defense in a short session on Saturday. If you're just catching up, here's what you missed: