Senate Impeachment Trial: What happened at the Trump impeachment trial on Day 2

Democrats lay out their case for removing the president, questions about "witness trading," how senators are passing the long hours, and more.

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By Dareh Gregorian

Opening arguments began in President Donald Trump's Senate impeachment trial on Wednesday, with Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., telling senators they need to remove Trump from office because he's shown he's ready and willing to cheat in the 2020 election.

"The president's misconduct cannot be decided at the ballot box because we cannot be assured the vote will be fairly won," Schiff told the Senate. He called Trump's efforts to get a foreign government to announce an investigation into his political rival "a gross abuse of power" that requires the Senate to act.

Trump's legal team, meanwhile, likely won't begin its defense until Saturday. "There’s a lot of things I’d like to rebut and we will rebut," Trump lawyer Jay Sekulow told reporters.

Full coverage of President Donald Trump's impeachment trial

Here are seven key things that happened in Wednesday's trial proceedings.

The case for the prosecution

In his presentation to the Senate, Schiff gave an overview of the House managers' impeachment case against the president, which he said "paints an overwhelming and damning picture of the president's efforts to use the powers of his office to corruptly solicit foreign help in his re-election campaign and withhold official acts and military aid to compel that support."

Schiff was followed by Reps. Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., and Sylvia Garcia, D-Texas, who shined a light on what they alleged was Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani's smear campaign against then-U.S. ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch. She was viewed as a roadblock to Giuliani's plan to try to dig up dirt on former vice president Joe Biden and his son, who was on the board of a Ukrainian gas company.

Later in the day, Rep. Jason Crow, D-Colo., and Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y., used their time at the lectern to revisit and re-emphasize the significance of the July 25 phone call between Trump and Zelenskiy, in which Trump asked for probes of the Bidens and a conspiracy involving the 2016 election. "The president claims that his call was perfect. Nothing can be further from the truth," Jeffries said.

'You should want to know'

Schiff kept up the Democrats' pressure campaign on the Senate to admit new witnesses and documentary evidence.

"We can and will prove President Trump guilty of this conduct and of obstructing the investigation into his misconduct," said Schiff, the lead House manager in the Senate trial. "But you and the American people should know who else was involved in this scheme ... You should want to know about every player in this sordid business."

New evidence

Just after Schiff closed the first day of arguments in the trial with an impassioned plea to allow new evidence, Chief Justice John Roberts agreed to allow a single page of classified supplemental testimony from an aide to Vice President Mike Pence admitted into the record.

The document will remain classified for now, but can be seen by all 100 senators in a secure setting.

Pence's office has ignored two requests to declassify the document, according to a House democratic official working on the trial.

In Tuesday's 13-hour session to decide the rules of the trial, Senate Republicans rejected an amendment to that would have explicitly allowed the Senate to receive classified information into evidence. But Roberts on Wednesday night announced an agreement to allow classified information into the record under the Standing Rules of the Senate.

Trump 'confession'

The president was en route back to Washington after attending the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, but spoke to reporters before he left. "We're doing very well," he said. "I thought our team did a very good job. But honestly, we have all the material. They don't have the material."

House manager Rep. Val Demings of Florida tweeted out a clip of Trump's remarks in the morning, saying it proves the second article of impeachment, obstruction of Congress. She described the charge as "covering up witnesses and documents from the American people."

"This morning the President not only confessed to it, he bragged about it," Demings wrote.

No witness trading

Schiff shot down speculation that Democrats would cut a deal to get witnesses they want to testify in the trial, like former national security adviser John Bolton, by agreeing to let Republicans call witnesses like the Bidens.

"This isn't like some fantasy football trade," Schiff said. "Trials aren't trades for witnesses."

GOP plays games?

If any Republicans were troubled by the House presentation of the case against Trump, they did a good job of hiding it.

Despite rules that they are supposed to sit silently and listen to the presentation, some milled around during Schiff's statement, and Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky was spotted with a hidden crossword puzzle in his papers. There also appeared to be a Sudoku game on the page.

What's next?

Democrats have 24 hours over three days to make their case, and then Trump's team will have 24 hours to make their case over three days.

Schiff said the managers would lay out evidence of the president's wrongdoing, followed by a look at the constitutional framework of impeachment "as it was envisioned by the founders." They would then "analyze how the facts of the president's misconduct and cover-up lead to the conclusion that the president undertook the sort of corrupt course of conduct that impeachment was intended to remedy."