Trump lawyer bemoans ‘era’ of impeachment
The Senate impeachment trial has resumed. Refresh here for updates.
Trump Republicans mum on witnesses following a meeting with McConnell
Coming out of a roughly hour and a half-long, closed-door meeting in Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s office after the conclusion of today’s impeachment trial, Republican senators appeared not to have reached a decision on calling witnesses.
The meeting was a “kind of recap of what’s happening and then get time to be able to talk together,” said Sen. James Lankford, R-Ok.
Lankford declined to discuss how his proposal about viewing the manuscript in a closed setting was received among his colleagues.
Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., told reporters, “we weren’t whipping [votes] in there.”
Graham suggested he would support calling Hunter Biden as a witness if Republicans motioned to do so.
“I don’t need any more evidence, but if we do call witnesses, we’re just not going to call one witness, they’re going to call a bunch of witnesses, ‘cause if we get down to expanding the record, I want to add to what was left out in the House,” Graham said.
“Hunter Biden was not called in the House,” he said. “For those who say he was not relevant, I could not disagree with you more. If you can prove that the president had a legitimate concern about the Bidens’ conduct, then their whole case crumbles.”
“Senators will speak for themselves,” said Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., when asked if any senators had advocated for witnesses in the meeting.
Asked if there was enough support in the caucus to call additional witnesses, Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., said, “uh, I don’t know that either.”
Another Republican senator, John Hoeven of North Dakota, put his hand on a reporter’s shoulder and smiled when asked by him if the concerns of moderate Republicans like Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, had been addressed.
“I think on any of those senators, you should ask them how they’re going to come down,” he said.
The key swing vote Republican senators on witnesses, however, slipped out a different door of McConnell’s office than the doors reporters were allowed to stand outside.
– Nicholas Wu
Trump Ex-Giuliani associate wants to give impeachment investigators more documents
Former Rudy Giuliani associate Lev Parnas isn’t just battling government lawyers prosecuting him in an alleged campaign finance scheme. He’s also butting heads with his co-defendants as he tries to provide more material to House investigators for Trump’s impeachment trial.
The Ukraine-born businessman and three associates were indicted in October on charges of funneling hundreds of thousands of dollars of foreign money to U.S. election candidates and committees. They have pleaded not guilty.
Parnas has given House impeachment investigators reams of material about the search that he and Giuliani, Trump’s personal lawyer, undertook in Ukraine and elsewhere for potentially damaging information about the family of former Vice President Joe Biden.
Now, according to federal court filings, Parnas wants to give impeachment investigators materials from his Apple iCloud account, including photos and documents.
“Review of these items is essential to the committee’s ability to corroborate the strength of Mr. Parnas’s potential testimony,” defense attorney Joseph Bondy wrote in a letter to the judge overseeing the case.
Federal prosecutors objected, arguing the iCloud material was never in Parnas’ possession. Apple held the records and disclosed them to the government in response to search warrants, the prosecutors wrote in a letter to the judge.
Igor Fruman and Andrey Kukushkin, two of Parnas’ co-defendants, argued the iCloud material could include records involving them. Neither has waived attorney-client privilege that covers such material.
The arguments set the stage for a potential ruling at a preliminary hearing Monday.
– Kevin McCoy
Trump A look at how the Senate chamber cleared after adjourning for the day
Flashes of bipartisan comity could be seen as Trump’s attorney Jay Sekulow concluded his remarks to the chamber Tuesday afternoon.
Pat Cipollone walked over to the House managers’ table and shook hands with Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff and Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler.
Democratic counsel Daniel Goldman walked over to the defense table and shook hands with lawyers at the table.
Democratic counsel Barry Berke embraced Sekulow.
Other senators who occupy moderate positions in their party could be seen huddling together in the chamber as well.
Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., a moderate Democrat, made her way across the aisle to sit in chairs at the back of the chamber with Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., where the two appeared to have an intense conversation.
Sens. Susan Collins, R-Me., John Thune, R-S.D., and Joe Manchin, D-W.V., talked together, and once Thune left, Manchin and Collins continued talking with their backs to reporters.
Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, sat for a while talking with Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kans.
Murkowski said “thank you” to Sekulow as he left.
Cipollone, who had criticized Nadler by showing videos of his remarks on Bill Clinton’s impeachment, patted Nadler on the back as he went and shook hands at the Democratic table.
– Nicholas Wu
Trump Trump defense team uses videos to show Democrats once opposed single-party impeachment
Pat Cipollone, the White House counsel, closed the defense of President Donald Trump in the Senate trial with a warning that lowering the bar for impeachment and removal from office would set a historic precedent that would leave future presidents vulnerable to a Congress led by a different party.
He argued that the accusations in the two articles of impeachment – abuse of power and obstruction of Congress – were too vague to justify removing a president from office.
“They fall far short of any constitutional standard and they are dangerous,” Cipollone said.
To make his point, Cipollone played a series of videos from Democrats decrying the impeachment of former President Bill Clinton in 1998. Clinton was tried, but not removed from office. Two of the lawmakers – Reps. Jerry Nadler of New York and Zoe Lofgren of California – are managers prosecuting Trump’s case. Three others – Ed Markey of Massachusetts, Chuck Schumer of New York and Bob Menendez of New Jersey – were Democratic House members at that time and are now senators sitting in judgment of Trump.
Nadler warned against an impeachment of Clinton that would be supported by one party. So far no Republicans have supported Trump’s impeachment in committee or on the House floor.
“Such an impeachment will produce the divisiveness and bitterness in our politics for years to come, and it will call into question the very legitimacy of our political institutions,” Nadler said.
Lofgren said removing Clinton would be unfair to the American people and undo the 1996 election.
“Future presidents will face election, then litigation, then impeachment,” Lofgren said. “The power of the president will diminish in the face of the Congress, a phenomenon much feared by the founding fathers.”
Markey suggested that Republicans were pursuing a constitutional coup against Clinton. Menendez warned against making impeachment a political weapon. Schumer feared that lowering the bar for impeachment would make it “a routine tool to fight battles” between Congress and the White House.
“You were right,” Cipollone said to laughter in the Senate chamber. “But I’m sorry to say, you were also prophetic.”
– Bart Jansen
Trump Dershowitz: Elizabeth Warren “doesn’t understand the law”
A day after Sen. Elizabeth Warren derided as “nonsensical” the arguments of Alan Dershowitz, one of several lawyers on President Donald Trump’s, the famed constitutional attorney bit back.
“Warren doesn’t understand the law,” the Harvard University Law professor wrote in a series of tweets Tuesday afternoon. She “claims she could not follow my carefully laid out presentation that everybody else seemed to understand. This says more about Warren than it does about me.”
Dershowitz did not stop there.
Warren doesn’t understand the law.
My former colleague, Senator Warren, claims she could not follow my carefully laid out presentation that everybody else seemed to understand. This says more about Warren than it does about me. (1 of 2)
— Alan Dershowitz (@AlanDersh) January 28, 2020
“She also willfully mischaracterized what I said, claiming that I spoke about “intent.” I challenge her to find that word anywhere in my presentation. I talked about the difficulty of discerning mixed motives,” he continued. ”If Warren knew anything about criminal law she would understand the distinction between motives – which are not elements of crime—and intent, which is. It’s the responsibility of presidential candidates to have a better understanding of the law.”
On Monday, Dershowitz told the Senate that the articles charging Trump with abuse of power and obstruction of Congress are unconstitutional because they don’t allege a violation of federal crime.
“It is inconceivable that the framers would have intended so politically loaded and promiscuously deployed a term as abuse of power to be weaponized as a tool of impeachment,” Dershowitz said. “It is precisely that the kind of vague, open-ended and subjective term that the framers feared and rejected.”
Warren told reporters that Dershowitz’ is “nonsensical.”
“His characterization of the law simply is unsupported,” she said. “He is a criminal law professor who stood in the well of the Senate and talked about how law never enquires into intent and that we should not be using the president’s intent as part of understanding impeachment.”
– Ledyard King
Trump Trump lawyer Sekulow says Bolton book manuscript ‘inadmissable’
WASHINGTON – Jay Sekulow, one of the president’s attorneys arguing on his behalf at the trial, told senators that the manuscript that was leaked from John Bolton’s book would be “inadmissible.”
“Responding to an unpublished manuscript that maybe some reporters have an idea of maybe what it says,” he said. “I don’t know what you’d call that. I’d call it inadmissible. That’s what it is.”
He pushed back on assertions reportedly made in a book by Bolton, Trump’s former national security adviser, that included that the president personally told Bolton that military aid for Ukraine was tied to investigations in Ukraine helpful to Trump. Sekulow cited a tweet the president sent, where Trump denied ever making such comments to Bolton and suggested that Bolton was only trying to sell books.
Impeachment “is not a game of leaks and unsourced manuscripts. That is politics unfortunately,” said Sekulow, who added that the Senate has “to be above that fray.”
Sekulow also argued to senators that even if the allegations against the president were correct, it still would not rise to the level of an impeachable offense, pointing to remarks made by Alan Dershowitz.
“Even if it was a quid pro quo, which we have clearly established there was none,” Sekulow argued. “Even if everything in there was true, it constitutionally doesn’t rise to that level.”
– Christal Hayes
Trump Trump lawyer rejects Democrats’ ‘reckless allegations’ over documents
Patrick Philbin, a deputy White House counsel, responded Tuesday to what he called “reckless allegations” from House Democrats about how two key documents were handled in the impeachment inquiry.
One document summarized a July 25 call, during which President Donald Trump urged Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate Biden. . The call summary was placed on a secure server in the White House, which Democrats argued demonstrated a cover-up.
But Philbin said Trump released the call summary two months later and that officials still had access to it for their jobs.
A National Security Council staffer, Army Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, who reported concerns about the call to the council’s lawyers, told the House inquiry he saw nothing improper with storing the call summary on the secure server. His boss, Tim Morrison, a former National Security Council expert on Russia, also testified there was no malicious intent in storing the summary on the secure server.
The other document was the whistleblower complaint to the inspector general of the intelligence community, which focused on the July 25 call. House Democrats said the complaint should have been provided to Congress as soon as the inspector general found it credible.
But Philbin said the Justice Department reviewed the complaint and found that it didn’t meet the legal definition of an “urgent concern” that had to be turned over to Congress. Trump eventually provided the complaint to Congress about the same time he released the call summary.
“When something gets sent over to the Justice Department to examine, you can’t call that a cover-up,” Philbin said. “Everything was handled entirely properly.”
– Bart Jansen
Trump Trump team: House impeachment charges are too vague
President Donald Trump’s defense team picked up its third and final day of arguments in the Senate impeachment trial on Tuesday by arguing the charges from House Democrats are too vague to be enforced.
Patrick Philbin, deputy White House counsel, said the potential impeachment offense of “maladministration” was rejected in drafting the Constitution because it was too vague. Philbin argued as other Trump lawyers had before that impeachable offenses should be enumerated and well defined.
“Vague standards are themselves an opportunity for the expansion of power,” Philbin said.
House Democrats charged Trump with abuse of power for pressuring Ukraine to investigate his political rival while withholding $391 million in military aid. Constitutional scholars have said impeachable offenses need not be based on criminal statutes, although House Democrats said the abuse of power was based on action akin to bribery or extortion.
But Philbin argued that the framers of the Constitution would have rejected those arguments as too vague to be enforced.
“It is so malleable that it in effect recreates the charge of maladministration, which the framers rejected,” Philbin said.
– Bart Jansen
Trump Trump team will leave time on the table
President Donald Trump’s defense team said it expects to finish its third and final day of arguments by dinner, without using all of the 24 hours it was given.
The president’s defense team began arguments Tuesday afternoon with 15 hours and 33 minutes of time left to make its case. But it expects to take up just a few hours on their final day.
White House counsel Pat Cipollone said the arguments could be finished by dinner.
“Our goal is to be finished by dinner time and well before,” he said.
Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts, who is presiding over the trial, told Trump’s team, “it will not be possible to use the remainder of that time before the end of the day.”
– Bart Jansen
Trump Graham: if Bolton called, ‘There will be 51 Republican votes’ to call Bidens
Sen. Lindsey Graham said if Democrats are going to try to bring John Bolton as a witness at the Senate impeachment trial then Democrats should be prepared to see former Vice President Joe Biden, his son Hunter and other key Democrats hauled in as well.
“If we’re going to open this up to additional inquiry, we’re going to go down the road,” the Republican senator from South Carolina told reporters in the Capitol Tuesday. “Was it legitimate for the president to believe there was corruption and conflicts of interest on the Bidens’ part in the Ukraine? We’ll explore that and whether or not there’s any credibility to the idea that he (Democratic National Committee) may have been working with Ukraine.”
President Donald Trump’s defense team began its third and final day of arguments about 1 p.m. EST.
Graham said he doesn’t need to hear from more witnesses, saying he was “comfortable” with what he’s already heard.
But Graham added, “I’m just telling everybody who thinks you can surgically deal with this: it’s not going to happen,” he said. “I’ll make a prediction. There’ll be 51 Republican votes to call Hunter Biden, Joe Biden, the whistleblower and the DNC staffer at a very minimum.”
Democrats are eager to hear directly from Bolton, Trump’s former national security adviser, who in a forthcoming book alleges Trump told him directly that he wished to continue withholding nearly $400 million in military aid for Ukraine unless the country announced investigations the Bidens.
Republicans have countered that Trump had ample rationale to hold up the aid, in part because Hunter Biden worked for a Ukrainian energy company, Burisma Holdings, that the country’s top prosecutor Viktor Sholkin had investigated for corruption. Republicans allege Hunter Biden was hired solely because he was the son of the then-vice president and that Joe Biden had tried to get Sholkin fired to protect his son. Ukrainian officials and anti-corruption activists say Burisma wasn’t under investigation at the time Shokin was fired.
Democrats counter that those allegations against Burisma have been widely debunked because Biden’s effort to have Shokin fired was part of the U.S. national policy to root out corruption in Ukraine and was supported by the European Union and the International Monetary Fund.
– Ledyard King
Trump John Kelly: ‘I believe John Bolton’
President Donald Trump is denying that he told former National Security Adviser John Bolton he wanted to withhold military aid from Ukraine until the country launched investigations into Joe Biden and his son, allegations that Bolton levies in his new book, according to news reports.
But one of Trump’s former top aides told a Sarasota, Florida, crowd Monday evening that if the reporting on what Bolton wrote is accurate, he believes Bolton.
“If John Bolton says that in the book I believe John Bolton,” said retired Gen. John Kelly, who served as Trump’s chief of staff for 18 months.
Kelly spoke Monday at the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall as part of a lecture series in Sarasota, Florida. The general worked with Bolton during his time as chief of staff, which ended in early 2019. Kelly said Bolton is an honest person.
“Every single time I was with him … he always gave the president the unvarnished truth,” Kelly said of Bolton, who has become a figure of intense interest in the impeachment inquiry.
According to the New York Times, Bolton writes in a new book that Trump personally told him he did not want to release nearly $400 million in military aid to Ukraine until the country investigated Democrats, including the former vice president and his son.
– Zac Anderson, Sarasota Herald Tribune
‘I believe John Bolton’: Former Trump chief of staff John Kelly backs Bolton in Ukraine dispute
Trump Graham ‘totally’ supports giving senators Bolton book
A proposal floated Tuesday by GOP senators to allow access to John Bolton’s manuscript is being shot down by leading Democrats who say they want the former national security adviser as a witness in President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial.
Sen. Lindsey Graham, an ally of Trump, tweeted out his support for giving senators access to the material alleging the president told him he didn’t want to release nearly $400 million in military aid for Ukraine until the country announced investigations into political rival Joe Biden and his son Hunter.
“I totally support @SenatorLankford’s proposal that the Bolton manuscript be made available to the Senate, if possible, in a classified setting where each senator has the opportunity to review the manuscript and make their own determination,” tweeted Graham, R-S.C.
The impeachment trial of President Donald Trump received a dose of defense in an attempt to invalidate the charges against him.
Democrats need at least four GOP senators to vote with them to subpoena Bolton as a witness, a showdown expected in the Senate later this week.
Sen. James Lankford, an Oklahoma Republican who serves on the intelligence committee, told The Oklahoman that Bolton’s manuscript is pertinent, and senators should be able to read it. That could be done in a classified setting since the manuscript is undergoing a pre-publication screening process to ensure it doesn’t reveal classified information, Lankford said.
I totally support @SenatorLankford‘s
proposal that the Bolton manuscript be made available to the Senate, if possible, in a classified setting where each Senator has the opportunity to review the manuscript and make their own determination. https://t.co/e18nUfSMgI
— Lindsey Graham (@LindseyGrahamSC) January 28, 2020
He also encouraged Bolton to step forward on his own if he has something to say.
Sen. Minority Leader Chuck Schumer called Graham’s proposal “absurd” at a Tuesday press conference. “It’s a book. There’s no need to read in a (secure setting) unless you want to hide something … Nothing is a substitute for a witness under oath, in person, testifying. That’s what we want.”
Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., also told USA TODAY it was an effort to prevent “full disclosure that comes from having the process of having a witness questioned and exploring the details.”
After the Bolton news broke Sunday, many GOP senators dismissed it as irrelevant to the bottom line and said it would unnecessarily prolong the impeachment trial to subpoena Bolton.
Some senators who have expressed interest in hearing from Bolton – including Maine’s Susan Collins and Alaska’s Lisa Murkowski – said they will wait to decide on witnesses until after the defense finishes its presentation Tuesday and senators have had a chance to ask questions of both sides.
– Maureen Groppe, Nicholas Wu and Ledyard King
Trump Why didn’t House managers subpoena Bolton?
One of the refrains Republicans have been making about John Bolton is that if Democrats were so eager to call in President Donald Trump’s former national security adviser, they should have subpoenaed him during their impeachment inquiry last fall.
House impeachment managers Tuesday said he threatened to sue when they asked to appear before them. And they did not want a protracted court battle that would have likely stretched beyond the presidential election in November.
“The essential (element) of what the president is doing is to cheat for the 2020 election,” Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-California, told reporters on a conference call Tuesday morning. “And to engage in a court process that would allow him to continue to cheat between now and the election was really not consistent with our oath to the Constitution.”
The New York Times reported Sunday that Bolton’s forthcoming book alleges Trump told him directly that he wished to continue withholding nearly $400 million in military aid for Ukraine unless the country announced investigations into his 2020 political rival Joe Biden and his son Hunter.
Lofgren said they also didn’t view Bolton’s testimony at the time as crucial because they had “substantial evidence (from other witnesses) about the scheme.”
Another manager, Jason Crow of Colorado, pointed to the already lengthy court battle to compel former White House counsel Don McGahn to testify about potential actions Trump took to obstruct justice as outlined in special counsel Robert Mueller’s report.
“Let’s not forget the House subpoenaed Don McGann in April and we’re still litigating that,” Crow told reporters on Tuesday’s call.
– Ledyard King
Trump Trump team hopes to wind up defense in 2-3 hours
The White House is signaling a relatively short trial session Tuesday as President Donald Trump’s impeachment lawyers prepare their final day of arguments.
White House Counsel Pat Cipollone and Trump’s private attorney Jay Sekulow will make the case for the president for no more than two to three hours, officials said, speaking on condition of anonymity because final preparations are still evolving. Attorneys are still trying to address how to approach a key issue: Their argument that witnesses are not needed.
Officials said they do not know whether enough Republicans will support calling witnesses, including former national security adviser John Bolton, whose forthcoming book alleges Trump told him directly that he wished to continue withholding nearly $400 million in military aid for Ukraine unless the country announced investigations into his political rival Joe Biden and his son Hunter. The trial could stretch into into next week or beyond if enough Republicans decide to support calling witnesses.
Trump’s attorney’s are expected to call for a dismissal of the case later this week.
– David Jackson
Trump Lawyers: Trump justified in asking Ukraine for probe
On Monday, the president’s team slammed the impeachment process as partisan and argued Trump was justified in asking the Ukrainian government to open investigations into his political adversaries.
House Democrats impeached Trump for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress in mid-December. They allege Trump withheld military aid and an Oval Office meeting with the Ukrainian president to get Ukraine to open investigations into former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden, and that the Trump administration stonewalled Congress’ investigation into Trump’s actions.
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Trump Trump’s team goes into day three
Trump’s defense team will offer its final arguments in this phase of the trial, concluding the three days maximum of presentation time allowed under the rules for the first phase of the impeachment trial.
Trump’s team has offered a vigorous defense of the president’s actions while also asserting Trump’s lack of wrongdoing.
Dershowitz makes the case: Alan Dershowitz tells Senate Trump’s impeachment is unconstitutional
Tuesday’s presentation will not be the last chance to convince senators, however. The rules for the impeachment trial allow for 16 answers of questions of both sides submitted by senators following the presentations by the impeachment managers and the defense.
Trump What Trump’s team has said so far
Members of Trump’s spent their part of their Monday presentation arguing Trump was justified in asking for investigations into the Bidens and withholding aid to Ukraine, and concluded it with a presentation from Alan Dershowitz, a celebrity lawyer on Trump’s team.
Dershowitz argued the articles of impeachment were unconstitutional because they did not charge Trump with a federal crime.
Response to his arguments split along party lines.
“I liked Dershowitz,” said Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, told reporters as she left the Capitol on Monday night.
“The job is being done, and the case is being well-presented,” Rep. Mike Johnson, R-La., a member of the president’s defense team, told reporters following the trial.
So far, Trump’s team has not addressed most of the allegations from former national security adviser John Bolton’s upcoming book, which says Trump told Bolton military aid to Ukraine would be linked to the opening of investigations.
Democrats vigorously disagreed when Dershowitz claimed on Monday that Bolton’s testimony was unnecessary because the new revelations would not “rise to the level of an abuse of power or an impeachable offense.”
Sen. Mark Warner of Virginia, whose education at Harvard Law School overlapped with Dershowitz’s tenure as a professor, laughed at the declaration, shaking his head and taking off his glasses to rub his eyes.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., formerly a Harvard Law School professor, told reporters as she left the Capitol that Dershowitz’s presentation was “contrary to both law and fact.”
Trump What happens next
Following the conclusion of presentations from the defense, the Senate will hold 16 hours of questions from senators, which will be read out by the Chief Justice.
“We’ll be able to combine questions, and it’ll be up to the Chief Justice to combine them in an orderly fashion, both sides having equal opportunity for asking questions,” said Sen. Mike Rounds, R-S.D.
What happens after the question phase is uncertain. At that point, the Senate will take votes on whether to allow additional witnesses and documents in the trial, and the outcome of that vote is up in the air.
Some Republican senators have signaled their willingness to hear from witnesses like Bolton Any vote to call witnesses would require four Republicans to vote with all Democrats because Republicans control the Senate 53-47.
Murkowski, a potential swing vote on witnesses, told reporters going into Republicans’ daily lunch meeting on Monday she was “curious” about Bolton’s testimony.
During their daily lunch meeting on Monday, several senators floated the idea of a witness trade, where Democrats would get to call a witness like Bolton in exchange for a witness Republicans have wanted like Hunter Biden.
Some Democrats, however, are hesitant to engage in witness-trading.
“I’m not going to be party to the same scheme that the President is being impeached for, and that’s what they’re trying to get us to do,” Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Ct., told reporters Monday, describing witness trading as part of a Republican scheme to “destroy the Bidens.”