Day 2 of Democrats laying out their impeachment case: 3 things to know

Posted on: January 23rd, 2020 by ABC News No Comments

ABC News(WASHINGTON) — It’s the second day of Democrats laying out their case to remove President Donald Trump from office.

Here are three things to know:

Democrats use GOP words during Clinton against them

Trump’s legal team won’t be able to lay out their defense until House Democratic impeachment managers use up their allotted 24 hours.

But lawyer Alan Dershowitz seemed to tip his hand earlier this week when he said on ABC’s “This Week” that “abuse of power” isn’t an impeachable offense under the Constitution.

So perhaps it wasn’t a coincidence that House Democratic impeachment manager Rep. Jerry Nadler used much of his time on Thursday to try to dismantle that argument.

In one remarkable moment, he played a video clip of Graham in 1999 making the case that a president can be removed from office for abuse of power, even without being convicted of a crime. Graham was not in his seat at the time the video clip played.

“You don’t even have to be convicted of a crime to lose your job in this constitutional republic if this body determines that your conduct as a public official is clearly out of bounds in your role,” Graham said at the time. “Impeachment is not about punishment. Impeachment is about cleansing the office. Impeachment is about restoring honor and integrity to the office.”

In comments unearthed by CNN, Dershowitz said in 1998 that “it doesn’t have to be a crime if you have somebody who completely corrupts the office of president and who abuses trust and who poses great danger to our liberty, you don’t need a technical crime.”

Democrats invoked history, from George Washington to Richard Nixon

Democrats repeatedly referred to historical figures to make their case.

Nadler insisted that “no president has abused his power in this way” since George Washington took office in 1789. He noted a letter from John Adams to Thomas Jefferson warning of foreign influence in U.S. elections. And he noted other framers who wrote of the need for impeachment to remove potentially corrupt presidents.

And Democrats again cited a quote from Alexander Hamilton warning of a man “unprincipled in private life, desperate in his fortune, bold in his temper, known to have scoffed in private at the principles of liberty” whose goal is to “throw things into confusion that he may ride the storm and direct the whirlwind.”

Of Trump’s actions, Nadler said at one point, “It puts even President Nixon to shame.”

Trump allies protested with fidget spinners, books and sketches

Staying alert remained a bipartisan struggle on Thursday, as senators repeatedly rose from their seats and paced the back wall or wandered back to their cloakroom off the Senate floor.

And while some senators appeared to doze off at points — including Democratic Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders — most senators appeared to pay attention, with more moderate and vulnerable Republicans, such as Sens. Susan Collins and Mitt Romney – perhaps mindful of the optics – appearing eager to listen.

Still, several Trump allies on Thursday seemed to go out of their way make their point that the trial was frivolous. At a lunch of GOP senators, Republican Sen. Richard Burr of North Carolina handed out stress balls and fidget spinners — more common in elementary schools than the Senate chamber. Burr could be seen playing with his spinner, while Republican Sens. Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania and Tom Cotton of Arkansas had spinners sitting on their desks.

Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., who worked a crossword puzzle the day before, opted on Thursday to sketch or trace the U.S. Capitol. Sen. Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee was brazen enough to read a book as Democrats spoke, while Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith of Mississippi had one sitting on her desk.

Before launching into a third day of arguments, Schiff said it was “extraordinary” to have such a captive audience of senators.

“Of course, it doesn’t hurt that the morning starts out every day with a Sergeant-at-Arms warning you that if you don’t, you will be imprisoned,” he said, a reference to 18th century language still used by the Senate during impeachments.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Day 2 of Democrats laying out their impeachment case: 3 things to know

Posted on: January 23rd, 2020 by ABC News No Comments

ABC News(WASHINGTON) — It’s the second day of Democrats laying out their case to remove President Donald Trump from office.

Here are three things to know:

Democrats use GOP words during Clinton against them

Trump’s legal team won’t be able to lay out their defense until House Democratic impeachment managers use up their allotted 24 hours.

But lawyer Alan Dershowitz seemed to tip his hand earlier this week when he said on ABC’s “This Week” that “abuse of power” isn’t an impeachable offense under the Constitution.

So perhaps it wasn’t a coincidence that House Democratic impeachment manager Rep. Jerry Nadler used much of his time on Thursday to try to dismantle that argument.

In one remarkable moment, he played a video clip of Graham in 1999 making the case that a president can be removed from office for abuse of power, even without being convicted of a crime. Graham was not in his seat at the time the video clip played.

“You don’t even have to be convicted of a crime to lose your job in this constitutional republic if this body determines that your conduct as a public official is clearly out of bounds in your role,” Graham said at the time. “Impeachment is not about punishment. Impeachment is about cleansing the office. Impeachment is about restoring honor and integrity to the office.”

In comments unearthed by CNN, Dershowitz said in 1998 that “it doesn’t have to be a crime if you have somebody who completely corrupts the office of president and who abuses trust and who poses great danger to our liberty, you don’t need a technical crime.”

Democrats invoked history, from George Washington to Richard Nixon

Democrats repeatedly referred to historical figures to make their case.

Nadler insisted that “no president has abused his power in this way” since George Washington took office in 1789. He noted a letter from John Adams to Thomas Jefferson warning of foreign influence in U.S. elections. And he noted other framers who wrote of the need for impeachment to remove potentially corrupt presidents.

And Democrats again cited a quote from Alexander Hamilton warning of a man “unprincipled in private life, desperate in his fortune, bold in his temper, known to have scoffed in private at the principles of liberty” whose goal is to “throw things into confusion that he may ride the storm and direct the whirlwind.”

Of Trump’s actions, Nadler said at one point, “It puts even President Nixon to shame.”

Trump allies protested with fidget spinners, books and sketches

Staying alert remained a bipartisan struggle on Thursday, as senators repeatedly rose from their seats and paced the back wall or wandered back to their cloakroom off the Senate floor.

And while some senators appeared to doze off at points — including Democratic Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders — most senators appeared to pay attention, with more moderate and vulnerable Republicans, such as Sens. Susan Collins and Mitt Romney – perhaps mindful of the optics – appearing eager to listen.

Still, several Trump allies on Thursday seemed to go out of their way make their point that the trial was frivolous. At a lunch of GOP senators, Republican Sen. Richard Burr of North Carolina handed out stress balls and fidget spinners — more common in elementary schools than the Senate chamber. Burr could be seen playing with his spinner, while Republican Sens. Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania and Tom Cotton of Arkansas had spinners sitting on their desks.

Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., who worked a crossword puzzle the day before, opted on Thursday to sketch or trace the U.S. Capitol. Sen. Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee was brazen enough to read a book as Democrats spoke, while Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith of Mississippi had one sitting on her desk.

Before launching into a third day of arguments, Schiff said it was “extraordinary” to have such a captive audience of senators.

“Of course, it doesn’t hurt that the morning starts out every day with a Sergeant-at-Arms warning you that if you don’t, you will be imprisoned,” he said, a reference to 18th century language still used by the Senate during impeachments.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

New Mississippi governor announces prison reforms after series of deaths, riots

Posted on: January 23rd, 2020 by ABC News No Comments

EMPPhotography/iStock(JACKSON, Miss.) — Seeing for himself the “terrible” conditions of Mississippi’s troubled prisons, the new governor on Thursday announced a series of reforms to boost safety for inmates and staff following a series of violent deaths, riots, escapes and a federal lawsuit backed by hip hop artist Yo Gotti and music mogul Jay-Z.

Gov. Tate Reeves, who took over as governor last week, said he’s hit the ground running to “stop the bleeding” in a state corrections system critics have called inhumane.

“We know that there are problems in the system,” he told reporters at a press conference. “We don’t want to hide them, we want to fix them.”

He announced a series of “common sense” changes he’s already begun implementing, including a crackdown on contraband cellphones, which, he said, have been used to coordinate violence throughout the prison system. He’s also seeking a process to weed out guards who are corrupt or have gang affiliations.

He also said maintenance teams are being sent to the state’s most notorious prison, Parchman, to improve conditions he called “terrible.”

In the past month, 10 inmates have died in Mississippi prisons, with eight of those at Parchman. Most were killed in riots in late December and early January that led to a statewide lockdown.

In the past week alone, three inmates have died at Parchman, including one by suicide, officials said.

The crisis at the prisons caught the attention of Yo Gotti and Jay-Z, who supported a lawsuit filed last week on behalf of 29 Mississippi prisoners who accused state correctional officials of doing little to stop the violent outbreaks.

“Individuals held in Mississippi’s prisons are dying because Mississippi has failed to fund its prisons,” the lawsuit said. “Violence reigns because prisons are understaffed.”

The lawsuit named Mississippi Department of Corrections former Commissioner Pelicia Hall and Mississippi State Penitentiary Superintendent Marshall Turner among the defendants.

“Plaintiffs’ lives are in peril,” the lawsuit said. “These deaths are a direct result of Mississippi’s utter disregard for the people it has incarcerated and their constitutional rights.”

Last week, Reeves appointed Tommy Taylor, the former mayor of Boyle, Mississippi, and chairman of the House Corrections Committee, to serve as the interim commissioner of the Department of Corrections.

Reeves said he and Taylor spent Wednesday and Thursday touring the prisons, including Parchman, the state’s largest and oldest penitentiary.

“We … saw some pretty rough conditions, particularly in Unit 29, where some inmates have just torn the place apart,” Reeves said. “I went to the room where the riots happened. Inmates that are known to be dangerous are being housed together without any structure to prevent violent collision. This has to be addressed.”

Reeves said his administration is considering reopening the state’s Walnut Grove prison in Leake County, a privately run facility shut down due to corruption in 2016.

“We’re paying for it right now as a state, and no one is there,” Reeves said of the Walnut Grove facility. “It’s not a country club, but the physical conditions are better than what some are dealing with in units in Parchman.”

A major issue at Parchman has been inmates hiding and passing contraband to each other, including weapons and cellphones.

“The construction of the cells in Walnut Grove would limit that,” the governor said. “In each cell, the walls are poured concrete. This prevents the ability to chip away at mortar as compared to cinder-block cells, which tend to be hollow in the middle.”

He also said Walnut Grove has both electronic and manual cells, which creates flexibility for housing different types of inmates.

“A benefit of that flexibility is a majority of the prison can physically hold inmates as early as tomorrow,” Reeves said.

He also said he plans to place senior leadership on the front lines at Parchman.

“We’re making sure that a senior officer will be present on the grounds at all times to prevent the leadership void that can lead to chaos,” Reeves said.

He said another common-sense plan is to “make sure that people who are at risk of creating more violence aren’t in jobs or locations that give them access to potential tools or targets of violence.”

Reeves said he isn’t just making “empty promises,” but conceded that reforming the prisons’ “won’t be fixed overnight.”

“Ultimately, this is not about the problems of the past,” Reeves said. “This is about paving the way for a better future for the system and for Mississippi, and I am committed to seeing this through every step of the way.”

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

New Mississippi governor announces prison reforms after series of deaths, riots

Posted on: January 23rd, 2020 by ABC News No Comments

EMPPhotography/iStock(JACKSON, Miss.) — Seeing for himself the “terrible” conditions of Mississippi’s troubled prisons, the new governor on Thursday announced a series of reforms to boost safety for inmates and staff following a series of violent deaths, riots, escapes and a federal lawsuit backed by hip hop artist Yo Gotti and music mogul Jay-Z.

Gov. Tate Reeves, who took over as governor last week, said he’s hit the ground running to “stop the bleeding” in a state corrections system critics have called inhumane.

“We know that there are problems in the system,” he told reporters at a press conference. “We don’t want to hide them, we want to fix them.”

He announced a series of “common sense” changes he’s already begun implementing, including a crackdown on contraband cellphones, which, he said, have been used to coordinate violence throughout the prison system. He’s also seeking a process to weed out guards who are corrupt or have gang affiliations.

He also said maintenance teams are being sent to the state’s most notorious prison, Parchman, to improve conditions he called “terrible.”

In the past month, 10 inmates have died in Mississippi prisons, with eight of those at Parchman. Most were killed in riots in late December and early January that led to a statewide lockdown.

In the past week alone, three inmates have died at Parchman, including one by suicide, officials said.

The crisis at the prisons caught the attention of Yo Gotti and Jay-Z, who supported a lawsuit filed last week on behalf of 29 Mississippi prisoners who accused state correctional officials of doing little to stop the violent outbreaks.

“Individuals held in Mississippi’s prisons are dying because Mississippi has failed to fund its prisons,” the lawsuit said. “Violence reigns because prisons are understaffed.”

The lawsuit named Mississippi Department of Corrections former Commissioner Pelicia Hall and Mississippi State Penitentiary Superintendent Marshall Turner among the defendants.

“Plaintiffs’ lives are in peril,” the lawsuit said. “These deaths are a direct result of Mississippi’s utter disregard for the people it has incarcerated and their constitutional rights.”

Last week, Reeves appointed Tommy Taylor, the former mayor of Boyle, Mississippi, and chairman of the House Corrections Committee, to serve as the interim commissioner of the Department of Corrections.

Reeves said he and Taylor spent Wednesday and Thursday touring the prisons, including Parchman, the state’s largest and oldest penitentiary.

“We … saw some pretty rough conditions, particularly in Unit 29, where some inmates have just torn the place apart,” Reeves said. “I went to the room where the riots happened. Inmates that are known to be dangerous are being housed together without any structure to prevent violent collision. This has to be addressed.”

Reeves said his administration is considering reopening the state’s Walnut Grove prison in Leake County, a privately run facility shut down due to corruption in 2016.

“We’re paying for it right now as a state, and no one is there,” Reeves said of the Walnut Grove facility. “It’s not a country club, but the physical conditions are better than what some are dealing with in units in Parchman.”

A major issue at Parchman has been inmates hiding and passing contraband to each other, including weapons and cellphones.

“The construction of the cells in Walnut Grove would limit that,” the governor said. “In each cell, the walls are poured concrete. This prevents the ability to chip away at mortar as compared to cinder-block cells, which tend to be hollow in the middle.”

He also said Walnut Grove has both electronic and manual cells, which creates flexibility for housing different types of inmates.

“A benefit of that flexibility is a majority of the prison can physically hold inmates as early as tomorrow,” Reeves said.

He also said he plans to place senior leadership on the front lines at Parchman.

“We’re making sure that a senior officer will be present on the grounds at all times to prevent the leadership void that can lead to chaos,” Reeves said.

He said another common-sense plan is to “make sure that people who are at risk of creating more violence aren’t in jobs or locations that give them access to potential tools or targets of violence.”

Reeves said he isn’t just making “empty promises,” but conceded that reforming the prisons’ “won’t be fixed overnight.”

“Ultimately, this is not about the problems of the past,” Reeves said. “This is about paving the way for a better future for the system and for Mississippi, and I am committed to seeing this through every step of the way.”

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Trump to be 1st president to speak at March for Life rally

Posted on: January 23rd, 2020 by ABC News No Comments

DJ McCoy/iStock(WASHINGTON) — President Donald Trump has announced plans to attend and address the crowd at this week’s March for Life, which would make him the first sitting president to do so.

The annual anti-abortion rally in the nation’s capital is scheduled for Friday.

The president made the announcement via Twitter, writing, “See you on Friday…Big Crowd!” retweeting the official March for Life account. While other presidents have videoed or called into the event, Trump would be the first to appear in person.

Trump has worked to highlight the major anti-abortion event each year he’s been in office. Vice President Mike Pence became the first sitting vice president to speak at the march in 2017, with Trump becoming the first president to address the rally by video the following year.

“President Trump is the most pro-life President in the history of our country, and becoming the first President to speak at the March for Life is further evidence of that,” Kayleigh McEnany, national press secretary for the Trump campaign, told ABC News in a statement.

Trump’s decision to appear is part of a larger effort to reach out to evangelical Christians, a core section of his conservative base.

Trump’s campaign kicked off the 2020 election year ramping up religious voter outreach, launching “Evangelicals for Trump” with a massive rally-like event at a Miami megachurch.

“We’re standing up to the pro-abortion lobby like never before — we will never shy away from the battle to protect innocent life,” Trump said at the kickoff in January.

At rallies across the country, the president’s reelection pitch often has included his record on abortion as president, using that stance as a cudgel against Democratic rivals.

But Trump’s history on abortion is complicated. In a 1999 appearance on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” he said that he was “very pro-choice,” but during his 2016 presidential run he said that he’d “evolved” on the issue when asked during an August 2015 Republican debate.

Since getting elected, Trump’s record on the issue has matched his campaign rhetoric. He’s worked to appoint anti-abortion judges, cut taxpayer funding for abortions and blocked funds for Planned Parenthood.

The announcement of the president’s plan to attend the rally comes just days after Susan B. Anthony List pledged $52 million to help reelect Trump and other anti-abortion candidates.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Trump to be 1st president to speak at March for Life rally

Posted on: January 23rd, 2020 by ABC News No Comments

DJ McCoy/iStock(WASHINGTON) — President Donald Trump has announced plans to attend and address the crowd at this week’s March for Life, which would make him the first sitting president to do so.

The annual anti-abortion rally in the nation’s capital is scheduled for Friday.

The president made the announcement via Twitter, writing, “See you on Friday…Big Crowd!” retweeting the official March for Life account. While other presidents have videoed or called into the event, Trump would be the first to appear in person.

Trump has worked to highlight the major anti-abortion event each year he’s been in office. Vice President Mike Pence became the first sitting vice president to speak at the march in 2017, with Trump becoming the first president to address the rally by video the following year.

“President Trump is the most pro-life President in the history of our country, and becoming the first President to speak at the March for Life is further evidence of that,” Kayleigh McEnany, national press secretary for the Trump campaign, told ABC News in a statement.

Trump’s decision to appear is part of a larger effort to reach out to evangelical Christians, a core section of his conservative base.

Trump’s campaign kicked off the 2020 election year ramping up religious voter outreach, launching “Evangelicals for Trump” with a massive rally-like event at a Miami megachurch.

“We’re standing up to the pro-abortion lobby like never before — we will never shy away from the battle to protect innocent life,” Trump said at the kickoff in January.

At rallies across the country, the president’s reelection pitch often has included his record on abortion as president, using that stance as a cudgel against Democratic rivals.

But Trump’s history on abortion is complicated. In a 1999 appearance on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” he said that he was “very pro-choice,” but during his 2016 presidential run he said that he’d “evolved” on the issue when asked during an August 2015 Republican debate.

Since getting elected, Trump’s record on the issue has matched his campaign rhetoric. He’s worked to appoint anti-abortion judges, cut taxpayer funding for abortions and blocked funds for Planned Parenthood.

The announcement of the president’s plan to attend the rally comes just days after Susan B. Anthony List pledged $52 million to help reelect Trump and other anti-abortion candidates.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Senate impeachment trial live updates: Democrats make ‘abuse of power’ case

Posted on: January 23rd, 2020 by ABC News No Comments

uschools/iStock(WASHINGTON) — When the Senate trial of President Donald Trump resumes Thursday afternoon, lead House manager Adam Schiff says Democrats “will go through the law, the Constitution and the facts as they apply to Article One” — the article of impeachment that accuses the president of ‘abuse of power.

On Wednesday, after laying out the timeline of Trump’s pressure campaign against Ukraine, including withholding military aid to get Ukraine to announce an investigation of former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, Hunter, Schiff argued that the president violated the Constitution.

Alan Dershowitz, the former Harvard Law professor who is playing a role on Trump’s defense team, is expected to argue, as he’s been doing on tv, that a sitting president cannot be impeached for ‘abuse of power’ as Democrats charge.

Also on Wednesday, the first of three days of opening arguments, Democrats flatly dismissed the notion of offering Joe or Hunter Biden as witnesses in exchange for Trump’s former National Security Adviser John Bolton, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer told reporters, “That trade is not on the table.”

The day also revealed at least one protester, three milk-drinkers and several chatty senators — among although such moments in the chamber weren’t seen on camera because of long-standing restrictions on what Senate-controlled cameras can show.

Democrats have roughly 16 hours left to use over two days before the president’s legal team takes the Senate floor on Saturday to begin their 24 hours of opening arguments over three days.1:39 p.m. Nadler speaks of the ‘ABCs of impeachment’

Nadler boils down the Democratic case to the “ABCs of impeachment.”

“Abuse: We will show that President Trump abused his power when he used his office to solicit and pressure Ukraine to meddle in our elections for his personal gain. Betrayal: We will show that he betrayed vital national interests, specifically our national security, by withholding diplomatic support and military aid from Ukraine even as it faced armed Russian aggression. Corruption: President Trump’s intent was to corrupt our elections to his personal political benefit. He put his personal interest in retaining power above free and fair elections and above the principle that Americans must govern themselves without interference from abroad.

“Article One thus charges a high crime and misdemeanor that blends abuse of power, betrayal of the nation, and corruption in elections into a single unforgiveable scheme. That is why this president must be removed from office, especially before he continues his effort to corrupt our next election,” Nadler says.

Citing legal scholars who agree with the House case, Nadler cites the former Harvard Law School professor who will argue for Trump on the Senate floor that the Constitution does not support that a president can be impeached for abuse of power.

“Another who comes to mind is professor Alan Dershowitz. At least Alan Dershowitz in 1998. Back then here is what he had to say about impeachment for abuse of power,” Nadler says before showing a video clip of Dershowitz from 1988.

“It certainly doesn’t have to be a crime. If you have somebody who completely corrupts the office of president and who abuses trust and who poses great danger to our liberty, you don’t need a technical crime,” Dershowitz says in the clip.

“But we need not look to 1998 to find one of President Trump’s key allies espousing this view. Consider the comments of our current Attorney General William Barr, a man known for his extraordinarily expansive view of executive power. In Attorney General Barr’s view, as expressed about 18 months ago, presidents cannot be indicted or criminally investigated, but that’s okay because they can impeached. That’s the safeguard,” Nadler says as a memo written by Barr in June 2018 appears in exhibits.

“And in an impeachment, Attorney General Barr added, the president is answerable for any abuses of discretion and may be held accountable under law for misdeeds in office. In other words, Attorney General Barr, who believes along with the office of legal counsel that a president may not be indicted believes that that’s okay, we don’t need that safeguard against a president who would commit abuses of power. It’s okay because he can be impeached. That’s the safeguard for abuses of discretion and for his misdeeds in office,” Nadler quotes Barr as writing.

“When the president betrays our national security and foreign policy interests for his own personal gain, he is unquestionably subject to impeachment and removal,” Nadler continues. “The same is true of a different concern raised by the framers, the use of presidential power to corrupt the elections and the office of the presidency. As Madison emphasized, because the presidency was to be administered by a single man, his corruption might be fatal to the republic.”

Anticipating another of the arguments from Trump’s defense team — that no specific crime is alleged — Nadler says, “In a last ditch legal defense of their client, the president’s lawyers argue that impeachment and removal are subject to statutory crimes or to offenses against established law, that the president cannot be impeached because he has not committed a crime. This view is completely wrong. It has no support in constitutional text and structure, original meeting, congressional presence, common sense or the consensus of credible experts. In other words, it conflicts with every relevant consideration.”

Then, he uses a video clip of GOP Sen. Lindsey Graham.

“I might say the same thing of then House manager Lindsey Graham who in President Clinton’s trial flatly rejected the notion that impeachable offenses are limited to violation of established law,” Nadler says before playing a clip from Graham on the Senate floor in Clinton’s 1999 impeachment trail.

“What’s a high crime? How about if an important person hurts somebody of low means? It’s not very scholarly, but I think it’s the truth. I think that’s what they meant by high crimes. Doesn’t even have to be a crime. It’s just when you start using your office and you’re acting in a way that hurts people, you have committed a high crime,” Graham says in the clip.


This is how the day is unfolding. Please refresh for updates.


5:45 p.m. House manager Demings says ‘trial bigger than any one election’

House manager Val Demings of Florida countered the Republican accusation that Democrats are trying to skew the 2020 presidential election away from President Trump.

“This trial is much bigger than any one election and it’s much bigger than any one president,” she says. “This moment is about the American people, this moment is about ensuring that every voter, whether a maid or a janitor, whether a nurse or a teacher or a truck driver, whether a doctor or mechanic, that their vote matters and that American elections are decided by the American people.”

Some senators appeared restless as the arguments continued in the afternoon session.

GOP Sen. Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee slid her desk drawer open revealing a copy of “Resistance at All Costs” by Kimberly Strassel.

Blackburn also used a blanket to stay warm as did Republican Sen. Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia.

Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota enjoyed some chewing gum as she observed Schiff’s performance.

Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C., ordered a glass of milk from a page at 3:31 p.m. Three minutes later, at 3:34 p.m., the milk was delivered to his desk, and he quickly chugged more than half before setting it down. By 3:39 p.m., the milk was fully consumed and a page quickly cleared his empty glass.

I noted at 3:48 p.m. that every senator was at his or her desk. None were standing or absent at that point. Adam Schiff had the room’s full attention.

-ABC News’ John Parkinson

It was interesting to watch Schiff seemingly direct parts of his monologue on Ukraine and Russia at Utah Republican Mitt Romney – who is seated in the back row to Schiff’s left.

Romney — famously a Russia hawk — appeared riveted as Schiff laid out his argument that Trump’s actions toward Ukraine implicates Russia and Putin.

The two seemed to be making eye contact from my vantage point.

Romney was noting line by line down his notepad the enumerated ways that Schiff said Donald Trump “put himself first.”

Overall, the entire chamber seemed to me much more engaged than yesterday afternoon. Most senators on both sides could be seen watching the Democratic slideshow and taking notes.

Only GOP Sen. Tom Cotton of Arkansas was using a fidget spinner, as far as I could tell.

-ABC News’ Devin Dwyer

2:55 p.m. Trump legal team concerned Saturday arguments will get buried, may request time change

Several GOP sources tell ABC News that senators are actively considering an abbreviated session this Saturday.

The Trump legal team is concerned about their opening arguments getting buried on a Saturday. The situation is fluid, but these same sources tell ABC that the time frame is roughly 10 a.m. until possibly 1 p.m.

“Save 10-1, expect 10-twelvish,” one senior administration official said.

One GOP source said eliminating the Saturday session is also a possibility, but again, the situation is fluid.

-ABC’s Trish Turner and Katherine Faulders

2:48 p.m. Democrats: Trump only cared about Ukraine corruption after Biden entered race

House manager Sylvia Garcia lays out evidence the Democrats’ say support that Trump abused his power in pushing for investigations into the Bidens and the Ukrainian energy company Burisma.

She says the timeline and lack of evidence that Ukraine interfered in the 2016 election show that Trump’s push for the investigations was politically motivated to benefit his campaign and based on Russian misinformation that Ukraine, and not Russia, interfered in American elections.

“What is so dangerous is that President Trump is helping them perpetuate this. Our own president is helping our adversary attack our processes and help his own re-election,” she says.

“As soon as President Trump took office, he increased military support to Ukraine in 2017 and in the next year, 2018, but it wasn’t until 2019, over three years after Vice President Biden called for Viktor Shokin’s removal (Shokin, Ukraine’s prosecutor general, was ousted in 2016) –three years after — that President Trump started pushing Ukraine to investigate his alleged conduct. So what changed? What changed? Why did President Trump not care at all about Biden’s request for the removal of Shokin the year after it happened in 2017? Or the next year in 2018? Senators, you know what changed in 2019 -when President Trump suddenly cared —  it is that Biden got in the race. On April 25, Vice President Biden announced he would run for president in 2020,” she says.

 

2:15 p.m. Inside the Senate chamber: Fidget spinners, Graham only senator absent when 1999 clip of him played

Fidget spinners — that’s apparently one thing you can bring into the Senate chamber for a distraction when you’re not allowed to have your cell phone or other electronics.

As the Democratic arguments continue for a second hour, GOP Sen. Richard Burr is the only one who has used his — on and off so far.

No milk drinkers yet. Republican Sen. Rand Paul has drawn a very impressive sketch of the U.S. Capitol. After further examination, however, it appears he is tracing it. He has placed it on his desk so as to display it to the press above. It’s the only writing on his white legal pad.

GOP Sen. Marcia Blackburn is reading a novel (unclear which one) but the book below the current novel she’s reading is “The Case for Trump.”

Republican Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith, who is sitting next to Blackburn, has the book “The Chosen” on her desk, but hasn’t started reading it yet.

Most senators are taking notes and following along with the presentations. They have printouts of the slides and video elements the Democrats are using.

When the clip of Sen. Graham was played Graham was the only senator absent from the chamber. Some Republicans smirked when they looked over and saw he wasn’t there.

– ABC’s Katherine Faulders


1:39 p.m. Nadler speaks of the ‘ABCs of impeachment’

Nadler boils down the Democratic case to the “ABCs of impeachment.”

“Abuse: We will show that President Trump abused his power when he used his office to solicit and pressure Ukraine to meddle in our elections for his personal gain. Betrayal: We will show that he betrayed vital national interests, specifically our national security, by withholding diplomatic support and military aid from Ukraine even as it faced armed Russian aggression. Corruption: President Trump’s intent was to corrupt our elections to his personal political benefit. He put his personal interest in retaining power above free and fair elections and above the principle that Americans must govern themselves without interference from abroad.

“Article One thus charges a high crime and misdemeanor that blends abuse of power, betrayal of the nation, and corruption in elections into a single unforgiveable scheme. That is why this president must be removed from office, especially before he continues his effort to corrupt our next election,” Nadler says.

Citing legal scholars who agree with the House case, Nadler cites the former Harvard Law School professor who will argue for Trump on the Senate floor that the Constitution does not support that a president can be impeached for abuse of power.

“Another who comes to mind is professor Alan Dershowitz. At least Alan Dershowitz in 1998. Back then here is what he had to say about impeachment for abuse of power,” Nadler says before showing a video clip of Dershowitz from 1988.

“It certainly doesn’t have to be a crime. If you have somebody who completely corrupts the office of president and who abuses trust and who poses great danger to our liberty, you don’t need a technical crime,” Dershowitz says in the clip.

“But we need not look to 1998 to find one of President Trump’s key allies espousing this view. Consider the comments of our current Attorney General William Barr, a man known for his extraordinarily expansive view of executive power. In Attorney General Barr’s view, as expressed about 18 months ago, presidents cannot be indicted or criminally investigated, but that’s okay because they can impeached. That’s the safeguard,” Nadler says as a memo written by Barr in June 2018 appears in exhibits.

“And in an impeachment, Attorney General Barr added, the president is answerable for any abuses of discretion and may be held accountable under law for misdeeds in office. In other words, Attorney General Barr, who believes along with the office of legal counsel that a president may not be indicted believes that that’s okay, we don’t need that safeguard against a president who would commit abuses of power. It’s okay because he can be impeached. That’s the safeguard for abuses of discretion and for his misdeeds in office,” Nadler quotes Barr as writing.

“When the president betrays our national security and foreign policy interests for his own personal gain, he is unquestionably subject to impeachment and removal,” Nadler continues. “The same is true of a different concern raised by the framers, the use of presidential power to corrupt the elections and the office of the presidency. As Madison emphasized, because the presidency was to be administered by a single man, his corruption might be fatal to the republic.”

Anticipating another of the arguments from Trump’s defense team — that no specific crime is alleged — Nadler says, “In a last ditch legal defense of their client, the president’s lawyers argue that impeachment and removal are subject to statutory crimes or to offenses against established law, that the president cannot be impeached because he has not committed a crime. This view is completely wrong. It has no support in constitutional text and structure, original meeting, congressional presence, common sense or the consensus of credible experts. In other words, it conflicts with every relevant consideration.”

Then, he uses a video clip of GOP Sen. Lindsey Graham.

“I might say the same thing of then House manager Lindsey Graham who in President Clinton’s trial flatly rejected the notion that impeachable offenses are limited to violation of established law,” Nadler says before playing a clip from Graham on the Senate floor in Clinton’s 1999 impeachment trail.

“What’s a high crime? How about if an important person hurts somebody of low means? It’s not very scholarly, but I think it’s the truth. I think that’s what they meant by high crimes. Doesn’t even have to be a crime. It’s just when you start using your office and you’re acting in a way that hurts people, you have committed a high crime,” Graham says in the clip.

1:09 p.m. Nadler: Trump ‘puts President Nixon to shame’ in abusing power

Rep. Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., one of the lead House impeachment managers takes the floor after Schiff to begin outlining the charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.

“President Trump used the powers of his office to solicit a foreign nation to interfere in our elections for his own personal benefit. Note, that the act of solicitation itself, just the ask, constitutes an abuse of power. But President Trump went further,” he says.

“The president’s conduct is wrong. It is illegal. It is dangerous, and it captures the worst fears of our founders and the framers of the Constitution,” Nadler says. “No president has ever used his office to compel a foreign nation to help him cheat in our elections. Prior presidents would be shocked to the core by such conduct, and rightly so.

“This presidential stonewalling of Congress is unprecedented in the 238-year history of our constitutional republic. It puts even President Nixon to shame. Taken together, the articles and the evidence conclusively establish that President Trump has placed his own personal political interests first. He has placed them above our national security, above our free and fair elections, and above our system of checks and balances. This conduct is not America first, it is Donald Trump first,” Nadler says.

“Donald Trump swore an oath to faithfully execute the laws. That means putting the nation’s interests above his own, and the president has repeatedly, flagrantly violated his oath.”

1:05 p.m. Schiff: ‘There is some method to our madness’

Schiff again took the lead as Democrats begin a second of opening arguments.

But first he offers some humor, possibly referring to reports of restless senators talking and walking around the chamber — and some leaving.

“I am not sure the chief justice is fully aware of just how rare it is, how extraordinary it is for the House members to be able to command the attention of senators sitting silently for hours or even for minutes for that matter. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that the morning starts out every day with a sergeant at arms warning you that if you don’t, you will be imprisoned.”

Then he outlines how House managers will go through the first article and what he says are the constitutional underpinnings of abuse of power.

“You have now heard hundreds of hours of deposition and live testimony from the House condensed into an abbreviated narrative of the facts. We will now show you these facts and many others and how they are interwoven. You will see some of these facts and videos therefore in a new context, in a new light, in the light of what else we know and why it compels a finding of guilt and conviction, so there is some method to our madness.”

12:38 p.m. Graham compliments Schiff on presentation of House case, but asks ‘will it stand up?’

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., speaks to reporters shortly before Thursday’s proceedings begin, and when asked about a reported he had with Schiff after Wednesday’s trial session ended, Graham confirms that he complimented Schiff, a fellow former prosecutor, on his presentation.

“He’s well-spoken, did a good job of creating a tapestry, taking bits and pieces of evidence and emails and giving a rhetorical flourish making the email come alive,” he says. “Quite frankly, I thought they did a good job of taking bits and pieces of the evidence and creating a quilt out of it,” he says. “But will it stand up?”

“The point is: let’s see what the other side says then we’ll make a decision about what the president actually did or didn’t do,” he adds. “All I can do tell you is it from the presidents point of view, he did nothing wrong, in his mind.”

“There are bunch of people on my side who want to call Joe Biden and Hunter Biden. I want to end this thing sooner rather than later,” Graham says, explaining he will not vote for witness and documents. “I want the American people to pick the next president not me, and so what I think is the best thing to happen is to have oversight of Ukrainian potential misconduct and move on to the election. I am not going to use my vote to extend the trial,” Graham continues.

“I love Joe Biden, but I can tell you, if the name was ‘Trump’ a lot of questions would be asked.”

11:48 a.m. Schumer says a Trump acquittal will have ‘zero value’ if not witnesses

At a morning news conference, without saying their names, Schumer calls again on four Republican senators — Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Susan Collins of Maine, Mitt Romney of Utah and Lamar Alexander of Tennessee — to join Democrats in calling for witnesses and documents, before directly addressing the president and his GOP allies.

“I will say this to president than any of my Republican friends: if the American people believe this is not a fair trial, which right now they seem to believe because there were no witnesses and documents, acquittal will have zero value to the president or to the Republicans,” he says.

“The bottom line is the president is clearly covering up, his people are covering up, and the question is: Will our Republican colleagues rise to their constitutional mandate to create a fair trial?” Schumer adds, “and I don’t think it will sit very well with history or with the American people if they don’t.”

Asked about reports of possible deal on witnesses, Schumer says not a single Republican has approached him on the subject — further shutting down the idea.

“No Republicans are talking to us about deals. We want these four witnesses … they go to the truth,” he says. (Yesterday, when asked a similar question, Schumer said witnesses should be relevant to the case, seeming to say a deal involving Biden testimony would be off the table for him. Today’s answer seems a bit more open-ended.)

–ABC’s Sarah Kolinovsky

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Senate impeachment trial live updates: Democrats make ‘abuse of power’ case

Posted on: January 23rd, 2020 by ABC News No Comments

uschools/iStock(WASHINGTON) — When the Senate trial of President Donald Trump resumes Thursday afternoon, lead House manager Adam Schiff says Democrats “will go through the law, the Constitution and the facts as they apply to Article One” — the article of impeachment that accuses the president of ‘abuse of power.

On Wednesday, after laying out the timeline of Trump’s pressure campaign against Ukraine, including withholding military aid to get Ukraine to announce an investigation of former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, Hunter, Schiff argued that the president violated the Constitution.

Alan Dershowitz, the former Harvard Law professor who is playing a role on Trump’s defense team, is expected to argue, as he’s been doing on tv, that a sitting president cannot be impeached for ‘abuse of power’ as Democrats charge.

Also on Wednesday, the first of three days of opening arguments, Democrats flatly dismissed the notion of offering Joe or Hunter Biden as witnesses in exchange for Trump’s former National Security Adviser John Bolton, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer told reporters, “That trade is not on the table.”

The day also revealed at least one protester, three milk-drinkers and several chatty senators — among although such moments in the chamber weren’t seen on camera because of long-standing restrictions on what Senate-controlled cameras can show.

Democrats have roughly 16 hours left to use over two days before the president’s legal team takes the Senate floor on Saturday to begin their 24 hours of opening arguments over three days.1:39 p.m. Nadler speaks of the ‘ABCs of impeachment’

Nadler boils down the Democratic case to the “ABCs of impeachment.”

“Abuse: We will show that President Trump abused his power when he used his office to solicit and pressure Ukraine to meddle in our elections for his personal gain. Betrayal: We will show that he betrayed vital national interests, specifically our national security, by withholding diplomatic support and military aid from Ukraine even as it faced armed Russian aggression. Corruption: President Trump’s intent was to corrupt our elections to his personal political benefit. He put his personal interest in retaining power above free and fair elections and above the principle that Americans must govern themselves without interference from abroad.

“Article One thus charges a high crime and misdemeanor that blends abuse of power, betrayal of the nation, and corruption in elections into a single unforgiveable scheme. That is why this president must be removed from office, especially before he continues his effort to corrupt our next election,” Nadler says.

Citing legal scholars who agree with the House case, Nadler cites the former Harvard Law School professor who will argue for Trump on the Senate floor that the Constitution does not support that a president can be impeached for abuse of power.

“Another who comes to mind is professor Alan Dershowitz. At least Alan Dershowitz in 1998. Back then here is what he had to say about impeachment for abuse of power,” Nadler says before showing a video clip of Dershowitz from 1988.

“It certainly doesn’t have to be a crime. If you have somebody who completely corrupts the office of president and who abuses trust and who poses great danger to our liberty, you don’t need a technical crime,” Dershowitz says in the clip.

“But we need not look to 1998 to find one of President Trump’s key allies espousing this view. Consider the comments of our current Attorney General William Barr, a man known for his extraordinarily expansive view of executive power. In Attorney General Barr’s view, as expressed about 18 months ago, presidents cannot be indicted or criminally investigated, but that’s okay because they can impeached. That’s the safeguard,” Nadler says as a memo written by Barr in June 2018 appears in exhibits.

“And in an impeachment, Attorney General Barr added, the president is answerable for any abuses of discretion and may be held accountable under law for misdeeds in office. In other words, Attorney General Barr, who believes along with the office of legal counsel that a president may not be indicted believes that that’s okay, we don’t need that safeguard against a president who would commit abuses of power. It’s okay because he can be impeached. That’s the safeguard for abuses of discretion and for his misdeeds in office,” Nadler quotes Barr as writing.

“When the president betrays our national security and foreign policy interests for his own personal gain, he is unquestionably subject to impeachment and removal,” Nadler continues. “The same is true of a different concern raised by the framers, the use of presidential power to corrupt the elections and the office of the presidency. As Madison emphasized, because the presidency was to be administered by a single man, his corruption might be fatal to the republic.”

Anticipating another of the arguments from Trump’s defense team — that no specific crime is alleged — Nadler says, “In a last ditch legal defense of their client, the president’s lawyers argue that impeachment and removal are subject to statutory crimes or to offenses against established law, that the president cannot be impeached because he has not committed a crime. This view is completely wrong. It has no support in constitutional text and structure, original meeting, congressional presence, common sense or the consensus of credible experts. In other words, it conflicts with every relevant consideration.”

Then, he uses a video clip of GOP Sen. Lindsey Graham.

“I might say the same thing of then House manager Lindsey Graham who in President Clinton’s trial flatly rejected the notion that impeachable offenses are limited to violation of established law,” Nadler says before playing a clip from Graham on the Senate floor in Clinton’s 1999 impeachment trail.

“What’s a high crime? How about if an important person hurts somebody of low means? It’s not very scholarly, but I think it’s the truth. I think that’s what they meant by high crimes. Doesn’t even have to be a crime. It’s just when you start using your office and you’re acting in a way that hurts people, you have committed a high crime,” Graham says in the clip.


This is how the day is unfolding. Please refresh for updates.


5:45 p.m. House manager Demings says ‘trial bigger than any one election’

House manager Val Demings of Florida countered the Republican accusation that Democrats are trying to skew the 2020 presidential election away from President Trump.

“This trial is much bigger than any one election and it’s much bigger than any one president,” she says. “This moment is about the American people, this moment is about ensuring that every voter, whether a maid or a janitor, whether a nurse or a teacher or a truck driver, whether a doctor or mechanic, that their vote matters and that American elections are decided by the American people.”

Some senators appeared restless as the arguments continued in the afternoon session.

GOP Sen. Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee slid her desk drawer open revealing a copy of “Resistance at All Costs” by Kimberly Strassel.

Blackburn also used a blanket to stay warm as did Republican Sen. Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia.

Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota enjoyed some chewing gum as she observed Schiff’s performance.

Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C., ordered a glass of milk from a page at 3:31 p.m. Three minutes later, at 3:34 p.m., the milk was delivered to his desk, and he quickly chugged more than half before setting it down. By 3:39 p.m., the milk was fully consumed and a page quickly cleared his empty glass.

I noted at 3:48 p.m. that every senator was at his or her desk. None were standing or absent at that point. Adam Schiff had the room’s full attention.

-ABC News’ John Parkinson

It was interesting to watch Schiff seemingly direct parts of his monologue on Ukraine and Russia at Utah Republican Mitt Romney – who is seated in the back row to Schiff’s left.

Romney — famously a Russia hawk — appeared riveted as Schiff laid out his argument that Trump’s actions toward Ukraine implicates Russia and Putin.

The two seemed to be making eye contact from my vantage point.

Romney was noting line by line down his notepad the enumerated ways that Schiff said Donald Trump “put himself first.”

Overall, the entire chamber seemed to me much more engaged than yesterday afternoon. Most senators on both sides could be seen watching the Democratic slideshow and taking notes.

Only GOP Sen. Tom Cotton of Arkansas was using a fidget spinner, as far as I could tell.

-ABC News’ Devin Dwyer

2:55 p.m. Trump legal team concerned Saturday arguments will get buried, may request time change

Several GOP sources tell ABC News that senators are actively considering an abbreviated session this Saturday.

The Trump legal team is concerned about their opening arguments getting buried on a Saturday. The situation is fluid, but these same sources tell ABC that the time frame is roughly 10 a.m. until possibly 1 p.m.

“Save 10-1, expect 10-twelvish,” one senior administration official said.

One GOP source said eliminating the Saturday session is also a possibility, but again, the situation is fluid.

-ABC’s Trish Turner and Katherine Faulders

2:48 p.m. Democrats: Trump only cared about Ukraine corruption after Biden entered race

House manager Sylvia Garcia lays out evidence the Democrats’ say support that Trump abused his power in pushing for investigations into the Bidens and the Ukrainian energy company Burisma.

She says the timeline and lack of evidence that Ukraine interfered in the 2016 election show that Trump’s push for the investigations was politically motivated to benefit his campaign and based on Russian misinformation that Ukraine, and not Russia, interfered in American elections.

“What is so dangerous is that President Trump is helping them perpetuate this. Our own president is helping our adversary attack our processes and help his own re-election,” she says.

“As soon as President Trump took office, he increased military support to Ukraine in 2017 and in the next year, 2018, but it wasn’t until 2019, over three years after Vice President Biden called for Viktor Shokin’s removal (Shokin, Ukraine’s prosecutor general, was ousted in 2016) –three years after — that President Trump started pushing Ukraine to investigate his alleged conduct. So what changed? What changed? Why did President Trump not care at all about Biden’s request for the removal of Shokin the year after it happened in 2017? Or the next year in 2018? Senators, you know what changed in 2019 -when President Trump suddenly cared —  it is that Biden got in the race. On April 25, Vice President Biden announced he would run for president in 2020,” she says.

 

2:15 p.m. Inside the Senate chamber: Fidget spinners, Graham only senator absent when 1999 clip of him played

Fidget spinners — that’s apparently one thing you can bring into the Senate chamber for a distraction when you’re not allowed to have your cell phone or other electronics.

As the Democratic arguments continue for a second hour, GOP Sen. Richard Burr is the only one who has used his — on and off so far.

No milk drinkers yet. Republican Sen. Rand Paul has drawn a very impressive sketch of the U.S. Capitol. After further examination, however, it appears he is tracing it. He has placed it on his desk so as to display it to the press above. It’s the only writing on his white legal pad.

GOP Sen. Marcia Blackburn is reading a novel (unclear which one) but the book below the current novel she’s reading is “The Case for Trump.”

Republican Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith, who is sitting next to Blackburn, has the book “The Chosen” on her desk, but hasn’t started reading it yet.

Most senators are taking notes and following along with the presentations. They have printouts of the slides and video elements the Democrats are using.

When the clip of Sen. Graham was played Graham was the only senator absent from the chamber. Some Republicans smirked when they looked over and saw he wasn’t there.

– ABC’s Katherine Faulders


1:39 p.m. Nadler speaks of the ‘ABCs of impeachment’

Nadler boils down the Democratic case to the “ABCs of impeachment.”

“Abuse: We will show that President Trump abused his power when he used his office to solicit and pressure Ukraine to meddle in our elections for his personal gain. Betrayal: We will show that he betrayed vital national interests, specifically our national security, by withholding diplomatic support and military aid from Ukraine even as it faced armed Russian aggression. Corruption: President Trump’s intent was to corrupt our elections to his personal political benefit. He put his personal interest in retaining power above free and fair elections and above the principle that Americans must govern themselves without interference from abroad.

“Article One thus charges a high crime and misdemeanor that blends abuse of power, betrayal of the nation, and corruption in elections into a single unforgiveable scheme. That is why this president must be removed from office, especially before he continues his effort to corrupt our next election,” Nadler says.

Citing legal scholars who agree with the House case, Nadler cites the former Harvard Law School professor who will argue for Trump on the Senate floor that the Constitution does not support that a president can be impeached for abuse of power.

“Another who comes to mind is professor Alan Dershowitz. At least Alan Dershowitz in 1998. Back then here is what he had to say about impeachment for abuse of power,” Nadler says before showing a video clip of Dershowitz from 1988.

“It certainly doesn’t have to be a crime. If you have somebody who completely corrupts the office of president and who abuses trust and who poses great danger to our liberty, you don’t need a technical crime,” Dershowitz says in the clip.

“But we need not look to 1998 to find one of President Trump’s key allies espousing this view. Consider the comments of our current Attorney General William Barr, a man known for his extraordinarily expansive view of executive power. In Attorney General Barr’s view, as expressed about 18 months ago, presidents cannot be indicted or criminally investigated, but that’s okay because they can impeached. That’s the safeguard,” Nadler says as a memo written by Barr in June 2018 appears in exhibits.

“And in an impeachment, Attorney General Barr added, the president is answerable for any abuses of discretion and may be held accountable under law for misdeeds in office. In other words, Attorney General Barr, who believes along with the office of legal counsel that a president may not be indicted believes that that’s okay, we don’t need that safeguard against a president who would commit abuses of power. It’s okay because he can be impeached. That’s the safeguard for abuses of discretion and for his misdeeds in office,” Nadler quotes Barr as writing.

“When the president betrays our national security and foreign policy interests for his own personal gain, he is unquestionably subject to impeachment and removal,” Nadler continues. “The same is true of a different concern raised by the framers, the use of presidential power to corrupt the elections and the office of the presidency. As Madison emphasized, because the presidency was to be administered by a single man, his corruption might be fatal to the republic.”

Anticipating another of the arguments from Trump’s defense team — that no specific crime is alleged — Nadler says, “In a last ditch legal defense of their client, the president’s lawyers argue that impeachment and removal are subject to statutory crimes or to offenses against established law, that the president cannot be impeached because he has not committed a crime. This view is completely wrong. It has no support in constitutional text and structure, original meeting, congressional presence, common sense or the consensus of credible experts. In other words, it conflicts with every relevant consideration.”

Then, he uses a video clip of GOP Sen. Lindsey Graham.

“I might say the same thing of then House manager Lindsey Graham who in President Clinton’s trial flatly rejected the notion that impeachable offenses are limited to violation of established law,” Nadler says before playing a clip from Graham on the Senate floor in Clinton’s 1999 impeachment trail.

“What’s a high crime? How about if an important person hurts somebody of low means? It’s not very scholarly, but I think it’s the truth. I think that’s what they meant by high crimes. Doesn’t even have to be a crime. It’s just when you start using your office and you’re acting in a way that hurts people, you have committed a high crime,” Graham says in the clip.

1:09 p.m. Nadler: Trump ‘puts President Nixon to shame’ in abusing power

Rep. Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., one of the lead House impeachment managers takes the floor after Schiff to begin outlining the charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.

“President Trump used the powers of his office to solicit a foreign nation to interfere in our elections for his own personal benefit. Note, that the act of solicitation itself, just the ask, constitutes an abuse of power. But President Trump went further,” he says.

“The president’s conduct is wrong. It is illegal. It is dangerous, and it captures the worst fears of our founders and the framers of the Constitution,” Nadler says. “No president has ever used his office to compel a foreign nation to help him cheat in our elections. Prior presidents would be shocked to the core by such conduct, and rightly so.

“This presidential stonewalling of Congress is unprecedented in the 238-year history of our constitutional republic. It puts even President Nixon to shame. Taken together, the articles and the evidence conclusively establish that President Trump has placed his own personal political interests first. He has placed them above our national security, above our free and fair elections, and above our system of checks and balances. This conduct is not America first, it is Donald Trump first,” Nadler says.

“Donald Trump swore an oath to faithfully execute the laws. That means putting the nation’s interests above his own, and the president has repeatedly, flagrantly violated his oath.”

1:05 p.m. Schiff: ‘There is some method to our madness’

Schiff again took the lead as Democrats begin a second of opening arguments.

But first he offers some humor, possibly referring to reports of restless senators talking and walking around the chamber — and some leaving.

“I am not sure the chief justice is fully aware of just how rare it is, how extraordinary it is for the House members to be able to command the attention of senators sitting silently for hours or even for minutes for that matter. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that the morning starts out every day with a sergeant at arms warning you that if you don’t, you will be imprisoned.”

Then he outlines how House managers will go through the first article and what he says are the constitutional underpinnings of abuse of power.

“You have now heard hundreds of hours of deposition and live testimony from the House condensed into an abbreviated narrative of the facts. We will now show you these facts and many others and how they are interwoven. You will see some of these facts and videos therefore in a new context, in a new light, in the light of what else we know and why it compels a finding of guilt and conviction, so there is some method to our madness.”

12:38 p.m. Graham compliments Schiff on presentation of House case, but asks ‘will it stand up?’

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., speaks to reporters shortly before Thursday’s proceedings begin, and when asked about a reported he had with Schiff after Wednesday’s trial session ended, Graham confirms that he complimented Schiff, a fellow former prosecutor, on his presentation.

“He’s well-spoken, did a good job of creating a tapestry, taking bits and pieces of evidence and emails and giving a rhetorical flourish making the email come alive,” he says. “Quite frankly, I thought they did a good job of taking bits and pieces of the evidence and creating a quilt out of it,” he says. “But will it stand up?”

“The point is: let’s see what the other side says then we’ll make a decision about what the president actually did or didn’t do,” he adds. “All I can do tell you is it from the presidents point of view, he did nothing wrong, in his mind.”

“There are bunch of people on my side who want to call Joe Biden and Hunter Biden. I want to end this thing sooner rather than later,” Graham says, explaining he will not vote for witness and documents. “I want the American people to pick the next president not me, and so what I think is the best thing to happen is to have oversight of Ukrainian potential misconduct and move on to the election. I am not going to use my vote to extend the trial,” Graham continues.

“I love Joe Biden, but I can tell you, if the name was ‘Trump’ a lot of questions would be asked.”

11:48 a.m. Schumer says a Trump acquittal will have ‘zero value’ if not witnesses

At a morning news conference, without saying their names, Schumer calls again on four Republican senators — Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Susan Collins of Maine, Mitt Romney of Utah and Lamar Alexander of Tennessee — to join Democrats in calling for witnesses and documents, before directly addressing the president and his GOP allies.

“I will say this to president than any of my Republican friends: if the American people believe this is not a fair trial, which right now they seem to believe because there were no witnesses and documents, acquittal will have zero value to the president or to the Republicans,” he says.

“The bottom line is the president is clearly covering up, his people are covering up, and the question is: Will our Republican colleagues rise to their constitutional mandate to create a fair trial?” Schumer adds, “and I don’t think it will sit very well with history or with the American people if they don’t.”

Asked about reports of possible deal on witnesses, Schumer says not a single Republican has approached him on the subject — further shutting down the idea.

“No Republicans are talking to us about deals. We want these four witnesses … they go to the truth,” he says. (Yesterday, when asked a similar question, Schumer said witnesses should be relevant to the case, seeming to say a deal involving Biden testimony would be off the table for him. Today’s answer seems a bit more open-ended.)

–ABC’s Sarah Kolinovsky

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Trump administration to restrict visas for pregnant women traveling to give birth

Posted on: January 23rd, 2020 by ABC News No Comments

Kameleon007/iStock(WASHINGTON) — The Trump administration will implement new plans this week that could limit travel for pregnant women coming to the United States to give birth, according to vetting guidelines released Thursday morning.

Consular officers around the world will have more power starting on Friday to deny applications for women they believe are traveling for the “primary purpose” of giving birth.

The changes aim to crack down on what the administration calls “birth tourism” and impact those applying for temporary visas to travel for business and vacation. Officers, however, have been instructed not to ask an applicant if she is pregnant unless her stated reasons for travel raises the question first.

For example, one State Department official said questions about whether or not the applicant is seeking medical care could lead to questions about pregnancy.

“Closing this glaring immigration loophole will combat these endemic abuses and ultimately protect the United States from the national security risks created by this practice,” White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham said in a statement on Thursday.

When speaking to reporters following the announcement, State Department officials could not point to specific examples of national security threats linked to “birth tourism.”

One official described a “growing trend” of women stating they were traveling to give birth, but acknowledged that the department does not maintain an official count.

Trump administration officials have already considered changing citizenship rights for those born in the country. In 2018, Trump himself vowed to end birthright citizenship through an executive order.

His comments were met with push back from lawmakers at the time.

“This rule is yet another attempt by the administration to control women’s bodies, driven by racist and misogynist assumptions about women born outside of the United States,” said Shilpa Phadke, a vice president at the Center for American Progress — a liberal policy think-tank.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement has been working with the State Department to plan enforcement measures for the new restrictions, acting ICE Director Matthew Albence told reporters Thursday.

“I think it’s a big problem,” Albence said, although the agency didn’t immediately provide information on the scope of fraudulent visa use related to pregnancy.

ICE does not typically share specific details regarding investigations, but agency investigators in California have been put on alert and investigative practices will be adjusted to enforce the new policy, an agency official told ABC News.

“If we can solve or at least address a large part of this problem by changing a regulatory process or rules that [the State Department] employs it only makes good sense,” Albence said

Agents may look into a suspect’s financial transactions and hospital records and often work with commercial airlines as part of the agency’s standard investigative procedures for rooting out fraud cases, including “birth tourism.”

“We will certainly continue to vigorously prosecute and investigate those cases that fall under our purview,” Albence said.

In a case last year, federal prosecutors indicted 19 people for charging victims thousands of dollars with the promise of getting them to the United States to give birth.

The defendants were charged with defrauding their victims and laundering money following an ICE investigation.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Trump administration to restrict visas for pregnant women traveling to give birth

Posted on: January 23rd, 2020 by ABC News No Comments

Kameleon007/iStock(WASHINGTON) — The Trump administration will implement new plans this week that could limit travel for pregnant women coming to the United States to give birth, according to vetting guidelines released Thursday morning.

Consular officers around the world will have more power starting on Friday to deny applications for women they believe are traveling for the “primary purpose” of giving birth.

The changes aim to crack down on what the administration calls “birth tourism” and impact those applying for temporary visas to travel for business and vacation. Officers, however, have been instructed not to ask an applicant if she is pregnant unless her stated reasons for travel raises the question first.

For example, one State Department official said questions about whether or not the applicant is seeking medical care could lead to questions about pregnancy.

“Closing this glaring immigration loophole will combat these endemic abuses and ultimately protect the United States from the national security risks created by this practice,” White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham said in a statement on Thursday.

When speaking to reporters following the announcement, State Department officials could not point to specific examples of national security threats linked to “birth tourism.”

One official described a “growing trend” of women stating they were traveling to give birth, but acknowledged that the department does not maintain an official count.

Trump administration officials have already considered changing citizenship rights for those born in the country. In 2018, Trump himself vowed to end birthright citizenship through an executive order.

His comments were met with push back from lawmakers at the time.

“This rule is yet another attempt by the administration to control women’s bodies, driven by racist and misogynist assumptions about women born outside of the United States,” said Shilpa Phadke, a vice president at the Center for American Progress — a liberal policy think-tank.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement has been working with the State Department to plan enforcement measures for the new restrictions, acting ICE Director Matthew Albence told reporters Thursday.

“I think it’s a big problem,” Albence said, although the agency didn’t immediately provide information on the scope of fraudulent visa use related to pregnancy.

ICE does not typically share specific details regarding investigations, but agency investigators in California have been put on alert and investigative practices will be adjusted to enforce the new policy, an agency official told ABC News.

“If we can solve or at least address a large part of this problem by changing a regulatory process or rules that [the State Department] employs it only makes good sense,” Albence said

Agents may look into a suspect’s financial transactions and hospital records and often work with commercial airlines as part of the agency’s standard investigative procedures for rooting out fraud cases, including “birth tourism.”

“We will certainly continue to vigorously prosecute and investigate those cases that fall under our purview,” Albence said.

In a case last year, federal prosecutors indicted 19 people for charging victims thousands of dollars with the promise of getting them to the United States to give birth.

The defendants were charged with defrauding their victims and laundering money following an ICE investigation.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Senate impeachment trial live updates: Democrats to make constitutional case against Trump

Posted on: January 23rd, 2020 by ABC News No Comments

uschools/iStock(WASHINGTON) — When the Senate trial of President Donald Trump resumes Thursday afternoon, lead House manager Adam Schiff says Democrats “will go through the law, the Constitution and the facts as they apply to Article One” — the article of impeachment that accuses the president of ‘abuse of power.

On Wednesday, after laying out the timeline of Trump’s pressure campaign against Ukraine, including withholding military aid to get Ukraine to announce an investigation of former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, Hunter, Schiff argued that the president violated the Constitution.

Alan Dershowitz, the former Harvard Law professor who is playing a role on Trump’s defense team, is expected to argue, as he’s been doing on tv, that a sitting president cannot be impeached for ‘abuse of power’ as Democrats charge.

Also on Wednesday, the first of three days of opening arguments, Democrats flatly dismissed the notion of offering Joe or Hunter Biden as witnesses in exchange for Trump’s former National Security Adviser John Bolton, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer told reporters, “That trade is not on the table.”

The day also revealed at least one protester, three milk-drinkers and several chatty senators — among although such moments in the chamber weren’t seen on camera because of long-standing restrictions on what Senate-controlled cameras can show.

Democrats have roughly 16 hours left to use over two days before the president’s legal team takes the Senate floor on Saturday to begin their 24 hours of opening arguments over three days.

This is how the day is unfolding. Please refresh for updates.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Senate impeachment trial live updates: Democrats to make constitutional case against Trump

Posted on: January 23rd, 2020 by ABC News No Comments

uschools/iStock(WASHINGTON) — When the Senate trial of President Donald Trump resumes Thursday afternoon, lead House manager Adam Schiff says Democrats “will go through the law, the Constitution and the facts as they apply to Article One” — the article of impeachment that accuses the president of ‘abuse of power.

On Wednesday, after laying out the timeline of Trump’s pressure campaign against Ukraine, including withholding military aid to get Ukraine to announce an investigation of former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, Hunter, Schiff argued that the president violated the Constitution.

Alan Dershowitz, the former Harvard Law professor who is playing a role on Trump’s defense team, is expected to argue, as he’s been doing on tv, that a sitting president cannot be impeached for ‘abuse of power’ as Democrats charge.

Also on Wednesday, the first of three days of opening arguments, Democrats flatly dismissed the notion of offering Joe or Hunter Biden as witnesses in exchange for Trump’s former National Security Adviser John Bolton, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer told reporters, “That trade is not on the table.”

The day also revealed at least one protester, three milk-drinkers and several chatty senators — among although such moments in the chamber weren’t seen on camera because of long-standing restrictions on what Senate-controlled cameras can show.

Democrats have roughly 16 hours left to use over two days before the president’s legal team takes the Senate floor on Saturday to begin their 24 hours of opening arguments over three days.

This is how the day is unfolding. Please refresh for updates.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Dems make their case against Trump: Three things to know about the Senate trial

Posted on: January 23rd, 2020 by ABC News No Comments

ABC News(WASHINGTON) — House Democrats on Thursday were expected to continue to make their case in favor of removing President Donald Trump from office, as the Senate impeachment trial continues.

Democrats were expected to start up again around 1 p.m. Eastern time and speak well into the evening. The focus by the House impeachment managers though is expected to shift a bit. While Wednesday was spent laying out much of the evidence, Democrats were now expected to begin making the case that Trump’s actions violate the Constitution.

Here are three things to know about what has happened in the impeachment trial already:

1) Democrats threw cold water on the idea of offering up Biden as a witness

The Washington Post late Tuesday reported that some Senate Democrats were privately discussing a possible deal with Republicans — a subpoena for former White House adviser John Bolton or other officials with first-hand knowledge of the president’s actions, in exchange for the subpoena of former Vice President Joe Biden or his son, Hunter.

That deal would be an abrupt departure from the Democratic position that any witnesses must have information relevant to the investigation.

Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer told reporters Wednesday it wouldn’t happen.

“That trade is not on the table,” said Schumer.

Likewise, Rep. Adam Schiff, the lead House Democratic impeachment manager, said the goal of the Republicans is merely to “smear Biden” and Democrats wouldn’t support it.

“Trials aren’t trades for witnesses,” said Schiff, D-Calif.

2) Democrats argued Trump was trying to ‘cheat’ the 2020 election

Democratic remarks shifted on Wednesday away from combative objections on procedure to laying out their case that Trump was trying to influence the upcoming election and was not acting on behalf of the U.S.

Schiff, a former prosecutor, used provocative terms to do so — describing Trump’s aides as “agents” and referring to their roles in the president’s “scheme.” Both Schiff and Rep. Jerry Nadler, another impeachment manager, accused Trump of using his power as president to taint Biden in the eyes of American voters.

“As we will show the president went to extraordinary lengths to cheat in the next election,” said Nadler, D-N.Y.

Sens. Mitt Romney of Utah, Cory Gardner of Colorado, Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska — four senators who Democrats are hoping will side with them in a vote to demand more witnesses and subpoenas — took detailed notes and appeared to be paying close attention.

Schiff, at various points, seemed to direct his remarks directly at them, urging senators to put aside their politics and consider what will happen after Trump leaves office.

“What are we going to say with the president who is from a different party who refuses the same kind of subpoenas?” he asked.

“People are cynical enough as it is about politics … cynical enough without having us confirm it for them,” he later added.

Near the end of the day Wednesday, Schiff said the senators should be able to know “who else was involved in this scheme.”

“You should want the whole truth to come out,” he said.

3) Other senators seemed bored, Trump tweeted, and the president’s lawyer denied a ‘quid pro quo’

While the Senate trial on Wednesday was the Democrats’ chance to pull together their most compelling evidence, it also seemed to be a bit of a slog for senators as the arguments stretched well into the evening.

Deprived of their electronic devices, several senators paced the back of the room. Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., worked a crossword puzzle. At least two senators — Republicans Tom Cotton of Arkansas and Richard Burr of North Carolina — ordered glasses of milk, testing reports that Senate rules specifically would allow the dairy drink (and water) on the floor but nothing else.

One of Trump’s personal lawyers, Jay Sekulow, vowed to challenge the allegations that there was any “quid pro quo” with Ukraine — an investigation into the Bidens in exchange for military aide. He wouldn’t say whether he thought his side would need all 24 hours of arguments allotted. But Sekulow promised to wrap up arguments in an “orderly” and “systematic” fashion and said the president would be acquitted.

“Are we having an impeachment over a phone call or is this a three-year attempt to take down a president that was duly elected by the American people?” Sekulow said.

Trump, the defendant, was out of town for much of Wednesday, returning to Washington after attending the World Economic Forum in Switzerland. It appeared though the president was paying attention to Schiff’s accusation that Trump pressured Ukraine into investigating the Bidens.

“NO PRESSURE,” Trump tweeted as the trial continued.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Dems make their case against Trump: Three things to know about the Senate trial

Posted on: January 23rd, 2020 by ABC News No Comments

ABC News(WASHINGTON) — House Democrats on Thursday were expected to continue to make their case in favor of removing President Donald Trump from office, as the Senate impeachment trial continues.

Democrats were expected to start up again around 1 p.m. Eastern time and speak well into the evening. The focus by the House impeachment managers though is expected to shift a bit. While Wednesday was spent laying out much of the evidence, Democrats were now expected to begin making the case that Trump’s actions violate the Constitution.

Here are three things to know about what has happened in the impeachment trial already:

1) Democrats threw cold water on the idea of offering up Biden as a witness

The Washington Post late Tuesday reported that some Senate Democrats were privately discussing a possible deal with Republicans — a subpoena for former White House adviser John Bolton or other officials with first-hand knowledge of the president’s actions, in exchange for the subpoena of former Vice President Joe Biden or his son, Hunter.

That deal would be an abrupt departure from the Democratic position that any witnesses must have information relevant to the investigation.

Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer told reporters Wednesday it wouldn’t happen.

“That trade is not on the table,” said Schumer.

Likewise, Rep. Adam Schiff, the lead House Democratic impeachment manager, said the goal of the Republicans is merely to “smear Biden” and Democrats wouldn’t support it.

“Trials aren’t trades for witnesses,” said Schiff, D-Calif.

2) Democrats argued Trump was trying to ‘cheat’ the 2020 election

Democratic remarks shifted on Wednesday away from combative objections on procedure to laying out their case that Trump was trying to influence the upcoming election and was not acting on behalf of the U.S.

Schiff, a former prosecutor, used provocative terms to do so — describing Trump’s aides as “agents” and referring to their roles in the president’s “scheme.” Both Schiff and Rep. Jerry Nadler, another impeachment manager, accused Trump of using his power as president to taint Biden in the eyes of American voters.

“As we will show the president went to extraordinary lengths to cheat in the next election,” said Nadler, D-N.Y.

Sens. Mitt Romney of Utah, Cory Gardner of Colorado, Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska — four senators who Democrats are hoping will side with them in a vote to demand more witnesses and subpoenas — took detailed notes and appeared to be paying close attention.

Schiff, at various points, seemed to direct his remarks directly at them, urging senators to put aside their politics and consider what will happen after Trump leaves office.

“What are we going to say with the president who is from a different party who refuses the same kind of subpoenas?” he asked.

“People are cynical enough as it is about politics … cynical enough without having us confirm it for them,” he later added.

Near the end of the day Wednesday, Schiff said the senators should be able to know “who else was involved in this scheme.”

“You should want the whole truth to come out,” he said.

3) Other senators seemed bored, Trump tweeted, and the president’s lawyer denied a ‘quid pro quo’

While the Senate trial on Wednesday was the Democrats’ chance to pull together their most compelling evidence, it also seemed to be a bit of a slog for senators as the arguments stretched well into the evening.

Deprived of their electronic devices, several senators paced the back of the room. Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., worked a crossword puzzle. At least two senators — Republicans Tom Cotton of Arkansas and Richard Burr of North Carolina — ordered glasses of milk, testing reports that Senate rules specifically would allow the dairy drink (and water) on the floor but nothing else.

One of Trump’s personal lawyers, Jay Sekulow, vowed to challenge the allegations that there was any “quid pro quo” with Ukraine — an investigation into the Bidens in exchange for military aide. He wouldn’t say whether he thought his side would need all 24 hours of arguments allotted. But Sekulow promised to wrap up arguments in an “orderly” and “systematic” fashion and said the president would be acquitted.

“Are we having an impeachment over a phone call or is this a three-year attempt to take down a president that was duly elected by the American people?” Sekulow said.

Trump, the defendant, was out of town for much of Wednesday, returning to Washington after attending the World Economic Forum in Switzerland. It appeared though the president was paying attention to Schiff’s accusation that Trump pressured Ukraine into investigating the Bidens.

“NO PRESSURE,” Trump tweeted as the trial continued.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Gov’t briefs DNC, RNC and campaigns about cyber threats before election

Posted on: January 23rd, 2020 by ABC News No Comments

3dfoto/iStock(WASHINGTON) — With the Mueller report fresh in the minds of political candidates, the government confirmed Wednesday it has briefed the Democratic National Committee, Republican National Committee and the campaigns of each of those running for president about the cyber threat leading up to November 2020.

The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, the cyber arm of the Department of Homeland Security, told ABC News that the agency has been briefing the groups on the cyber threat ahead with just over 10 months before Election Day.

“We have briefed all the other political campaigns, RNC, DNC. We’ve also briefed political parties, and we’ve also briefed all the political campaigns. Some we’re providing services [to],” Director Chris Krebs said.

“We’re in a better posture than we were certainly in 2016,” he added.

Krebs elaborated that “every single” campaign has been receptive to the department’s briefings.

“We’re getting varying degrees of uptake,” Krebs continued. “We’re going to continue engaging in this, particularly as the field presumably will narrow at some point, you know, focused resources.”

Krebs also said that there are more resources and awareness both at the state and local level than there was in 2016, and said, like anything, that their efforts could not be 100% effective.

“We just have to follow through and make sure we’re doing the security elements, the actions needed, but really accepting the fact that 100% security is not a realistic outcome,” he said.

Special counsel Robert Mueller’s 448-page report revealed an allegedly “sweeping and systematic” effort by the Russian government to interfere in the 2016 presidential election.

The Russian government has always denied allegations of hacking and online influence campaign allegations in 2016, calling it anti-Russian hysteria.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Gov’t briefs DNC, RNC and campaigns about cyber threats before election

Posted on: January 23rd, 2020 by ABC News No Comments

3dfoto/iStock(WASHINGTON) — With the Mueller report fresh in the minds of political candidates, the government confirmed Wednesday it has briefed the Democratic National Committee, Republican National Committee and the campaigns of each of those running for president about the cyber threat leading up to November 2020.

The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, the cyber arm of the Department of Homeland Security, told ABC News that the agency has been briefing the groups on the cyber threat ahead with just over 10 months before Election Day.

“We have briefed all the other political campaigns, RNC, DNC. We’ve also briefed political parties, and we’ve also briefed all the political campaigns. Some we’re providing services [to],” Director Chris Krebs said.

“We’re in a better posture than we were certainly in 2016,” he added.

Krebs elaborated that “every single” campaign has been receptive to the department’s briefings.

“We’re getting varying degrees of uptake,” Krebs continued. “We’re going to continue engaging in this, particularly as the field presumably will narrow at some point, you know, focused resources.”

Krebs also said that there are more resources and awareness both at the state and local level than there was in 2016, and said, like anything, that their efforts could not be 100% effective.

“We just have to follow through and make sure we’re doing the security elements, the actions needed, but really accepting the fact that 100% security is not a realistic outcome,” he said.

Special counsel Robert Mueller’s 448-page report revealed an allegedly “sweeping and systematic” effort by the Russian government to interfere in the 2016 presidential election.

The Russian government has always denied allegations of hacking and online influence campaign allegations in 2016, calling it anti-Russian hysteria.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Warren slams Bloomberg for his news organization not covering Democrats

Posted on: January 23rd, 2020 by ABC News No Comments

Jeff Neira/Walt Disney Television(WASHINGTON) — In a lengthy Twitter thread, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren slammed Mike Bloomberg for his eponymous news organization’s decision not to investigate Bloomberg — or any other Democrats — during his 2020 campaign.

Warren called on the billionaire former New York City mayor to divest from the company and accused him of hobbling the press.

Warren pointed to ABC News’ reporting from Tuesday, outlining a new Federal Election Commission complaint that Bloomberg’s 2001 mayoral opponent, Mark Green, plans to file against his former rival. In it, Green alleges that Bloomberg News is proffering biased coverage of the 2020 primary — putting out negative stories on opponents while avoiding scrutiny of Bloomberg himself, a “coordinated contribution by a corporation to a candidate.”

Taking to Twitter Wednesday evening, Warren laid into Bloomberg, who was mayor of New York City from 2002 to 2013.

“Bloomberg News banned its reporters from investigating Democratic candidates as Mike Bloomberg runs for president. This ban puts reporters in an impossible situation and undermines a free press. Bloomberg should lift the ban and divest from Bloomberg News,” Warren said in her first tweet, going on to highlight her own accessibility to media members.

“I’ve taken more than a thousand unfiltered questions from the press and from voters since I got in the race,” Warren continued. “I welcome tough questions and scrutiny because the free press is a cornerstone of our democracy — and every presidential candidate should be closely vetted.”

“If Michael Bloomberg wants to be the Democratic nominee, he should let reporters do their jobs and report on him, and everyone else, as they see fit,” Warren said in a third tweet.

With Bloomberg’s unorthodox run for the White House comes a unique situation: Most candidates don’t own media companies. Thus what might be considered as “coordinated contribution” takes on fresh nuance.

Bloomberg News’ policy toward reporting on the 2020 contenders is not a full-stop ban on primary coverage, but it does explicitly slope away from investigations of Bloomberg.

In a memo sent to newsroom staff the same day Bloomberg announced his 11th-hour bid for the Democratic nomination, John Micklethwait, Bloomberg News’ editor-in-chief, detailed that that the outlet would maintain its “tradition” of not investigating Bloomberg, his family or foundation, and that in the interest of fairness it would “extend the same policy to his rivals in the Democratic primaries.”

It’s that same memo Green points to in his FEC complaint, claiming such reporting guardrails constitute “illegal corporate in-kind contributions” to Bloomberg’s campaign.

Green told ABC News on Monday he supports Warren’s candidacy, adding that he hasn’t spoken with her campaign and isn’t working in coordination. Asked to confirm this, the Warren campaign declined to comment.

When reached by ABC News, a Bloomberg News spokesperson declined to comment. Bloomberg’s campaign also declined to comment Wednesday evening.

In the staff memo, Micklethwait sought to make clear how the news organization would handle coverage.

“We cannot treat Mike’s Democratic competitors differently from him. If other credible journalistic institutions publish investigative work on Mike or the other Democratic candidates, we will either publish those articles in full or summarize them for our readers — and we will not hide them,” the memo read. “For the moment, our P&I team will continue to investigate the Trump administration as the government of the day. If Mike is chosen as the Democratic presidential candidate (and Donald Trump emerges as the Republican one), we will reassess how we do that.”

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Warren slams Bloomberg for his news organization not covering Democrats

Posted on: January 23rd, 2020 by ABC News No Comments

Jeff Neira/Walt Disney Television(WASHINGTON) — In a lengthy Twitter thread, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren slammed Mike Bloomberg for his eponymous news organization’s decision not to investigate Bloomberg — or any other Democrats — during his 2020 campaign.

Warren called on the billionaire former New York City mayor to divest from the company and accused him of hobbling the press.

Warren pointed to ABC News’ reporting from Tuesday, outlining a new Federal Election Commission complaint that Bloomberg’s 2001 mayoral opponent, Mark Green, plans to file against his former rival. In it, Green alleges that Bloomberg News is proffering biased coverage of the 2020 primary — putting out negative stories on opponents while avoiding scrutiny of Bloomberg himself, a “coordinated contribution by a corporation to a candidate.”

Taking to Twitter Wednesday evening, Warren laid into Bloomberg, who was mayor of New York City from 2002 to 2013.

“Bloomberg News banned its reporters from investigating Democratic candidates as Mike Bloomberg runs for president. This ban puts reporters in an impossible situation and undermines a free press. Bloomberg should lift the ban and divest from Bloomberg News,” Warren said in her first tweet, going on to highlight her own accessibility to media members.

“I’ve taken more than a thousand unfiltered questions from the press and from voters since I got in the race,” Warren continued. “I welcome tough questions and scrutiny because the free press is a cornerstone of our democracy — and every presidential candidate should be closely vetted.”

“If Michael Bloomberg wants to be the Democratic nominee, he should let reporters do their jobs and report on him, and everyone else, as they see fit,” Warren said in a third tweet.

With Bloomberg’s unorthodox run for the White House comes a unique situation: Most candidates don’t own media companies. Thus what might be considered as “coordinated contribution” takes on fresh nuance.

Bloomberg News’ policy toward reporting on the 2020 contenders is not a full-stop ban on primary coverage, but it does explicitly slope away from investigations of Bloomberg.

In a memo sent to newsroom staff the same day Bloomberg announced his 11th-hour bid for the Democratic nomination, John Micklethwait, Bloomberg News’ editor-in-chief, detailed that that the outlet would maintain its “tradition” of not investigating Bloomberg, his family or foundation, and that in the interest of fairness it would “extend the same policy to his rivals in the Democratic primaries.”

It’s that same memo Green points to in his FEC complaint, claiming such reporting guardrails constitute “illegal corporate in-kind contributions” to Bloomberg’s campaign.

Green told ABC News on Monday he supports Warren’s candidacy, adding that he hasn’t spoken with her campaign and isn’t working in coordination. Asked to confirm this, the Warren campaign declined to comment.

When reached by ABC News, a Bloomberg News spokesperson declined to comment. Bloomberg’s campaign also declined to comment Wednesday evening.

In the staff memo, Micklethwait sought to make clear how the news organization would handle coverage.

“We cannot treat Mike’s Democratic competitors differently from him. If other credible journalistic institutions publish investigative work on Mike or the other Democratic candidates, we will either publish those articles in full or summarize them for our readers — and we will not hide them,” the memo read. “For the moment, our P&I team will continue to investigate the Trump administration as the government of the day. If Mike is chosen as the Democratic presidential candidate (and Donald Trump emerges as the Republican one), we will reassess how we do that.”

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

DC AG’s office sues Trump inaugural committee for alleged abuse of nonprofit status

Posted on: January 23rd, 2020 by ABC News No Comments

DoraDalton/iStock(WASHINGTON) — President Donald Trump’s inaugural committee abused its nonprofit status by knowingly overpaying for space in the Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C., in early 2017 as part of an effort to enrich the Trump family, according to a civil lawsuit filed Wednesday by the D.C. attorney general’s office.

The attorney general’s office found that Rick Gates, Trump’s former deputy campaign manager, coordinated with members of the Trump family and hotel management to make the payments — which amounted to more than $1 million for the ballroom during four days of the inaugural festivities.

In supporting documents filed as part of the case, Gates wrote an email to the president’s daughter, Ivanka Trump, expressing that he was “a bit worried about the optics of [the inaugural committee] paying Trump Hotel a high fee and the media making a big story out of it.”

“Although the Inaugural Committee was aware that it was paying far above market rates, it never considered less expensive alternatives, and even paid for space on days when it did not hold events,” the attorney general’s office said in a statement.

The Trump Hotel later offered the inaugural committee a reduced rate of $175,000 per day for the ballroom, but D.C. officials said Stephanie Wolkoff, the inaugural committee’s event planning vendor and a friend of first lady Melania Trump, expressed concerns about the exorbitant rate the committee would be paying — and the public perception.

“Please take into consideration that when this is audited it will become public knowledge that locations were also gifted and costs underwritten to lower rental fees,” Wolkoff wrote. “I understand that compared to the original pricing this is great but we should look at the whole context.”

Wolkoff added that the appropriate maximum rental fee should be $85,000 per day, but the final price was set for $175,000 a day.

A spokesperson for the inaugural committee said Wednesday the lawsuit “reads more like a partisan press release than a legal filing” and claimed allegations set forth by the attorney general’s office are “without merit.”
 
“The [inaugural committee] has also received no outreach from the [DC attorney general’s office] since last summer which, when coupled with the obviously suspect timing of the complaint, confirms the completely baseless nature of the allegations,” the spokesperson said.

A spokesperson for Trump Hotels said in a statement on Wednesday that “the AG’s claims are false, intentionally misleading and riddled with inaccuracies.”

“The rates charged by the hotel were completely in line with what anyone else would have been charged for an unprecedented event of this enormous magnitude and were reflective of the fact that the hotel had just recently opened, possessed superior facilities and was centrally located on Pennsylvania Avenue,” the statement continued. “The AG’s after the fact attempt to regulate what discounts it believes the hotel should have provided as well as the timing of this complaint reeks of politics and is a clear PR stunt.”

The Trump inaugural committee has long faced scrutiny from both state and federal investigators. In New York, prosecutors in the Southern District subpoenaed records from the committee last year, according to sources at the time, though no charges have been brought.

Trump’s inaugural fund raised $107 million — the most in modern history.

The D.C. attorney general, joined by the Maryland attorney general, also sued the Trump Organization in a case accusing the president of illegally profiting from his D.C. hotel. A federal appeals court last year handed the president a victory in the case, dismissing the lawsuit.

Last year, the New York attorney general’s office subpoenaed Deutsche Bank and Investors Bank for records related to the Trump Organization projects, including an alleged effort by Trump to inflate his assets to improve his odds of buying the National Football League’s Buffalo Bills, a source familiar with the matter told ABC News. The subpoenas came after the president’s former personal attorney and fixer Michael Cohen’s testimony before Congress that accused his former boss of the gambit that eventually failed.

The Manhattan District Attorney’s office subpoenaed the Trump Organization last year as it revived its investigation into the company’s involvement into hush-money payments to two women who alleged they had affairs with Trump, according to the New York Times.

The Trump Organization has denied any wrongdoing.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

DC AG’s office sues Trump inaugural committee for alleged abuse of nonprofit status

Posted on: January 23rd, 2020 by ABC News No Comments

DoraDalton/iStock(WASHINGTON) — President Donald Trump’s inaugural committee abused its nonprofit status by knowingly overpaying for space in the Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C., in early 2017 as part of an effort to enrich the Trump family, according to a civil lawsuit filed Wednesday by the D.C. attorney general’s office.

The attorney general’s office found that Rick Gates, Trump’s former deputy campaign manager, coordinated with members of the Trump family and hotel management to make the payments — which amounted to more than $1 million for the ballroom during four days of the inaugural festivities.

In supporting documents filed as part of the case, Gates wrote an email to the president’s daughter, Ivanka Trump, expressing that he was “a bit worried about the optics of [the inaugural committee] paying Trump Hotel a high fee and the media making a big story out of it.”

“Although the Inaugural Committee was aware that it was paying far above market rates, it never considered less expensive alternatives, and even paid for space on days when it did not hold events,” the attorney general’s office said in a statement.

The Trump Hotel later offered the inaugural committee a reduced rate of $175,000 per day for the ballroom, but D.C. officials said Stephanie Wolkoff, the inaugural committee’s event planning vendor and a friend of first lady Melania Trump, expressed concerns about the exorbitant rate the committee would be paying — and the public perception.

“Please take into consideration that when this is audited it will become public knowledge that locations were also gifted and costs underwritten to lower rental fees,” Wolkoff wrote. “I understand that compared to the original pricing this is great but we should look at the whole context.”

Wolkoff added that the appropriate maximum rental fee should be $85,000 per day, but the final price was set for $175,000 a day.

A spokesperson for the inaugural committee said Wednesday the lawsuit “reads more like a partisan press release than a legal filing” and claimed allegations set forth by the attorney general’s office are “without merit.”
 
“The [inaugural committee] has also received no outreach from the [DC attorney general’s office] since last summer which, when coupled with the obviously suspect timing of the complaint, confirms the completely baseless nature of the allegations,” the spokesperson said.

A spokesperson for Trump Hotels said in a statement on Wednesday that “the AG’s claims are false, intentionally misleading and riddled with inaccuracies.”

“The rates charged by the hotel were completely in line with what anyone else would have been charged for an unprecedented event of this enormous magnitude and were reflective of the fact that the hotel had just recently opened, possessed superior facilities and was centrally located on Pennsylvania Avenue,” the statement continued. “The AG’s after the fact attempt to regulate what discounts it believes the hotel should have provided as well as the timing of this complaint reeks of politics and is a clear PR stunt.”

The Trump inaugural committee has long faced scrutiny from both state and federal investigators. In New York, prosecutors in the Southern District subpoenaed records from the committee last year, according to sources at the time, though no charges have been brought.

Trump’s inaugural fund raised $107 million — the most in modern history.

The D.C. attorney general, joined by the Maryland attorney general, also sued the Trump Organization in a case accusing the president of illegally profiting from his D.C. hotel. A federal appeals court last year handed the president a victory in the case, dismissing the lawsuit.

Last year, the New York attorney general’s office subpoenaed Deutsche Bank and Investors Bank for records related to the Trump Organization projects, including an alleged effort by Trump to inflate his assets to improve his odds of buying the National Football League’s Buffalo Bills, a source familiar with the matter told ABC News. The subpoenas came after the president’s former personal attorney and fixer Michael Cohen’s testimony before Congress that accused his former boss of the gambit that eventually failed.

The Manhattan District Attorney’s office subpoenaed the Trump Organization last year as it revived its investigation into the company’s involvement into hush-money payments to two women who alleged they had affairs with Trump, according to the New York Times.

The Trump Organization has denied any wrongdoing.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Trump impeachment trial live updates: Democrats to start 3 days of opening arguments

Posted on: January 22nd, 2020 by ABC News No Comments

uschools/iStock(WASHINGTON) — Here is how the day is unfolding. Please refresh for updates.

3:30 p.m. Trump tweets while Schiff speaks

After Schiff finishes what he calls his “introduction,” McConnell asks that the Senate take about a half-hour break.

While Schiff was still speaking about the pressure campaign on Ukraine, President Trump tweeted “NO PRESSURE” while flying back from Davos, Switzerland.

Trump is expected back in Washington this evening.

2:32 p.m. Both Republicans and Democrats seem engaged with Schiff’s presentation

Republicans and Democrats both seem very engaged, for the most part, with their binders filled with both sides briefs and taking notes.

During the arguments so far, the president’s attorneys are listening — sometimes White House counsel Pat Cipollone turns around to look at Schiff directly. They are passing notes but not smirking or laughing as anything is played. Their faces remain pretty neutral as the House presents their case and plays the video clips.

Four key GOP moderates — GOP Sens. Collins, Murkowski, Romney, Gardner — are all taking diligent notes, especially when Schiff discusses the need for witnesses and evidence.

When Schiff says this: “In 2016 then candidate Trump implored Russia to hack his opponent’s email account, something that the Russian military agency did only hours later, only hours later. When the president said, hey Russia, if you’re listening, they were listening.” Sen. Lindsey Graham sat there and shook his head.

Later, when Schiff plays the video of the president saying “Russia if you’re listening,” he laughed quietly and smirked.

Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler, also a lead manager, has been absent for most of Chairman Schiff’s presentation. The reason is unclear but it could be that he is prepping for the Judiciary portion of the arguments given that the House Intelligence lawyers have a larger presence at the House impeachment managers table currently.

All other managers are seated at the table.

It’s interesting to note the video clips Schiff and the Democrats are playing thus far. A lot of clips from former National Security Council Russia expert Fiona Hill and the former top U.S. diplomat in Ukraine Bill Taylor — some of their most credible witnesses in the open hearings.

At the same time, they play multiple video clips of Trump and acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney — with them saying publicly what they have denied.

One example is Trump on the White House South Lawn on Oct. 3: “They should investigate the Bidens. Because how does a company that’s newly formed and all these companies, if you look — and by the way, likewise, China should start an investigation into the Bidens. Because what happened in China is just about as bad as what happened with Ukraine.”

Another example: clips of Mulvaney’s infamous exchange with ABC Chief White House Correspondent Jon Karl on Oct. 17, admitting on camera what he completely reversed hours later in a paper statement denying he said anything of the sort.

“Mulvaney didn’t just admit that the president withheld the crucial aid appropriated by Congress to apply pressure on Ukraine to do the president’s political dirty work. He also said that we should just get over it,” Schiff said, then playing the clip.

‘Should the Congress just get over it? Schiff said after playing two of Karl’s exchanges with Mulvaney back to back. “Should the American people just come to expect that our presidents will corruptly abuse their offices to seek the help of a foreign power to cheat in our elections? Should we just get over it? Is that what we’ve come to? I hope and pray the answer is no.”

Schiff played a clip from EU Ambassador Gordon Sondland speaking bluntly about the quid pro quo. “Was there a quid pro quo? As I testified previously, with regard to the requested White House call and the White House meeting, the answer is yes,” Sondland said in the clip of his testimony in the public House Intelligence hearings.

“This quid pro quo was negotiated between the president’s agents, Rudy Giuliani and Ukrainian officials throughout the summer of 2019 in numerous telephone calls, text messages and meetings including during a meeting hosted by then national security adviser John Bolton on July 10th. —– Near the end of that July 10th meeting, after the Ukrainians again raised the issue of a white house visit, ambassador sondland blurted out there would be agreement for — once the investigations began,” Schiff said.

Schiff made the argument that the White House is downplaying the call, saying it’s just about the call and not the preparation leading up to the phone call and all the conversations around it and about it.

“As you consider the evidence we present to you, ask yourselves whether the documents and witnesses that have been denied by the president’s complete and unprecedented obstruction could shed more light on this critical topic,” Schiff said. “You may agree with the House managers that the evidence of the president’s withholding of military aid to coerce Ukraine is already supported by overwhelming evidence and no further insight is necessary to convict the president,” he said. “But if the president’s lawyers attempt to contest these or other factual matters, you are left with no choice but to demand to hear from each witness with firsthand knowledge.”

1:57 p.m. Schiff says the president’s legal team can’t contest the facts

Schiff attempts to bring all the threads of the Ukraine affair together for senators, accusing President Trump of using his office to pressure a foreign country to aid him politically ahead of the next election.

“President Trump withheld hundreds of millions of dollars in military aid to a strategic partner at war with Russia to secure foreign help with his re-election. In other words, to cheat,” he says.

“In this way the president used official state powers available only to him and unavailable to any political opponent to advantage himself in a democratic election. His scheme was undertaken for a simple but corrupt reason, to help him win re-election in 2020,” Schiff continues.

Schiff defends the “overwhelming evidence” and record assembled by the House Intelligence and Judiciary Committees, despite Trump’s “unprecedented and wholesale obstruction” of their investigation.

In gentler terms than yesterday, Schiff appeals to the Senate to vote in favor of hearing from additional witnesses.

“The House believes that an impartial juror upon hearing the evidence that the managers will lay out in the coming days will find that the Constitution demands the removal of Donald J. Trump from his office as president of the United States. But that will be for you to decide. With the weight of history upon you and as President Kennedy once said” “A good conscience is your only sure reward,” he says.

He also takes a shot at the president’s defenders and their argument, saying that former Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz and others are claiming a president can’t be impeached for abusing power because they aren’t contesting that he did so.

“When you focus on the evidence uncovered during the investigation you will appreciate there is no serious dispute about the facts,” he says. “This is why you will hear the president’s lawyers make the astounding claim that you can’t impeach a president for abusing the powers of his office, because they can’t seriously contest that that is exactly, exactly what he did,” he says.

1:53 p.m. Schiff: ‘remarkably consistent evidence of President Trump’s corrupt scheme and cover-up’

Schiff offers an outline of what the managers have called President Trump’s “scheme” to pressure the Ukrainian prime minister and muddle the U.S. intelligence committee findings that Russia meddled in the 2016 election.

“Over the coming days you will hear remarkably consistent evidence of President Trump’s corrupt scheme and cover-up,” Schiff says.

1:08 p.m. Schiff takes lead as Democrats begin 3 days of opening arguments

Rep. Adam Schiff, the lead House manager, begins to make the House case, arguments that could go as long as 24 hours over the next three days.

He starts by thanking the senators, referencing the late night less than 12 hours before.

“We went well into the morning as you know, until I believe around two in the morning, and you paid attention to every word and argument that you heard from both sides in this impeachment trial, and I know we are both deeply grateful for that,” Schiff says, in a noticeably less combative tone than he took on Tuesday.

Schiff then outlines the history of why he says the framers included the power of impeachment in the Constitution.

He then details the specifics of the charges against President Trump.

12:20 p.m. GOP senators call Democrats’ efforts so far a failure

Republican senators ABC News talked to this morning don’t think their Democratic colleagues accomplished much during Tuesday’s marathon session, although at least one acknowledged the fiery tone, which drew criticism from Chief Justice John Roberts, was not ideal.

“I thought the presentations had the unfortunate tone that impeachment is almost always going to have. Impeachment is not a pleasant process. It’s largely a political process and political juices get flowing much hotter than they should in my view, and that was also the Chief Justice’s thinking,” says GOP Sen. Roy Blunt. He acknowledged the atmosphere in the Senate is generally much more cordial than in the House, and senators are used to working across the aisle with one another.

Overall though, he said he would categorize Tuesday’s effort by the Democrats as a failure: “I think where House Democrats failed yesterday and maybe Senate Democrats failed, was trying to use the time in a way that would wear us out, or the chief justice, out, and deny the president’s response, any response this week. Clearly, if they could have kicked this into today, and they would have started their three days tomorrow, the President wouldn’t have had any chance to respond at all before the weekend was over and I think that was what they were trying to do. I think that’s what we all thought they were trying to do,” Blunt says.

Sen. Ron Johnson says, “I thought Chairman Nadler was, certainly didn’t help the case, accusing Republican senators of complicity in some kind of cover up. That’s not helpful. I think the chief justice was very wise to try and bring them back into little, little more appropriate decorum.”

Chief Justice Roberts scolded both House manager Jerry Nadler and the president’s legal team — White House counsel Pat Cipillone and his personal lawyer Jay Sekulow for their tone and language as the debate stretched into the early hours of this morning.

— ABC’s Sarah Kolinvosky

11:25 a.m. Schumer: ‘A dark day and a dark night for the Senate’

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer says that the reason the Senate debate last until almost 2 a.m. this morning was that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell didn’t want to “interfere” with his promise to President Trump to get the impeachment trial over with as quickly as possible.

“It seems the only reason senator McConnell refused to move votes back a day is because it would interfere with the timeline he promised the president,” Schumer says.

Appearing at a news conference with fellow Senate Democrats, Schumer tells reporters that McConnell refused to move votes to today and once again claimed Republicans ” don’t want a fair trial.”

Noting the party-line votes in which Republicans repeatedly rejected Democratic amendments to call witnesses and subpoena documents now from the White House, State Department, Defense Department and the Office of Management and Budget, Schumer calls Tuesday “a dark day and dark night for the Senate.”

When a reporter asks, “Are you willing to let Republicans bring in former Vice President Biden or his son Hunter Biden in order to get the witnesses you want?” Schumer responds, “Look, the bottom line is that the witnesses should have something to do with and direct knowledge of the charges against the president. You know, we don’t need witnesses that have nothing to do with this that are trying to distract Americans from the truth.”

Then, when asked, “Would you cut a deal of any kind with Republicans?” Schumer answers,”Well right now, right now we haven’t heard them wanting any witnesses at all, so our first question is to continue to focus our efforts and focus the American people on the need for a fair trial which means witnesses and documents — witnesses and documents that, again, reflect reflect the truth.

And the bottom line is this: We don’t know what these witnesses and documents will reveal. They could be exculpatory of the president. They could be incriminating of the President. These are certainly not Democratic witnesses or Democratic documents. We want — as both of my colleagues said — the truth. And that’s what we’re going to focus on,” he says.

Sen. Amy Klobuchar tells ABC’s Devin Dwyer she’s “less and less encouraged” but “still holding out hope” there will be witnesses in the trial.

Asked about reports that some Democrats are considering a possible deal in which they would get former national security adviser John Bolton if Republicans got the Bidens, the Democratic presidential candidate answers, “I know negotiations are going on but all I care about are relevant witnesses.”

11 a.m. Senate set to hear opening arguments, Trump calls trial ‘a disgrace’

In about two hours, the Senate will begin to hear arguments in President Trump’s impeachment trial, following a marathon opening day of acrimonious debate over the rules for the trial.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, was forced to revise his resolution outlining the Senate proceedings after several Republican senators privately voiced concerns about elements of the proposal.

The resolution, adjusted to allow House managers and President Trump’s lawyers to make arguments over three days instead of two, and change the rules for the admission of evidence, was adopted early Wednesday morning in a 53-47 vote along party lines.

Neither side filed motions ahead of proceedings Wednesday morning, clearing the way for House managers to begin their arguments after 1 p.m.

Traveling overseas, President Trump said he would be watching today’s session and said his lawyers were doing a good job. He called the trial a “disgrace.”

Under the rules of the trial, the president’s lawyers and Senate allies could introduce a motion to dismiss the charges against Trump later in the Senate proceedings — though top GOP senators have suggested they lack the 51 votes needed to end the trial.

The Senate spent Tuesday in silence, listening to the House managers and Trump’s defense team argue over eleven amendments introduced by Democrats to alter the resolution and issue subpoenas for witnesses and records.

Each measure was defeated in succession along party lines, though Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, a moderate who urged McConnell to alter the underlying resolution, broke with Republicans to support one resolution giving more time for managers and the president’s lawyers to respond to motions.

Near the end of proceedings Tuesday morning, Chief Justice John Roberts, who spent most of the first day of the trial in silence, scolded both sides following a sharp exchange between Rep. Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., and Pat Cipollone and Jay Sekulow, the lawyers leading Trump’s defense team.

“I think it is appropriate at this point for me to admonish both the House managers and president’s counsel in equal terms to remember that they are addressing the world’s greatest deliberative body,” he said.

Nadler had urged the Senate to call former national security adviser John Bolton to testify, and called Cipollone a liar in a later exchange. The top White House lawyer told Nadler to apologize to the president his family, and the Senate.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

President Trump minimizes concussion-like injuries in Iraq attack as merely ‘headaches’

Posted on: January 22nd, 2020 by ABC News No Comments

Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead(DAVOS, Switzerland) — President Donald Trump appeared to brush off the traumatic brain injuries (TBI) and concussion-like injuries sustained by U.S. service members after Iran’s missile strike on a military base in Iraq, saying he did not consider them to be “very serious injuries.”

“I heard that they had headaches. And a couple of other things,” Trump said Wednesday at a news conference in Davos, Switzerland. “But I would say and I can report it is not very serious.”

Trump’s comments drew criticism from veterans advocates who noted that since the height of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the U.S. military and the Department of Veterans Affairs have put in place procedures to treat and lessen the impact of traumatic brain injuries suffered from the blasts from roadside bombs and injuries considered to be the signature wounds of those conflicts.

On Wednesday, the U.S. military acknowledged that an additional number of service members had been flown from Iraq to Germany for observation nearly two weeks after the missile attack on the Al Asad airbase. Last week 11 service members were flown out of Iraq for further observation after presenting concussion-like symptoms.

When pressed by reporters, Trump continued his claim that the injuries weren’t very serious relative “to other injuries I have seen.”

“I have seen what Iran has done with roadside bombs to their troops. I have seen people with no legs and with no arms. I have seen people that were horribly, horribly injured in that area, that war. And in fact many cases put those bombs … put there by Soleimani who is no longer with us. And I consider them to be really bad injuries.” Trump said. “No, I do not consider that to be bad injuries. No.”

Trump’s remarks also drew swift criticism from veterans groups that have advocated for the victims from violence in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Paul Rieckhoff, the founder of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, tweeted: “The @DeptVetAffairs and hundreds of thousands of post-9/11 veterans disagree: research.va.gov/topics/tbi.cfm Don’t just be outraged by #PresidentMayhem’s latest asinine comments. Take action to help vets facing TBIs: uclahealth.org/operationmend/”

The @DeptVetAffairs and hundreds of thousands of post-9/11 veterans disagree: https://t.co/bsMBRhoTlP Don’t just be outraged by #PresidentMayhem’s latest asinine comments. Take action to help vets facing TBIs: https://t.co/xK1eyH1LJe https://t.co/HV9r0CxTHr

— Paul Rieckhoff (@PaulRieckhoff) January 22, 2020

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) defines a traumatic brain injury (TBI) as “a disruption in the normal function of the brain that can be caused by a bump, blow, or jolt to the head, or penetrating head injury.”

In addition, service members and veterans potentially have additional exposure to blasts, from combat and from training.

TBI injuries have been treated as the “signature wound” and “silent epidemic” of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, where insurgents used roadside bombs to significant effect. While the blasts from those bombs caused serious physical injuries to U.S. service members, they also caused a much larger number of TBI injuries that were not immediately visible.

According to the VA, the Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center (DVBIC) “reported more than 408,000 TBIs among U.S. service members worldwide between 2000 and early 2019.”

The VA website adds, “The majority of those TBIs were classified as mild.”

On Tuesday, U.S. Central Command (Centcom) acknowledged that “additional” service members had been identified as having potential injuries and were transported to Germany for observation.

Centcom did not say how many additional service members had been affected beyond the initial 11 reported to have been transferred out of Al Asad last week.

Initially there had been no reports of injuries or deaths resulting from the Iranian missile attack on the base, but concussion-like symptoms may take time before they fully present themselves.

“Given the nature of injuries already noted, it is possible additional injuries may be identified in the future,” said Captain Bill Urban, a Centcom spokesman.

He added, “The health and safety of all service members is the greatest concern for all department leadership and we greatly appreciate the care that these members have received and continue to receive at the hands of our medical professionals.”

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

President Trump minimizes concussion-like injuries in Iraq attack as merely ‘headaches’

Posted on: January 22nd, 2020 by ABC News No Comments

Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead(DAVOS, Switzerland) — President Donald Trump appeared to brush off the traumatic brain injuries (TBI) and concussion-like injuries sustained by U.S. service members after Iran’s missile strike on a military base in Iraq, saying he did not consider them to be “very serious injuries.”

“I heard that they had headaches. And a couple of other things,” Trump said Wednesday at a news conference in Davos, Switzerland. “But I would say and I can report it is not very serious.”

Trump’s comments drew criticism from veterans advocates who noted that since the height of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the U.S. military and the Department of Veterans Affairs have put in place procedures to treat and lessen the impact of traumatic brain injuries suffered from the blasts from roadside bombs and injuries considered to be the signature wounds of those conflicts.

On Wednesday, the U.S. military acknowledged that an additional number of service members had been flown from Iraq to Germany for observation nearly two weeks after the missile attack on the Al Asad airbase. Last week 11 service members were flown out of Iraq for further observation after presenting concussion-like symptoms.

When pressed by reporters, Trump continued his claim that the injuries weren’t very serious relative “to other injuries I have seen.”

“I have seen what Iran has done with roadside bombs to their troops. I have seen people with no legs and with no arms. I have seen people that were horribly, horribly injured in that area, that war. And in fact many cases put those bombs … put there by Soleimani who is no longer with us. And I consider them to be really bad injuries.” Trump said. “No, I do not consider that to be bad injuries. No.”

Trump’s remarks also drew swift criticism from veterans groups that have advocated for the victims from violence in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Paul Rieckhoff, the founder of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, tweeted: “The @DeptVetAffairs and hundreds of thousands of post-9/11 veterans disagree: research.va.gov/topics/tbi.cfm Don’t just be outraged by #PresidentMayhem’s latest asinine comments. Take action to help vets facing TBIs: uclahealth.org/operationmend/”

The @DeptVetAffairs and hundreds of thousands of post-9/11 veterans disagree: https://t.co/bsMBRhoTlP Don’t just be outraged by #PresidentMayhem’s latest asinine comments. Take action to help vets facing TBIs: https://t.co/xK1eyH1LJe https://t.co/HV9r0CxTHr

— Paul Rieckhoff (@PaulRieckhoff) January 22, 2020

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) defines a traumatic brain injury (TBI) as “a disruption in the normal function of the brain that can be caused by a bump, blow, or jolt to the head, or penetrating head injury.”

In addition, service members and veterans potentially have additional exposure to blasts, from combat and from training.

TBI injuries have been treated as the “signature wound” and “silent epidemic” of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, where insurgents used roadside bombs to significant effect. While the blasts from those bombs caused serious physical injuries to U.S. service members, they also caused a much larger number of TBI injuries that were not immediately visible.

According to the VA, the Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center (DVBIC) “reported more than 408,000 TBIs among U.S. service members worldwide between 2000 and early 2019.”

The VA website adds, “The majority of those TBIs were classified as mild.”

On Tuesday, U.S. Central Command (Centcom) acknowledged that “additional” service members had been identified as having potential injuries and were transported to Germany for observation.

Centcom did not say how many additional service members had been affected beyond the initial 11 reported to have been transferred out of Al Asad last week.

Initially there had been no reports of injuries or deaths resulting from the Iranian missile attack on the base, but concussion-like symptoms may take time before they fully present themselves.

“Given the nature of injuries already noted, it is possible additional injuries may be identified in the future,” said Captain Bill Urban, a Centcom spokesman.

He added, “The health and safety of all service members is the greatest concern for all department leadership and we greatly appreciate the care that these members have received and continue to receive at the hands of our medical professionals.”

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Trump impeachment: GOP-led Senate rejects amendments, approves rules of trial

Posted on: January 22nd, 2020 by ABC News No Comments

drnadig/iStock(WASHINGTON) — In a marathon session that began around 1 p.m. ET Tuesday and lasted nearly 13 hours into the early morning Wednesday, the Republican-led Senate rejected all 11 Democratic-proposed amendments en route to approving the rules for the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump.

The only changes to the rules proposed Monday by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell came earlier Tuesday when Republicans reversed their original call for arguments to take place over two days, and instead agreed that arguments would take place over a three-day period. McConnell also agreed to have evidence from the House inquiry automatically admitted as evidence in the Senate trial.

The rules were approved by a party-line vote, 53-47, after more than 12 hours of debate that left many Senate members exhausted by the time the Senate was adjourned shortly before 2 a.m.

Here is how the day unfolded:

1:55 a.m. Final amendments fail and vote on rules passes

Following the rejection of three additional amendments regarding the trail’s timing and procedures, the Senate approved the rules of impeachment as put forth by Sen. McConnell.

The vote passed along party lines 53-47. The Senate then adjourned after nearly 13 hours.

1:19 a.m. 8th amendment to subpoena John Bolton fails following clash

The eighth amendment of the evening, on the question of whether to subpoena former National Security Advisor John Bolton to testify in the impeachment trial, failed along party lines, 53-47.

The vote followed a clash between impeachment manager Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., and White House counsel Pat Cipollone.

“Ambassador Bolton was appointed by President Trump and has stated his willingness to testify in this trial,” Nadler said. “The question is whether the Senate will be complicit in the president’s crimes by covering them up.”

Cipollone, in response, blasted Nadler’s characterization, saying, “Mr. Nadler, you owe an apology to the president of the United States and his family, you owe an apology to the Senate, but most of all, you owe an apology to the American people.”

Chief Justice John Roberts, overseeing the trial, admonished both sides for the rhetoric.

The Senate is now debating additional amendments to the rules related to the trail’s timing and procedures.

12:02 a.m. 7th amendment fails, on to the 8th amendment involving John Bolton

The seventh amendment of the evening, to “prevent the selective admission of evidence and to provide for appropriate handling of classified and confidential materials,” again failed along party lines, 53-47.

The Senate will now take up the question of whether to subpoena former National Security Advisor John Bolton, who Democrats believe could further tie Trump to the Ukraine affair.

11:21 p.m. 6th amendment fails, but debate continues

Chuck Schumer’s sixth amendment, to subpoena testimony from Mick Mulvaney adviser Robert Blair and Office of Management and Budget official Michael Duffey, failed — again along party lines.

And after a brief, five-minute break it was on to the seventh amendment of the evening to “prevent the selective admission of evidence and to provide for appropriate handling of classified and confidential materials.”

The amendment would require “that if, during the impeachment trial of Donald J. Trump, any party seeks to admit evidence that has not been submitted as part of the record of the House of Representatives and that was subject to a duly authorized subpoena, that party shall also provide the opposing party all other documents responsive to that subpoena.”

10:33 p.m. 5th amendment fails, onto the 6th

The fifth amendment proposed by Democrats — to subpoena Department of Defense documents — has failed along party lines, 53-47, and it is on to the sixth amendment.

Schumer’s sixth amendment would subpoena testimony of Robert Blair, senior adviser to Mick Mulvaney, and Michael Duffey, a senior official at the Office of Management and Budget. Debate on the sixth amendment is starting now.

A brief “quorum call” was held earlier in which Sen. McConnell asked Sen. Schumer to dispense with the debate and “stack” the remaining amendment votes we have.

But Schumer responded that he believes each of the remaining votes are extremely important to the country and the Senate will take each of these votes. Schumer offered to put off the remaining votes until Wednesday, but McConnell did not agree to it.

9:53 p.m. Debate begins on 5th amendment

After a pause, a debate began on Schumer’s fifth amendment to subpoena Department of Defense documents. Democratic Rep. Jason Crow kicked off talk and will reserve some of their one hour to respond to the White House argument on this amendment.

9:29 p.m. Schumer’s 4th amendment fails

Schumer’s fourth amendment — to compel testimony from acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney — failed, in a 53-47 vote along party lines.

Just prior, Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y., had argued in favor of the amendment.

“President Trump’s total obstruction makes Richard Nixon look like a choir boy,” he said, after listing the Nixon aides who cooperated with Congress during Watergate.

“Mr. Mulvaney was at the center of every stage of the president’s substantial pressure campaign against Ukraine,” Jeffries said. “Based on the extensive evidence that House did obtain, it is clear that Mulvaney was crucial in planning the scheme, executing its implementation and carrying out the coverup.”

He said a fair trial “demands” that Mulvaney testify.

9:23 p.m. ‘Can we please start?’

Add White House counsel Pat Cipollone to the name of those hoping for Tuesday night’s proceedings to end.
 
Cipollone pleaded with senators to start the trial, hitting Democrats on the multiple amendments they are continuing to debate.

“If we keep going like this it will be next week,” Cipollone said, prompting laughs from the Republican senators, including McConnell, who smirked through Cipollone’s remarks.

“We’re here to have a trial,” he said.

8:03 p.m. White House comments on proceedings, motion to dismiss

Eric Ueland, the White House Legislative Affairs director, who has been in the chamber for the trial, left the door open to the Trump team putting forward a motion to dismiss as early as Wednesday.

“Such motions could be filed as late as 9 a.m. tomorrow morning,” he told ABC News as he stepped out of the chamber.

it is unclear when such a motion would get a vote.

Ueland also said the president is being kept “constantly updated” while in Davos “and is very impressed” with his team’s performance.

“There is a very good infrastructure in place to keep the president updated — while he’s in Davos — the ins and outs of what’s going on here on the floor,” he said.

7:24 p.m. GOP-controlled Senate rejects Democrats’ effort to subpoena OMB records

McConnell calls for a vote to table, or set aside, Schumer’s amendment calling for the Senate to subpoena the Office of Management and Budget for documents related to the military aid to Ukraine.

The amendment is killed 53-47 along strict party lines — just as happened with the two previous Democratic amendments.

Schumer announces a fourth amendment — to subpoena testimony from acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney.

With it still unclear how many more amendments Democrats might offer — and how many more hours of debate that might mean — the Senate then breaks for dinner.

As GOP senators leave the chamber — many grabbing phones and furiously typing on their electronics — they’re huddling just off the floor to enjoy a dinner of pizza.

7:10 p.m. A long day for senators, stuck in seats, listening to hours of arguments

The first long day of the president’s impeachment trial has taken its toll on senators, who have been forced to sit in silence, relying on water and snacks to sustain them through hours of debate over the resolution setting the parameters for the impeachment trial.

The first person caught dozing was Republican Sen. Jim Risch of Idaho.

At about 5:30 p.m., as Rep. Val Demings, D-Fla., spoke in favor of an amendment to subpoena the State Department for records, Risch was slumped over with his head resting in his right hand, and appeared to be sleeping or close to it, though he stirred repeatedly to rub his eyes.

Risch perked up later as Jay Sekulow, a lawyer for Trump, and Rep. Adam Schiff, the lead impeachment manager, took to the floor following Demings.

“What time is it?” Risch could be heard asking when Schiff appeared to run over the time allotted for the managers. He then started tapping the face of his wristwatch, which echoed through the chamber.

Other senators relied on gum and mints to stay alert. GOP Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina was seen popping a mint into his mouth at about 6:10 p.m. Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon was seen chewing on his pen.
 
The Senate is expected to break for dinner between 8 and 9 p.m. ET after a vote to table the Democrats’ third amendment, which seeks to subpoena the Office of Management and Budget for records.

7:04 p.m. Sekulow argues Ukraine aid ultimately delivered without investigation announcement

The president’s personal attorney and part of his defense team Jay Sekulow repeated arguments from Republicans that the Trump administration ultimately provided aid to Ukraine that was authorized by Congress and went further than aid provided by the Obama administration.

Sekulow said that the fact that the aid was ultimately provided without an announcement of an investigation into the Bidens or Burisma undercuts the Democrats’ argument that Trump held back the money for his own political benefit.

6:39 p.m. House manager Jason Crow argues OMB documents would show Trump used national defense funds for his political benefit

House manager Jason Crow begins his argument in favor of the amendment to subpoena the Office of Management and Budget by sharing some of his personal history as an Army Ranger serving in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Crow is in his first term in Congress and served in the 82nd Airborne Division before joining the 75th Ranger Regiment, with which he served two tours in Afghanistan as part of the Joint Special Operations Task Force.

He says the decision to withhold military aid from Ukraine was “personal” to him and that OMB played a key role in the decisions to hold back aid approved by Congress.

“These documents would provide insight into critical aspects of the military-aid hold. They would show the decision-making process and motivations behind President Trump’s freeze. They would reveal the concerns expressed by career OMB officials including lawyers that the hold was violating the law. They would expose the lengths to which OMB went to justify the president’s hold,” he says.

“They would reveal concerns about the impact of the freeze on Ukraine and U.S. national security. They would show senior officials repeatedly attempted to convince President Trump to release the hold. In short, they would show exactly how the president carried out the scheme to use our national defense funds to benefit his personal political campaign,” Crow says.

6:20 p.m. Senate rejects second Democratic amendment, for State Department documents, also along party lines

Schiff appeals directly to the senators sitting silently in the chamber in his argument that they should vote to subpoena the State Department for additional evidence in the impeachment trial.

“You’re going to have 16 hours to ask questions. Sixteen hours — that’s a long time to ask questions. Wouldn’t you like to be able to ask about the documents during that 16 hours?” Schiff says.

Schiff references the “three amigos,” three administration officials who took the lead in the administration’s policy in Ukraine.

Although Ambassadors Kurt Volker and Gordon Sondland both testified as part of the House impeachment inquiry, Schiff pointed out that the third “amigo” — former Energy Secretary Rick Perry — has thus far refused to cooperate with investigators or provide any documents.

“Wouldn’t you like to know? Don’t you think the American people have a right to know what the third Amigo knew about this scheme?” Schiff asks.

McConnell calls for a vote to table Schumer’s second amendment, calling for the Senate to subpoena the State Department for documents related to the administration’s involvement in Ukraine and decision to withhold military aid. That amendment is tabled — or killed– along party lines, just his first one calling for White House witnesses was rejected.

Schumer then offers a third amendment to subpoena the Office of Management and Budget for documents.

Some color from our reporters inside the chamber watching from above in the press gallery:

During the defense’s statements, the most aggressive Republican note takers were GOP Sens. Murkowski and Collins (two of the four Republicans we are watching closely). The two women wrote for multiple minutes as White House counsel Pat Cipollone spoke.

A few aides have been walking on and off the floor to deliver notes to members, who for the most part remain quiet and attentive.

Also coming on and off the floor — Senate pages who have been vigorously delivering water glasses to both the House legal team and the members over the last few minutes.

6:05 p.m. Chief Justice John Roberts has to be back at his first job Wednesday morning

Even as it’s unclear how much longer the Senate will go Tuesday night debating Democratic amendments, one of the few people in the chamber who will have to be back at work first thing Wednesday morning — running an entire branch of government — is the chief justice.

He’ll preside over oral arguments at the Supreme Court in a major case involving religion and school choice that public school unions say is “crucial” for their funding. That begins at 10 a.m.

The senators and other staff presumably won’t be back in business until midday when the trial’s opening arguments are expected to begin at 1 p.m. and Roberts will need to be back on the Senate dais as presiding officer.

5:20 p.m. Democratic Rep. Val Demings argues Senate must subpoena State Department documents

House manager Val Demings is now making an argument in favor of an amendment to subpoena the State Department for documents related to Ukraine.

Demings, 62, made an impression in questioning witnesses when the testified before both the House Intelligence and Judiciary Committees.

Unlike the other House managers, Demings doesn’t have a background as a litigator but she did work in the criminal justice system as the first female police chief in the Orlando Police Department, where she served for 27 years.

A Florida State University and Webster University graduate, Demings is the only member of the managing team without a law degree, and the only member with a law enforcement background.

4:40 p.m. Senate rejects Schumer amendment calling for a subpoena for White House witnesses and documents

On a party line vote, 53-47, the Senate votes to put aside — or kill — Schumer’s amendment to subpoena witnesses and documents from the White House.

Schumer proposes a new amendment to subpoena documents from the State Department related to calls between Trump and Ukrainian President Zelenskiy.

There will be another two hours of debate on that amendment. McConnell says he will move to table that amendment as well.

4:14 p.m. Trump’s lawyers argue all the Democrats’s subpoenas have been invalid

Patrick Philbin, one of the lawyers on Trump’s defense team, pushes back on the Democrats’ argument that the White House refused to cooperate with the inquiry.

He says the White House did respond to subpoena requests with a letter laying out why it saw the subpoenas were invalid — primarily that the House had not voted to authorize an official impeachment inquiry.

“All of those subpoenas were invalid,” he says. “And that was explained to the House, to manager Schiff and the other chairman of the committees at the time in that October 18th letter. Did the House take any steps to remedy that? Did they try to dispute that? Did they go to court? Did they do anything to resolve that problem? No.”

After Philbin finishes, Schiff speaks again.

“Let’s get this trial started, shall we?” Schiff says in response to the president’s lawyers’ claim that Democrats are pushing for more evidence because the House’s case isn’t strong enough.

“We are ready to present our case. We are ready to call our witnesses. The question is will you let us?” he asks.
 
As arguments conclude, McConnell makes a motion to put Schumer’s amendment aside.

3:42 p.m. Former GOP Sen. Jeff Flake watches from Senate Gallery

Former Sen. Jeff Flake is in the chamber. He is seated in the upper level that is reserved for staff and guests. He looked over to the press area where reporters are seated and smiled.

The former senator and fierce Trump critic announced in 2017 that he would not seek reelection.

Flake notably has said that if the Senate held a secret ballot to remove Trump from office, more than 30 Republicans would vote to oust him.

3:34 p.m. House manager Zoe Lofgren says documents Democrats want subpoenaed would reveal ‘the truth’

House manager Zoe Lofgren argues Schumer’s amendment to subpoena key evidence from the White House would circumvent Trump’s efforts to block the House impeachment investigation by refusing to release documents or blocking officials from cooperating.

She says evidence released through Freedom of Information Act requests and messages from Ruddy Giuliani associate Lev Parnas made public after the House impeachment vote show that the White House documents could further implicate the president in wrongdoing concerning the withheld aid to Ukraine.

“The documents include records of the people who may have objected to this scheme, such as Ambassador (John) Bolton. This is an important impeachment case against the president. The most important documents are going to be at the White House. The documents Senator Schumer’s amendment targets would provide clarity and context about president Trump’s scheme,” Lofgren says.

“We don’t know with certainty what the documents will say. We simply want the truth … whatever that truth may be. So, so do the American people. They want to know the truth. And so should everybody in this chamber regardless of our party affiliation,” she adds.

Lofgren points out that multiple witnesses in the House investigation testified they took detailed, handwritten notes around relevant events like the July 25 call between Trump and Ukrainian President Zelenskiy.

She says documents like those notes would provide a first-hand look at how Trump’s behavior was perceived by those around him at the time.

3:26 p.m. Schiff argues the president’s lawyers didn’t even mention the rules resolution

After the break, Schiff pushes back on accusations from the president’s lawyers that the House impeachment proceedings were unfair and that Republicans and representatives of the president weren’t allowed to participate. He says it is “just plain wrong” to say Republicans weren’t allowed in the depositions with witnesses or that the president wasn’t allowed to send a representative to Judiciary Committee proceedings.

“I’m not going to suggest to you they are being deliberately misleading here, but it is just plain wrong. You have also heard my friends at the other table make attacks on me and chairman Nadler. You will hear more of that. I am not going to do them the dignity of responding to them, but I will say this. They make a very important point, although it’s not the point I think they’re trying to make,” Schiff said.

“When you hear them attack the House managers, what you are really hearing is ‘we don’t want to talk about the president’s guilt. We don’t want to talk about the McConnell resolution and how patently unfair it is,’” he continued.

2:55 p.m. Inside the Senate chamber, senators taking notes, exchanging messages

As the Senate took a break, ABC’s Mariam Khan reports senators, for the most part, were sitting quietly at their desks while Cipollone, Sekulow and Schiff took turns speaking.

Senators seem to be paying close attention, maintaining eye contact with the speakers, and taking notes.

As Schiff spoke about the charges against the president, Trump’s key allies — GOP Sens. Lindsey Graham, David Perdue, Jim Risch, James Inhofe, and several others — stared stoically ahead.

Moderate GOP Sens. Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski — who are seated next to each other — are taking copious amounts of notes, their faces expressionless.

While Schiff was speaking, Graham started to look a little bored, shifting in his seat constantly. While senators cannot speak to one another during the proceedings, he scribbled out a note on his legal notepad and shared it with his seat mate, Sen. John Barrasso.

Barrasso read the note, exchanged a knowing look with Graham and the two quietly chuckled.

When Schiff went on about the need for witnesses, Graham appeared to smirk.

When Schiff played a video of Trump saying he wanted to hear from witnesses, Minority Leader Schumer began to grin widely. He looked pleased.

Meanwhile, senators are still getting messages from the outside world. Aides are discreetly walking on to the floor to hand deliver paper messages to senators. Senate pages are walking around filling up water glasses.

2:39 p.m. Trump’s lawyers argue the Democrats failed to pursue their case in the courts

Trump’s personal attorney Jay Sekulow begins his argument by slamming the process in the House impeachment inquiry.

“And what we just heard from manager Schiff, courts have no role, privileges don’t apply, what happened in the past we should just ignore. In fact, manager Schiff just said try to summarize my colleagues defense of the president,” Sekulow says.

“He said not in those words of course, which is not the first time Mr. Schiff has put words into transcripts that did not exist. Mr. Schiff also talked about a trifecta,” Sekulow says.

“I’ll give you a trifecta. During the proceedings that took place before the Judiciary Committee, the president was denied the right to cross-examine witnesses. The president was denied the right to access evidence. And the president was denied the right to have counsel present at hearings. This is a trifecta that violates the Constitution of the United States. Mr. Schiff did say the courts really don’t have a role in this. Executive privilege, why would that matter? It matters because it is based on the Constitution of the United States,” Sekulow continues.

The president and his counsel could not participate in person during the depositions that House Intelligence, Judiciary and Oversight committees held but once the hearings moved to the House Judiciary Committee, the White House and the president chose not to participate even though they were invited to present a defense.

Pat Cipollone also says that Schiff was keeping Republicans out of the impeachment depositions. That is not true. Republicans on the committees mentioned participated in the depositions.

Sekulow argues that the only reason we are here is because Democrats want the president removed from office.
 
“What are we dealing with here? Why are we here? Are we here because of a phone call? Or are we before a great body because, since the president was sworn into office, there was a desire to see him removed,” he says.

He says that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi expressed her impatience and contempt for the proceedings and waiting for the courts to rule when she said “we cannot be at the mercy of the courts.”

“That is why we have courts … to determine constitutional issues of this magnitude,” he says, “although it should be noted that the administration has argued that the courts should not have a role here.”

2:13 p.m. GOP’s Collins pressed to have arguments take place over three — not two — days

ABC’s Trish Turner on Capitol Hill reports aides to moderate GOP Sen. Susan Collins say she and others raised concerns about trying to fit the 24 hours of opening statements in two days under the proposed rules and the admission of the House transcript of the evidence into the Senate record.

Her position has been that the trial should follow the Clinton model as much as possible, the aides say. She thinks these changes are a significant improvement, they say.

Later, during a break, a Republican senator — who asked not to be quoted — said the discussion of the tweaks to McConnell’s resolution was the topic of discussion at the GOP lunch today.

Some of the key senators, like Collins, “were clearly concerned about the topics around which changes were made,” this senator said, reports ABC’s Trish Turner.

”It was clear there was quite a bit of concern,” so it was changed, the senator said.

Sen. Ron Johnson said, “There was pretty strong feeling which is why it got changed,” saying the concern extended even beyond moderate senators. Republicans wanted to take an argument away from Schumer, he said. “We are not trying to hide testimony in the wee hours of the morning.”

2:08 p.m. Trump tweets from Switzerland

Trump appears to be monitoring the Senate trial from his trip to Davos, Switzerland, to attend the World Economic Forum, reports ABC’s Elizabeth Thomas.

A few minutes after he left a dinner with global chief executive officers, the last scheduled event of the day in Davos, Trump tweeted, “READ THE TRANSCRIPTS!” — one of his favorite defenses, as he has often said before, referring to his calls with Ukraine’s president — calls which he calls “perfect.”

1:34 p.m. Schiff says Trump is arguing there is nothing Congress can do about his conduct

House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff makes his first remarks in Tuesday’s session, speaking on behalf of the House impeachment managers against McConnell’s resolution.

He says Trump is arguing that there is nothing Congress can do about the behavior in question in the trial and the trial won’t be fair if both sides are blocked from introducing new evidence.

“If a president can obstruct his own investigation, if he can effectively nullify a power, the Constitution gives solely to Congress and indeed the ultimate power, the ultimate power the Constitution gives to prevent presidential misconduct, then the president places himself beyond accountability, above the law,” Schiff says.
 
“It makes him a monarch, the very evil which against our Constitution and the balance of powers the Constitution was laid out to guard against,” he says.

Schiff continues to focus on the ability for the Senate to immediately hear from witnesses and receive additional documents before continuing with the trial.

“If the Senate votes to deprive itself of witnesses and documents the opening statements will be the end of the trial,” Schiff says.

Earlier on the Senate floor, McConnell said votes on subpoenas and witnesses should not happen until later in the trial, as outlined in the procedural resolution his office announced Monday. Most Americans, Schiff said, don’t believe there will be a fair trial and that Trump will be acquitted.

“Let’s prove them wrong! How? By convicting the president? No.” Schiff says. “By letting the House prove its case.”

Schiff makes the case for additional evidence and witnesses in the Senate trial, with the help of the president’s own words.

While speaking on the Senate floor, Schiff plays several clips of Trump. The first shows Trump saying he wants witnesses, and another featuring the president saying Article II of the Constitution gives him the right to do “whatever I want.”

“The innocent do not act this way,” Schiff says.

This trial, he added, should not “reward” the president’s obstruction by letting him determine what evidence is seen by the Senate.

He also pushed back on the criticism that the House had not exhausted its legal efforts in court to obtain access to witnesses and evidence.

Continuing to mount a legal case, Schiff argues, would encourage Trump to “endlessly litigate the matter in court on every judgment,” essentially filibustering the impeachment process.

Schiff spoke after White House counsel Pat Cipollone spoke briefly on behalf of Trump, in support of the rules and calling on the Senate to acquit the president as soon as possible.

1:20 p.m. Senate considers rules resolution that now calls for 24 hours of arguments over three days

With Chief Justice John Roberts presiding, the Senate begins considering the rules resolution proposed by McConnell that Democrats strongly object to as unfair.

The trial resumed at 1:17 p.m. after being scheduled to resume at 1 p.m.

In a major change, the proposed rules would now allow each side to make their case in a total of 24 hours over three — not two — days.

It also means the whole trial will likely take longer.

McConnell’s team is expected to confirm that evidence from the House inquiry will now be admitted but not new evidence obtained since the House vote to impeach the president on Dec. 18.

Someone can object to that evidence being admitted, according to the proposed change.

12:35 p.m. McConnell says ‘finally, some fairness’ in opening remarks

Majority Leader McConnell begins his opening remarks — before the formal start of the trial at 1 p.m. — by saying, “finally, some fairness.”

“This is the fair road map for out trial,” he says of the proposed rules resolution he will soon formally introduce, saying it will bring the “clarity and fairness that everyone deserves.”

Minority Leader Schumer calls McConnell’s rules “completely partisan” and “designed by President Trump and for President Trump,” adding they would mean “a rushed trial with little evidence in the dark of night.”

Schumer says the McConnell rules are “nothing like the Clinton rules,” saying that includes allowing a motion to dismiss the case to be made at any time.

As the senators argue, Chief Justice John Roberts, who will preside over the Senate trial, arrives on Capitol Hill.

12:25 p.m. Key GOP senators say they’re on board with McConnell’s proposed rules

Heading in their weekly closed-door GOP lunch, key senators Mitt Romney of Utah and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska say they’re on board with the McConnell’s rules resolution, both indicating that it looks the same to them as the Clinton trial rules resolution.

Romney calls the difference between the Trump trial and Clinton resolutions “insignificant,” while Democrats have said there are major differences, accusing Republicans of using the rules to engineer a “cover-up.”

“You’ll get what you need in eight-hour blocks or 12-hour blocks,” Romney says, referring to the length of each of the two days Democrats would have to present their case.

Murkowski echoes Romney, saying,“It’s the same 24 hours (as in Clinton), so what’s the difference if it’s eight hours or 12?”

Earlier, in a statement, Romney says, “If attempts are made to vote on witnesses prior to opening arguments, I would oppose those efforts.”

11:31 a.m. Schumer says McConnell’s proposed rules will force debate into the ‘dead of night’

Ahead of the Senate trial, Minority Leader Chuck Schumer sharply criticizes the procedural rules outlined by McConnell Monday night.

Schumer takes issue with provisions he says would force debate into “the dead of night” and warns GOP moderate senators he will force an initial vote on whether to allow senators to review documents and question witnesses.

“Right off the bat, Republican senators will face a choice about getting the facts or joining leader McConnell and President Trump in trying to cover them up,” Schumer tells reporters.

“A trial with no evidence is not a trial at all. It’s a cover-up,” Schumer says.

“This is a historic moment,” Schumer adds. “The eyes of American are watching. Republican senators must rise to the occasion.”

When asked if he plans to force votes to oppose McConnell’s decision to split the 24 hours designated for opening arguments over two days, Schumer says “wait and see.”

Schumer says he will ask that White House documents be subpeonaed. including phone records between Trump and Ukraine’s president, and other call records between administration officials about the military aid meant for Ukraine that Trump directed be withheld.

10:15 a.m. House managers complain about proposed trial rules

About three hours before they will appear on the Senate floor, House impeachment managers, led by House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff, hold a news conference to complain about McConnell’s proposed rules, which would give them 24 hours over just two days or present their case, possibly meaning their arguments going past midnight.

“This is a process where you do not want the American people to see the evidence,” Schiff says.

“We could see why this resolution was kept from us and the American people,” he says, calling it “nothing like” the Clinton resolution in terms of both witnesses and documents.

“It does not prescribe a process for a fair trial and the American trial desperately want to believe that the Senate … will give the president a fair trial,” Schiff says.

Without documents, Schiff said, you can’t determine which witnesses to call and what to ask them.

He was joined by the full managing team.

He also said McConnell is “compressing the time of the trial,” citing the extended 12-hour days for arguments.

Schiff says managers will appeal to the senators Tuesday to “live up to the oath that they have taken.”

Rep. Jerry Nadler, the House Judiciary Committee chairman, who along with Schiff, will take the lead for the Democrats, said “there is no other conceivable reason the deny witnesses.”

Nadler adds that all the Senate is doing is to “debate whether there will be a cover up,” accusing Republicans of “being afraid of what the witnesses will say.”

Schiff wouldn’t say if the House would use all 24 hours for their arguments and a full 12 hours each day but said that should be up to the House, and not the Senate in the trial rules.

9:19 a.m. House managers claim “ethical questions” about White House counsel Cipollone

House managers send a letter to a member of Trump’s legal team Tuesday morning stating that he was a “material witness” to the impeachment charges brought by the House. The managers, led by Schiff, claim there are “serious concerns and ethical questions” surrounding White House counsel Pat Cipollene’s role as Trump’s top impeachment lawyer.

“You must disclose all facts and information as to which you have first-hand knowledge that will be at issue in connection with evidence you present or arguments you make in your role as the President’s legal advocate so that the Senate and Chief Justice can be apprised of any potential ethical issues, conflicts, or biases,” the House managers write in a letter to Cipollone.

ABC News reported Friday that Cipollone would continue to lead the president’s defense through the impeachment trial along with the president’s personal lawyer, Jay Sekulow.

They’re joined on Trump’s defense team by former independent counsel lawyers Ken Starr and Robert Ray who were both involved in investigating and prosecuting the impeachment case against President Bill Clinton.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Trump impeachment: GOP-led Senate rejects amendments, approves rules of trial

Posted on: January 22nd, 2020 by ABC News No Comments

drnadig/iStock(WASHINGTON) — In a marathon session that began around 1 p.m. ET Tuesday and lasted nearly 13 hours into the early morning Wednesday, the Republican-led Senate rejected all 11 Democratic-proposed amendments en route to approving the rules for the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump.

The only changes to the rules proposed Monday by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell came earlier Tuesday when Republicans reversed their original call for arguments to take place over two days, and instead agreed that arguments would take place over a three-day period. McConnell also agreed to have evidence from the House inquiry automatically admitted as evidence in the Senate trial.

The rules were approved by a party-line vote, 53-47, after more than 12 hours of debate that left many Senate members exhausted by the time the Senate was adjourned shortly before 2 a.m.

Here is how the day unfolded:

1:55 a.m. Final amendments fail and vote on rules passes

Following the rejection of three additional amendments regarding the trail’s timing and procedures, the Senate approved the rules of impeachment as put forth by Sen. McConnell.

The vote passed along party lines 53-47. The Senate then adjourned after nearly 13 hours.

1:19 a.m. 8th amendment to subpoena John Bolton fails following clash

The eighth amendment of the evening, on the question of whether to subpoena former National Security Advisor John Bolton to testify in the impeachment trial, failed along party lines, 53-47.

The vote followed a clash between impeachment manager Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., and White House counsel Pat Cipollone.

“Ambassador Bolton was appointed by President Trump and has stated his willingness to testify in this trial,” Nadler said. “The question is whether the Senate will be complicit in the president’s crimes by covering them up.”

Cipollone, in response, blasted Nadler’s characterization, saying, “Mr. Nadler, you owe an apology to the president of the United States and his family, you owe an apology to the Senate, but most of all, you owe an apology to the American people.”

Chief Justice John Roberts, overseeing the trial, admonished both sides for the rhetoric.

The Senate is now debating additional amendments to the rules related to the trail’s timing and procedures.

12:02 a.m. 7th amendment fails, on to the 8th amendment involving John Bolton

The seventh amendment of the evening, to “prevent the selective admission of evidence and to provide for appropriate handling of classified and confidential materials,” again failed along party lines, 53-47.

The Senate will now take up the question of whether to subpoena former National Security Advisor John Bolton, who Democrats believe could further tie Trump to the Ukraine affair.

11:21 p.m. 6th amendment fails, but debate continues

Chuck Schumer’s sixth amendment, to subpoena testimony from Mick Mulvaney adviser Robert Blair and Office of Management and Budget official Michael Duffey, failed — again along party lines.

And after a brief, five-minute break it was on to the seventh amendment of the evening to “prevent the selective admission of evidence and to provide for appropriate handling of classified and confidential materials.”

The amendment would require “that if, during the impeachment trial of Donald J. Trump, any party seeks to admit evidence that has not been submitted as part of the record of the House of Representatives and that was subject to a duly authorized subpoena, that party shall also provide the opposing party all other documents responsive to that subpoena.”

10:33 p.m. 5th amendment fails, onto the 6th

The fifth amendment proposed by Democrats — to subpoena Department of Defense documents — has failed along party lines, 53-47, and it is on to the sixth amendment.

Schumer’s sixth amendment would subpoena testimony of Robert Blair, senior adviser to Mick Mulvaney, and Michael Duffey, a senior official at the Office of Management and Budget. Debate on the sixth amendment is starting now.

A brief “quorum call” was held earlier in which Sen. McConnell asked Sen. Schumer to dispense with the debate and “stack” the remaining amendment votes we have.

But Schumer responded that he believes each of the remaining votes are extremely important to the country and the Senate will take each of these votes. Schumer offered to put off the remaining votes until Wednesday, but McConnell did not agree to it.

9:53 p.m. Debate begins on 5th amendment

After a pause, a debate began on Schumer’s fifth amendment to subpoena Department of Defense documents. Democratic Rep. Jason Crow kicked off talk and will reserve some of their one hour to respond to the White House argument on this amendment.

9:29 p.m. Schumer’s 4th amendment fails

Schumer’s fourth amendment — to compel testimony from acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney — failed, in a 53-47 vote along party lines.

Just prior, Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y., had argued in favor of the amendment.

“President Trump’s total obstruction makes Richard Nixon look like a choir boy,” he said, after listing the Nixon aides who cooperated with Congress during Watergate.

“Mr. Mulvaney was at the center of every stage of the president’s substantial pressure campaign against Ukraine,” Jeffries said. “Based on the extensive evidence that House did obtain, it is clear that Mulvaney was crucial in planning the scheme, executing its implementation and carrying out the coverup.”

He said a fair trial “demands” that Mulvaney testify.

9:23 p.m. ‘Can we please start?’

Add White House counsel Pat Cipollone to the name of those hoping for Tuesday night’s proceedings to end.
 
Cipollone pleaded with senators to start the trial, hitting Democrats on the multiple amendments they are continuing to debate.

“If we keep going like this it will be next week,” Cipollone said, prompting laughs from the Republican senators, including McConnell, who smirked through Cipollone’s remarks.

“We’re here to have a trial,” he said.

8:03 p.m. White House comments on proceedings, motion to dismiss

Eric Ueland, the White House Legislative Affairs director, who has been in the chamber for the trial, left the door open to the Trump team putting forward a motion to dismiss as early as Wednesday.

“Such motions could be filed as late as 9 a.m. tomorrow morning,” he told ABC News as he stepped out of the chamber.

it is unclear when such a motion would get a vote.

Ueland also said the president is being kept “constantly updated” while in Davos “and is very impressed” with his team’s performance.

“There is a very good infrastructure in place to keep the president updated — while he’s in Davos — the ins and outs of what’s going on here on the floor,” he said.

7:24 p.m. GOP-controlled Senate rejects Democrats’ effort to subpoena OMB records

McConnell calls for a vote to table, or set aside, Schumer’s amendment calling for the Senate to subpoena the Office of Management and Budget for documents related to the military aid to Ukraine.

The amendment is killed 53-47 along strict party lines — just as happened with the two previous Democratic amendments.

Schumer announces a fourth amendment — to subpoena testimony from acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney.

With it still unclear how many more amendments Democrats might offer — and how many more hours of debate that might mean — the Senate then breaks for dinner.

As GOP senators leave the chamber — many grabbing phones and furiously typing on their electronics — they’re huddling just off the floor to enjoy a dinner of pizza.

7:10 p.m. A long day for senators, stuck in seats, listening to hours of arguments

The first long day of the president’s impeachment trial has taken its toll on senators, who have been forced to sit in silence, relying on water and snacks to sustain them through hours of debate over the resolution setting the parameters for the impeachment trial.

The first person caught dozing was Republican Sen. Jim Risch of Idaho.

At about 5:30 p.m., as Rep. Val Demings, D-Fla., spoke in favor of an amendment to subpoena the State Department for records, Risch was slumped over with his head resting in his right hand, and appeared to be sleeping or close to it, though he stirred repeatedly to rub his eyes.

Risch perked up later as Jay Sekulow, a lawyer for Trump, and Rep. Adam Schiff, the lead impeachment manager, took to the floor following Demings.

“What time is it?” Risch could be heard asking when Schiff appeared to run over the time allotted for the managers. He then started tapping the face of his wristwatch, which echoed through the chamber.

Other senators relied on gum and mints to stay alert. GOP Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina was seen popping a mint into his mouth at about 6:10 p.m. Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon was seen chewing on his pen.
 
The Senate is expected to break for dinner between 8 and 9 p.m. ET after a vote to table the Democrats’ third amendment, which seeks to subpoena the Office of Management and Budget for records.

7:04 p.m. Sekulow argues Ukraine aid ultimately delivered without investigation announcement

The president’s personal attorney and part of his defense team Jay Sekulow repeated arguments from Republicans that the Trump administration ultimately provided aid to Ukraine that was authorized by Congress and went further than aid provided by the Obama administration.

Sekulow said that the fact that the aid was ultimately provided without an announcement of an investigation into the Bidens or Burisma undercuts the Democrats’ argument that Trump held back the money for his own political benefit.

6:39 p.m. House manager Jason Crow argues OMB documents would show Trump used national defense funds for his political benefit

House manager Jason Crow begins his argument in favor of the amendment to subpoena the Office of Management and Budget by sharing some of his personal history as an Army Ranger serving in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Crow is in his first term in Congress and served in the 82nd Airborne Division before joining the 75th Ranger Regiment, with which he served two tours in Afghanistan as part of the Joint Special Operations Task Force.

He says the decision to withhold military aid from Ukraine was “personal” to him and that OMB played a key role in the decisions to hold back aid approved by Congress.

“These documents would provide insight into critical aspects of the military-aid hold. They would show the decision-making process and motivations behind President Trump’s freeze. They would reveal the concerns expressed by career OMB officials including lawyers that the hold was violating the law. They would expose the lengths to which OMB went to justify the president’s hold,” he says.

“They would reveal concerns about the impact of the freeze on Ukraine and U.S. national security. They would show senior officials repeatedly attempted to convince President Trump to release the hold. In short, they would show exactly how the president carried out the scheme to use our national defense funds to benefit his personal political campaign,” Crow says.

6:20 p.m. Senate rejects second Democratic amendment, for State Department documents, also along party lines

Schiff appeals directly to the senators sitting silently in the chamber in his argument that they should vote to subpoena the State Department for additional evidence in the impeachment trial.

“You’re going to have 16 hours to ask questions. Sixteen hours — that’s a long time to ask questions. Wouldn’t you like to be able to ask about the documents during that 16 hours?” Schiff says.

Schiff references the “three amigos,” three administration officials who took the lead in the administration’s policy in Ukraine.

Although Ambassadors Kurt Volker and Gordon Sondland both testified as part of the House impeachment inquiry, Schiff pointed out that the third “amigo” — former Energy Secretary Rick Perry — has thus far refused to cooperate with investigators or provide any documents.

“Wouldn’t you like to know? Don’t you think the American people have a right to know what the third Amigo knew about this scheme?” Schiff asks.

McConnell calls for a vote to table Schumer’s second amendment, calling for the Senate to subpoena the State Department for documents related to the administration’s involvement in Ukraine and decision to withhold military aid. That amendment is tabled — or killed– along party lines, just his first one calling for White House witnesses was rejected.

Schumer then offers a third amendment to subpoena the Office of Management and Budget for documents.

Some color from our reporters inside the chamber watching from above in the press gallery:

During the defense’s statements, the most aggressive Republican note takers were GOP Sens. Murkowski and Collins (two of the four Republicans we are watching closely). The two women wrote for multiple minutes as White House counsel Pat Cipollone spoke.

A few aides have been walking on and off the floor to deliver notes to members, who for the most part remain quiet and attentive.

Also coming on and off the floor — Senate pages who have been vigorously delivering water glasses to both the House legal team and the members over the last few minutes.

6:05 p.m. Chief Justice John Roberts has to be back at his first job Wednesday morning

Even as it’s unclear how much longer the Senate will go Tuesday night debating Democratic amendments, one of the few people in the chamber who will have to be back at work first thing Wednesday morning — running an entire branch of government — is the chief justice.

He’ll preside over oral arguments at the Supreme Court in a major case involving religion and school choice that public school unions say is “crucial” for their funding. That begins at 10 a.m.

The senators and other staff presumably won’t be back in business until midday when the trial’s opening arguments are expected to begin at 1 p.m. and Roberts will need to be back on the Senate dais as presiding officer.

5:20 p.m. Democratic Rep. Val Demings argues Senate must subpoena State Department documents

House manager Val Demings is now making an argument in favor of an amendment to subpoena the State Department for documents related to Ukraine.

Demings, 62, made an impression in questioning witnesses when the testified before both the House Intelligence and Judiciary Committees.

Unlike the other House managers, Demings doesn’t have a background as a litigator but she did work in the criminal justice system as the first female police chief in the Orlando Police Department, where she served for 27 years.

A Florida State University and Webster University graduate, Demings is the only member of the managing team without a law degree, and the only member with a law enforcement background.

4:40 p.m. Senate rejects Schumer amendment calling for a subpoena for White House witnesses and documents

On a party line vote, 53-47, the Senate votes to put aside — or kill — Schumer’s amendment to subpoena witnesses and documents from the White House.

Schumer proposes a new amendment to subpoena documents from the State Department related to calls between Trump and Ukrainian President Zelenskiy.

There will be another two hours of debate on that amendment. McConnell says he will move to table that amendment as well.

4:14 p.m. Trump’s lawyers argue all the Democrats’s subpoenas have been invalid

Patrick Philbin, one of the lawyers on Trump’s defense team, pushes back on the Democrats’ argument that the White House refused to cooperate with the inquiry.

He says the White House did respond to subpoena requests with a letter laying out why it saw the subpoenas were invalid — primarily that the House had not voted to authorize an official impeachment inquiry.

“All of those subpoenas were invalid,” he says. “And that was explained to the House, to manager Schiff and the other chairman of the committees at the time in that October 18th letter. Did the House take any steps to remedy that? Did they try to dispute that? Did they go to court? Did they do anything to resolve that problem? No.”

After Philbin finishes, Schiff speaks again.

“Let’s get this trial started, shall we?” Schiff says in response to the president’s lawyers’ claim that Democrats are pushing for more evidence because the House’s case isn’t strong enough.

“We are ready to present our case. We are ready to call our witnesses. The question is will you let us?” he asks.
 
As arguments conclude, McConnell makes a motion to put Schumer’s amendment aside.

3:42 p.m. Former GOP Sen. Jeff Flake watches from Senate Gallery

Former Sen. Jeff Flake is in the chamber. He is seated in the upper level that is reserved for staff and guests. He looked over to the press area where reporters are seated and smiled.

The former senator and fierce Trump critic announced in 2017 that he would not seek reelection.

Flake notably has said that if the Senate held a secret ballot to remove Trump from office, more than 30 Republicans would vote to oust him.

3:34 p.m. House manager Zoe Lofgren says documents Democrats want subpoenaed would reveal ‘the truth’

House manager Zoe Lofgren argues Schumer’s amendment to subpoena key evidence from the White House would circumvent Trump’s efforts to block the House impeachment investigation by refusing to release documents or blocking officials from cooperating.

She says evidence released through Freedom of Information Act requests and messages from Ruddy Giuliani associate Lev Parnas made public after the House impeachment vote show that the White House documents could further implicate the president in wrongdoing concerning the withheld aid to Ukraine.

“The documents include records of the people who may have objected to this scheme, such as Ambassador (John) Bolton. This is an important impeachment case against the president. The most important documents are going to be at the White House. The documents Senator Schumer’s amendment targets would provide clarity and context about president Trump’s scheme,” Lofgren says.

“We don’t know with certainty what the documents will say. We simply want the truth … whatever that truth may be. So, so do the American people. They want to know the truth. And so should everybody in this chamber regardless of our party affiliation,” she adds.

Lofgren points out that multiple witnesses in the House investigation testified they took detailed, handwritten notes around relevant events like the July 25 call between Trump and Ukrainian President Zelenskiy.

She says documents like those notes would provide a first-hand look at how Trump’s behavior was perceived by those around him at the time.

3:26 p.m. Schiff argues the president’s lawyers didn’t even mention the rules resolution

After the break, Schiff pushes back on accusations from the president’s lawyers that the House impeachment proceedings were unfair and that Republicans and representatives of the president weren’t allowed to participate. He says it is “just plain wrong” to say Republicans weren’t allowed in the depositions with witnesses or that the president wasn’t allowed to send a representative to Judiciary Committee proceedings.

“I’m not going to suggest to you they are being deliberately misleading here, but it is just plain wrong. You have also heard my friends at the other table make attacks on me and chairman Nadler. You will hear more of that. I am not going to do them the dignity of responding to them, but I will say this. They make a very important point, although it’s not the point I think they’re trying to make,” Schiff said.

“When you hear them attack the House managers, what you are really hearing is ‘we don’t want to talk about the president’s guilt. We don’t want to talk about the McConnell resolution and how patently unfair it is,’” he continued.

2:55 p.m. Inside the Senate chamber, senators taking notes, exchanging messages

As the Senate took a break, ABC’s Mariam Khan reports senators, for the most part, were sitting quietly at their desks while Cipollone, Sekulow and Schiff took turns speaking.

Senators seem to be paying close attention, maintaining eye contact with the speakers, and taking notes.

As Schiff spoke about the charges against the president, Trump’s key allies — GOP Sens. Lindsey Graham, David Perdue, Jim Risch, James Inhofe, and several others — stared stoically ahead.

Moderate GOP Sens. Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski — who are seated next to each other — are taking copious amounts of notes, their faces expressionless.

While Schiff was speaking, Graham started to look a little bored, shifting in his seat constantly. While senators cannot speak to one another during the proceedings, he scribbled out a note on his legal notepad and shared it with his seat mate, Sen. John Barrasso.

Barrasso read the note, exchanged a knowing look with Graham and the two quietly chuckled.

When Schiff went on about the need for witnesses, Graham appeared to smirk.

When Schiff played a video of Trump saying he wanted to hear from witnesses, Minority Leader Schumer began to grin widely. He looked pleased.

Meanwhile, senators are still getting messages from the outside world. Aides are discreetly walking on to the floor to hand deliver paper messages to senators. Senate pages are walking around filling up water glasses.

2:39 p.m. Trump’s lawyers argue the Democrats failed to pursue their case in the courts

Trump’s personal attorney Jay Sekulow begins his argument by slamming the process in the House impeachment inquiry.

“And what we just heard from manager Schiff, courts have no role, privileges don’t apply, what happened in the past we should just ignore. In fact, manager Schiff just said try to summarize my colleagues defense of the president,” Sekulow says.

“He said not in those words of course, which is not the first time Mr. Schiff has put words into transcripts that did not exist. Mr. Schiff also talked about a trifecta,” Sekulow says.

“I’ll give you a trifecta. During the proceedings that took place before the Judiciary Committee, the president was denied the right to cross-examine witnesses. The president was denied the right to access evidence. And the president was denied the right to have counsel present at hearings. This is a trifecta that violates the Constitution of the United States. Mr. Schiff did say the courts really don’t have a role in this. Executive privilege, why would that matter? It matters because it is based on the Constitution of the United States,” Sekulow continues.

The president and his counsel could not participate in person during the depositions that House Intelligence, Judiciary and Oversight committees held but once the hearings moved to the House Judiciary Committee, the White House and the president chose not to participate even though they were invited to present a defense.

Pat Cipollone also says that Schiff was keeping Republicans out of the impeachment depositions. That is not true. Republicans on the committees mentioned participated in the depositions.

Sekulow argues that the only reason we are here is because Democrats want the president removed from office.
 
“What are we dealing with here? Why are we here? Are we here because of a phone call? Or are we before a great body because, since the president was sworn into office, there was a desire to see him removed,” he says.

He says that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi expressed her impatience and contempt for the proceedings and waiting for the courts to rule when she said “we cannot be at the mercy of the courts.”

“That is why we have courts … to determine constitutional issues of this magnitude,” he says, “although it should be noted that the administration has argued that the courts should not have a role here.”

2:13 p.m. GOP’s Collins pressed to have arguments take place over three — not two — days

ABC’s Trish Turner on Capitol Hill reports aides to moderate GOP Sen. Susan Collins say she and others raised concerns about trying to fit the 24 hours of opening statements in two days under the proposed rules and the admission of the House transcript of the evidence into the Senate record.

Her position has been that the trial should follow the Clinton model as much as possible, the aides say. She thinks these changes are a significant improvement, they say.

Later, during a break, a Republican senator — who asked not to be quoted — said the discussion of the tweaks to McConnell’s resolution was the topic of discussion at the GOP lunch today.

Some of the key senators, like Collins, “were clearly concerned about the topics around which changes were made,” this senator said, reports ABC’s Trish Turner.

”It was clear there was quite a bit of concern,” so it was changed, the senator said.

Sen. Ron Johnson said, “There was pretty strong feeling which is why it got changed,” saying the concern extended even beyond moderate senators. Republicans wanted to take an argument away from Schumer, he said. “We are not trying to hide testimony in the wee hours of the morning.”

2:08 p.m. Trump tweets from Switzerland

Trump appears to be monitoring the Senate trial from his trip to Davos, Switzerland, to attend the World Economic Forum, reports ABC’s Elizabeth Thomas.

A few minutes after he left a dinner with global chief executive officers, the last scheduled event of the day in Davos, Trump tweeted, “READ THE TRANSCRIPTS!” — one of his favorite defenses, as he has often said before, referring to his calls with Ukraine’s president — calls which he calls “perfect.”

1:34 p.m. Schiff says Trump is arguing there is nothing Congress can do about his conduct

House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff makes his first remarks in Tuesday’s session, speaking on behalf of the House impeachment managers against McConnell’s resolution.

He says Trump is arguing that there is nothing Congress can do about the behavior in question in the trial and the trial won’t be fair if both sides are blocked from introducing new evidence.

“If a president can obstruct his own investigation, if he can effectively nullify a power, the Constitution gives solely to Congress and indeed the ultimate power, the ultimate power the Constitution gives to prevent presidential misconduct, then the president places himself beyond accountability, above the law,” Schiff says.
 
“It makes him a monarch, the very evil which against our Constitution and the balance of powers the Constitution was laid out to guard against,” he says.

Schiff continues to focus on the ability for the Senate to immediately hear from witnesses and receive additional documents before continuing with the trial.

“If the Senate votes to deprive itself of witnesses and documents the opening statements will be the end of the trial,” Schiff says.

Earlier on the Senate floor, McConnell said votes on subpoenas and witnesses should not happen until later in the trial, as outlined in the procedural resolution his office announced Monday. Most Americans, Schiff said, don’t believe there will be a fair trial and that Trump will be acquitted.

“Let’s prove them wrong! How? By convicting the president? No.” Schiff says. “By letting the House prove its case.”

Schiff makes the case for additional evidence and witnesses in the Senate trial, with the help of the president’s own words.

While speaking on the Senate floor, Schiff plays several clips of Trump. The first shows Trump saying he wants witnesses, and another featuring the president saying Article II of the Constitution gives him the right to do “whatever I want.”

“The innocent do not act this way,” Schiff says.

This trial, he added, should not “reward” the president’s obstruction by letting him determine what evidence is seen by the Senate.

He also pushed back on the criticism that the House had not exhausted its legal efforts in court to obtain access to witnesses and evidence.

Continuing to mount a legal case, Schiff argues, would encourage Trump to “endlessly litigate the matter in court on every judgment,” essentially filibustering the impeachment process.

Schiff spoke after White House counsel Pat Cipollone spoke briefly on behalf of Trump, in support of the rules and calling on the Senate to acquit the president as soon as possible.

1:20 p.m. Senate considers rules resolution that now calls for 24 hours of arguments over three days

With Chief Justice John Roberts presiding, the Senate begins considering the rules resolution proposed by McConnell that Democrats strongly object to as unfair.

The trial resumed at 1:17 p.m. after being scheduled to resume at 1 p.m.

In a major change, the proposed rules would now allow each side to make their case in a total of 24 hours over three — not two — days.

It also means the whole trial will likely take longer.

McConnell’s team is expected to confirm that evidence from the House inquiry will now be admitted but not new evidence obtained since the House vote to impeach the president on Dec. 18.

Someone can object to that evidence being admitted, according to the proposed change.

12:35 p.m. McConnell says ‘finally, some fairness’ in opening remarks

Majority Leader McConnell begins his opening remarks — before the formal start of the trial at 1 p.m. — by saying, “finally, some fairness.”

“This is the fair road map for out trial,” he says of the proposed rules resolution he will soon formally introduce, saying it will bring the “clarity and fairness that everyone deserves.”

Minority Leader Schumer calls McConnell’s rules “completely partisan” and “designed by President Trump and for President Trump,” adding they would mean “a rushed trial with little evidence in the dark of night.”

Schumer says the McConnell rules are “nothing like the Clinton rules,” saying that includes allowing a motion to dismiss the case to be made at any time.

As the senators argue, Chief Justice John Roberts, who will preside over the Senate trial, arrives on Capitol Hill.

12:25 p.m. Key GOP senators say they’re on board with McConnell’s proposed rules

Heading in their weekly closed-door GOP lunch, key senators Mitt Romney of Utah and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska say they’re on board with the McConnell’s rules resolution, both indicating that it looks the same to them as the Clinton trial rules resolution.

Romney calls the difference between the Trump trial and Clinton resolutions “insignificant,” while Democrats have said there are major differences, accusing Republicans of using the rules to engineer a “cover-up.”

“You’ll get what you need in eight-hour blocks or 12-hour blocks,” Romney says, referring to the length of each of the two days Democrats would have to present their case.

Murkowski echoes Romney, saying,“It’s the same 24 hours (as in Clinton), so what’s the difference if it’s eight hours or 12?”

Earlier, in a statement, Romney says, “If attempts are made to vote on witnesses prior to opening arguments, I would oppose those efforts.”

11:31 a.m. Schumer says McConnell’s proposed rules will force debate into the ‘dead of night’

Ahead of the Senate trial, Minority Leader Chuck Schumer sharply criticizes the procedural rules outlined by McConnell Monday night.

Schumer takes issue with provisions he says would force debate into “the dead of night” and warns GOP moderate senators he will force an initial vote on whether to allow senators to review documents and question witnesses.

“Right off the bat, Republican senators will face a choice about getting the facts or joining leader McConnell and President Trump in trying to cover them up,” Schumer tells reporters.

“A trial with no evidence is not a trial at all. It’s a cover-up,” Schumer says.

“This is a historic moment,” Schumer adds. “The eyes of American are watching. Republican senators must rise to the occasion.”

When asked if he plans to force votes to oppose McConnell’s decision to split the 24 hours designated for opening arguments over two days, Schumer says “wait and see.”

Schumer says he will ask that White House documents be subpeonaed. including phone records between Trump and Ukraine’s president, and other call records between administration officials about the military aid meant for Ukraine that Trump directed be withheld.

10:15 a.m. House managers complain about proposed trial rules

About three hours before they will appear on the Senate floor, House impeachment managers, led by House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff, hold a news conference to complain about McConnell’s proposed rules, which would give them 24 hours over just two days or present their case, possibly meaning their arguments going past midnight.

“This is a process where you do not want the American people to see the evidence,” Schiff says.

“We could see why this resolution was kept from us and the American people,” he says, calling it “nothing like” the Clinton resolution in terms of both witnesses and documents.

“It does not prescribe a process for a fair trial and the American trial desperately want to believe that the Senate … will give the president a fair trial,” Schiff says.

Without documents, Schiff said, you can’t determine which witnesses to call and what to ask them.

He was joined by the full managing team.

He also said McConnell is “compressing the time of the trial,” citing the extended 12-hour days for arguments.

Schiff says managers will appeal to the senators Tuesday to “live up to the oath that they have taken.”

Rep. Jerry Nadler, the House Judiciary Committee chairman, who along with Schiff, will take the lead for the Democrats, said “there is no other conceivable reason the deny witnesses.”

Nadler adds that all the Senate is doing is to “debate whether there will be a cover up,” accusing Republicans of “being afraid of what the witnesses will say.”

Schiff wouldn’t say if the House would use all 24 hours for their arguments and a full 12 hours each day but said that should be up to the House, and not the Senate in the trial rules.

9:19 a.m. House managers claim “ethical questions” about White House counsel Cipollone

House managers send a letter to a member of Trump’s legal team Tuesday morning stating that he was a “material witness” to the impeachment charges brought by the House. The managers, led by Schiff, claim there are “serious concerns and ethical questions” surrounding White House counsel Pat Cipollene’s role as Trump’s top impeachment lawyer.

“You must disclose all facts and information as to which you have first-hand knowledge that will be at issue in connection with evidence you present or arguments you make in your role as the President’s legal advocate so that the Senate and Chief Justice can be apprised of any potential ethical issues, conflicts, or biases,” the House managers write in a letter to Cipollone.

ABC News reported Friday that Cipollone would continue to lead the president’s defense through the impeachment trial along with the president’s personal lawyer, Jay Sekulow.

They’re joined on Trump’s defense team by former independent counsel lawyers Ken Starr and Robert Ray who were both involved in investigating and prosecuting the impeachment case against President Bill Clinton.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Congressional Black Caucus member endorses Mike Bloomberg for president

Posted on: January 22nd, 2020 by ABC News No Comments

Jeff Neira/ABC(WASHINGTON) — Mike Bloomberg’s campaign has won the support of a significant voice in the House of Representatives. Rep. Bobby Rush, D-Ill., announced Tuesday evening that he would endorse the former New York City mayor’s bid for the White House.

Rush is Bloomberg’s fourth endorsement in a rapidfire slew of congressional endorsements, joining Reps. Harley Rouda, D-Calif., Stephanie Murphy, D-Fla., and Max Rose, D-N.Y.

Rush, however, carries special clout as a prominent figure among the African American community, a member of the Congressional Black Caucus, and a longtime civil rights activist. He was also a co-founder of the Black Panthers movement in Illinois in the 1960s. Rush is the first African American House member to endorse Bloomberg.

He previously endorsed and supported Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., prior to her exit from the Democratic primary.

Rush was an early endorsement for then-freshman Sen. Barack Obama during the 2008 election.

The endorsement comes on the heels of a speech Bloomberg gave on the eve of Martin Luther King Day in Tulsa, Oklahoma, on racial wealth disparities — highlighting the Greenwood neighborhood riots that ravaged an affluent black community in 1921. Moreover, Bloomberg acknowledged his own white privilege and said he would likely not be in the position he is in if he were black.

“Mike gets it, he instinctively understands that economic opportunity — economic equity — has been and for far too long, ignored for African-Americans,” Rush said in a statement. “He alone, among the current Democratic candidates, has been the clearest, the most focused, and the most reasonable voice for addressing the depressed state of the African-American economy. His Greenwood Initiative is not only inspirational, it’s practical and it’s doable.”

Bloomberg’s hopes for the Democratic nomination intertwine with past struggles on the issue of race. He kicked off his campaign with an apology for discriminatory stop-and-frisk policing when he was mayor of New York City and has continued efforts to build trust and support in black and brown communities.

Rush will now serve as a national co-chair for the Bloomberg campaign, and advise on “a number of key political and policy issues,” the campaign said in announcing Rush’s endorsement.

Bloomberg thanked Rush for his endorsement, calling him a “force for change.”

“Congressman Bobby Rush has dedicated his life to building a more open, inclusive, equitable, just and prosperous America,” Bloomberg said in a statement. “I’m honored to have his support — and as our campaign continues to build momentum, we will benefit from the wisdom and advice he will offer.”

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Congressional Black Caucus member endorses Mike Bloomberg for president

Posted on: January 22nd, 2020 by ABC News No Comments

Jeff Neira/ABC(WASHINGTON) — Mike Bloomberg’s campaign has won the support of a significant voice in the House of Representatives. Rep. Bobby Rush, D-Ill., announced Tuesday evening that he would endorse the former New York City mayor’s bid for the White House.

Rush is Bloomberg’s fourth endorsement in a rapidfire slew of congressional endorsements, joining Reps. Harley Rouda, D-Calif., Stephanie Murphy, D-Fla., and Max Rose, D-N.Y.

Rush, however, carries special clout as a prominent figure among the African American community, a member of the Congressional Black Caucus, and a longtime civil rights activist. He was also a co-founder of the Black Panthers movement in Illinois in the 1960s. Rush is the first African American House member to endorse Bloomberg.

He previously endorsed and supported Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., prior to her exit from the Democratic primary.

Rush was an early endorsement for then-freshman Sen. Barack Obama during the 2008 election.

The endorsement comes on the heels of a speech Bloomberg gave on the eve of Martin Luther King Day in Tulsa, Oklahoma, on racial wealth disparities — highlighting the Greenwood neighborhood riots that ravaged an affluent black community in 1921. Moreover, Bloomberg acknowledged his own white privilege and said he would likely not be in the position he is in if he were black.

“Mike gets it, he instinctively understands that economic opportunity — economic equity — has been and for far too long, ignored for African-Americans,” Rush said in a statement. “He alone, among the current Democratic candidates, has been the clearest, the most focused, and the most reasonable voice for addressing the depressed state of the African-American economy. His Greenwood Initiative is not only inspirational, it’s practical and it’s doable.”

Bloomberg’s hopes for the Democratic nomination intertwine with past struggles on the issue of race. He kicked off his campaign with an apology for discriminatory stop-and-frisk policing when he was mayor of New York City and has continued efforts to build trust and support in black and brown communities.

Rush will now serve as a national co-chair for the Bloomberg campaign, and advise on “a number of key political and policy issues,” the campaign said in announcing Rush’s endorsement.

Bloomberg thanked Rush for his endorsement, calling him a “force for change.”

“Congressman Bobby Rush has dedicated his life to building a more open, inclusive, equitable, just and prosperous America,” Bloomberg said in a statement. “I’m honored to have his support — and as our campaign continues to build momentum, we will benefit from the wisdom and advice he will offer.”

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Trump impeachment trial live updates: Senate considers McConnell rules resolution

Posted on: January 21st, 2020 by ABC News No Comments

drnadig/iStock(WASHINGTON) —

1:34 p.m. Schiff says Trump is arguing there is nothing Congress can do about his conduct

House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff makes his first remarks in Tuesday’s session, speaking on behalf of the House impeachment managers against McConnell’s resolution.

He says Trump is arguing that there is nothing Congress can do about the behavior in question in the trial and the trial won’t be fair if both sides are blocked from introducing new evidence.

“If a president can obstruct his own investigation, if he can effectively nullify a power, the Constitution gives solely to Congress and indeed the ultimate power, the ultimate power the Constitution gives to prevent presidential misconduct, then the president places himself beyond accountability, above the law,” Schiff says.

“It makes him a monarch, the very evil which against our Constitution and the balance of powers the Constitution was laid out to guard against,” he says.

1:20 p.m. Senate considers rules resolution that now calls for 24 hours of arguments over 3 days

With Chief Justice John Roberts presiding, the Senate begins considering the rules resolution proposed by McConnell that Democrats strongly object to as unfair.

The trial resumed at 1:17 p.m. after being scheduled to resume at 1 p.m.

In a major change, the proposed rules would now allow each side to make their case in a total of 24 hours over three — not two — days.

12:25 p.m. Key GOP senators say they’re on board with McConnell’s proposed rules

Heading in their weekly closed-door GOP lunch, key senators Mitt Romney of Utah and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska say they’re on board with the McConnell’s rules resolution, both indicating that it looks the same to them as the Clinton trial rules resolution.

Romney calls the difference between the Trump trial and Clinton resolutions “insignificant,” while Democrats have said there are major differences, accusing Republicans of using the rules to engineer a “cover-up.”

“You’ll get what you need in eight-hour blocks or 12-hour blocks,” Romney says, referring to the length of each of the two days Democrats would have to present their case.

Murkowski echoes Romney, saying,“It’s the same 24 hours (as in Clinton), so what’s the difference if it’s eight hours or 12?”

— ABC’s Trish Turner and Devin Dwyer



11:31 a.m. Schumer says McConnell’s proposed rules will force debate into the ‘dead of night’

Ahead of the Senate trial, Minority Leader Chuck Schumer sharply criticizes the procedural rules outlined by McConnell Monday night.

Schumer takes issue with provisions he says would force debate into “the dead of night” and warns GOP moderate senators he will forces an initial vote on whether to allow senators to review documents and question witnesses.

“Right off the bat, Republican senators will face a choice about getting the facts or joining leader McConnell and President Trump in trying to cover them up,” Schumer tells reporters.

“A trial with no evidence is not a trial at all. It’s a cover-up,” Schumer says.

“This is a historic moment,” Schumer adds. “The eyes of American are watching. Republican senators must rise to the occasion.”

When asked if he plans to force votes to oppose McConnell’s decision to split the 24 hours designated for opening arguments over two days, Schumer says “wait and see.”

— ABC’s Mariam Khan


10:15 a.m. House managers complain about proposed trial rules

About three hours before they will appear on the Senate floor, House impeachment managers, led by House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff, hold a news conference to complain about McConnell’s proposed rules, which would give them 24 hours over just two days or present their case, possibly meaning their arguments going past midnight.

“This is a process where you do not want the American people to see the evidence,” Schiff says.

“We could see why this resolution was kept from us and the American people,” he says, calling it “nothing like” the Clinton resolution in terms of both witnesses and documents.

“It does not prescribe a process for a fair trial and the American trial desperately want to believe that the Senate … will give the president a fair trial.”

Without documents, Schiff said, you can’t determine which witnesses to call and what to ask them.

He was joined by the full managing team.

He also said McConnell is “compressing the time of the trial,” citing the extended 12-hour days for arguments.

Schiff says managers will appeal to the senators today to “live up to the oath that they have taken.”

Rep. Jerry Nadler, the House Judiciary Committee chairman, who along with Schiff, will take the lead for the Democrats. Nadler said “there is no other conceivable reason the deny witnesses.”

Nadler adds that all the Senate is doing is to “debate whether there will be a cover up,” accusing Republicans of “being afraid of what the witnesses will say.”

Schiff wouldn’t say if the House would use all 24 hours for their arguments and a full 12 hours each day but said that should be up to the House, and not the Senate in the trial rules.

— ABC’s Benjamin Siegel


9:19 a.m. House managers claim “ethical questions” about White House counsel Cipollone

House managers send a letter to a member of Trump’s legal team Tuesday morning stating that he was a “material witness” to the impeachment charges brought by the House. The managers, led by Schiff, claim there are “serious concerns and ethical questions” surrounding White House counsel Pat Cipollene’s role as Trump’s top impeachment lawyer.

“You must disclose all facts and information as to which you have first-hand knowledge that will be at issue in connection with evidence you present or arguments you make in your role as the President’s legal advocate so that the Senate and Chief Justice can be apprised of any potential ethical issues, conflicts, or biases,” the House managers write in a letter to Cipollone.

ABC News reported Friday that Cipollone would continue to lead the president’s defense through the impeachment trial along with the president’s personal lawyer, Jay Sekulow.

They’re joined on Trump’s defense team by former independent counsel lawyers Ken Starr and Robert Ray who were both involved in investigating and prosecuting the impeachment case against President Bill Clinton.

— ABC’s John Parkinson

For a president who likes a good show and seems to thrive on chaos, the opening of his impeachment trial Tuesday could give him exactly that.

Sources on Capitol Hill expect the first full day of the trial to be something of a political food fight. At the heart of that debate is whether or not to call witnesses who Democrats claim have first-hand knowledge of the president’s alleged pressure campaign against Ukraine

Rather than the staid proceedings of Bill Clinton’s impeachment trial in 1999 — which followed a close script known to the public, with opening arguments by the House impeachment managers — the choreography of President Donald Trump’s trial is something of a question mark that could see the chamber, known for its decorum and heady debate, run entirely off script, if not off the rails.

Ahead of Tuesday’s trial, sources close to the president’s legal team argued the articles of impeachment against Trump are “deficient on their face” because they fail to state any violation of law.

In the 110-page trial brief, lawyers for the president rejected the articles as a “brazenly political act” and argued that even if the president did raise the issue of the Bidens and/or Burisma in the course of engaging with Ukraine, there would be nothing wrong with that so long as the president was seeking to advance the public interest.

“Importantly, even under House Democrats’ theory, mentioning the matter to President Zelenskyy would have been entirely justified as long as there was a basis to think that would advance the public interest. To defend merely asking a question, the President would not have to show that Vice President Biden (or his son) actually committed any wrongdoing,” the brief argues.

For now, much of what will happen Tuesday hinges on how long this political slugfest continues. A senior administration official predicted it is “highly unlikely” opening arguments happen Tuesday, and that could complicate the push by GOP leaders and the White House to compress the schedule.

However, the White House has said it’s “extraordinarily unlikely” the trial goes beyond two weeks.

Once Chief Justice John Roberts gavels the trial to order, and the opening prayer is given by Senate Chaplain Barry Black and impeachment proclamation by Sergeant at Arms Michael Stenger, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is expected to make a motion to take up his majority-only resolution that lays out the guidelines for the first phase of the trial.

The McConnell measure, released Monday night, condenses opening arguments by the managers and Trump lawyers to 24 hours each over two days per side, followed by up to 16 hours of questioning, via written special submissions by senators.

Democrats say a setup involving 12-hour days amounts to GOP efforts to “conceal” the president’s alleged misconduct by conducting the trial in the “dead of night” when the American public is less likely to be paying attention.

On the crucial issue of whether or not to call witnesses, senators will vote up or down — after the questioning period — immediately following a four-hour period of debate on the issue. Key GOP senators, like Susan Collins of Maine and Utah’s Mitt Romney, who have expressed interest in subpoenaing certain witnesses, insisted that this language be included.

“If the Senate votes no at that point, no party or Senator will be permitted to move to subpoena any witness or documents. If the Senate votes yes, both sides will be free to make motions to subpoena witnesses, and the Senate can debate and vote on them,” according to a senior Senate GOP leadership aide.

Democrats were riled up by the GOP leader’s exclusion of evidence not in the record at the time of the Dec. 18 House impeachment vote. It appears that any evidence related to Lev Parnas, a key associate of Trump personal attorney Rudy Giuliani, would not be permitted.

Parnas has been turning over evidence to congressional investigators that he argues is pertinent to their impeachment investigation. Democrats, who have been releasing the evidence publicly, argue that Republicans saying no new evidence should be included is “completely out of sync with how trials are done” and say any evidence that is in the public record should be considered.

“Impeachment rules do not automatically admit evidence from the House into the Senate trial,” said a senior Senate GOP leadership aide. “This is an important fact specific to this trial because the White House was denied due process throughout the 12 weeks of partisan House proceedings.”

Democrats are expected to try to amend McConnell’s trial rules with a request for witnesses and documents, according to sources familiar with their plans. But because of impeachment rules, no senator is allowed to debate anything in public.

That leaves the debate before cameras to both the House managers and the newly minted Trump legal team. Each side would likely get up to an hour to speak.

It will be the first time the public will see both sets of opponents on the Senate floor, seated at tables specially arranged for the occasion.

“We are going to demand votes — yes or no, up or down — on the four witnesses we’ve requested and on the three sets of documents we’ve requested. … Make no mistake about it, we will force votes on witnesses and documents,” Sen. Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said in a press conference Sunday evening.

“It’s going to be total chaos. No one knows what they’re doing,” said one former Senate aide with experience in impeachment trials.

McConnell’s resolution is expected to include time for a motion to call witnesses after senators have had a chance to ask their questions of both sides, Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, confirmed.

This was important to middle-of-the-road GOP senators like Collins and Alaska’s Lisa Murkowski, as well as Romney. Collins signaled in a statement Thursday night that she is “likely” to support calling witnesses.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Trump impeachment trial live updates: Senate considers McConnell rules resolution

Posted on: January 21st, 2020 by ABC News No Comments

drnadig/iStock(WASHINGTON) —

1:34 p.m. Schiff says Trump is arguing there is nothing Congress can do about his conduct

House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff makes his first remarks in Tuesday’s session, speaking on behalf of the House impeachment managers against McConnell’s resolution.

He says Trump is arguing that there is nothing Congress can do about the behavior in question in the trial and the trial won’t be fair if both sides are blocked from introducing new evidence.

“If a president can obstruct his own investigation, if he can effectively nullify a power, the Constitution gives solely to Congress and indeed the ultimate power, the ultimate power the Constitution gives to prevent presidential misconduct, then the president places himself beyond accountability, above the law,” Schiff says.

“It makes him a monarch, the very evil which against our Constitution and the balance of powers the Constitution was laid out to guard against,” he says.

1:20 p.m. Senate considers rules resolution that now calls for 24 hours of arguments over 3 days

With Chief Justice John Roberts presiding, the Senate begins considering the rules resolution proposed by McConnell that Democrats strongly object to as unfair.

The trial resumed at 1:17 p.m. after being scheduled to resume at 1 p.m.

In a major change, the proposed rules would now allow each side to make their case in a total of 24 hours over three — not two — days.

12:25 p.m. Key GOP senators say they’re on board with McConnell’s proposed rules

Heading in their weekly closed-door GOP lunch, key senators Mitt Romney of Utah and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska say they’re on board with the McConnell’s rules resolution, both indicating that it looks the same to them as the Clinton trial rules resolution.

Romney calls the difference between the Trump trial and Clinton resolutions “insignificant,” while Democrats have said there are major differences, accusing Republicans of using the rules to engineer a “cover-up.”

“You’ll get what you need in eight-hour blocks or 12-hour blocks,” Romney says, referring to the length of each of the two days Democrats would have to present their case.

Murkowski echoes Romney, saying,“It’s the same 24 hours (as in Clinton), so what’s the difference if it’s eight hours or 12?”

— ABC’s Trish Turner and Devin Dwyer



11:31 a.m. Schumer says McConnell’s proposed rules will force debate into the ‘dead of night’

Ahead of the Senate trial, Minority Leader Chuck Schumer sharply criticizes the procedural rules outlined by McConnell Monday night.

Schumer takes issue with provisions he says would force debate into “the dead of night” and warns GOP moderate senators he will forces an initial vote on whether to allow senators to review documents and question witnesses.

“Right off the bat, Republican senators will face a choice about getting the facts or joining leader McConnell and President Trump in trying to cover them up,” Schumer tells reporters.

“A trial with no evidence is not a trial at all. It’s a cover-up,” Schumer says.

“This is a historic moment,” Schumer adds. “The eyes of American are watching. Republican senators must rise to the occasion.”

When asked if he plans to force votes to oppose McConnell’s decision to split the 24 hours designated for opening arguments over two days, Schumer says “wait and see.”

— ABC’s Mariam Khan


10:15 a.m. House managers complain about proposed trial rules

About three hours before they will appear on the Senate floor, House impeachment managers, led by House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff, hold a news conference to complain about McConnell’s proposed rules, which would give them 24 hours over just two days or present their case, possibly meaning their arguments going past midnight.

“This is a process where you do not want the American people to see the evidence,” Schiff says.

“We could see why this resolution was kept from us and the American people,” he says, calling it “nothing like” the Clinton resolution in terms of both witnesses and documents.

“It does not prescribe a process for a fair trial and the American trial desperately want to believe that the Senate … will give the president a fair trial.”

Without documents, Schiff said, you can’t determine which witnesses to call and what to ask them.

He was joined by the full managing team.

He also said McConnell is “compressing the time of the trial,” citing the extended 12-hour days for arguments.

Schiff says managers will appeal to the senators today to “live up to the oath that they have taken.”

Rep. Jerry Nadler, the House Judiciary Committee chairman, who along with Schiff, will take the lead for the Democrats. Nadler said “there is no other conceivable reason the deny witnesses.”

Nadler adds that all the Senate is doing is to “debate whether there will be a cover up,” accusing Republicans of “being afraid of what the witnesses will say.”

Schiff wouldn’t say if the House would use all 24 hours for their arguments and a full 12 hours each day but said that should be up to the House, and not the Senate in the trial rules.

— ABC’s Benjamin Siegel


9:19 a.m. House managers claim “ethical questions” about White House counsel Cipollone

House managers send a letter to a member of Trump’s legal team Tuesday morning stating that he was a “material witness” to the impeachment charges brought by the House. The managers, led by Schiff, claim there are “serious concerns and ethical questions” surrounding White House counsel Pat Cipollene’s role as Trump’s top impeachment lawyer.

“You must disclose all facts and information as to which you have first-hand knowledge that will be at issue in connection with evidence you present or arguments you make in your role as the President’s legal advocate so that the Senate and Chief Justice can be apprised of any potential ethical issues, conflicts, or biases,” the House managers write in a letter to Cipollone.

ABC News reported Friday that Cipollone would continue to lead the president’s defense through the impeachment trial along with the president’s personal lawyer, Jay Sekulow.

They’re joined on Trump’s defense team by former independent counsel lawyers Ken Starr and Robert Ray who were both involved in investigating and prosecuting the impeachment case against President Bill Clinton.

— ABC’s John Parkinson

For a president who likes a good show and seems to thrive on chaos, the opening of his impeachment trial Tuesday could give him exactly that.

Sources on Capitol Hill expect the first full day of the trial to be something of a political food fight. At the heart of that debate is whether or not to call witnesses who Democrats claim have first-hand knowledge of the president’s alleged pressure campaign against Ukraine

Rather than the staid proceedings of Bill Clinton’s impeachment trial in 1999 — which followed a close script known to the public, with opening arguments by the House impeachment managers — the choreography of President Donald Trump’s trial is something of a question mark that could see the chamber, known for its decorum and heady debate, run entirely off script, if not off the rails.

Ahead of Tuesday’s trial, sources close to the president’s legal team argued the articles of impeachment against Trump are “deficient on their face” because they fail to state any violation of law.

In the 110-page trial brief, lawyers for the president rejected the articles as a “brazenly political act” and argued that even if the president did raise the issue of the Bidens and/or Burisma in the course of engaging with Ukraine, there would be nothing wrong with that so long as the president was seeking to advance the public interest.

“Importantly, even under House Democrats’ theory, mentioning the matter to President Zelenskyy would have been entirely justified as long as there was a basis to think that would advance the public interest. To defend merely asking a question, the President would not have to show that Vice President Biden (or his son) actually committed any wrongdoing,” the brief argues.

For now, much of what will happen Tuesday hinges on how long this political slugfest continues. A senior administration official predicted it is “highly unlikely” opening arguments happen Tuesday, and that could complicate the push by GOP leaders and the White House to compress the schedule.

However, the White House has said it’s “extraordinarily unlikely” the trial goes beyond two weeks.

Once Chief Justice John Roberts gavels the trial to order, and the opening prayer is given by Senate Chaplain Barry Black and impeachment proclamation by Sergeant at Arms Michael Stenger, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is expected to make a motion to take up his majority-only resolution that lays out the guidelines for the first phase of the trial.

The McConnell measure, released Monday night, condenses opening arguments by the managers and Trump lawyers to 24 hours each over two days per side, followed by up to 16 hours of questioning, via written special submissions by senators.

Democrats say a setup involving 12-hour days amounts to GOP efforts to “conceal” the president’s alleged misconduct by conducting the trial in the “dead of night” when the American public is less likely to be paying attention.

On the crucial issue of whether or not to call witnesses, senators will vote up or down — after the questioning period — immediately following a four-hour period of debate on the issue. Key GOP senators, like Susan Collins of Maine and Utah’s Mitt Romney, who have expressed interest in subpoenaing certain witnesses, insisted that this language be included.

“If the Senate votes no at that point, no party or Senator will be permitted to move to subpoena any witness or documents. If the Senate votes yes, both sides will be free to make motions to subpoena witnesses, and the Senate can debate and vote on them,” according to a senior Senate GOP leadership aide.

Democrats were riled up by the GOP leader’s exclusion of evidence not in the record at the time of the Dec. 18 House impeachment vote. It appears that any evidence related to Lev Parnas, a key associate of Trump personal attorney Rudy Giuliani, would not be permitted.

Parnas has been turning over evidence to congressional investigators that he argues is pertinent to their impeachment investigation. Democrats, who have been releasing the evidence publicly, argue that Republicans saying no new evidence should be included is “completely out of sync with how trials are done” and say any evidence that is in the public record should be considered.

“Impeachment rules do not automatically admit evidence from the House into the Senate trial,” said a senior Senate GOP leadership aide. “This is an important fact specific to this trial because the White House was denied due process throughout the 12 weeks of partisan House proceedings.”

Democrats are expected to try to amend McConnell’s trial rules with a request for witnesses and documents, according to sources familiar with their plans. But because of impeachment rules, no senator is allowed to debate anything in public.

That leaves the debate before cameras to both the House managers and the newly minted Trump legal team. Each side would likely get up to an hour to speak.

It will be the first time the public will see both sets of opponents on the Senate floor, seated at tables specially arranged for the occasion.

“We are going to demand votes — yes or no, up or down — on the four witnesses we’ve requested and on the three sets of documents we’ve requested. … Make no mistake about it, we will force votes on witnesses and documents,” Sen. Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said in a press conference Sunday evening.

“It’s going to be total chaos. No one knows what they’re doing,” said one former Senate aide with experience in impeachment trials.

McConnell’s resolution is expected to include time for a motion to call witnesses after senators have had a chance to ask their questions of both sides, Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, confirmed.

This was important to middle-of-the-road GOP senators like Collins and Alaska’s Lisa Murkowski, as well as Romney. Collins signaled in a statement Thursday night that she is “likely” to support calling witnesses.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Hillary Clinton on Sen. Bernie Sanders: ‘Nobody likes him’

Posted on: January 21st, 2020 by ABC News No Comments

ABC News(NEW YORK) — Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton levied scathing attacks on Sen. Bernie Sanders in a new Hulu documentary and in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter.

Clinton, who competed for the 2016 Democratic nomination against Sanders and won, claimed that Sanders is unlikeable and has been relatively unaccomplished during his congressional tenure.

“He was in Congress for years. He had one senator support him. Nobody likes him, nobody wants to work with him, he got nothing done,” Clinton said in the documentary. “He was a career politician. It’s all just baloney and I feel so bad that people got sucked into it.”

Clinton would not pledge to support Sanders if he won the 2020 Democratic nomination citing the wide Democratic field and concerns about Sanders’ online supporters, calling them “Bernie Bros.”

“I’m not going to go there yet. We’re still in a very vigorous primary season,” Clinton said. “I will say, however, that it’s not only him, it’s the culture around him. It’s his leadership team. It’s his prominent supporters. It’s his online Bernie Bros and their relentless attacks on lots of his competitors, particularly the women. And I really hope people are paying attention to that because it should be worrisome that he has permitted this culture — not only permitted, [he] seems to really be very much supporting it.”

When asked about Clinton’s comments, Sanders responded, “On a good day, my wife likes me, so let’s clear the air on that one” Sanders said jokingly when asked about Clinton’s comments. “Look, today, right now I’m dealing with impeachment.”

“Secretary Clinton is entitled to her point of view, but my job today is to focus on the impeachment trial. My job today is to put together a team to defeat the most dangerous president in the history of the United States of America,” Sanders added.

Asked further why he thought Clinton was still talking about 2016, Sanders said: “That is a good question. Ask her.”

The Sanders campaign echoed a similar sentiment in a statement released Tuesday.

“My focus today is on a monumental moment in American history: the impeachment trial of Donald trump,” statement from the senator read. “Together, we are going to go forward and defeat the most dangerous president in American history.”

Sanders, in a CBS interview Monday, said he didn’t agree with the social media attacks waged by his supporters. Instead, he urged them to “engage in civil discourse.”

In the interview, Clinton also weighs in on the controversy surrounding a 2018 private meeting between Sanders, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren and others. Reports from CNN, claimed Sanders disagreed with her that a woman could win in 2020 against President Donald Trump. Warren confirmed the report and Sanders vehemently denied them.

Clinton said the argument is “part of a pattern.”

“If it were a one-off, you might say, ‘OK, fine.’ But he said I was unqualified. I had a lot more experience than he did, and got a lot more done than he had, but that was his attack on me,” Clinton said. “I just think people need to pay attention because we want, hopefully, to elect a president who’s going to try to bring us together, and not either turn a blind eye, or actually reward the kind of insulting, attacking, demeaning, degrading behavior that we’ve seen from this current administration.”

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