-House managers began 3 days of opening arguments
-The president’s lawyers made no motion to dismiss the charges
-Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer calls Tuesday ‘a dark day and a dark night’ for Senate
-President Trump says he’s watching, calls trial ‘a disgrace’
After about eight hours of presentation, the first day of arguments by the House managers in the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump concluded just before 10 p.m. Wednesday.
Looking ahead, Rep. Adam Schiff said that on Thursday the managers “will go through the law, the Constitution and the facts as they apply to Article One.”
Schiff, speaking for the final time Wednesday evening, offered a sweeping review of the events following the whistleblower’s complaint on Trump’s phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy.
The timeline Schiff outlined began with the whistleblower report then progressed through the fallout from the report, the opening of the impeachment investigation, and the eventual bringing of the articles of impeachment. Throughout his statements, Schiff put emphasis on the White House’s attempt to block information.
“Despite the clearer letter of the law, the White House mobilized to keep the information in the whistleblower complaint from Congress,” Schiff said.
Schiff repeatedly emphasized Trump’s ongoing attempts to get an investigation into the Bidens launched — referencing Trump’s comments to President Xi Jinping of China and personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani’s travels to Vienna.
Upon reaching the end of the timeline, Schiff chose to emphasize the way the story continues to develop, citing the recent Government Accountability Office decision, emails that have come to light through Freedom of Information Act requests, and statements by Rudy Giuliani associate Lev Parnas.
“Since the House voted on these articles, evidence has continued to come to light related to the president’s corrupt scheme,” Schiff said.
Toward the end of his remarks, Schiff once again made an impassioned plea to call for witnesses and documents, suggesting more players could be implicated in Trump’s “scheme.”
“You and the American people should know who else was involved in this scheme,” Schiff said. “You should want the whole truth to come out, you should want to know about every player in this sordid business. It is within your power to do.”
Here is how the full day unfolded.
8: 48 p.m. Schiff picks up arguments after dinner
Rep. Adam Schiff just turned the mic over to Rep. Zoe Lofgren, who is detailing what happened when news of the aid freeze to Ukraine first broke. Schiff plans to return to the mic after Lofgren to finish the evening.
Schiff picked up arguments after dinner with events that followed the July 25 Donald Trump-Volodymyr Zelenskiy call, and the “increasingly explicit pressure campaign” on Ukraine to launch investigations into Hunter Biden and Burisma.
“Why would you go outside the normal channels to do that?” Schiff asked
“When your objective has nothing to do with policy, when you’re objective is a corrupt one . . . an illicit one,” he added. “It means an impermissible one. It means one that furthers your own interests at the cost of the national interest.”
Relying on the testimony of David Holmes, Ambassador Bill Taylor and Gordon Sondland, Schiff attempted to illustrate how concerned diplomats abroad were at the withholding of aid and what the president expected of Ukraine and Zelenskiy.
He also pointed out that Taylor’s first-person cable to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo raising concerns about the withholding of military aid to Ukraine is being withheld from Congress by the State Department.
He made an appeal to the bipartisan foreign policy consensus on Capitol Hill toward supporting Ukraine — and argued that Trump’s withholding of aid tarnished America’s reputation abroad.
“It breaks our word and to do it in the name of these corrupt investigations. It is also contrary to everything we espouse around the world,” he said.
“It’s worse than crazy,” he said, quoting Taylor yet again. “It’s repulsive, it’s repugnant.”
– ABC News’ Benjamin Siegel
7: 37 p.m. ‘Critical’ Hunter Biden testify
Sen. Ted Cruz told reporters that Adam Schiff’s presentation today made Hunter Biden’s testimony “critical” to the trial.
“I think the House managers made a very serious strategic error today,” Cruz said. “Adam Schiff’s arguments to open the day today directly drew into question Hunter Biden and made not only his testimony relevant which it already was but it is now critical.”
“If the House managers case is based on the allegations of corruption concerning Hunter Biden and Joe Biden being a scam then it is directly relevant,” Cruz said. “And I gotta say, the need for the Senate to hear the testimony of Hunter Biden and the need for the senate to grant the White House lawyers the ability to take that testimony has become all the more relevant.”
Asked about these comments a few moments later, Trump lawyer Jay Sekulow declined to comment.
“I have great respect for Sen. Cruz I am not going to comment on what testimony may or may not be relevant,” Sekulow said.
– ABC News’ Allie Pecorin
7: 21 p.m. Sekulow advises against president sitting in
The president’s personal attorney, Jay Sekulow, responded to questions about the president’s suggestion he would like to sit in on his own trial, but commented his counsel may recommend against it.
“His counsel might,” Sekulow responded.
ABC’s Katherine Faulders asked, “You don’t think he should show up?”
Sekulow responded, “That’s not the way it works. I mean, presidents don’t do that.”
Schiff resumed laying out the Democrats’ arguments around 7: 22 p.m., saying they have about two to two and a half hours left in the first day of their presentation.
5: 17 p.m. Nadler raises Rudy Giuliani’s role in Ukraine
After Schiff, House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler returns to the lectern to tell more of what Democrats’ call the president’s Ukraine scheme.
After being admonished by the chief justice last night, Nadler begins by striking an apologetic tone.
“Before I begin, I would like to thank the chief justice and the senators for your temperate listening and your patience last night as we went into the long hours,” Nadler, D-N.Y., says. “Truly, thank you.”
Nadler then asserts that the president’s actions were driven by a desire “to obtain a corrupt advantage for his re-election campaign.”
“As we will show the president went to extraordinary lengths to cheat in the next election,” Nadler says, recounting the president’s efforts to remove Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch from her post in Kyiv.
“The truth is that Ambassador Yovanovitch was the victim of a smear campaign organized by Rudy Giuliani, amplified by President Trump’s allies, and designed to give President Trump the pretext he needed to recall her without warning,” Nadler says.
“With Ambassador Yovanovitch out of the way, the first chapter of the Ukraine scheme was complete. Mr. Giuliani and his agents could now apply direct pressure to the Ukrainian government to spread these two falsehoods,” Nadler says. “And who benefited from this scheme? Who sent Mr. Giuliani to Ukraine in the first place? Of course we could rephrase that question as the former Republican leader of the Senate Howard Baker first asked it in 1973: ‘What did the president know and when did he know it?'”
– ABC News’ John Parkinson
4: 35 p.m. While some senators take detailed notes, one works the crossword
ABC News’ John Parkinson was observing from the press gallery above the chamber during Schiff’s presentation.
Here’s what he wrote in his reporter’s notebook:
Republican Sen. Rand Paul appears to be the least-interested senator at the trial, filling in answers on his crossword puzzle multiple times in the two o’clock hour. The Kentucky Republican still appears to be trying to hide his activities, using a piece of paper torn 90 percent from bottom to top to conceal both the crossword’s clues and the puzzle itself.
He lifts one side when he needs another clue, and the other when he is prepared to fill in an answer.
A little later, Paul had left the chamber but was soon spotted him through the doors of the GOP cloakroom, where he had kicked back in a leather chair and seemed to be watching the trial on television.
A spokesman for the senator explains: “All smart people do crossword puzzles.”
Republicans and Democrats — except Rand Paul, that is — seemed to be following Schiff’s presentation closely, with Sens. Mitt Romney and Mike Lee taking meticulous notes that filled the page from margin to margin.
The Senate pages appear to be in a contest with each other – seemingly racing to replace half-empty glasses of water at the senators’ desks — without any encouragement from the senators. It seems that the refills are their primary task, much like a busser at a fancy steakhouse who never wants you to go thirsty.
Neither Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell nor Minority Leader Chuck Schumer have taken any notes but both seem to be paying close attention.
During the first hour of Schiff’s presentation, the chamber appeared almost filled. But toward the end of his two-hour argument, several senators stood to take bathroom breaks. At this point, I counted 26 senators not at their desks, whereas the previous hour it was rare to find an empty seat. Score one for the Senate pages.
4: 15 p.m. Outside the Senate chamber, Republicans argue nothing is getting done during trial
Republicans are honing their argument against witnesses, making an appeal to voters who say they’re fed up with Washington politics and want Congress to get stuff done.
“There’d be nothing else we could do in the interim,” said GOP Sen. John Cornyn of Texas. “It would basically hijack the Senate.”
“Let’s say a witness like Mick Mulvaney or John Bolton come. invariably the White House would claim executive privilege. There’d be a lawsuit filed in District Court in the District of Columbia that would then go to the Court of Appeals and then potentially the Supreme Court. That could take months,” he said. “In the meantime, the Senate can’t do anything else, we can’t confirm judges we can’t have hearings, we can’t even introduce legislation.”
Sen. John Barrasso of Wyoming offered a similar argument, saying the longer the impeachment trial goes on the less time the Senate spends on other issues.
“I chair the committee that oversees infrastructure roads, bridges. we got it out of our committee, but because we’re stuck with this and the longer you are going and the longer you’re dealing with witnesses, the harder it is to get to the things that I hear about in Wyoming and I’ve heard about this past week,” he told reporters.
–ABC News’ Devin Dwyer
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.”
-ABC News’ Katherine Faulders
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.
— ABC News’ Benjamin Siegel
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.
“You have the added difficulty of having to weigh the facts and the law, so I want to begin today by thanking you for the conduct of the proceedings yesterday and for inviting your patience as we go forward,” Schiff says.
Schiff then outlines the history of why he says the framers included the power of impeachment in the Constitution.
He then lays out the specifics of the charges against President Trump.
Countering claims by Republicans and the president’s lawyers that the articles of impeachment are invalid because they do not allege a specific crime, he quotes Alexander Hamilton as saying impeachment was warranted in when there is an “offense against the body politic’ — including “the abuse or violation of some public trust.”
Schiff calls Trump’s conduct “a betrayal of his sacred oath of office.”
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 News’ 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.