WASHINGTON (AP) - House Democrats have wrapped up a day of arguments in President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial, appealing to skeptical Republican senators to join them in voting to oust Trump from office to “protect our democracy.”
Trump’s lawyers are sitting by, waiting their turn. The president is blasting the proceedings, threatening jokingly to face off with the Democrats by coming to “sit right in the front row and stare at their corrupt faces.”
The challenge before the House managers is clear: Democrats have 24 hours over three days to prosecute the charges against Trump, trying to win over not just fidgety senators but the American public.
The U.S. Senate began hearing opening arguments in President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial on Wednesday just after 1 p.m. EST.
First up: Democratic House managers are making their case that Trump abused his presidential power and should be removed from office.
Republicans have for now blocked Democratic motions to immediately call witnesses and subpoena documents.
The Senate approved rules early Wednesday for Trump’s trial on two articles of impeachment.
Nearly 13 hours after the first full day of the trial began, senators voted along party lines to accept the rules at close to 2 a.m. Wednesday.
House prosecutors are outlining what they refer to as President Donald Trump’s “corrupt scheme” to abuse power and obstruct Congress as they open six days of arguments in his impeachment trial.
They face the challenge of making their case before a skeptical Republican-held Senate, with proceedings now on a fast track toward a vote with no additional witnesses.
Trump himself said on Wednesday he wants top aides to testify about his actions in connection with Ukraine. But then he backtracked, saying that “national security” concerns would likely keep that from happening.
Trump spoke to reporters Wednesday at a global economic forum in Davos, Switzerland.
Senate Republicans have for now blocked Democratic motions to immediately call witnesses and subpoena documents.
Opening arguments will now be spread over three days, but Republicans rejected Democratic demands for more witnesses.
Democrats failed to persuade Republicans to agree to issue subpoenas for documents and witnesses, though those matters can be revisited later.
After one particularly bitter exchange, Chief Justice John Roberts admonished the Democratic House managers and the White House counsel to “remember where they are.”
The defense in President Donald Trump’s Senate impeachment trial may sound very similar to the defense in the first impeachment case in American history. Back in 1868, a lawyer for President Andrew Johnson argued that Johnson couldn’t be removed from office because Johnson hadn’t committed a crime.
Today, one of Trump’s lawyers, Alan Dershowitz, is planning to argue at Trump’s trial that impeachment requires “criminal-like conduct." But legal scholars dispute the idea that the Founding Fathers ever intended for impeachable offenses to require proof of a crime. Historians also are skeptical about crediting this argument with securing Johnson’s narrow acquittal.
Majority Leader Mitch McConnell dropped plans for two late-night sessions to hear opening arguments, instead spreading arguments over three days.
Senators are done with many of the quaint rules that are making them miserable during President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial.
Many are pacing the chamber, walking out during arguments, napping and openly scoffing.
Bans on that behavior are designed to keep their attention on the grave and rare business of deciding whether to remove a president from office. But they’re getting little sleep, and they’ve heard the story of Trump’s pressure on Ukraine before.
The ban on cell phones on the Senate floor is one rule they haven’t apparently flouted, though they often appear to be leaving the floor for a moment with their devices.
Keeping them focused will be a key challenge for the White House defense team and the House prosecutors.
Trump says he wants to deliver the State of the Union address Feb. 4 even if his impeachment trial is ongoing.
Trump blasted the proceedings, and joked that he might show up in the Senate to stare at the “corrupt faces” of Democrats.