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Trump impeachment trial live updates: Democrats make case for ‘obstruction of Congress’

Posted on: January 24th, 2020 by ABC News No Comments

uschools/iStock(WASHINGTON) — House managers, who continue to argue the Senate should subpoena additional witnesses and documents from an uncooperative White House, on Friday will detail President Donald Trump’s resistance in making their case for the second article of impeachment — “obstruction of Congress” — in their final day of arguments when his trial resumes at 1 p.m.

Democrats now have less than eight hours left before the president’s legal team takes the Senate floor on Saturday to begin up to 24 hours of opening arguments over three days.

Senators are preparing for an abbreviated session on Saturday, with sources telling ABC News to expect a 9 a.m. to noon schedule, concerned Trump’s defense team’s opening arguments may get buried over the weekend.

President Trump weighed in Friday morning on the Saturday session, calling it “Death Valley in T.V.”

“After having been treated unbelievably unfairly in the House, and then having to endure hour after hour of lies, fraud & deception by Shifty Schiff, Cryin’ Chuck Schumer & their crew, looks like my lawyers will be forced to start on Saturday, which is called Death Valley in T.V.,” Trump tweeted.

On Thursday, House managers argued the constitutional underpinnings of their abuse-of-power case against President Trump — saying that his effort to pressure Ukraine into a investigation into his political opponent was exactly what the framers guarded against when they gave Congress the power to remove a sitting president. They also laid out in great detail how Rudy Giuliani, under Trump’s direction, conducted a shadow diplomacy in Ukraine to further the president’s political interests, they say, and pursued a discredited conspiracy theory that Kyiv interfered in the 2016 U.S. election.

In his closing statement, Rep. Adam Schiff, the lead House impeachment manager, made an impassioned plea, telling senators that Trump’s actions demonstrate he puts himself over country and that they must remove the president if they find he is guilty of the accused actions.

“If you find him guilty you must find that he should be removed,” Schiff said, “because right matters. Because right matters and the truth matters, otherwise we are lost.”

Democrats also detailed a defense of former Vice President Joe Biden and the role his son, Hunter Biden, played on the board of Burisma, a Ukrainian oil company, seeming to prepare for counterattacks likely to come when Trump’s legal team takes the stage. They argued there’s no evidence of any wrongdoing and pursuing the Bidens is irrelevant.

Trump’s personal attorney, Jay Sekulow, said upon hearing the Democrats’ defense of Biden that their team would determine the appropriate way to respond now that Democrats “opened the door” to the Bidens.

“What I don’t understand is for the last five hours, it’s been a lot about Joe Biden and Burisma,” Sekulow said after Thursday’s dinner break. “They kind of opened the door for that response. So we’ll determine as a defense team the appropriate way to do it.”

Behind closed doors, the Senate Republican leadership is also laying the groundwork in its caucus for a vote against subpoenaing witnesses by warning that a guaranteed White House court fight over executive privilege would stall the trial and paralyze the Senate for months.

GOP Sen. Lisa Murkowkski of Alaska, one of the four GOP senators Democrats would need to support their call for witnesses, pointedly criticized the Democrats’ strategy.

“The House made a decision that they didn’t want to slow things down by having to go through the courts,” Murkowski told CNN. “And yet now they’re basically saying, ‘You guys gotta go through the courts. We didn’t, but we need you to.'”

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

‘Take her out’: recording appears to capture Trump saying he wants Ukraine ambassador fired

Posted on: January 24th, 2020 by ABC News No Comments

Official White House Photo by Joyce N. Boghosian(WASHINGTON) — A recording reviewed by ABC News appears to capture President Donald Trump telling associates he wanted the then U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch fired – and speaking at a small gathering that included Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman — two former business associates of Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani who have since been indicted in New York.

The recording appears to contradict statements by President Trump and support the narrative that has been offered by Parnas during broadcast interviews in recent days. Sources familiar with the recording said the recording was made during an intimate April 30, 2018 dinner at the Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C.

Trump has said repeatedly he does not know Parnas, a Soviet-born America who has emerged as a wild card in Trump’s impeachment trial, especially in the days since Trump was impeached.

“Get rid of her!” is what the voice that appears to be President Trump’s is heard saying. “Get her out tomorrow. I don’t care. Get her out tomorrow. Take her out. Okay? Do it.”

On the recording, it appears the two Giuliani associates are telling President Trump that the U.S. ambassador has been bad-mouthing him, which leads directly to the apparent remarks by the President. The recording was made by Fruman according to sources familiar with the tape.

During the conversation, several of the participants can be heard laughing with the President. At another point, the recording appears to capture Trump praising his new choice of Secretary of State, saying emphatically: “Pompeo is the best.” But the most striking moment comes when Parnes and the President discuss the dismissal of his ambassador to Ukraine.

Parnas appears to say: “The biggest problem there, I think where we need to start is we gotta get rid of the ambassador. She’s still left over from the Clinton administration,” Parnas can be heard telling Trump. “She’s basically walking around telling everybody ‘Wait, he’s gonna get impeached, just wait,” he said. (Yovanovitch actually had served in the State Department since the Reagan Administration.)

It was not until a year later that Yovanovitch was recalled from her position — in April 2019. She said the decision was based on “unfounded and false claims by people with clearly questionable motives” that she was disloyal to and undermining Trump.

House investigators have been attempting to document – in part with text messages supplied by Parnas — an almost year-long effort on the part of Parnas and Giuliani to get Yovanovitch removed from her post. At times, the messages made public by the House Intelligence Committee show Giuliani boasting to Parnas about his efforts to have Yovanovitch recalled from Kyiv.

“Boy I’m so powerful I can intimidate the entire Ukrainian government” Giuliani messaged Parnas in May 2019. “Please don’t tell anyone I can’t get the crooked Ambassador fired or I did three times and she’s still there.”

The identities of others participating in the recorded conversation are unclear. During an early portion of the recording where video can be seen, Donald Trump Jr. appears on the recording posing for pictures with others. Sources say they were attending a larger event happening at the hotel that night for a super PAC that supports the president.

Another clip seen on the recording, according to the sources, is of individuals entering what appears to be a suite at the Trump Hotel for the intimate dinner. The phone that was recording the Trump conversation appears to be placed down on a table with the audio still recording the conversation between the commander-in-chief and other guests, according to the sources. The image of the president does not appear on the video reviewed by ABC News.

In a recent interview with MSNBC, Parnas publicly recounted his memories of the scene at the dinner and said that Trump turned to John [DeStefano], who was his deputy chief of staff at the time, and said, ‘Fire her,’ he claimed.

“We all, there was a silence in the room. He responded to him, said Mr. President, we can’t do that right now because [Secretary of State Mike] Pompeo hasn’t been confirmed yet, that Pompeo is not confirmed yet and we don’t have — this is when [former Secretary of State Rex] Tillerson was gone, but Pompeo was confirmed, so they go, wait until — so several conversations he mentioned it again.“

However, Pompeo had been confirmed and privately sworn in days earlier.

A copy of the recording is now in the custody of federal prosecutors in New York’s Southern District.

Trump’s supporters have maintained that no evidence has been put forward directly linking Trump to any of the alleged impeachable actions. And Trump has maintained that removing Yovanovitch was within his right.

Trump has distanced himself from Parnas, who is under federal indictment in New York in a campaign finance case, and the president’s supporters have questioned his credibility and motives.

“I don’t know him,” the president said just last week when asked about Parnas. “I don’t know Parnas other than I guess I had pictures taken, which I do with thousands of people, including people today that I didn’t meet. But I just met him. I don’t know him at all. Don’t know what he’s about, don’t know where he comes from, know nothing about him. I can only tell you this thing is a big hoax.”

As ABC News previously reported, Parnas, who cooperated with the House impeachment probe of Trump, began providing materials that were in his custody to congressional investigators late last year.

Just last week, Parnas’ attorney transferred more materials after a series of rulings from the judge in his criminal case, granting him permission to share records obtained by the government with House impeachment investigators to comply with a subpoena, including documents seized from Parnas’ home and the complete extraction of Parnas’ iPhone 11 and Samsung phone, seized from him upon his arrest in October 2019.

Joseph A. Bondy, Parnas’ attorney, tweeted at the time that the materials were brought to House investigators “despite every stumbling block placed in our path” since his client’s arrest.

The records, which were mostly WhatsApp messages, also included 59 pages of emails and handwritten letters that appear to describe Giuliani’s attempts to meet with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy and an effort to remove Yovanovitch from her post.

One email exchange appears to suggest Parnas and his associates had Yovanovitch “under physical surveillance in Kyiv,” according to the committee’s cover letter.

During her congressional testimony, Yovanovitch said she received a call from the State Department that “there were concerns about my security.”

Giuliani is a subject of the probe being led by the New York prosecutors, sources said. Parnas’ cohort, Igor Fruman was also arrested at the same time and faces similar charges though he is not cooperating with the congressional investigations. Both have pleaded not guilty.

Parnas and Fruman were indicted by the Southern District of New York on charges including conspiracy to commit campaign finance fraud, false statements to the Federal Election Commission and falsification of records as part of an alleged scheme to circumvent federal campaign finance laws against straw donations and foreign contributions. Both men have pleaded not guilty.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

‘Take her out’: recording appears to capture Trump saying he wants Ukraine ambassador fired

Posted on: January 24th, 2020 by ABC News No Comments

Official White House Photo by Joyce N. Boghosian(WASHINGTON) — A recording reviewed by ABC News appears to capture President Donald Trump telling associates he wanted the then U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch fired – and speaking at a small gathering that included Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman — two former business associates of Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani who have since been indicted in New York.

The recording appears to contradict statements by President Trump and support the narrative that has been offered by Parnas during broadcast interviews in recent days. Sources familiar with the recording said the recording was made during an intimate April 30, 2018 dinner at the Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C.

Trump has said repeatedly he does not know Parnas, a Soviet-born America who has emerged as a wild card in Trump’s impeachment trial, especially in the days since Trump was impeached.

“Get rid of her!” is what the voice that appears to be President Trump’s is heard saying. “Get her out tomorrow. I don’t care. Get her out tomorrow. Take her out. Okay? Do it.”

On the recording, it appears the two Giuliani associates are telling President Trump that the U.S. ambassador has been bad-mouthing him, which leads directly to the apparent remarks by the President. The recording was made by Fruman according to sources familiar with the tape.

During the conversation, several of the participants can be heard laughing with the President. At another point, the recording appears to capture Trump praising his new choice of Secretary of State, saying emphatically: “Pompeo is the best.” But the most striking moment comes when Parnes and the President discuss the dismissal of his ambassador to Ukraine.

Parnas appears to say: “The biggest problem there, I think where we need to start is we gotta get rid of the ambassador. She’s still left over from the Clinton administration,” Parnas can be heard telling Trump. “She’s basically walking around telling everybody ‘Wait, he’s gonna get impeached, just wait,” he said. (Yovanovitch actually had served in the State Department since the Reagan Administration.)

It was not until a year later that Yovanovitch was recalled from her position — in April 2019. She said the decision was based on “unfounded and false claims by people with clearly questionable motives” that she was disloyal to and undermining Trump.

House investigators have been attempting to document – in part with text messages supplied by Parnas — an almost year-long effort on the part of Parnas and Giuliani to get Yovanovitch removed from her post. At times, the messages made public by the House Intelligence Committee show Giuliani boasting to Parnas about his efforts to have Yovanovitch recalled from Kyiv.

“Boy I’m so powerful I can intimidate the entire Ukrainian government” Giuliani messaged Parnas in May 2019. “Please don’t tell anyone I can’t get the crooked Ambassador fired or I did three times and she’s still there.”

The identities of others participating in the recorded conversation are unclear. During an early portion of the recording where video can be seen, Donald Trump Jr. appears on the recording posing for pictures with others. Sources say they were attending a larger event happening at the hotel that night for a super PAC that supports the president.

Another clip seen on the recording, according to the sources, is of individuals entering what appears to be a suite at the Trump Hotel for the intimate dinner. The phone that was recording the Trump conversation appears to be placed down on a table with the audio still recording the conversation between the commander-in-chief and other guests, according to the sources. The image of the president does not appear on the video reviewed by ABC News.

In a recent interview with MSNBC, Parnas publicly recounted his memories of the scene at the dinner and said that Trump turned to John [DeStefano], who was his deputy chief of staff at the time, and said, ‘Fire her,’ he claimed.

“We all, there was a silence in the room. He responded to him, said Mr. President, we can’t do that right now because [Secretary of State Mike] Pompeo hasn’t been confirmed yet, that Pompeo is not confirmed yet and we don’t have — this is when [former Secretary of State Rex] Tillerson was gone, but Pompeo was confirmed, so they go, wait until — so several conversations he mentioned it again.“

However, Pompeo had been confirmed and privately sworn in days earlier.

A copy of the recording is now in the custody of federal prosecutors in New York’s Southern District.

Trump’s supporters have maintained that no evidence has been put forward directly linking Trump to any of the alleged impeachable actions. And Trump has maintained that removing Yovanovitch was within his right.

Trump has distanced himself from Parnas, who is under federal indictment in New York in a campaign finance case, and the president’s supporters have questioned his credibility and motives.

“I don’t know him,” the president said just last week when asked about Parnas. “I don’t know Parnas other than I guess I had pictures taken, which I do with thousands of people, including people today that I didn’t meet. But I just met him. I don’t know him at all. Don’t know what he’s about, don’t know where he comes from, know nothing about him. I can only tell you this thing is a big hoax.”

As ABC News previously reported, Parnas, who cooperated with the House impeachment probe of Trump, began providing materials that were in his custody to congressional investigators late last year.

Just last week, Parnas’ attorney transferred more materials after a series of rulings from the judge in his criminal case, granting him permission to share records obtained by the government with House impeachment investigators to comply with a subpoena, including documents seized from Parnas’ home and the complete extraction of Parnas’ iPhone 11 and Samsung phone, seized from him upon his arrest in October 2019.

Joseph A. Bondy, Parnas’ attorney, tweeted at the time that the materials were brought to House investigators “despite every stumbling block placed in our path” since his client’s arrest.

The records, which were mostly WhatsApp messages, also included 59 pages of emails and handwritten letters that appear to describe Giuliani’s attempts to meet with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy and an effort to remove Yovanovitch from her post.

One email exchange appears to suggest Parnas and his associates had Yovanovitch “under physical surveillance in Kyiv,” according to the committee’s cover letter.

During her congressional testimony, Yovanovitch said she received a call from the State Department that “there were concerns about my security.”

Giuliani is a subject of the probe being led by the New York prosecutors, sources said. Parnas’ cohort, Igor Fruman was also arrested at the same time and faces similar charges though he is not cooperating with the congressional investigations. Both have pleaded not guilty.

Parnas and Fruman were indicted by the Southern District of New York on charges including conspiracy to commit campaign finance fraud, false statements to the Federal Election Commission and falsification of records as part of an alleged scheme to circumvent federal campaign finance laws against straw donations and foreign contributions. Both men have pleaded not guilty.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

The evidence revealed since Trump’s impeachment but still in question at Senate trial

Posted on: January 24th, 2020 by ABC News No Comments

rarrarorro/iStock(WASHINGTON) — House Speaker Nancy Pelosi held on to the articles of impeachment for almost a month before delivering them to the Senate — a decision that Republicans blasted as inconsistent with her claim it was urgent to remove President Donald Trump to protect the integrity of the 2020 election.

While critics argue she undercut the House case with that delay, both Pelosi and House impeachment managers point to the significance of the evidence that’s surfaced since the House passed the articles of impeachment on Dec. 18.

“Time has been our friend in all this,” Pelosi has said, calling the new evidence “incriminating.”

Democrats have talked extensively about some of the newly emerged evidence in making their arguments at the Senate trial, but it hasn’t yet been formally admitted as they demanded. On a party-line vote, the GOP-led Senate voted to consider whether it should be allowed only later in the trial, after all arguments are made and senators ask written questions. Democrats called that exactly backwards.

91 minutes between Ukraine phone call and withholding of aid

On Dec. 22, documents obtained by the Center for Public Integrity revealed White House officials requested almost $400 million in aid to Ukraine be held 91 minutes after Trump’s call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy.

According to a record of the call released by the White House, the July 25 phone call between Trump and Zelenskiy took place between 9:03 a.m. and 9:33 a.m.

At 11:04 a.m., Mike Duffey, an official with the White House’s budget office, sent an email to Deputy Secretary of Defense David Norquist, the chief of staff to Defense Secretary Mark Esper and the Pentagon’s chief financial officer. In that email, he instructed them to put a hold on the aid.

A spokesperson for the Office of Management and Budget responded to the revelation by saying, “to pull a line out of one email and fail to address the context is misleading and inaccurate.”

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer called the new evidence “explosive,” pushing his case for Duffey and other key players to be called as witnesses at the Senate trial.

“A top administration official, one that we’ve requested, is saying ‘stop the aid’ 91 minutes after Trump called Zelenskiy, and said ‘keep it hush-hush,” Schumer said. “What more do you need to request a witness?”

Unredacted email says aid freeze was at ‘clear direction of POTUS’

On Jan. 2, an unredacted version of an email disclosed Duffey ordered the Pentagon to keep the freeze in U.S. assistance to Ukraine at the “clear direction from the POTUS.”

Rep. Adam Schiff, the lead House prosecutor in the Senate impeachment trial, said these emails undermined the White House’s argument that the aid was held for a legitimate reason. U.S. law provides exemptions for the executive branch to withhold spending if the administration informs Congress of such decisions on a timely basis, which was not the case with the Ukranian aid.

“The documents show a compelling desire to prevent Congress from finding out,” Schiff said in a statement. “If there was a legitimate reason to place the hold and there was no concern about violating the law, they would have told Congress. But of course they did not, since the whole point of the aide freeze was to coerce Ukraine into interfering in our election to help the president.”

Despite Democrats’ call for witnesses, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell pressed for a swift trial without them. The Senate ultimately rejected Schumer’s proposed amendment to the Senate trial rules, which would have subpoenaed testimony from Duffey. The amendment failed along party lines.

In a tweet, Pelosi said the emails showed an “unprecedented, total obstruction of Congress” by the president.

Bolton willing to testify if subpoenaed

Trump’s former national security adviser, John Bolton, released a statement on Jan. 6 saying he was willing to testify in the Senate trial if subpoenaed.

Bolton was one of the four individuals Schumer demanded the Senate call as witnesses, noting his attorney previously told House lawyers Bolton was “personally involved in many of the events, meetings, and conversations about which you have already received testimony, as well as many relevant meetings and conversations that have not yet been discussed in the testimonies thus far,” putting more pressure on Republicans to call new witnesses.

Schumer called Bolton’s statement “momentum for uncovering the truth.”

“Given that Mr. Bolton’s lawyers have stated he has new relevant information to share, if any Senate Republican opposes issuing subpoenas to the four witnesses and documents we have requested they would make absolutely clear they are participating in a cover up,” he said.

Pelosi echoed Schumer on Twitter.

“The President & Sen. McConnell have run out of excuses. They must allow key witnesses to testify, and produce the documents Trump has blocked, so Americans can see the facts for themselves,” she said.

Parnas says ‘Trump knew exactly what was going on’ with Ukraine

In an interview on MSNBC’s The Rachel Maddow Show, Lev Parnas, an indicted associate of the president’s personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, claimed Trump was fully aware of Giuliani’s efforts in Ukraine.

In an interview on CNN the following evening, Parnas said both his and Giuliani’s efforts in Ukraine were “all about 2020, to make sure [Trump] had another four years.”

Parnas participated in the first of these interviews on Jan. 15, the same day Pelosi officially began the process to send the articles of impeachment to the Senate.

Shortly after delivering the articles, the House Intelligence Committee published new records gathered from Parnas as part of a subpoena request from September. The records included voicemails, photographs, videos and messages further linking Giuliani to his involvement in Ukraine — a key part being the efforts to dismiss former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch.

In one text exchange from March 2019, a Connecticut man and a Trump donor named Robert F. Hyde texted Parnas: “Wow. Can’t believe Trump hasn’t fired that bitch. I’ll get right in that.”

The texts came one month before Yovanovitch was fired from her post, but Parnas and Hyde dismissed the exchange as not serious.

The president adamantly denied ever knowing much about Parnas and what he was up to with Giuliani, to which Parnas responded he was “lying.”

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

The evidence revealed since Trump’s impeachment but still in question at Senate trial

Posted on: January 24th, 2020 by ABC News No Comments

rarrarorro/iStock(WASHINGTON) — House Speaker Nancy Pelosi held on to the articles of impeachment for almost a month before delivering them to the Senate — a decision that Republicans blasted as inconsistent with her claim it was urgent to remove President Donald Trump to protect the integrity of the 2020 election.

While critics argue she undercut the House case with that delay, both Pelosi and House impeachment managers point to the significance of the evidence that’s surfaced since the House passed the articles of impeachment on Dec. 18.

“Time has been our friend in all this,” Pelosi has said, calling the new evidence “incriminating.”

Democrats have talked extensively about some of the newly emerged evidence in making their arguments at the Senate trial, but it hasn’t yet been formally admitted as they demanded. On a party-line vote, the GOP-led Senate voted to consider whether it should be allowed only later in the trial, after all arguments are made and senators ask written questions. Democrats called that exactly backwards.

91 minutes between Ukraine phone call and withholding of aid

On Dec. 22, documents obtained by the Center for Public Integrity revealed White House officials requested almost $400 million in aid to Ukraine be held 91 minutes after Trump’s call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy.

According to a record of the call released by the White House, the July 25 phone call between Trump and Zelenskiy took place between 9:03 a.m. and 9:33 a.m.

At 11:04 a.m., Mike Duffey, an official with the White House’s budget office, sent an email to Deputy Secretary of Defense David Norquist, the chief of staff to Defense Secretary Mark Esper and the Pentagon’s chief financial officer. In that email, he instructed them to put a hold on the aid.

A spokesperson for the Office of Management and Budget responded to the revelation by saying, “to pull a line out of one email and fail to address the context is misleading and inaccurate.”

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer called the new evidence “explosive,” pushing his case for Duffey and other key players to be called as witnesses at the Senate trial.

“A top administration official, one that we’ve requested, is saying ‘stop the aid’ 91 minutes after Trump called Zelenskiy, and said ‘keep it hush-hush,” Schumer said. “What more do you need to request a witness?”

Unredacted email says aid freeze was at ‘clear direction of POTUS’

On Jan. 2, an unredacted version of an email disclosed Duffey ordered the Pentagon to keep the freeze in U.S. assistance to Ukraine at the “clear direction from the POTUS.”

Rep. Adam Schiff, the lead House prosecutor in the Senate impeachment trial, said these emails undermined the White House’s argument that the aid was held for a legitimate reason. U.S. law provides exemptions for the executive branch to withhold spending if the administration informs Congress of such decisions on a timely basis, which was not the case with the Ukranian aid.

“The documents show a compelling desire to prevent Congress from finding out,” Schiff said in a statement. “If there was a legitimate reason to place the hold and there was no concern about violating the law, they would have told Congress. But of course they did not, since the whole point of the aide freeze was to coerce Ukraine into interfering in our election to help the president.”

Despite Democrats’ call for witnesses, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell pressed for a swift trial without them. The Senate ultimately rejected Schumer’s proposed amendment to the Senate trial rules, which would have subpoenaed testimony from Duffey. The amendment failed along party lines.

In a tweet, Pelosi said the emails showed an “unprecedented, total obstruction of Congress” by the president.

Bolton willing to testify if subpoenaed

Trump’s former national security adviser, John Bolton, released a statement on Jan. 6 saying he was willing to testify in the Senate trial if subpoenaed.

Bolton was one of the four individuals Schumer demanded the Senate call as witnesses, noting his attorney previously told House lawyers Bolton was “personally involved in many of the events, meetings, and conversations about which you have already received testimony, as well as many relevant meetings and conversations that have not yet been discussed in the testimonies thus far,” putting more pressure on Republicans to call new witnesses.

Schumer called Bolton’s statement “momentum for uncovering the truth.”

“Given that Mr. Bolton’s lawyers have stated he has new relevant information to share, if any Senate Republican opposes issuing subpoenas to the four witnesses and documents we have requested they would make absolutely clear they are participating in a cover up,” he said.

Pelosi echoed Schumer on Twitter.

“The President & Sen. McConnell have run out of excuses. They must allow key witnesses to testify, and produce the documents Trump has blocked, so Americans can see the facts for themselves,” she said.

Parnas says ‘Trump knew exactly what was going on’ with Ukraine

In an interview on MSNBC’s The Rachel Maddow Show, Lev Parnas, an indicted associate of the president’s personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, claimed Trump was fully aware of Giuliani’s efforts in Ukraine.

In an interview on CNN the following evening, Parnas said both his and Giuliani’s efforts in Ukraine were “all about 2020, to make sure [Trump] had another four years.”

Parnas participated in the first of these interviews on Jan. 15, the same day Pelosi officially began the process to send the articles of impeachment to the Senate.

Shortly after delivering the articles, the House Intelligence Committee published new records gathered from Parnas as part of a subpoena request from September. The records included voicemails, photographs, videos and messages further linking Giuliani to his involvement in Ukraine — a key part being the efforts to dismiss former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch.

In one text exchange from March 2019, a Connecticut man and a Trump donor named Robert F. Hyde texted Parnas: “Wow. Can’t believe Trump hasn’t fired that bitch. I’ll get right in that.”

The texts came one month before Yovanovitch was fired from her post, but Parnas and Hyde dismissed the exchange as not serious.

The president adamantly denied ever knowing much about Parnas and what he was up to with Giuliani, to which Parnas responded he was “lying.”

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Democrats use videos to help make their case in Senate impeachment trial

Posted on: January 24th, 2020 by ABC News No Comments

ABC News(WASHINGTON) — Senators were settling in for a long day of constitutional arguments for impeachment Thursday afternoon when a familiar sound snapped the room to attention: the voice of President Donald Trump.

Republicans and Democrats turned to face the bank of television screens in the chamber as Rep. Adam Schiff teed up a now-infamous clip of Trump telling reporters in October that he had hoped Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy would open a probe into the Biden family.

Pres. Trump urges China to investigate his political rival Joe Biden and his son—even as he faces an impeachment inquiry for pushing Ukraine to do the same. https://t.co/dCTAOhQE2P pic.twitter.com/OdxJNRF2HE

— ABC News (@ABC) October 3, 2019

It was a vivid example Thursday of how Democrats are using an unprecedented number of video clips of congressional hearings, White House news conferences and, most notably, Trump himself, in an effort to hammer home their argument for removing the president from office.

Denied the opportunity to question witnesses by Senate Republicans, Democrats have played more than 140 video clips over two days of opening arguments, bringing the president, his associates and administration officials into the chamber.

They’ve played snippets of Trump’s remarks on the White House North Lawn in October — when the president told reporters he wanted Ukraine to investigate the Bidens and that China should as well — at least half-a-dozen times.

“It’s stunning,” Sen. Chris Coons, D-Del., said of the sensation of watching Trump — in his own words — from his desk in the Senate chamber.

Republican managers in the trial of President Bill Clinton 21 years ago used video in their arguments and senators watched videotaped witness depositions later in the proceedings. But no case for a president’s impeachment has ever relied so heavily on hearing and seeing the president, his top aides and other key witnesses — or the ability to repeatedly project them to the full Senate and to the public to reinforce their presentations.

“Their use of video has been incredibly effective,” Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., said Wednesday evening. “I’ve been very impressed at the way they’ve told the story, and I think it’s really hard for Republicans to hear it all in one place.”

“They’ve done a good job of presenting,” Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., a retiring moderate who some Democrats believe could be persuaded to support calling witnesses, told reporters Thursday. “We have a lot to consider.”

Unlike Clinton, who tried to limit commenting on his impeachment and the allegations against him as the process unfolded, Trump is a voracious consumer of news who makes his case repeatedly on social media each day. He weighed in on a near-daily basis as House Democrats continued to investigate the Ukraine affair last year.

“It’s important to bring that evidence and testimony to life for the senators,” Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y, an impeachment manager, told ABC News after the first day of arguments.

Republicans, including some who have been critical and skeptical of the Democrats’ case, have acknowledged the effectiveness of the clips and other exhibits, including text message exchanges and emails obtained by House investigators.

“It gets people’s attention, sure,” Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., told ABC News.

“Is there new information, since I didn’t watch television of the House hearings? Am I seeing stuff I didn’t see before? Yeah,” Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-La., told ABC News. “But, of course, you also want to see what the rebuttal arguments are.”

Others say the Democrats’ exhibits haven’t affected their opinions about the case against the president, and criticized Democrats for being repetitive.

“It’s not really changing our opinion, we’re just hearing that same message,” Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, said Thursday.

Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis. was more blunt.

“There’s nothing new that really adds to their case,” he said. “We shouldn’t even be in an impeachment inquiry.”

Beyond the captive audience in the Senate chamber, Democrats, including the House managers, have said they’re trying to reach the American people, and continue to make the case that Trump abused his power.

While Democrats privately admit that persuading 20 Republicans to join them in voting to convict Trump is unlikely, they are more hopeful that the four moderate GOP senators Democrats have targeted could be convinced — either by the managers’ presentations or constituents — to bring additional evidence and witnesses into the trial.

“It may have an effect on them,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said Wednesday of the managers’ use of video. “But even if it doesn’t, I bet tonight had an effect on the public, and that redounds to some Republicans.”

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Democrats use videos to help make their case in Senate impeachment trial

Posted on: January 24th, 2020 by ABC News No Comments

ABC News(WASHINGTON) — Senators were settling in for a long day of constitutional arguments for impeachment Thursday afternoon when a familiar sound snapped the room to attention: the voice of President Donald Trump.

Republicans and Democrats turned to face the bank of television screens in the chamber as Rep. Adam Schiff teed up a now-infamous clip of Trump telling reporters in October that he had hoped Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy would open a probe into the Biden family.

Pres. Trump urges China to investigate his political rival Joe Biden and his son—even as he faces an impeachment inquiry for pushing Ukraine to do the same. https://t.co/dCTAOhQE2P pic.twitter.com/OdxJNRF2HE

— ABC News (@ABC) October 3, 2019

It was a vivid example Thursday of how Democrats are using an unprecedented number of video clips of congressional hearings, White House news conferences and, most notably, Trump himself, in an effort to hammer home their argument for removing the president from office.

Denied the opportunity to question witnesses by Senate Republicans, Democrats have played more than 140 video clips over two days of opening arguments, bringing the president, his associates and administration officials into the chamber.

They’ve played snippets of Trump’s remarks on the White House North Lawn in October — when the president told reporters he wanted Ukraine to investigate the Bidens and that China should as well — at least half-a-dozen times.

“It’s stunning,” Sen. Chris Coons, D-Del., said of the sensation of watching Trump — in his own words — from his desk in the Senate chamber.

Republican managers in the trial of President Bill Clinton 21 years ago used video in their arguments and senators watched videotaped witness depositions later in the proceedings. But no case for a president’s impeachment has ever relied so heavily on hearing and seeing the president, his top aides and other key witnesses — or the ability to repeatedly project them to the full Senate and to the public to reinforce their presentations.

“Their use of video has been incredibly effective,” Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., said Wednesday evening. “I’ve been very impressed at the way they’ve told the story, and I think it’s really hard for Republicans to hear it all in one place.”

“They’ve done a good job of presenting,” Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., a retiring moderate who some Democrats believe could be persuaded to support calling witnesses, told reporters Thursday. “We have a lot to consider.”

Unlike Clinton, who tried to limit commenting on his impeachment and the allegations against him as the process unfolded, Trump is a voracious consumer of news who makes his case repeatedly on social media each day. He weighed in on a near-daily basis as House Democrats continued to investigate the Ukraine affair last year.

“It’s important to bring that evidence and testimony to life for the senators,” Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y, an impeachment manager, told ABC News after the first day of arguments.

Republicans, including some who have been critical and skeptical of the Democrats’ case, have acknowledged the effectiveness of the clips and other exhibits, including text message exchanges and emails obtained by House investigators.

“It gets people’s attention, sure,” Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., told ABC News.

“Is there new information, since I didn’t watch television of the House hearings? Am I seeing stuff I didn’t see before? Yeah,” Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-La., told ABC News. “But, of course, you also want to see what the rebuttal arguments are.”

Others say the Democrats’ exhibits haven’t affected their opinions about the case against the president, and criticized Democrats for being repetitive.

“It’s not really changing our opinion, we’re just hearing that same message,” Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, said Thursday.

Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis. was more blunt.

“There’s nothing new that really adds to their case,” he said. “We shouldn’t even be in an impeachment inquiry.”

Beyond the captive audience in the Senate chamber, Democrats, including the House managers, have said they’re trying to reach the American people, and continue to make the case that Trump abused his power.

While Democrats privately admit that persuading 20 Republicans to join them in voting to convict Trump is unlikely, they are more hopeful that the four moderate GOP senators Democrats have targeted could be convinced — either by the managers’ presentations or constituents — to bring additional evidence and witnesses into the trial.

“It may have an effect on them,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said Wednesday of the managers’ use of video. “But even if it doesn’t, I bet tonight had an effect on the public, and that redounds to some Republicans.”

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Trump impeachment trial day 3: Democrats make ‘abuse of power’ case

Posted on: January 24th, 2020 by ABC News No Comments

uschools/iStock(WASHINGTON) — As the Senate trial of President Donald Trump resumed Thursday afternoon, lead House manager Adam Schiff argued the law and the Constitution, applied to the facts, support the article of impeachment that accuses him 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 School 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.

“That trade is not on the table,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer told reporters.

As Thursday’s session opened, Chief Justice John Roberts announced that Democrats had 16 hours and 42 minutes left to use over two days before the president’s legal team takes the Senate floor on Saturday to begin 24 hours of opening arguments over three days.

10:43 p.m. Final statements of the day

In his final statements for the day, Rep. Adam Schiff wrapped up arguments by pointing senators back to the transcript of the Zelenskiy-Trump July 25 phone call, asking senators to view the transcript in the context of the information they’d been listening to all day. Schiff ended on an impassioned note, telling senators that Trump’s actions demonstrate that he cannot be trusted to act in the best interest of the country, and telling them that they must remove Trump if they find he is guilty of the actions he’s accused of.

Schiff used the end of his time to argue against the narrative that Republicans seem to be getting ready to argue. He asked senators to consider, if Trump is guilty, does he really need to be removed from office for these actions?

“If you find him guilty you must find that he should be removed,” Schiff said, “because right matters. Because right matters and the truth matters, otherwise we are lost.”

Schiff said Trump’s decision to “choose Rudy Giuliani” over the guidance of national security advisers, the FBI and the country shows that Trump is self-interested and cannot be trusted to act in the country’s best interest leading up to the election, especially with anticipated election security threats from Russia and China.

“You may be asking, ‘How much damage can he really do in the next several months until the election?’ Schiff said. “A lot. A lot of damage.”

Schiff ended by pointing to remarks from Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, who said during his House testimony that “right matters.” Schiff repeated it multiple times before closing.

“If right doesn’t matter, it doesn’t matter how good the Constitution is. It doesn’t matter how brilliant the framers were. It doesn’t matter how good or bad our advocacy in this trial is,” he said. “If right doesn’t matter, we’re lost. If the truth doesn’t matter, we’re lost.”

He also threw some of the president’s remarks back at him.

“At the beginning of the trial you may have seen the president tweeted a common refrain: ‘Read the transcript,’ so I thought at the end of the evening I would join in the president’s request that you re-read the transcript because now that you know a lot more of the facts of this scheme it reveals a lot more about that conversation,” Schiff said.

9:42 p.m. Hang in there, Dems say

With Republican senators sounding increasingly irritated by the managers’ presentation during their breaks — telling reporters they are repetitive, etc. — the managers continued to thank the senators for listening.

House Manager Rep. Zoe Lofgren said, “It’s a long day. You are here without your cellphones or any access to other information. It’s not easy, but you’re paying attention, and the country and the managers thank you for that.”

Rep. Jason Crow later echoed the same message as the clock neared 9:30 p.m.: “Just bear with us a little while longer. I promise we are almost there.”

Lofgren used her time after a brief recess to detail the hold on military aid to Ukraine, how Trump “knowingly” and “willfully” broke the law by freezing it and how that related to his abuse of power.

“The hold had nothing to do with the national interest. It had to do with the interest of just one person: Donald J Trump. The demand for Ukraine to announce these investigations was not a policy decision but a personal decision by the president to benefit his own personal interests,” Lofgren said.

She also pulled out a pocket Constitution to remind senators of their responsibilities.

“Every year we print a new copy of the Constitution and this year in the back we printed a quote. At the conclusion of the Constitutional Convention, Benjamin Franklin was asked, ‘What have you wrought?’ and he answered, ‘A republic, if you can keep it.’ That’s the challenge that all of us face and that you senators face,” she said.

8:43 p.m. ‘Doomsday’ scenarios for witnesses

Senate Republican leadership is laying the groundwork in its caucus for a vote against subpoenaing witnesses by warning that a guaranteed White House court fight over executive privilege would stall the trial and paralyze the Senate for months.

Former Attorney General Michael Mukasey was called in on Wednesday to lay out the scenarios for GOP senators, sources familiar with the meeting told ABC News.

Mukasey explained how “cumbersome” it would be to subpoena any of the four White House officials sought by the House Democratic managers, the sources said.

Several Republicans in the meeting have told us that they’d expect an executive privilege fight over a Senate trial subpoena to take “weeks or months” leaving the body no choice but to remain idle.

“There’d be nothing else we could do in the interim,” said Sen John Cornyn of Texas. “It would basically hijack the senate. 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 said lawmakers would get an earful from their constituents — especially independent voters.

“Every day we spend doing this, we’re not doing — I’m a doctor. I want to lower the cost of insulin. I want to deal with this surprise medical billings issue. … 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,” he said.

8:25 p.m. Jeffries returns to the mic after break

Rep. Hakeem Jeffries continued speaking when the Senate returned from its break around 7:15 p.m.

Jeffries’ presentation got into the minutia of attempts by top officials to get a meeting planned between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy. He pointed to multiple instances in which the importance of an investigation was emphasized as a necessary concession to getting a meeting scheduled.

“President Trump had immense power over Ukraine and President Trump knew it, so when President Trump asked for a favor on the July 25 call he knew that President Zelenskiy would feel incredible pressure to do exactly what President Trump wanted,” Jeffries said.

After displaying text messages between administration officials, Jeffries sampled a portion of the phone call between Trump and Zelenskiy in which Zelenskiy again emphasizes his desire for a White House meeting and spoke to his efforts to possibly pursue “the investigation.” Jeffries said the transcript is damning.

“Read the transcript, President Trump says. We have read the transcript and it is damning evidence of a corrupt quid pro quo,” Jeffries said. “The evidence against Donald Trump is hiding in plain sight.”

Jeffries concluded his comments at 7:47 p.m. — and Sylvia Garcia took to the podium. She continued presenting evidence laying out attempts by Rudy Giuliani to get confirmation of an investigation, and by administration officials to get a meeting scheduled.

“The evidence is very clear the White House meeting would only be scheduled if Ukraine announced the investigations that everyone, including the Ukrainians, understood to be purely political efforts to benefit the president,” Garcia said. “The only way to come to a different conclusion is to ignore the evidence.”

8:08 p.m. Vindman’s lawyer slams Sen. Blackburn’s tweets attacking client

Following a series of tweets Thursday afternoon by Sen. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., which questioned Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman’s motivation to testify and his patriotism, his attorney slammed the comments.

“This difficult moment in our country calls for seriousness and seriousness of purpose,” David Pressman, who serves as counsel to the Army officer who defied White House orders and appeared before the House impeachment probe, said in a statement.

“Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman has sacrificed enormously for our country. He believes in our country. And he believes in our country’s great institutions, including the United States Senate,” the statement continued. “That a member of the Senate — at a moment when the Senate is undertaking its most solemn responsibility — would choose to take to Twitter to spread slander about a member of the military is a testament to cowardice. While Senator Blackburn fires off defamatory tweets, Lieutenant Colonel Vindman will continue to do what he has always done: serve our country dutifully and with honor.”

6:01 p.m. Democrats argue Giuliani played a key role in ambassador’s firing

Over the past hour, House managers Zoe Lofgren and then Val Demings have laid out in detail Rudy Giuliani’s efforts, they argue, to conduct shadow diplomacy in Ukraine to further Trump’s political interests, culminating in the firing of Ambassador Marie Yovanovich.

Just as the managers have used Trump’s own words against him in clips, this hour of presentation featured multiple videos of Giuliani’s prolific media appearances, peddling what Democrats call conspiracy theories, including his comments in a Fox News video clip.

“That there were a group of people in the Ukraine working to help Hillary Clinton and were colluding really with the Clinton campaign and it stems around the ambassador and the embassy being used for political purposes. So I began getting some people that were coming forward and telling me about that. Then all of a sudden they revealed this story about Burisma and Biden’s son and Biden’s son being on the board,” Giuliani said in the Fox News appearance.

Demings and Lofgren use WhatsApp exchanges provided by indicted Giuliani associated Lev Parnas between himself and Giuliani as more evidence that Giuliani pushed for the firing of Yovanovich.

“President Trump removed Ambassador Yovanovitch because she was in the way. She was in the way of the sham investigations that he so desperately wanted. Investigations that would hurt former Vice President Biden and undermine the Mueller investigation into Russia election interference. Investigations that would help him cheat in the 2020 elections,” Demings insisted.

And they played the damning bite from European Union Ambassador Gordon Sondland, when he admitted that though he believed State Department personnel should take responsibility for Ukraine matters, he felt he had no choice but to conduct diplomacy through Giuliani.

“We chose the latter course, not because we liked it, but because it was the only constructive path open to us,” Sondland said in the clip.

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 impeachment trial day 3: Democrats make ‘abuse of power’ case

Posted on: January 24th, 2020 by ABC News No Comments

uschools/iStock(WASHINGTON) — As the Senate trial of President Donald Trump resumed Thursday afternoon, lead House manager Adam Schiff argued the law and the Constitution, applied to the facts, support the article of impeachment that accuses him 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 School 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.

“That trade is not on the table,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer told reporters.

As Thursday’s session opened, Chief Justice John Roberts announced that Democrats had 16 hours and 42 minutes left to use over two days before the president’s legal team takes the Senate floor on Saturday to begin 24 hours of opening arguments over three days.

10:43 p.m. Final statements of the day

In his final statements for the day, Rep. Adam Schiff wrapped up arguments by pointing senators back to the transcript of the Zelenskiy-Trump July 25 phone call, asking senators to view the transcript in the context of the information they’d been listening to all day. Schiff ended on an impassioned note, telling senators that Trump’s actions demonstrate that he cannot be trusted to act in the best interest of the country, and telling them that they must remove Trump if they find he is guilty of the actions he’s accused of.

Schiff used the end of his time to argue against the narrative that Republicans seem to be getting ready to argue. He asked senators to consider, if Trump is guilty, does he really need to be removed from office for these actions?

“If you find him guilty you must find that he should be removed,” Schiff said, “because right matters. Because right matters and the truth matters, otherwise we are lost.”

Schiff said Trump’s decision to “choose Rudy Giuliani” over the guidance of national security advisers, the FBI and the country shows that Trump is self-interested and cannot be trusted to act in the country’s best interest leading up to the election, especially with anticipated election security threats from Russia and China.

“You may be asking, ‘How much damage can he really do in the next several months until the election?’ Schiff said. “A lot. A lot of damage.”

Schiff ended by pointing to remarks from Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, who said during his House testimony that “right matters.” Schiff repeated it multiple times before closing.

“If right doesn’t matter, it doesn’t matter how good the Constitution is. It doesn’t matter how brilliant the framers were. It doesn’t matter how good or bad our advocacy in this trial is,” he said. “If right doesn’t matter, we’re lost. If the truth doesn’t matter, we’re lost.”

He also threw some of the president’s remarks back at him.

“At the beginning of the trial you may have seen the president tweeted a common refrain: ‘Read the transcript,’ so I thought at the end of the evening I would join in the president’s request that you re-read the transcript because now that you know a lot more of the facts of this scheme it reveals a lot more about that conversation,” Schiff said.

9:42 p.m. Hang in there, Dems say

With Republican senators sounding increasingly irritated by the managers’ presentation during their breaks — telling reporters they are repetitive, etc. — the managers continued to thank the senators for listening.

House Manager Rep. Zoe Lofgren said, “It’s a long day. You are here without your cellphones or any access to other information. It’s not easy, but you’re paying attention, and the country and the managers thank you for that.”

Rep. Jason Crow later echoed the same message as the clock neared 9:30 p.m.: “Just bear with us a little while longer. I promise we are almost there.”

Lofgren used her time after a brief recess to detail the hold on military aid to Ukraine, how Trump “knowingly” and “willfully” broke the law by freezing it and how that related to his abuse of power.

“The hold had nothing to do with the national interest. It had to do with the interest of just one person: Donald J Trump. The demand for Ukraine to announce these investigations was not a policy decision but a personal decision by the president to benefit his own personal interests,” Lofgren said.

She also pulled out a pocket Constitution to remind senators of their responsibilities.

“Every year we print a new copy of the Constitution and this year in the back we printed a quote. At the conclusion of the Constitutional Convention, Benjamin Franklin was asked, ‘What have you wrought?’ and he answered, ‘A republic, if you can keep it.’ That’s the challenge that all of us face and that you senators face,” she said.

8:43 p.m. ‘Doomsday’ scenarios for witnesses

Senate Republican leadership is laying the groundwork in its caucus for a vote against subpoenaing witnesses by warning that a guaranteed White House court fight over executive privilege would stall the trial and paralyze the Senate for months.

Former Attorney General Michael Mukasey was called in on Wednesday to lay out the scenarios for GOP senators, sources familiar with the meeting told ABC News.

Mukasey explained how “cumbersome” it would be to subpoena any of the four White House officials sought by the House Democratic managers, the sources said.

Several Republicans in the meeting have told us that they’d expect an executive privilege fight over a Senate trial subpoena to take “weeks or months” leaving the body no choice but to remain idle.

“There’d be nothing else we could do in the interim,” said Sen John Cornyn of Texas. “It would basically hijack the senate. 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 said lawmakers would get an earful from their constituents — especially independent voters.

“Every day we spend doing this, we’re not doing — I’m a doctor. I want to lower the cost of insulin. I want to deal with this surprise medical billings issue. … 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,” he said.

8:25 p.m. Jeffries returns to the mic after break

Rep. Hakeem Jeffries continued speaking when the Senate returned from its break around 7:15 p.m.

Jeffries’ presentation got into the minutia of attempts by top officials to get a meeting planned between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy. He pointed to multiple instances in which the importance of an investigation was emphasized as a necessary concession to getting a meeting scheduled.

“President Trump had immense power over Ukraine and President Trump knew it, so when President Trump asked for a favor on the July 25 call he knew that President Zelenskiy would feel incredible pressure to do exactly what President Trump wanted,” Jeffries said.

After displaying text messages between administration officials, Jeffries sampled a portion of the phone call between Trump and Zelenskiy in which Zelenskiy again emphasizes his desire for a White House meeting and spoke to his efforts to possibly pursue “the investigation.” Jeffries said the transcript is damning.

“Read the transcript, President Trump says. We have read the transcript and it is damning evidence of a corrupt quid pro quo,” Jeffries said. “The evidence against Donald Trump is hiding in plain sight.”

Jeffries concluded his comments at 7:47 p.m. — and Sylvia Garcia took to the podium. She continued presenting evidence laying out attempts by Rudy Giuliani to get confirmation of an investigation, and by administration officials to get a meeting scheduled.

“The evidence is very clear the White House meeting would only be scheduled if Ukraine announced the investigations that everyone, including the Ukrainians, understood to be purely political efforts to benefit the president,” Garcia said. “The only way to come to a different conclusion is to ignore the evidence.”

8:08 p.m. Vindman’s lawyer slams Sen. Blackburn’s tweets attacking client

Following a series of tweets Thursday afternoon by Sen. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., which questioned Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman’s motivation to testify and his patriotism, his attorney slammed the comments.

“This difficult moment in our country calls for seriousness and seriousness of purpose,” David Pressman, who serves as counsel to the Army officer who defied White House orders and appeared before the House impeachment probe, said in a statement.

“Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman has sacrificed enormously for our country. He believes in our country. And he believes in our country’s great institutions, including the United States Senate,” the statement continued. “That a member of the Senate — at a moment when the Senate is undertaking its most solemn responsibility — would choose to take to Twitter to spread slander about a member of the military is a testament to cowardice. While Senator Blackburn fires off defamatory tweets, Lieutenant Colonel Vindman will continue to do what he has always done: serve our country dutifully and with honor.”

6:01 p.m. Democrats argue Giuliani played a key role in ambassador’s firing

Over the past hour, House managers Zoe Lofgren and then Val Demings have laid out in detail Rudy Giuliani’s efforts, they argue, to conduct shadow diplomacy in Ukraine to further Trump’s political interests, culminating in the firing of Ambassador Marie Yovanovich.

Just as the managers have used Trump’s own words against him in clips, this hour of presentation featured multiple videos of Giuliani’s prolific media appearances, peddling what Democrats call conspiracy theories, including his comments in a Fox News video clip.

“That there were a group of people in the Ukraine working to help Hillary Clinton and were colluding really with the Clinton campaign and it stems around the ambassador and the embassy being used for political purposes. So I began getting some people that were coming forward and telling me about that. Then all of a sudden they revealed this story about Burisma and Biden’s son and Biden’s son being on the board,” Giuliani said in the Fox News appearance.

Demings and Lofgren use WhatsApp exchanges provided by indicted Giuliani associated Lev Parnas between himself and Giuliani as more evidence that Giuliani pushed for the firing of Yovanovich.

“President Trump removed Ambassador Yovanovitch because she was in the way. She was in the way of the sham investigations that he so desperately wanted. Investigations that would hurt former Vice President Biden and undermine the Mueller investigation into Russia election interference. Investigations that would help him cheat in the 2020 elections,” Demings insisted.

And they played the damning bite from European Union Ambassador Gordon Sondland, when he admitted that though he believed State Department personnel should take responsibility for Ukraine matters, he felt he had no choice but to conduct diplomacy through Giuliani.

“We chose the latter course, not because we liked it, but because it was the only constructive path open to us,” Sondland said in the clip.

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.

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.

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.

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.


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


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.


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


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.

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.

Senate impeachment trial day 2: Dems make their case against Trump

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

uschools/iStock(WASHINGTON) — 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 Trump-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.”

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.

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.”

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.

Senate impeachment trial day 2: Dems make their case against Trump

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

uschools/iStock(WASHINGTON) — 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 Trump-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.”

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.

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.”

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Chief Justice John Roberts scolds both sides at Senate impeachment trial

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

ABC News(WASHINGTON) — Chief Justice John Roberts, presiding over the Senate impeachment trial, scolded both President Donald Trump’s defense team and House managers after a tense exchange between the two sides in the early hours of Wednesday morning.

As both sides debated one of several proposals from Democrats seeking additional witness testimony, Rep. Jerry Nadler, one of the House impeachment managers, accused Trump’s counsel of making false statements and restricting witness testimony.

“So far I’m sad to say I see a lot of senators voting for a cover up, voting to deny witness — an absolutely indefensible vote, obviously a treacherous vote,” Nadler said at the bottom of the midnight debate hour.

He went on to accuse Senate Republicans of voting “against an honest trial” and “against the United States.”

Taking his turn at the mic, White House counsel Pat Cipollone fired back directly at Nadler.

“The only one who should be embarrassed, Mr. Nadler, is you for the way you’ve addressed this body,” Cipollone said. “This is the United States Senate. You’re not in charge here.”

Trump’s other lead impeachment attorney, Jay Sekulow, accused the House impeachment managers of trying “to shred the Constitution on the floor of the Senate.”

“The Senate is not on trial,” Sekulow said. “The Constitution doesn’t allow what just took place.”

Sekulow continued Cipollone’s charge against Nadler with a more aggressive tone before the chief justice spoke up at the end of the hour.

“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,” Roberts said. “Those addressing the Senate should remember where they are.”

The comment was the first time the chief justice stepped into the rhetorical fray during a that lasted some 13 hours.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Chief Justice John Roberts scolds both sides at Senate impeachment trial

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

ABC News(WASHINGTON) — Chief Justice John Roberts, presiding over the Senate impeachment trial, scolded both President Donald Trump’s defense team and House managers after a tense exchange between the two sides in the early hours of Wednesday morning.

As both sides debated one of several proposals from Democrats seeking additional witness testimony, Rep. Jerry Nadler, one of the House impeachment managers, accused Trump’s counsel of making false statements and restricting witness testimony.

“So far I’m sad to say I see a lot of senators voting for a cover up, voting to deny witness — an absolutely indefensible vote, obviously a treacherous vote,” Nadler said at the bottom of the midnight debate hour.

He went on to accuse Senate Republicans of voting “against an honest trial” and “against the United States.”

Taking his turn at the mic, White House counsel Pat Cipollone fired back directly at Nadler.

“The only one who should be embarrassed, Mr. Nadler, is you for the way you’ve addressed this body,” Cipollone said. “This is the United States Senate. You’re not in charge here.”

Trump’s other lead impeachment attorney, Jay Sekulow, accused the House impeachment managers of trying “to shred the Constitution on the floor of the Senate.”

“The Senate is not on trial,” Sekulow said. “The Constitution doesn’t allow what just took place.”

Sekulow continued Cipollone’s charge against Nadler with a more aggressive tone before the chief justice spoke up at the end of the hour.

“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,” Roberts said. “Those addressing the Senate should remember where they are.”

The comment was the first time the chief justice stepped into the rhetorical fray during a that lasted some 13 hours.

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.”

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