Impeachment trial of President Trump

By Meg Wagner, Mike Hayes and Veronica Rocha, CNN

Updated 0323 GMT (1123 HKT) January 23, 2020
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3:00 p.m. ET, January 21, 2020

Sekulow criticizes Schiff and the House impeachment process

From CNN's Maegan Vazquez

Senate TV
Senate TV

President Trump’s lawyer, Jay Sekulow, spoke on the Senate floor during the impeachment trial, criticizing House impeachment manager Adam Schiff and voicing support for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s impeachment resolution.

Sekulow took issue in particular for what he saw as Schiff indicating that “courts have no role, privileges don’t apply, what happened in the past we should just ignore.”

Sekulow also criticized how Schiff described the defense of the Trump legal team, saying it’s “not the first time Mr. Schiff has put words into transcripts that did not exist.”

“Believe me, what is taking place in these proceedings is not to be confused with due process. Because due process demands, and our constitution requires, that fundamental fairness and due process … is designed to protect the person accused,” Sekulow said.

Sekulow said that Democrats sought to target Trump over his interactions with Ukraine after the Russia investigation didn’t work in their favor.

“When the Russia investigation failed, it devolved into the Ukraine,” he said.

Sekulow also defended Trump’s use of executive privilege and criticized the way the Democrats have been conducting impeachment proceedings.

“We’re acting as if the courts are an improper venue to determine constitutional issues of this magnitude? That is why we have courts. That is why we have a federal judiciary," he said."

"As we proceed in the days ahead, we will lay out our case. We’re going to put forward to the American people, but more importantly, for the constitution’s sake, what’s taking place here. But this idea we should ignore what has taken place over the last three years is outrageous,” Sekulow remarked.

He continued: “We believe what Senator McConnell’s put forward provides due process, allows the proceedings to move forward in an orderly fashion.”

Sekulow took aim at Democrats for delaying the delivery of the impeachment articles to the Senate, suggesting House Democrats were attempting to dictate what rules the Senate would adopt for the trial.

“Thirty-three days — 33 days they held onto those impeachment articles. Thirty-three days. It was such a rush of national security to impeach this president before Christmas that they then held them for 33 days,” he said.

“We’re prepared to proceed. In our view, these proceedings should begin,” Sekulow concluded.


2:46 p.m. ET, January 21, 2020

Schumer offers up first amendment

Senate TV
Senate TV

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer just offered up his first amendment.

The amendment, he said, requests to "subpoena certain documents and records from the White House."

A clerk went on to read the amendment.

2:40 p.m. ET, January 21, 2020

How President Trump could be acquitted by the end of the month

From CNN's Manu Raju, Ted Barrett and Phill Mattingly

Under the revised Mitch McConnell rules, the Senate could vote on whether to acquit Trump or remove him from office by the last day of the month.

The big caveat here: Both sides can yield time back, so that could change the time frame. And if there's a majority vote to subpoena witnesses or documents, that could change things as well.

But if all 24 hours are used over three days on each side, here's how the schedule could play out:

  • Tomorrow: Democratic arguments
  • Thursday: Democratic arguments
  • Friday: Democratic arguments
  • Saturday: Trump team arguments
  • Monday: Trump team arguments
  • Jan. 28: Trump team arguments
  • Jan. 29: Senator questions
  • Jan 30: Senator questions
  • Jan 31: Four hours of debate on whether to subpoena witnesses and subpoenas, a vote on witnesses and documents, and a vote on other motions; If all votes fail, the Senate could move to the acquittal vote
4:12 p.m. ET, January 21, 2020

Sekulow: "We're prepared to proceed" with proceedings

Jay Sekulow, an outside attorney on President Trump's legal team, told senators on the floor this afternoon that they are ready to move forward with the impeachment proceedings.

"We're prepared to proceed. Majority leader, Democratic majority leader, we're prepared to proceed. In our view, these proceedings should begin," he said.

"As we proceed, we will lay out our case. We're going to put forward to the American people, but more important for the Constitution's sake of what's taken place here," Sekulow said.

He also defended Sen. Mitch McConnell's resolution laying out the rules for the Senate trial.

"We believe that what Senator McConnell has put forward provides due process, allows the proceedings to move forward in an orderly fashion," Sekulow said.

Watch Sekulow's remarks:

2:27 p.m. ET, January 21, 2020

What you need to know about Jay Sekulow, one of Trump's lawyers

From CNN's Sarah Westwood and Pamela Brown

Senate TV
Senate TV

Jay Sekulow, one of the attorneys leading Trump's defense team at the impeachment trial, is now arguing on the Senate floor.

Here's what we know about him:

2:24 p.m. ET, January 21, 2020

Republican senator hinted at changes to McConnell resolution

From CNN's Ted Barrett and Phil Mattingly

Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call/
Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call/

Closely-watched Ohio Republican Sen. Rob Portman hinted at changes coming to the resolution when he left a meeting in Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s office Tuesday, an hour before the trial was set to begin.

He was asked if he was concerned requiring 24 hours of opening statements into two session days, might make it appear Republicans were trying to jam Democrats and might make it harder for the American people to absorb the information, especially if it led to late night sessions.

“I hope that can be worked out,” Portman said. “I’m told it’s being worked on.”

And a source familiar says that Sen. Portman, along with Sen. Susan Collins, were the strongest in terms of making arguments in favor of changing the resolution.

2:17 p.m. ET, January 21, 2020

See the hand-written changes to the resolution

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell changed the resolution laying out the rules of President Trump's impeachment trial shortly before it began today.

The changes were hand-written into the resolution, which was first released last night.

In one part of the resolution, the number of days for opening arguments was changed from two to three for each side:

There were also changes to the section of the resolution that would not have admitted the House's evidence without a vote — now evidence will be admitted unless there is a vote in opposition to it.

2:17 p.m. ET, January 21, 2020

Trump tweets from Davos: "READ THE TRANSCRIPTS!"

As House impeachment manager Adam Schiff makes his case on the Senate floor, President Trump is tweeting from Davos.

He tweeted:

 This is his first tweet since the Senate trial began in earnest.

2:43 p.m. ET, January 21, 2020

There's another change to McConnell's resolution beyond the number of days

From CNN's Jeremy Herb, Phil Mattingly and Manu Raju

The change from two days to three days for opening arguments wasn't the only one made to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's rules resolution.

There were also changes to the section of the resolution that would not have admitted the House's evidence without a vote — now evidence will be admitted unless there is a vote in opposition to it.

Democrats erupted when McConnell's four-page organizing resolution was released last night. It divided 24 hours over two days for opening arguments and put off the question of witnesses until after the arguments are required a vote for the House evidence to be submitted.

Here's what the changes look like in the document: