Impeachment trial of President Trump
Our live coverage has ended. Go here to read more about the impeachment trial of President Trump.
Sen. Chris Murphy, Democrat from Connecticut, told CNN following today's trial proceeding that he thought Trump's team "did as effective job as possible presenting their client's case."
He said he thought the defense attorneys' "tone was good, it was respectful." He added that he hopes that continues on Monday and Tuesday.
Murphy also said he was "glad" that Trump's team "didn't engage in some of the personal attacks and political sideshows that many of us are worried about."
Murphy was critical of how Trump's team described the access to the hearings and question that was offered to Trump during the impeachment inquiry
Asked if he heard actual factual errors by Trump's attorneys today, Murphy said, "They continue to make claims about secret hearings in the House of Representatives, that continues to be untrue."
"There were 100 members of the House that were able to be part of those hearings. They make these claims that subpoenas weren't valid because there was no impeachment resolution at the beginning of the inquiry. That's not true."
Watch Murphy's interview:
When asked if he thought President Trump's defense team was effective today, Sen. Mitt Romney said, “I just don’t have any comments on the process or the evidence until the trial is over.”
However, asked where he is on witnesses, he said:
“I think it’s very likely I’ll be in favor of witnesses but I haven’t made a decision finally yet and I won’t until the testimony is completed.”
On Saturday, President Trump’s lawyers echoed his favorite defense in the Ukraine scandal: There was no quid pro quo.
“The Democrats’ allegation that the President engaged in a quid pro quo is unfounded, and contrary to the facts,” Mike Purpura, deputy White House counsel, said on the Senate floor.
Facts First: It’s a simple talking point that might work well with voters. But the evidence tells a different story. Before the public impeachment hearings began in November, the inquiry had already uncovered three clear examples of an attempted quid pro quo on behalf of the Trump administration.
US diplomats pressured Ukrainian officials to announce investigations that Trump wanted. They also said that would help Ukraine get US military aid as well as a White House invitation for the new Ukrainian president.
Then, one of those diplomats, Gordon Sondland, the Trump-appointed US Ambassador to the European Union, made things even more explicit during his public testimony in November before the House Intelligence Committee.
“I know that members of this committee frequently frame these complicated issues in the form of a simple question,” Sondland said. “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.”
Trump’s lawyers cited Trump’s public and private comments denying that he wanted anything from Ukraine, and denying the quid pro quo.
But as Democrats pointed out during their presentations, all of those denials happened after Trump learned that a whistleblower complaint had been filled about his dealings with Ukraine, by an anonymous US intelligence official.
Speaking with reporters just now following the end of the White House counsel's opening arguments, House manager Adam Schiff claimed President Trump "solicited a foreign nation to interfere in our election, to help him cheat."
Schiff opened by addressing the arguments from the White House counsel, which lasted roughly two hours today.
"They don't contest the basic architecture of this scheme. They do not contest that the President solicited a foreign nation to interfere in our election, to help him cheat. The fact are overwhelming. The President invited Ukraine to get involved in our election to help him cheat against Joe Biden. That is uncontested," Schiff said.
Sen. Joe Manchin told CNN that President Trump’s team did a “good job” and are “making me think about things.”
“One thing that stuck in my mind is they said there isn’t a witness they have had so far that had direct contact with the President. I’d love to hear from Mulvaney and Bolton,” he said.
Asked if he’s thinking about acquittal, Manchin said: “I’ll be very impartial til the end.”
Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, the West Virginia Republican, called the proceedings “solemn” and “serious.”
Regarding witnesses, “We are going to make that determination — we are going to have that vote.” She said she will make a decision after member questions.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren said: “I think they made a very strong case for why we need witnesses. I feel like I heard the language that cross examination is one of the most important parts to getting to the truth. So fine, let’s bring in the witnesses so we can do cross examination.”
Sen. Kyrsten Sinema would not comment, her handler directed CNN to her office.
Sen. Mike Braun told reporters he thinks that the defense team raising questions about Schiff’s credibility will be very effective.
“I was glad to see that they right up front caught I’m going to call them contradictions, back when he said he had direct evidence on collusion during the Mueller report, it wasn’t true...I think that hurts their case in and of itself," Braun said.
Sen. Jim Inhofe praised the White House's defense for being "very friendly."
“One by one, you can go down and I think they were very well organized in addressing the accusations. And in a very friendly way, in a very accurate. The only thing I would have preferred that they spend more time in the Ukraine thing, in terms of the weaponry, because I have very strong feelings about that,” he said.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer at a press conference following the trial today said that "the President's counsel did something they did not intend. They made a really compelling case for why the senate should call witnesses and documents."
Schumer said Trump's attorneys "kept saying there are no eyewitness accounts, but there are people that have eyewitness accounts. The very four witnesses and very four sets of documents that we have asked for."
He continued: "They made the argument it is speculation what the President intended when he cut off aid, but there are people who do know, Mick Mulvaney knows, in all likelihood Mr. Blair knows. Mr. Bolton may know."
More context: Prior to opening arguments, Schumer introduced a series of amendments aimed at allowing the Senate to subpoena witnesses and documents for the trial. All 11 of his amendments were voted down, but the senators will have another chance to vote on the issue of whether or not to call witnesses and introduce new documents after opening arguments.
President Trump's lawyer Patrick Philbin cherry-picked accusations of political bias against the Ukraine whistleblower today during the impeachment trial.
“The whistleblower, we know, from a letter that the Inspector General of the Intelligence Community sent, that he thought that the whistleblower had political bias,” Philbin said Saturday morning on the Senate floor.
Facts First: That’s not the full story. Philbin picked the part that helps the President but ignored other relevant facts.
Michael Atkinson, the inspector general, said his review of the whistleblower complaint “identified some indicia of bias of an arguable political bias on the part of the complainant in favor of a rival political candidate.”
But Atkinson continued, “such evidence did not change my determination that the complaint relating to the urgent concern 'appears credible' particularly given the other information the ICIG obtained during its preliminary review.”
In other words, the inspector general deemed that the indications of potential bias weren’t so severe that they negated the contents of the whistleblower’s complaint, which was filed in August. The whistleblower raised serious concerns about Trump’s dealings with Ukraine and accused Trump of trying to solicit foreign interference in the 2020 election. The vast majority of the claims in the complaint were corroborated by the impeachment inquiry.
CNN previously reported that one of the potential indications of bias was that the whistleblower is a registered Democrat. Republicans have claimed that this is only the tip of the iceberg, and previously called on the whistleblower to testify during the House inquiry. Trump has also said he wants the whistleblower to testify.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell walked past reporters on the second floor outside the Senate chamber without responding to shouted questions about how he reacted to the defense presentation today.
He has now left the Capitol.