Impeachment trial of President Trump
President Trump's defense team wrapped up their last day of arguments today in the Senate impeachment trial.
In case you missed it, here's what happened today:
- Trump's defense team makes their final plea: White House Counsel Pat Cipollone urged senators to reject the impeachment articles against Trump and defend "our Constitution." He also urged them to "come together on both sides of the aisle and end the era of impeachment for good."
- What happens next: With arguments over, senators will have a chance to talk to both sides directly in the question-and-answer session. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said "the questions alternate between the majority and minority sides for up to eight hours" on both Wednesday and Thursday.
- Democrats argue for witnesses: Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and House manager Adam Schiff called for more evidence and witnesses at the impeachment trial. Schiff urged Republican senators to bring in former national security adviser John Bolton to testify.
- The focus on the John Bolton revelations continued: Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren told reporters today that she believes “the pressure is mounting on the Republicans to decide what they're going to do about John Bolton.” Meanwhile, GOP Sen. Mitt Romney said he’d rather hear from Bolton himself rather than just see a manuscript.
- Trump's ex-chief of staff says he believes Bolton: Former White House chief of staff John Kelly said he believes Bolton's allegation that Trump told the former national security adviser that US security aid to Ukraine was conditioned on an investigation of the President's political rivals, adding that Bolton should be heard from. "If John Bolton says that in the book, I believe John Bolton," Kelly said last night.
Rep. Adam Schiff, one of the seven House impeachment managers, called on Republican senators to bring in former national security adviser John Bolton and other witnesses to testify.
He also questioned the idea of a closed-door deposition with Bolton.
“After all the complaints they made about the depositions, it’s very ironic that they’re making such a strong case for a deposition here,” Schiff said.
He said a witness-for-witness arrangement with Senate Republicans isn’t a game they are interested in. Some Senate Republicans have said they want to hear Schiff testify about his team's interactions with the whistleblower.
“I can tell you what my testimony is: He’s guilty, and he should be impeached,” the California Democrat said.
Asked about the House not subpoenaing Bolton during the impeachment inquiry, Schiff said, “It was very clear that John Bolton would tie us up in court for months or years.” He wouldn’t answer if the House would subpoena Bolton in the case that the Senate doesn't.
“I’m not going to discuss what backup, fall-back position there is,” he said, arguing that nothing but a Senate trial with witnesses would be sufficient.
“The question is, with the conduct that egregious, are we prepared to say that we will simply have to accept that in this President and future presidents, that we will have to accept the idea that a president can so blatantly sacrifice the national security of this country in order to get help cheating in the next election,” Schiff said.
Democratic Sen. Ed Markey had a simple reaction to being cited in White House Counsel Pat Cipollone's closing argument: "I was right then."
Markey was one of several Democrats shown railing against the impeachment of President Bill Clinton on the House floor in 1998 as part of the defense counsel's presentation. He dismissed the suggestion it had any bearing on President Trump's impeachment.
"That case belonged in family court. This case belongs in the United States Senate,” Markley said. “The charge there was that he perjured himself in a domestic… more in a family court kind of situation. That’s not a crime against a state. That’s not a crime against the Constitution."
"What’s being alleged here is a crime against the state, against the Constitution," he added.
Senate Republicans are meeting behind closed doors following today's impeachment trial.
What we know: A source said the meeting would be focused on next steps, as well as the looming witness vote. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is planning to talk again about executive privilege and precedent concerns as it relates to subpoenaing witnesses as part of the trial.
Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer said that Senate Democrats questions will be organized by his office to make sure the questions won’t be repetitive and will be in a logical order.
He said the questions will be organized to give House Democrats the opportunity to rebut defense arguments.
What happens next: The question-and-answer part of the trial starts tomorrow. Senators will submit their questions to Chief Justice Roberts. He will ask both sides the questions during two 8-hour sessions on Wednesday and Thursday.
Lead House impeachment manager Adam Schiff said the question now that both sides have presented their case is: "Will there be a fair trial?"
Schiff said having a "fair trial" means hearing from witnesses and subpoenaing documents.
"Up until this point, all the senators have heard is argument. A fair trial involves witnesses, and it involves documents," Schiff said.
Senators will vote on the possibility of having witnesses and documents after the question-and-answer phase that begins tomorrow. Senators will have 16 hours to ask both the House managers and Trump's legal team questions over the next two days.
"So the question that will now be before the senators — they'll have questions for us in the next two days — but the question squarely before the senators is will there be a fair trial?" Schiff added. "Will there be a trial that Americans overwhelmingly want — those that are for or against the president overly want the trial to be fair, which means the calling of witnesses."
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer reiterated his call for more evidence and witnesses at the impeachment trial.
"We want the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. That's what witnesses and documents mean," he said.
On Trump's defense team's arguments today against calling more witnesses, Schumer said, "They don't want the truth."
"I think their case has been extremely weak," he added.
He pointed out that the witnesses that Democrats are seeking — like former national security adviser John Bolton and acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney — are "not anti-Trump people, they're his own appointees."
"We don't know if what they say will be exculpatory or further incriminating, but let the chips fall where they may. Get the truth," Schumer said.
He added that he doesn't believe that Republicans have the votes to call Hunter Biden, even though they hold a majority.
"I don't believe they have the votes because a good number of Republicans know two things, that Hunter Biden is a diversion and makes the trial into a circus like a couple of the President's lawyers did yesterday, and second, it confirms the fact that President Trump is obsessed with Hunter Biden and Joe Biden," he said.
After Trump's defense team wrapped up their arguments, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell laid out what will happen over the the next two days of the trial: 16 hours of questioning, eight hours for each side.
McConnell went on to describe the process saying "the questions alternate between the majority and minority sides for up to eight hours" on both Wednesday and Thursday.
McConnell reminded senators that their questions must be in writing and will be submitted to Chief Justice John Roberts.
"During the question period of the Clinton trial, senators were thoughtful and brief with their questions and the managers and counsel were succinct in their answers," McConnell said. "I hope we can follow both of these examples during this time."
Roberts added the attorneys must answer the questions in five minutes or less. He then adjourned the trial until 1 p.m. ET Wednesday.
Watergate whistleblower John Dean is joining Anderson Cooper to answer your impeachment questions live at 4 p.m. ET.
Submit them here and tune in to get caught up on the impeachment trial. It will air at the top of your screen here.