Impeachment trial of President Trump

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9:00 p.m. ET, January 28, 2020

Our live coverage has ended. Go here to read more about the impeachment trial of President Trump.

8:44 p.m. ET, January 28, 2020

Trump says Democrats are "obsessed with the impeachment hoax"

From CNN's Betsy Klein and Daniel Dale

Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images
Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

President Trump kicked off his Wildwood, New Jersey, rally tonight with an optimistic economic message, but quickly moved on to hit Democrats.

He cited the New Jersey unemployment rate, the phase one China trade deal, and the USMCA deal, which he will sign tomorrow at the White House. 

Trump went on to tout the US military and the deaths of ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and Iranian General Qasem Soleimani, which prompted "USA" chants from the crowd. He then slammed Democrats Bernie Sanders and Nancy Pelosi, whom, he claimed "opposed our action to saved American lives."

"While we are creating jobs and killing terrorists, the Congressional Democrats are obsessed with the impeachment hoax, crazy witch hunts, and deranged partisan crusades. That’s all they know how to do, the do-nothing Democrats," he said.

Trump cited new, high poll numbers and suggested independent-minded voters are leaving the Democratic party in swarms.

He also repeated a favorite inaccurate claim about energy — saying he ended "the war on American energy" and that the US is "now" the world's number one producer.

Facts FirstThe US has not just "now" become the world's top energy producer, and it's not true that "we weren't number one": the US took the top spot in 2012, according to the US government's Energy Information Administration — under the very Obama administration Trump is accusing of perpetrating a "war" on the industry.

The US became the top producer of crude oil in particular during Trump's tenure. "The United States has been the world's top producer of natural gas since 2009, when US natural gas production surpassed that of Russia, and it has been the world's top producer of petroleum hydrocarbons since 2013, when its production exceeded Saudi Arabia's," the Energy Information Administration says.

Trump also brought up health care saying, "We are protecting people with pre-existing conditions, and we will always will, the Republican Party, pre-existing conditions. We saved it." 

Trump, of course, did not "save" protections for people with pre-existing conditions, and nor did his party. The Republicans, backed by Trump, have repeatedly tried to pass bills that would have weakened these protections in Obamacare. They are currently fighting in court to get the entirety of Obamacare overturned.

Trump then told his usual story about how he had come up with the concept of the Veterans Choice health care program himself in 2016, thinking he was "so smart," but was told others had unsuccessfully tried to get such a program passed for "45 years." He claimed he managed to get it passed himself.

In fact, it was signed into law by President Barack Obama in 2014. Trump signed a law in 2018, the VA MISSION Act, that expanded and modified the program.

7:57 p.m. ET, January 28, 2020

Top Republican senator: "The momentum in our conference is clearly to moving to final judgment"

MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images
MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images

Sen. John Barrasso, the third ranking Republican in the Senate and the chairman of the Senate Republican conference, said Democratic leader Chuck Schumer is "not right at all" when he says he believes there are "10 to 12 senators" in the Republican conference that could be open to voting for witnesses. 

"The momentum in our conference is clearly to moving to final judgment," Barrasso said. 

On reports tonight that Mitch McConnell is saying that he doesn't have the votes to block witnesses, Barrasso said, "I think there are members who want to spend time — and we will eight hours tomorrow and eight hours the next day" listening to the question-and-answer sessions.

8:02 p.m. ET, January 28, 2020

Schumer says Democrats are "absolutely" feeling more confident about witnesses

Mario Tama/Getty Images
Mario Tama/Getty Images

Asked tonight on CNN if what Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is saying about not having the votes to block witnesses is accurate or if he is using a scare tactic to motivate his caucus, Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer said, "I think it's a little bit of each." 

On how confident he is that Republicans will join Democrats and he'll be able to push through a vote for witnesses, Schumer said, "I think it's up in the air" and "an uphill fight" 

"I wouldn't do any joy dances now," Schumer added.

Schumer said that by his count there are "10 to 12 Republicans who have never said a bad word about witnesses or documents who are know in their hearts it's the right thing to do." 

He continued: "But they have to weigh that against the pressure, the twisting of arms, that Donald Trump and Mitch McConnell will put on them. So, I think it's up in the air right now. Are we feeling better today than we did a few days ago? Absolutely."

7:31 p.m. ET, January 28, 2020

Judge denies Lev Parnas request to remove GPS device to attend the impeachment trial

From CNN's Kara Scannell

Drew Angerer/Getty Images
Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Judge Paul Oetken denied Lev Parnas’ request to have his GPS device removed effectively denying the indicted Rudy Giuliani associate’s bid to attend the Senate impeachment trial. 

Senate rules do not permit any electronic devices into the gallery. 

What's this about: Earlier Tuesday Joseph Bondy, an attorney for Parnas, asked the judge to modify Parnas’ bail conditions, which requires him to wear a GPS monitoring ankle bracelet and confines him to his home in Florida, so he could sit in the Senate chamber and observe the proceedings. 

Bondy notified the judge that pre-trial services said Parnas would first have to travel to NY to have the GPS ankle device removed to enter the Senate gallery and then travel back to NY to have the ankle bracelet replaced. 

He said prosecutors did not object to Parnas attending the trial but do object to removing the tracking device.

About Parnas: He has been cooperating with the House impeachment inquiry and provided documents, text messages and an audio recording from an April 2018 dinner that captured President Trump ordering the removal of Marie Yovanovitch, the US ambassador to the Ukraine. 

Bondy has been trying to get Parnas to be called as a witness in the impeachment trial and has tweeted individually at senators.

Bondy told CNN he is going to witness the trial and hopes to secure a meeting with Schumer later that afternoon. He added that he does hope they call witnesses.

8:03 p.m. ET, January 28, 2020

Schiff on Trump team attacks: "Frankly, I'm surprised they haven't done more of that"

AP Photo/ Jacquelyn Martin
AP Photo/ Jacquelyn Martin

House manager Adam Schiff said tonight on CNN that he thought that President Trump's team "made a powerful case for calling John Bolton" as a witness.

On Trump attorney Jay Sekulow's argument today that what happened with the withholding of the Ukraine aid was just a policy difference, Schiff responded, "This was the President withholding military aid from an ally at war in order to coerce an ally into conducting investigation into his political opponent. That's not policy. That's corruption."

Asked about the repeated attacks against him personally by Trump's team, Schiff called it "tactic" meant to distract from a "weak" case by the defense.

"I mean, this is again, a criminal defense tactic which is when the evidence is damning against your client, you attack the prosecution. So, there's nothing new or notable about that. Frankly, I'm surprised they haven't done more of that because the case is so weak," he said.

Asked by CNN if there's any situations where he would appear as a witness, Schiff said, "I don't have anything to add." 

He added: "Why is it that the President can't call anyone who worked around him in his defense? And the answer is they know he's guilty. And so they want to throw up this false choice. Well, we're just going to seek to inflict pain on the other side by calling Hunter Biden or irrelevant people like Adam Schiff. The American people can see through that." 

6:33 p.m. ET, January 28, 2020

GOP senators up for reelection are concerned about a drawn-out trial

From CNN's Lauren Fox and Phil Mattingly

Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images
Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images

During a closed-door Republican lunch today, senators facing reelection in 2020 — including Sens. Joni Ernst of Iowa, Cory Gardner of Colorado, Thom Tillis of North Carolina and Martha McSally of Arizona — made it clear how impeachment is affecting their races back home.

The message was that voters back home are ready to move on, and a fight over witnesses could drag weeks or even months closer to their races.

Why this matters: Their message dovetails with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s message over the last month that the impeachment’s outcome is inevitable: President Trump won’t be removed.

But, in the meantime, Senate Minority Leader Schumer is trying to extract as many tough votes and campaign ad attacks as he can for members up for reelection. Republican leaders have tried to instill in the conference that sticking together could save the majority, and keep Schumer and the Democrats from using it as a cudgel to take back the Senate in 2020. He’s relied on individual members to make that case for themselves.

6:03 p.m. ET, January 28, 2020

McConnell made clear the votes to block witnesses aren't locked in yet

From CNN's Phil Mattingly and Manu Raju

Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images
Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell made clear to senators in the closed-door meeting that the GOP doesn’t currently have the votes to block witnesses, but underscored that it is still a work in progress as several GOP senators remain noncommittal on their votes, a person in the room said.

But McConnell’s message underscored that the vote is still a work in progress for Senate GOP leaders and the White House, who are pushing hard to bring a quick end to the trial by the end of this week.

The numbers currently aren’t based on GOP senators who have made up their minds to support witnesses, but instead several that haven’t decided on way or the other yet, the source said.

Several people involved in the meeting said the case that was made reiterated McConnell’s perspective that witnesses would elongate the trial at a time when senators would prefer to do legislative work on the floor. Drawing out proceedings would be especially problematic given the end game is already known: the votes are not there to remove the President. 

“Things have stabilized and if I had to guess, we’ll have 51” to block moving forward with witnesses and documents, a GOP senator who was in the room told CNN. “We’re in a better place than we were, no question.” 

McConnell and several Republicans warned today in private that moving ahead with one witness could lead to a number of new witnesses — and there would be no clear path out of the trial, according to a source familiar with remarks. McConnell continues to express his opposition to moving ahead with witnesses, according to Senate Republicans.

A Senate GOP source in the meeting said the argument against witnesses was effective — and the leadership came away more confident now they can defeat the witness vote. 

6:04 p.m. ET, January 28, 2020

Lev Parnas has tickets to the impeachment trial

From CNN's Kara Scannell and Jim Acosta

Lev Parnas arrives at Federal Court in New York City on December 17.
Lev Parnas arrives at Federal Court in New York City on December 17. Stephanie Keith/Getty Images

A lawyer for Lev Parnas, an indicted associate of Rudy Giuliani, has asked the judge overseeing the criminal trial for permission to have Parnas attend the Senate impeachment trial tomorrow. 

In a letter to the judge, Joseph Bondy said he had received tickets from Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer from New York for Parnas to attend. As part of his bail, Parnas is confined to his home in Florida and his travel is restricted. 

“Earlier this afternoon, I received an e-mail from Amy Mannering, Director of Operations for Senator Chuck Schumer’s Office, informing that my request for tickets to the trial had been granted,” Bondy wrote. He said that they have tickets to attend tomorrow from 12:30 p.m. ET to 2:45 p.m. ET.

Bondy notified the judge that pre-trial services said Parnas would first have to travel to New York to have GPS ankle device removed to enter the Senate gallery and then travel back to New York to have the ankle bracelet replaced. 

He said prosecutors did not object to Parnas attending the trial but do object to removing the tracking device.

Bondy has been trying to get Parnas to be called as a witness in the impeachment trial and has tweeted individually at senators.

"Tougher with Lev, who has an electronic device stuck to his ankle," Bondy said. "Senate doesn't allow them."