senate

View from the gallery: Hardly enough time to fidget
Rare Senate weekend session only lasts two hours

Tennessee Sen. Lamar Alexander arrives at the Capitol on Saturday for the continuation of the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

It’s a Saturday, but nearly all the senators were in their workday suits and ties. The Kentucky delegation was one exception, with both Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Rand Paul wearing khakis and blazers.

This was the fifth straight day in the Senate chamber of the third presidential impeachment trial in U.S. history, and the 100 senators appeared for just two hours during a brief and rare weekend session when President Donald Trump’s team started its opening presentation.

Impeachment trial’s Saturday session is a short one
In first day of Trump defense team presentation, an eye on the clock

White House counsel Pat Cipollone, left, and lawyer Jordan Sekulow arrive at the Capitol on Saturday before the continuation of the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

President Donald Trump’s lawyers briefly laid out his defense Saturday at the Senate impeachment trial, focusing their attacks on what they called a lack of evidence, the actions of lead House manager Adam B. Schiff and a flawed House investigation.

Trump’s legal team did not make arguments about former Vice President Joe Biden or his son Hunter Biden. Trump and some Republican senators have focused on that issue for the president’s defense that his Ukraine dealings were meant to uncover corruption, not ask the country’s president to influence the 2020 presidential elections in exchange for releasing military aid.

Impeachment news roundup: Jan. 25
Trump’s defense takes center stage

House impeachment managers Adam B. Schiff, right, Jerrold Nadler, left, and aides are seen in the Capitol Rotunda on Saturday walking evidence to the Senate floor before the continuation of the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

File updated 12:12 p.m.

The Senate convened for a rare Saturday session as a court of impeachment today, and it was President Donald Trump’s legal team’s turn to begin laying out its case.

House managers focus on Trump’s ‘defiance’ in closing of impeachment presentation
Trump’s defense team will make the president’s case Saturday

House impeachment managers Zoe Lofgren and Adam B. Schiff, center, walk through the Ohio Clock Corridor on Friday on their way to a news conference before the start of the day’s impeachment trial proceedings. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

House impeachment managers on Friday concluded their third and final day of arguments to remove President Donald Trump from office by focusing on the House investigation and appealing to authority and emotion.

Lead manager Adam B. Schiff, a former federal prosecutor, forcefully laid out the House’s case in his closing statement, arguing that Trump would “remain a threat to the Constitution” if he were allowed to remain in office. 

US ready for potential coronavirus outbreak, CDC assures lawmakers
CDC officials said they currently have the resources needed to address the spread of the virus

Sen. Richard Durbin, D-Ill., departs from a news conference on Tuesday. He told reporters Friday that federal health officials had positive things to say about China’s response to the coronavirus outbreak. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)

Federal health officials told lawmakers Friday that they have the resources they need to address the spread of the virus originating from Wuhan, China, although senators acknowledged the potential need for supplemental funding down the road.

The briefing for roughly two dozen senators came as the case count for the new version of coronavirus in China was rapidly increasing, prompting authorities there to effectively quarantine tens of millions of people in Wuhan and surrounding cities. China’s National Health Commission reported 571 cases and 17 deaths as of Thursday, though news reports on Friday said there were now more than 800 cases and at least 26 deaths.

Executive privilege standoff could roil Trump impeachment trial timeline
‘Do we recess then, or what do we do?’

Sen. Elizabeth Warren said the Senate should not ‘pack our bags and go home.’ (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

A legal fight over executive privilege in the middle of the Senate’s impeachment trial of President Donald Trump could put it into suspended animation.

If senators ultimately decide to subpoena Trump administration documents or seek witness testimony, House Democratic managers might have to decide whether to now wage court battles that were avoided during the House phase of the impeachment process.

This is what a giant pile of impeachment candy looks like
If anyone is happy this week, it’s the National Confectioners Association

This is what an impeachment trial looks like. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

If you’re wondering how the Senate impeachment trial is going, consider this historic photo.

A pallet of candy stands outside Sen. Pat Toomey’s office, shrink-wrapped. Notice the Hershey’s bars (milk chocolate with almonds). And the Rolos. And the stray Mike and Ikes (flavor: berry blast).

Democrats pick women from key 2020 states for State of the Union response
Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and Texas Rep. Veronica Escobar to follow Trump

Texas Rep. Veronica Escobar will give the Democrats’ Spanish-language response to President Donald Trump’s State of the Union address next month. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Democratic leaders announced Friday that Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and Texas Rep. Veronica Escobar, who both hail from critical 2020 states, will give the responses to President Donald Trump’s State of the Union address on Feb. 4.

Whitmer leads Michigan, a top presidential and congressional battleground that Trump won by less than half a percentage point in 2016. Escobar, who will give the Spanish-language response to the president’s address, represents a deep-blue district in Texas, where Democrats are hoping to make gains in the state’s diversifying suburbs. 

Photos of the week: Trump's impeachment trial begins
The week ending Jan. 24 as captured by Roll Call’s photojournalists

House impeachment managers Rep. Adam B. Schiff, D-Calif., at podium, flanked by, from left, Reps. Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif., Val Demings, D-Fla., Sylvia R. Garcia, D-Texas, Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y., Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., and Jason Crow, D-Colo., address the media in the Capitol on the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump on Tuesday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Democrats seek to put teeth into ‘impoundment’ law
Going to court is only current option to force release of funds

House Budget Chairman John Yarmuth wants to make it hurt if a president tries to block funding against lawmakers’ wishes. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

A fresh legal opinion challenging President Donald Trump’s hold on Ukraine military aid under a Nixon-era budget law may or may not move the needle with senators in the president’s impeachment trial.

But one thing is clear: Trump’s delay of $214 million in Pentagon funds is just the latest in a long line of findings by the Government Accountability Office going back decades that presidents of both parties have run afoul of the 1974 law. That statute was aimed at restricting “impoundments,” where the executive branch refuses to spend money appropriated by Congress.