File updated 10:10 p.m.
Delaware Democrat Chris Coons said House impeachment manager Adam B. Schiff’s closing 30 minutes was “compelling” and that he showed a “mastery” of the material. Coons also said that there were snacks and coffee in the cloakroom. Coons said there has not been much outreach to him from Republicans.
Coons said his schedule did not allow him to comprehensively take in every moment of the impeachment inquiry as it was happening and therefore he learned new information Wednesday.
Defense counsel Jay Sekulow said he expects the House managers to use all three days allotted to them for presenting their case. That would mean the White House would begin its defense Saturday, he said, noting they’d likely take “a day or two” after that to finish their presentation.
Here is the latest on impeachment:
7:30 p.m. | Sekulow not against calling witnesses: Defense counsel Jay Sekulow said President Donald Trump’s team isn’t against calling witnesses and that senators may hear from some down the line. He responded with broad strokes in response to questions Wednesday about the issue of whether Hunter Biden should be called to testify.
“We’re not making any determinations on what witnesses we might call because we don’t know yet their case. We’re still hearing it. We’ll see what happens. We don’t know if there will be witnesses. So we’re just going to play that as it goes,” Sekulow said.
Earlier in the day, Trump had suggested that while he’d like to sit in on his own trial, his counsel might recommend against it.
“His counsel might,” Sekulow quipped. “That’s not the way it works. I mean, no. Presidents don’t do that,” he said.
He cited his long relationship with Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. when talking about the admonition Roberts gave last night.
“There was some emotion on the floor yesterday but when they accuse my client of lying, when they accuse the United States Senate of lying, when they accuse my colleagues of lying. … It’s going to evoke a reaction.”
The second day of the Senate trial saw House impeachment manager Adam B. Schiff of California use his two-hour opening statement to repeat House Democrats’ argument that Trump withheld military aid to benefit his 2020 reelection campaign.
After thanking senators for enduring nearly a dozen hours of amendment debate that started Tuesday afternoon and ran into Wednesday morning, Schiff evoked the Founding Fathers’ “genius” and “prescience” for crafting a Constitution that empowers the legislature to rebuke through impeachment, and remove through a trial, an executive who abuses the office of the president.
Schiff then laid out the House’s well-known case against Trump, using video clips of witness testimony from the House inquiry and reading bits of evidence gathered throughout the last few months of 2019 to reinforce his case.
“We will go into extensive detail about what happened and when and how we know that it happened,” he said. “We do not assume that everyone in the Senate was able to watch all of the House testimony … let alone that the American people were able to do so.”
The Senate opened around 1 p.m., with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell saying there were no motions to be considered before the managers began their statements.
Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer said he offered to move consideration of some of his amendments to the impeachment trial rules resolution to Wednesday so the Senate didn’t have to stay too late Tuesday but McConnell declined.
“It seems the only reason Leader McConnell refused to move votes back a day is because it would interfere with the timeline he promised the president,” Schumer said at a news conference.
“The bottom line is this: The very first thing the American people saw when they tuned into the impeachment trial of President Trump was Republican senators voting against having a fair trial with relevant evidence,” Schumer said after rattling off all the amendments Republicans voted down on Tuesday.
Those issues will be revisited after the House and White House present their case and senators’ question and answer portion of the trial, Schumer said, noting “it’s a question of conscience,” not ability for Senate Republicans.
Schumer said earlier Wednesday leaving the Capitol around 2 a.m. that he’s not done putting his colleagues on the record on how the trial is conducted.
“We’re going to keep looking, yes,” he said when asked if he is seeking more opportunities to force votes.
“If there’s no documents and witnesses I don’t think anybody thinks an acquittal is going to have that much value,” he said.
The Senate voted along party lines to approve the rules for the trial, after a long night of debate that stretched to nearly 2 a.m. Wednesday.
6:30 p.m. | Protester removed: A protester was removed from the Senate chamber while House impeachment manager Hakeem Jeffries spoke.
“Jesus Christ,” and “Schumer is the devil,” yelled the protestor, before being removed.
“The Sergeant at Arms will restore order in the gallery,” Roberts said from the rostrum.
On the third floor outside the chamber, the protester continued shouting while being taken into custody, mentioning abortion and “dismiss the charges.”
5:45 p.m. | Back to your chairs: At 3:13 p.m., a number of largely GOP senators got up and headed for the cloakrooms as Schiff said he was turning to the opening of arguments for the second article of impeachment.
A brief recess had been expected at approximately 3:08 p.m., and once it became clear that the California Democrat was running behind schedule, senators took that as their cue to take a break. Two minutes later, Schiff said that he had approximately 10 minutes left.
After that, the court of impeachment did recess for about 25 minutes. Most senators rushed for the exits, but some lagged behind — most notably seatmates Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Susan Collins of Maine.
As the break drew to a close, senators seemed to be in no particular hurry to resume the presentation of the House managers.
“What’s the little guy with the dark hair?” asked Sen. Patrick J. Leahy during a break. The name he was looking for was Jay Sekulow, a lawyer on the Trump defense team.
After conferring briefly with White House counsel Pat Cipollone, McConnell took a live microphone and announced, “Ok, ok colleagues. Let’s go back to our chairs. We’re about to resume.”
4:30 p.m. | Argument potpourri: Schumer called lead manager Schiff’s speech a “tour de force” and said he thought it was a compelling argument for more witnesses and documents.
“I’ve been in the Congress since 1980. It was one of the five or six greatest speeches I’ve heard — and I’ve heard a lot,” the Democratic leader from New York said. He also praised the Founding Fathers and the “structure of impeachment” for forcing senators to sit and listen to the case without other distractions, letting the words of each side’s argument marinate.
Republicans continue to say they still do not see an impeachable offense in the House’s case. But Schumer projected positivity for the Democrats’ cause.
“They changed their minds and a couple of things McConnell put in the resolution,” he pointed out.
“It’s the first time our Republican colleagues have heard the whole argument eloquently, completely and concisely. The fact that you have to sit in those chairs — no iPhones, no cell phones, no yakking — and pay attention, I think is going to make a difference. I hope [it] will make a difference,” he said. “It is hard to believe any Republican who has any kind of impartiality could hear everything that Schiff mentioned and not say we need witnesses and documents.”
Sen. Amy Klobuchar argued the national security implications of the impeachment allegations may be a “trigger” for Republicans and they may eventually come around to voting for witnesses. “At some point they have to allow witnesses. At some point they have to acknowledge that they do not serve at the pleasure of the president,” the Minnesota Democrat said.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein praised Schiff for framing the impeachment charges against Trump through a big-picture scope as a savvy attempt to try to appeal to Republican senators’ sense of integrity and patriotism as they listen to the rest of the Democrats’ case.
“I don’t think anybody can deny that it’s a very good assessment of where we are,” the California Democratic senator said of Schiff’s portion of the opening argument.
Republicans, however, found Schiff’s argument less persuasive.
Texas Sen. John Cornyn said that House impeachment manager Jerrold Nadler’s arguments Tuesday night were unhelpful to the impeachment case.
“Blundering and incompetent presentation that hurt the House manager’s position,” the Texas Republican said. He also said the House effort to get witnesses would “hijack” the Senate for months and invite a court battle.
Sen. John Barrasso, the third highest-ranking Republican in the chamber, dismissed Schiff’s opening argument as old news.
“I stayed awake, but I didn’t hear anything new,” the Wyoming Republican said. He said that while at least 51 senators — both Republicans and Democrats — would be ready to vote on the articles today, others want to hear arguments from both senators and White House counsel before reaching a decision.
2:45 p.m. | Consequential language: Senate Chaplain Barry Black’s prayer, delivered before the impeachment trial began Wednesday, asked for wisdom for Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., and gave senators acting as jurors a reminder.
“Help them remember that patriots reside on both sides of the aisle, that words have consequences and that how something is said can be as important as what is said,” Black prayed.
Earlier in the day, at about 1 a.m., Roberts formally admonished the House impeachment managers and Trump’s defense team for their language and personal characterizations.
“They are addressing the world’s greatest deliberative body,” Roberts said. “One reason it has earned that title is because its members avoid speaking in a manner and using language that is not conducive to civil discourse,” he added.
2 p.m. | Flooded phone lines: Thousands of constituents called into the offices of GOP senators in swing states Tuesday imploring them to vote to allow witnesses at the Senate impeachment trial, according to analytics provided to Roll Call by Stand Up America, a political advocacy group that opposes Trump.
Constituents placed more than 11,081 calls through a phone number on the organization’s website that redirects callers to their senator’s office based on the caller’s zip code.
GOP Sen. Rob Portman’s office alone, for instance, received nearly 900 phone calls from Ohioans in the hours leading up to McConnell’s decision to alter some provisions in his rules resolution governing the impeachment trial.
A tabulation of the total number of calls to Senate offices on the first day of the trial could not be determined. Half a dozen offices for GOP and Democratic senators up for reelection in 2020 did not return requests for more information.
1:20 p.m. | “Forget it”: Senate Judiciary Chairman Lindsey Graham said he has no interest in setting precedents under which the Senate impeachment court makes rulings on claims of executive privilege from testimony.
“If I’m asked to waive executive privilege, I will say no. The option is to stop the trial and go to court, or have the Senate decide the privilege,” Graham said. “Here’s what I’m going to tell future Houses: If you blow through these privileges because you want to impeach a president before the election, and you come to the Senate, and you ask me to destroy the privilege, forget it.”
“The only option available to the Senate then is recognize the privilege — and that’s the end of [former national security adviser John] Bolton’s testimony — or stop the trial and send it to court, which they should’ve done to begin with,” Graham said.
He also said that his position on adhering to the Trump administration’s claims of privilege could prevent potential deals exchanging the testimony of someone like Bolton for testimony from Vice President Joe Biden’s son Hunter Biden.
“I’m not going to trade executive privilege,” Graham said.
12:55 p.m. | “Over the top”: Republican Sen. John Kennedy said Nadler’s comments on Tuesday that drew a rebuke from Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. were “over the top,” and indicated that Roberts’ admonition of both House managers and the White House team was an attempt to be “fair.”
“I think everybody knew it was directed toward Chairman Nadler,” Kennedy said. “I’ve been in a lot of courtrooms and you get tired. You can get a little emotional, and sometimes you demonstrate more zeal than wisdom.”
Kennedy appeared to take personal exception to a segment of Nadler’s address in which the New York Democrat implied GOP senators were complicit in a cover-up.
“I don’t think it’s fair calling opposing counsel liars. And I don’t think it’s fair to say that senators who don’t vote like I tell you to vote are involved in any illegal action,” Kennedy said.
12:55 p.m. | Clearing Trump’s name: Speaking to reporters before entering the Senate chamber Wednesday, Trump counsel Jay Sekulow said he is trying to make the president’s case to the “full” U.S. Senate, not just moderates and Republicans most likely to stay in the president’s corner.
Asked why the president’s lawyers did not file a motion to dismiss the impeachment articles, Sekulow indicated that his team is trying to clear Trump’s name.
“We’re prepared to proceed to acquittal,” he said.
12:50 p.m. | Taking note: “One thing that was clearly established yesterday is the Senate is not a court of appeals,” Schiff told reporters Wednesday, referring to GOP efforts to suggest the Senate only has to consider evidence the House compiled.
Schiff also noted Trump’s remarks from early Wednesday bragging that he had documents Democrats were seeking to bring into evidence in the trial.
“That is nothing to brag about,” he said.
12:45 p.m. | Open gasping: Republican Sen. Josh Hawley said the House managers on Tuesday alienated senators and seemed to be using debate time on amendments to drag out the proceedings as they were making points that should have been saved for their actual case.
“They’ve got a lot of work to do today to try to win back over senators,” he said, noting by 2 a.m. most senators were not happy.
Hawley specifically called out Nadler for his “terrible breach of courtroom procedure” in calling Trump’s lawyers liars. He was also incredulous that Nadler accused the jurors of engaging in a “cover-up” and “treachery” for voting against amendments.
“There was open gasping on the Senate floor when Nadler was saying these things,” Hawley said.
12:40 p.m. | On call: The eight House Republicans on Trump’s impeachment team have been having morning conference calls, Rep. Mark Meadows, one of the team members, said. Some are in Washington now and others will be coming in Thursday, he said.
Meadows declined to say who else in Trump’s orbit participated in the call but said in response to questions that the president, lead White House counsel Pat Cipollone and Trump’s lead outside counsel Jay Sekulow were not on the call.
Meadows predicted Trump’s lawyers won’t call witnesses during the trial.
“Having these additional witnesses, I don’t know that it will change anybody’s minds,” he said.
12:35 p.m. | Explanation needed: Lawmakers, including key Republicans, wanted the Trump administration to explain why it was holding up security assistance to Ukraine this summer, according to 192 pages of internal emails obtained by ethics watchdog American Oversight through a Freedom of Information Act request and released just before midnight on Tuesday.
The first emails came from House Armed Services ranking member Mac Thornberry’s Chief of Staff Josh Martin, who wrote to OMB on Aug. 22 asking for someone to explain the pause on Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative funding.
Most of the emails between Trump administration staff are redacted, but it appears Senate Armed Services Chairman James M. Inhofe, R-Okla., also asked for some clarification.
The next day, Aug. 23, Sen. Rob Portman’s national security adviser Wayne Jones emailed OMB’s Associate Director for National Security Programs Mike Duffey to ask about the hold.
“As you may know, [Portman] is the chair of the Ukraine Caucus and has worked closely with the Senate Armed Services Committee on securing security assistance and is very interested in ensuring Ukraine has the military capabilities it needs to defend itself against Russian aggression,” Jones wrote. “If you are the right [point of contact], I would appreciate if you could lay out for me the reason behind the OMB hold and what the process is for getting the funding released.”
The House Defense Appropriations Subcommittee, controlled by Democrats, was the subject of an email between OMB Deputy Associate Director for Legislative Affairs James Braid and Duffey on Sept. 6, but it’s not clear what exactly started that exchange; possibly because of redactions.
Senate Appropriations Chairman Richard C. Shelby, R-Ala., came into the picture on Sept. 12 when Special Assistant to the President for Legislative Affairs Virginia M. Boney emailed White House Director of Legislative Affairs Eric Ueland and Duffey with the subject line “Call to Sen Shelby.”
Most of her email to Ueland as well as Duffey’s email to Ueland were redacted.
12:30 p.m. | “Overwhelming evidence”: Sen. Joni Ernst feigned incredulity that the House impeachment managers would present a compelling case that would prompt GOP senators to seek additional witnesses for the trial after opening arguments.
“According to the Democrats and their House managers in their brief … they have overwhelming evidence that they’re going to present to us in Phase One. I’m really excited to see this overwhelming evidence, and once we’ve heard that overwhelming evidence I don’t know that we’ll need to see additional witnesses. But let’s hear about that overwhelming evidence,” the Iowa Republican said, emphasizing the phrase “overwhelming evidence” at each turn.
Ernst is up for reelection in 2020 and is considered one of the most vulnerable Senate Republicans. Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales rates her Iowa Senate race Leans Republican.
12:20 p.m. | Nadler syndrome: Republican Sen. Kevin Cramer blamed Nadler for the series of heated exchanges between himself and White House attorney Jay Sekulow that eventually prompted an admonition from Roberts.
“I thought that it was really fine, frankly, up until Jerry Nadler, who did not disappoint. He was chosen to go after midnight on purpose, I don’t think there’s any question about that,” Cramer said, taking a dig at the House Judiciary chairman for getting his first turn at the microphones past midnight on the East Coast, by which time many viewers had tuned out.
“He’s got that syndrome. He’s a House guy. He’s pretty extreme for House guys even,” Cramer said
When a reporter noted that Nadler was a New Yorker, Cramer took another punch.
“That’s actually not irrelevant,” he said. “That’s the thing that a lot of people misunderstand from my part of the world.”
12:10 p.m. | Fair process: GOP Sen. Mike Rounds dismissed the notion that some Republicans eventually voting to call witnesses after opening arguments could reflect that McConnell was losing his grip on his conference.
“It’s not a matter of losing control,” he said. “It’s a matter of a fair process that Senator McConnell has recognized and has committed to following. He has never, ever told us how to vote. What he has done is build consensus on the rules, and these are very, very fair rules.”
11:55 a.m. | No deals: Asked whether Democrats would be willing to cut a deal with Republicans to allow Hunter Biden to testify in exchange for witnesses Democrats want like Bolton, Schumer demurred.
“We don’t need to have witnesses that have nothing to do with this,” he said, calling those suggestions “a distraction.”
Pressed on whether he’s at all open to cutting a witness deal with Republicans, Schumer said, “Right now we haven’t heard them wanting any witnesses at all.”
Schumer said the information Democrats are seeking to subpoena might not even be incriminating to the president and could even be exculpatory.
“These are certainly not Democratic witnesses or Democratic documents,” he said.
Schumer characterized coordination between Senate Democrats and House impeachment managers as “not very much,” saying their House counterparts know what they’re doing.
11:45 a.m. | Forced march: While Senate Democrats continue to call on their GOP colleagues to join them in subpoenaing witnesses and documents later in the trial, they also some cast some doubt as to whether that will happen after Tuesday’s series of votes.
“It is clear from last night that we are on a partisan forced march toward a predetermined outcome,” Democratic Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse said.
Sen. Christopher S. Murphy said “Republicans understand that their constituents are paying attention,” and suggested if they don’t allow document production or witnesses “there is going to be hell to pay.”
The Connecticut Democrat also said there are a “substantial number” of Republicans who are interested in hearing from witnesses, but “I bet their set of witnesses they are interested in varies greatly.”
11:15 a.m. | Under consideration: Republican Sen. Rick Scott said he has not ruled out allowing witnesses to testify in the impeachment trial, bringing the number of GOP senators who have said they would consider such a step to at least six.
“I am open to witnesses, but we need to go through the right process,” Scott told CNN Wednesday.
Sens. Susan Collins of Maine, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Cory Gardner of Colorado, Mitt Romney of Utah, and Lamar Alexander of Tennessee have signaled a willingness to call witnesses, a move most Republicans including McConnell have rejected.
Asked if he wanted to see any witnesses called or documents produced, Missouri Republican Sen. Roy Blunt said he wants to wait on that decision.
“You know, I think it’s logical to make that decision after both sides present the case that they have and that’s when I’m gonna make it,” Blunt said.
Democrats need at least four Republicans to vote with them to call new witnesses.
11 a.m. | Presenting their case: Oral arguments begin at 1 p.m. today and Democrats have 24 hours over three days to present their case and the president’s team will get equal time after that.
McConnell initially gave the two sides only two days to present their 24 hours of arguments, which would have had them finishing around the same time they did Tuesday’s session, but agreed to three days after pressure from several Republican senators.
9:55 a.m. | Objection: Twenty-one Republican state attorneys general have written a “friend of the Senate” letter outlining their legal objections to Trump’s impeachment trial.
The letter contains familiar GOP talking points about how impeachment essentially nullifies the results of the previous election and should not be used for “energizing a political party’s base.”
The letter’s authors hail from as far north as Alaska and as far south as Florida, with most of its signatories concentrated in the South or the westernmost portions of the Midwest.
The impeachment article accusing the president of “abuse of power” does not meet an adequate evidentiary standard, instead relying on “speculative, conclusory allegations,” the attorneys general wrote.
Legal experts disagree over what standard of proof and evidentiary standard senators ought to use for impeachment trials — the Constitution does not define such standards — but most agree it is up to each senator to decide for himself since impeachment is as much a political process as it is a legal one.
Conviction on the second impeachment article, “obstruction of justice,” would be “massively destructive of presidential independence from Congress” because it rests on the theory that “a President may be impeached because he dared to invoke executive privilege,” the attorneys general wrote.
The president’s impeachment defense counsel argued similar points on Tuesday.
9:45 a.m. | Fundraising pause: Sen. Michael Bennet, one of the Democrats running for president, will be present for the duration of the impeachment trial and will not fundraise while the trial is in session, Bennet for America spokesperson Shannon Beckham said in a statement Wednesday.
Bennet, who unlike other candidates is not focusing on Iowa, plans to take advantage of the more frequently available flights to New Hampshire to maximize his time there when the trial is not in session, Beckham said.
Bennet has held 38 of a promised 50 town halls in New Hampshire leading up to the primary there.
7:25 a.m. | The long way: Trump said Wednesday he favored a prolonged impeachment trial with lots of witnesses, but offered a variety of explanations why that would be a bad idea, including executive privilege and national security claims.
“I would rather go the long way. I would rather interview Bolton. I would rather interview a lot of people. The problem with John is that it’s a national security problem,” Trump said at a news conference in Davos, Switzerland, where he is attending the World Economic Forum. “He knows what I think about leaders. What happens if he reveals what I think about a certain leader and it’s not very positive and then I have to deal on behalf of the country? It’s going to be very hard. It’s going to make the job very hard.”
The president also claimed he could want testimony from Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, former Secretary of Energy Rick Perry and current acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney — though he gave explanations why that might, too, be ill-advised.
“Personally, I’d rather go the long route. It’s horrible for our country. Our country has to get back to business,” Trump said.
7:10 a.m. | Trump’s review is in: Trump said Wednesday that he did have an opportunity to see some of the Senate impeachment trial proceedings. The Senate didn’t adjourn Tuesday until around sunrise Wednesday morning in Davos.
“I had a busy day yesterday, as you know,” Trump said in a CNBC interview. “And we had the speech and we had lots of meetings with different leaders, including Pakistan and others. Other countries. In addition to businessmen all over the place. But I did get to see some of it. It’s a hoax. It’s a total hoax.”
7 a.m. | Document dump: The Office of Management and Budget released 192 pages of documents minutes before midnight that show White House officials preparing to freeze military aid to Ukraine the day before Trump’s July 25 phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy at the heart of the House’s articles of impeachment against Trump.
The documents, which were heavily redacted, are part of a public records access lawsuit from watchdog group American Oversight. They show communications between Michael Duffey, a political appointee at OMB who played a major role in freezing the Ukrainian aid and other officials on the eve of Trump’s call with Zelenskiy.
One document shows OMB officials sent a document titled “Ukraine Prep Memo” to Duffey on July 24, telling him “We will be standing by to answer any questions that you have and are happy to schedule time to discuss if you like.”
The documents show Duffey forwarding the memo to OMB’s general counsel the next morning and asking, “Can I swing by this afternoon on the Ukraine topic?”
6:40 a.m. | Roberts rules: Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., presiding over the trial, admonished House impeachment managers and Trump’s defense team after an angry exchange that came after 12 hours of debate at about 1 a.m.
“The question here is whether the Senate wants to be complicit in the president’s crimes by covering them up?” Nadler said in arguing for testimony from Bolton.
“The only one who should be embarrassed is you, Mr. Nadler, for the way you addressed the United States Senate,” said lead White house counsel Pat Cipollone.
That sparked a shouting match over executive privilege between Nadler and Trump attorney Jay Sekulow.
That prompted Roberts to caution both sides about their language and personal characterizations.
“They are addressing the world’s greatest deliberative body,” Roberts said. “One reason it has earned that title is because its members avoid speaking in a manner and using language that is not conducive to civil discourse,” he added.
“Those addressing the Senate should remember where they are,” Roberts said.
6:30 a.m. | Bending the rules: Rules for the trial ban senators from using phones or electronic devices in the chamber, but that apparently doesn’t apply to Apple Watches?
At least seven senators had the devices strapped on their wrists in the chamber at the start of the trial Tuesday, despite guidelines from Senate leadership that all electronics should be left in the cloakroom in provided storage.
Newer versions of the Apple Watch can have cellular capabilities. Among other features of the latest version, it “motivates you to move, exercise and stand,” according to Apple — all things that the senators are not supposed to do during the trial.