Jason Crow
Lawmaker quotes 'Harry Potter' to make impeachment argument
02:07 - Source: CNN

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CNN  — 

Here are some of the last words spoken by President Donald Trump’s defense team – and by the House managers arguing Trump should be removed.

White House counsel Pat Cipollone, speaking for the President:

“I urge you, on behalf of those Americans, of every American, on behalf of all of your constituents, to reject these articles of impeachment. It’s the right thing for our country. The President has done nothing wrong. And these types of impeachments must end.

“You will vindicate the right to vote. You will vindicate the Constitution. You will vindicate the rule of law by rejecting these articles. And I ask you to do that on a bipartisan basis this week and end the era of impeachment once and for all.”

Rep. Adam Schiff, speaking for the House impeachment managers:

“It may be midnight in Washington, but the sun will rise again. I put my faith in the optimism of the Founders. You should too. They gave us the tools to do the job, a remedy as powerful as the evil it was meant to constrain – impeachment.

“They meant it to be used rarely but they put it in the constitution for a reason. For a man who would sell out his country for a political favor, for a man with threatening integrity to our elections, for a man inviting interference in our affairs, a man who would undermine our national security and that of our allies, for a man like Donald J. Trump. They gave you a remedy, and they meant for you to use it. They gave you an oath and they meant for you to observe it. We have proven Donald Trump guilty. Now do impartial justice and convict him.”

Will he do it again?

Barreling toward acquittal, some key Republicans say Trump has learned his lesson. What on earth could give them that idea?

“He knows now… that he needs to go through proper channels”

Iowa Republican Sen. Joni Ernst did gently criticize Trump’s behavior over the weekend, but she told CNN’s Jake Tapper that she doesn’t think Trump would do it again.

ERNST: “I think that he knows now that, if he is trying to do certain things, whether it’s ferreting out corruption there, in Afghanistan, whatever it is, he needs to go through the proper channels.

TAPPER: Mm-hmm.

ERNST: So, again, using the DOJ and other international organizations to get to that corruption.

Nobody likes being impeached

Tennessee GOP Sen. Lamar Alexander, who has been more critical of Trump’s behavior, explained he thinks voters should decide Trump’s fate – so he’s willing to live with Trump’s inappropriate behavior.

On NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Alexander called into question whether Trump knew holding up aid to Ukraine and pressuring the country to investigate his potential 2020 general election rival Joe Biden and Biden’s son, Hunter, was wrong in the first place. Trump has repeatedly made unfounded and false claims to allege that the Bidens acted improperly in Ukraine.

Like Ernst, Alexander said Trump won’t do it again.

“I don’t think so. I hope not. I mean, enduring an impeachment is something that nobody should like. Even the President said he didn’t want that on his resume. I don’t blame him. So, if a call like that gets you an impeachment, I would think he would think twice before he did it again.”

Trump keeps calling impeachment a “hoax”

It’s hard to understand their faith since Trump made the phone call to Ukraine the day after former special counsel Robert Mueller testified on Capitol Hill about his investigation into Russian election meddling.

And, rather than contrition, as more Republicans admit his behavior was wrong, Trump repeated his mantra on Twitter that impeachment is a “hoax.”

“I hope Republicans & the American people realize that the totally partisan Impeachment Hoax is exacty (sic) that, a Hoax. Read the Transcripts, listen to what the President & Foreign Minister of Ukraine said (‘No Pressure’). Nothing will ever satisfy the Do Nothing, Radical Left Dems!”

As they wrapped up their arguments at the Senate impeachment trial, Democrats tried to hit this point.

“If we are to rely on the next election to judge the President’s efforts to cheat in that election how can we know that the election will be free and fair? How can we know that every vote will be free from foreign interference, solicited by the President himself? With President Trump, the past is prologue,” said Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, one of the House impeachment managers, during his closing arguments.

Not that it matters since Trump’s acquittal is assured.

Catch up on the last day of arguments. Senate speeches will now take us into the vote on Wednesday.

Iowa caucuses give voters their first chance to answer the Trump question

We get the first indication of how impeachment will play out in the 2020 campaign with the Iowa caucuses. Read all about the rules here and see all the ways to watch the results here.

CNN’s special Iowa coverage will go through the night.

Results will feed here.

The choice Democrats make – starting with Iowa but extending through the spring – will have a lot to do with how they try to defeat Trump in November. Will it be an Obama-era antidote to Trumpism in the form of former Vice President Joe Biden?

Will they go with Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, who is promising to create a much bigger government, a direct refutation of Trump’s conspiracy theories about government?

Or a self-proclaimed “fighter” like Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, among the first candidates to call for Trump’s impeachment, who would being a combative style some Democrats are unused to?

Pete Buttigieg, the erudite former South Bend, Indiana, mayor, who would be the first gay president and thinks Americans are much closer together than they realize?

There are others. The pragmatic Asian businessman (Andrew Yang). The Minnesota nice moderate (Sen. Amy Klobuchar). There’s also the billionaire not formally competing in Iowa so that he can clean up later (Mike Bloomberg). Trump’s shadow falls all over the Democratic primary and the party must decide if it will go to the left or the middle to fight Trump.

On the podcast

CNN political director David Chalian pivoted to Iowa and talked to political correspondent Abby Phillip on the ground in Des Moines. And we talked about how impeachment and the primary came to be decided in the same week. Listen to the podcast here.

Senators finally have a turn to speak. Here’s what to listen for

Forced to remain silent during the trial, senators now have the opportunity to speak on the Senate floor before casting their votes on Trump’s fate Wednesday. Read more here.

I’m interested to see:

Will any Republicans criticize Trump on the Senate floor? Several Republicans have begun to admit that Trump’s call with the Ukrainian President was not “perfect.” Does that frustration with him find its way onto the Senate floor and perhaps rob Trump of the ability to claim full vindication?

Will a united Democratic party vote to remove Trump from office? Three Democrats – Sens. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona and Doug Jones of Alabama – are unknowns. If any of them side with the President, Trump will be able to say his acquittal is bipartisan. Manchin has called for Trump to be censured – a public reprimand. It’s not clear yet how he will vote on impeachment.

Odds and ends

Jill Biden said it’s hard to remain friends with Lindsey Graham.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Trump haven’t spoken since October.

Schiff isn’t saying if Democrats will subpoena John Bolton post-impeachment.

What are we doing here?

The American system of government has been challenged to deal with a singular President and a divided country that will decide whether he should get another four years in the White House.

Stay tuned to this newsletter as we keep watch over the Trump administration, the 2020 presidential campaign and other issues of critical interest.