Impeachment trial of President Trump
The Senate just went to recess following a debate over Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's trial rules.
If you're just tuning in, here's what you need to know:
- McConnell made some last-minute changes: He unveiled a revised organizing resolution to set the rules for the impeachment trial after an uproar from Democrats and concerns from some Republicans. Now, each side will get 24 hours for opening arguments spread over three days, instead of two, and House evidence will be admitted unless there is a vote in opposition to it.
- Amendments were introduced: Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer has introduced three amendments — all requesting relevant documents from the White House, State Department and Office of Budget and Management. The Senate voted along party lines to table, or kill, the amendments. When the trial comes back from break, they'll hear debate on Schumer's fourth amendment.
- Trump tweeted: The President took to Twitter as the impeachment trial got underway. He tweeted, "READ THE TRANSCRIPTS!"
- GOP senator hints at support for witnesses: Sen. Susan Collins, a Republican from Maine, issued a statement today saying it is “likely” that she will support a motion to subpoena witnesses later in the trial after both sides present their cases.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell just asked for a 30-minute break before they consider Minority Leader Chuck Schumer's next proposed amendment.
Chief Justice John Roberts, who is presiding over the trial agreed. The Senate is now in recess.
When they come back, the Senate will hear debate on Schumer's fourth amendment.
The Senate just voted along party lines — 53-47— to table the third amendment introduced by Democrat Chuck Schumer.
The first two amendments were also tabled.
Schumer is now introducing another amendment to subpoena acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney.
President Donald Trump's attorney Jay Sekulow responded to remarks from military veteran and House impeachment manager Rep. Jason Crow, D-Colorado, about pauses on foreign aid, noting that aid provided to Ukraine by the Trump administration “included lethal weapons” that were not provided by “the previous administration.”
“The suggestion that the Ukraine failed to get any equipment is false. ... There was no lack of equipment due to the temporary pause of its future funding,” he said, quoting a Ukrainian deputy minister of defense who oversaw the US aid shipment and said they did not notice any change.
“The made up narrative that security assistance was conditioned on Ukraine taking some action on investigation is further disproved by the straightforward fact that the aid was delivered on September 11, 2019, without Ukraine taking any action on any investigation,” he said, adding that aid to Egypt was withheld during the Obama administration in 2013.
“Sounds like this may be a practice of a number of administrations,” he said.
He noted other instances of withheld aid, including Afghanistan in 2019 over concerns of government corruption, and a June 2019 pause in aid to El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala regarding immigration.
He noted former US Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch’s testimony that Ukraine “policy actually got stronger” during the Trump administration.
“This all supposedly started because of a whistleblower,” he said, shaking his head as he closed his binder and left the podium.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell just asked to table Sen. Chuck Schumer's third amendment to the proposed trial rules — an amendment that would subpoena documents from the Office of Budget and Management.
McConnell moved to table Schumer's first two amendments, which requested more subpoena documents. Both of those motions passed on party lines.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell gave senators a brief rundown of what to expect following the debate on the third amendment.
He reminded senators that he would be moving to table the amendment following the debate.
"And it is important to remember, both the evidence and witnesses are addressed in the underlying resolution," the Kentucky Republican said.
Both parties will have two hours to argue the amendment, which was introduced by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer. The amendment calls on the Senate to subpoena key documents from the Office of Budget and Management.
Once the debate is over, McConnell said they will vote on the amendment, then take a 30-minute recess for dinner.
The Senate voted along party lines to table Sen. Chuck Schumer's second amendment to Mitch McConnell's resolution.
The vote was 53 Republicans in favor and 47 Democrats against tabling the amendment.
Schumer is now introducing a third amendment to subpoena relevant documents from the Office of Management and Budget.
By 5:30 p.m. ET, the length of the first day was wearing on the senators in the chamber. There were lots of yawns and sleepy looks.
Sen. Martha McSally had a blanket over her lap. Sen. Dan Sullivan let loose a big yawn. At one point, both Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand and Sen. Jim Risch appeared to have their eyes closed, but Gillibrand opened them abruptly and sat up straight in her chair.
Others looked like bored students in a particularly long lecture. Sen. Tom Cotton absent-mindedly clicked his retractable pen for about a minute, before Sen. Joni Ernst turned to look at him and he stopped. Sen. Amy Klobuchar was chewing a piece of gum. Sen. Tim Scott scribbled on a note card and handed it to Sen. Ben Sasse, who read it, leaned into Scott’s ear, and began whispering. Scott silently laughed at whatever Sasse told him.
One of the attorneys for the House Democratic managers, sitting at the table across from the managers, was Daniel Goldman, who was the lead counsel for the House Intelligence Committee during its impeachment hearings.
House Manager Rep. Val Demings, during her arguments, prompted for a video of Goldman’s questioning of former acting ambassador to Ukraine Bill Taylor to be played. When Goldman’s voice boomed out of the speakers at the start of the video, the present Goldman sat up with a bit of a start.
The House impeachment managers and Trump's legal team just finished debating a second amendment to the proposed trial rules. The amendment — introduced by Sen. Chuck Schumer — would allow for the subpoena of State Department documents.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell asked to table the amendment. They're voting on that now.