Impeachment trial of President Trump
As Rep. Adam Schiff presented the Democrats’ case today, senators on either end of the political spectrum were seen taking notes, snacking and, on one occasion, filling out a crossword puzzle.
Republican Sen. Mike Lee, of Utah, was fiercely taking notes filling up three full pages in his notebook over the hour.
When Schiff presented video evidence, Lee physically turned his head back at the presentation at least five times seemingly to copy down accurate notes. Lee was seen later chugging a glass of water and massaging the palm of his writing hand.
In contrast, Lee’s neighbor, Sen. Rand Paul, of Kentucky, focused intensely on a crossword puzzle, not so sneakily hidden between his papers.
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, a Democrat from New York, silently took out a red and grey patterned scarf and wrapped it around her neck. Sen. Joni Ernst, a Republican from Iowa, looked comfortable with a blue sweater of sorts draped over her legs like a cover.
Noises of what sounded like a plastic bag were heard all the way in the press seats above the Senate floor from Republican Sen. Ben Sasse’s general direction. He was spotted shoving unidentified pieces of food into his mouth. When Sasse, of Nebraska, realized reporters were staring at him — he and Republican Sen. Rick Scott, of Florida, stared back, giggling. Sasse then pulled out a clementine from under his desk and offered it to Scott, who jokingly motioned to reporters with a big shrug and crossing arm movement that no, he did not want the clementine or other snacks.
Sen. Tom Cotton, a Republican from Arkansas, slowly pulled open his desk drawer to file away some notes — and about 10 pieces of candy were seen scattered around, including four mini Hershey bars, some Skittles and other snacks.
Democratic Sen. Tom Kaine, of Virginia, and Sen. Angus King, of Maine, were seen chatting back and forth.
House Democrats' began giving their opening arguments around 1 p.m. ET today. Several hours in, and some senators have started to wander from their seats.
Around of 3 p.m. ET, the seats were mostly filled in the chamber with very few empty seats or anyone out of the chamber. But 20 minutes later — not long before the trial went into a recess — CNN counted 17 empty seats across the entire chamber, on both sides. Most of the empty seats were on the Republican side, but there were also empty seats on the Democratic side.
Some senators at this time were out of their seats but still visibly in the chamber, standing at the back of the room, which is something a number of senators did yesterday as well, especially as it got later into the night.
Some of those standing during this time were Republican Sens. Roy Blunt and John Barrasso and Democratic Sens. Cory Booker, Chris Murphy and Richard Blumenthal. This was while House manager Adam Schiff was speaking.
Rep. Jason Crow is now presenting the Democrats' opening argument in the impeachment trial of President Trump.
Crow is one of seven House impeachment managers selected to present their case. Moments before, Rep. Sylvia Garcia was up.
Reps. Adam Schiff and Jerry Nadler have also made opening arguments before the Senate today.
Senator John Cornyn, a Republican from Texas, told reporters this afternoon he thinks the House Democratic managers are getting repetitive.
“I think we’re already beginning to lose certainly the television audience and maybe the press to some extent, but certainly senators are struggling to try to see why we have to sit there, sit hearing the same arguments over and over and over and over again,” Cornyn said.
When asked if Cornyn already had an idea of how he was going to vote on the articles of impeachment, he said he's "still waiting to hear the presentation of the case. I think I owe that to the parties. That’s the oath we take.”
Cornyn continued: “So far, I think, the House managers are undermining their own case by saying, this was a request for an investigation that was never done and oh, by the way, the President didn’t want it anyway. And just by requesting an investigation that wasn’t done and wasn’t really desired, that represents foreign interference in an election against a potential but undetermined rival? The logic is, you’ve got to struggle a little bit to keep up with the train of thought there, but we’re going to keep an open mind.”
Cornyn went on to call impeachment a "nuclear option."
"This is something we should not do unless that constitutional standard is met, and I’m struggling to see how that is even close," he added.
Rep. Sylvia Garcia, one of seven House impeachment managers, is now continuing the Democrats' opening arguments.
She is the third manager to speak today: Adam Schiff and Jerry Nadler presented parts of the opening arguments before her.
The Democrats will get, in total, 24 hours over the course of three days to present their case.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer told reporters that there is no way he’d trade Hunter Biden for the GOP witness in order to get John Bolton to testify for the Democrats. He said that is not on the table.
“I think that is off the table. That trade is not on the table,” he said.
Asked whether he thought House manager Jerry Nadler’s comments early Wednesday morning were appropriate, Schumer said he thought Chief Justice John Roberts dealt with the issue, and he talked generally about the arguments made. He wouldn’t comment further on Nadler specifically.
“I’ve said all I’m going to say, “ he told reporters when pressed again on Nadler.
Schumer also applauded his GOP colleagues who fought to change the resolution so each side would have three days instead of two to make the case. Schumer said it was 100% evidence that Republicans could eventually be moved to support more witnesses and documents.
Some background: Roberts scolded both the Democratic House managers and the President's defense team early Wednesday morning after a contentious exchange on the Senate floor.
Roberts had just listened to the impeachment managers and Trump's legal team rip into each other after Nadler made the case for issuing a subpoena for former national security adviser John Bolton's testimony.
During that argument, Nadler accused Republican senators of "voting for a coverup" by killing amendments for documents and testimony of additional witnesses.
That led to White House counsel Pat Cipollone firing back during his own remarks: "The only one who should be embarrassed, Mr. Nadler, is you. For the way you addressed this body. This is the United States Senate. You're not in charge here."
The Senate impeachment trial just resumed following a brief break.
House impeachment manager Jerry Nadler is continuing to give the Democrats' opening statement, picking up from House manager Adam Schiff, who began outlining the case earlier this afternoon.
The Democratic House managers get 24 hours over the course of three days to give their opening arguments.
Jay Sekulow, one of the lawyers on President Trump's legal team, urged House manager Adam Schiff and Democrats to proceed with their case because he said the opening statement "undercuts their entire argument."
"We just went through two and a half hours of laying out their case to go with the 11 hours laying out their case last night. Now unless he's making it up, it seems like he's got a lot of information, so proceed with your case. The more they do this two and a half-hour events at a time, it undercuts their entire argument, but you know what, that's going to be ultimately for the United States Senate to decide," he said.
Sekulow continued: "Look, they're putting on their case. The good news is we only have 22 hours more to go of their side and we'll go. Let them put their case on and we'll continue."
Asked if Trump's defense team will use the full 24 hours for their opening arguments, Sekulow said, "I can't make any determinations as to how long our proceedings are going to go, we got to base it on what they do."
Senators just took a short break, but they'll return before 4 p.m. ET.
House manager Adam Schiff spoke for two and a half-hours during the Democrats' opening statement, which will resume after the break.