Impeachment trial of President Trump

By Meg Wagner, Veronica Rocha, Mike Hayes and Fernando Alfonso III, CNN

Updated 1:36 AM ET, Fri January 24, 2020
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11:56 p.m. ET, January 23, 2020

If you missed today's proceedings, here's what you need to know

Democratic House managers took the Senate floor today for day two of their opening statements in the impeachment trial of President Trump.

In case you missed it, here are some of highlights from today's proceedings:

  • House managers lay out their abuse of power case: Democrats laid out their case for removing Trump from office for abuse of power. Rep. Adam Schiff repeatedly said Trump was guilty of abuse of power and obstruction of the House. "If the truth doesn't matter, we're lost. The framers couldn't protect us from ourselves if right and truth don't matter," Schiff said. "But here, right is supposed to matter. It's what's made us the greatest nation on earth. No Constitution can protect us, right doesn't matter any more. And you know, you can't trust this President to do what's right for this country."
  • Republicans defended Trump: Republican Sens. James Lankford and Thom Tillis both defended Trump after House managers laid out in meticulous detail his conduct that led to his impeachment. Lankford said House managers were detailing "policy issues" like firing former US Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch. He said that Trump was merely "frustrated" about facing the Russia investigation and was acting appropriately.
  • The schedule might change: Senators and aides in each party say there is an effort in the works to hold a short, morning-only impeachment trial session on Saturday to hear the beginning of the opening arguments from President Trump’s defense counsel and then allowing senators to leave town for the weekend. The plan is not finalized but seems to be gaining steam as word of it circulates through the Republican and Democratic caucuses.
  • Trump's legal team prepares for trial: The President's legal team has been meeting at the White House every day around 11 a.m. ET since the trial started to go over what Democrats said the day before and to prep for their own opening statements, according to multiple people.
  • Democratic leader urges senators: Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said the case House managers are laying out bolsters the need to hear from witnesses at trial. "I don't see how any senator, Democrat or Republican, could sit on the floor, listen to Adam Schiff and the House impeachment managers and not demand witnesses and documents," Schumer said.
  • GOP senator attacks impeachment witness: Republican Sen. Marsha Blackburn spent hours attacking Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, a key National Security Council aide who testified before Congress on the Ukraine scandal, on Twitter Thursday, including questioning the Purple Heart recipient's patriotism. Vindman's attorney slammed Blackburn's tweets in a statement, saying, "That a member of the Senate — at a moment when the Senate is undertaking its most solemn responsibility —would choose to take to Twitter to spread slander about a member of the military is a testament to cowardice."
11:48 p.m. ET, January 23, 2020

What to expect tomorrow in the Senate impeachment trial

From CNN's Ted Barrett

The Senate will convene tomorrow at 1 p.m. ET to resume the impeachment trial.

House managers are expected to wrap up their opening arguments. (They have roughly roughly 7 hours and 53 minutes left, according to the Senate Cloakroom.)

After that, here's what could happen next:

  • Saturday: President Trump'’s lawyers are expected to begin their opening arguments Saturday when a shorter morning session is anticipated, although the time change is not locked in yet. 
  • Monday: Senators would then leave for the weekend and resume opening arguments from Trump’s lawyers on Monday.

11:50 p.m. ET, January 23, 2020

Sen. Marsha Blackburn responds to criticism from Vindman's attorney over her tweets

From CNN's Austen Bundy

Drew Angerer/Getty Images
Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Sen. Marsha Blackburn joined Laura Ingraham on Fox News to discuss the exchange between her and Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman’s lawyer, who responded tonight to the Tennessee Republican's criticism of Vindman as a witness in the impeachment case.

On Twitter, Blackburn claimed Vindman, a Ukraine expert, had leaked the July 25 phone call at the center of the impeachment. This claim is unsubstantiated. Blackburn also tweeted that Vindman "wanted to take out Trump" while another tweet featured an alleged quote from Vindman's commanding officer calling him "a political activist in uniform."

Vindman's attorney David Pressman called Blackburn's remarks "slander" and "a testament to cowardice" earlier tonight.

Blackburn addressed those comments on Fox tonight.

"Here’s the thing, you have to look at what his commanders have said. He has a problem with his judgment. That's been pointed out. He had one commander who said he is a political activist in uniform. He has had problems with going outside of his chain of command which is exactly what he did here. I talk to a lot of military members on a regular basis. They have a real problem with some of the things and the manner in which he conducted himself in this matter. What we want to do is make certain that we get to the heart of the issues here," Blackburn said.

More on Vindman's role in the impeachment inquiry: Vindman told the House Intelligence Committee in October during a more than 10-hour closed-door deposition that he reported concerns about Trump's July 25 call with the leader of Ukraine to the top National Security Council lawyer within hours, and said some of the changes he tried to make to the since-published transcript were left out, though he didn't say why.

11:46 p.m. ET, January 23, 2020

Here's how much time House managers have left to argue their case in the impeachment trial

From CNN's Ted Barrett

House managers have roughly 7 hours and 53 minutes remaining in their total allotted time of 24 hours to argue their case in the impeachment trial, according to the Senate Cloakroom.

They are not required to use the full allotted time and can yield back as much time as they want. There are no indications at this time of whether they will yield back any time.

At the start of proceedings on Thursday, Chief Justice John Roberts announced the time House managers had remaining and it’s possible he will again announce it at the start of Friday’s proceedings.

This post has been updated.

11:38 p.m. ET, January 23, 2020

Key GOP senator says he's going to "listen to all of the arguments" before deciding on possible witnesses

From CNN's Ted Barrett

Drew Angerer/Getty Images
Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Three GOP senators were asked this evening on whether they heard anything today during the impeachment trial that makes them want to vote to bring in witnesses.

With the GOP controlling 53 seats to Democrats' 47, Democrats would need to win over at least four senators to vote to hear from witnesses in order to pass such a proposal.

Here's how each of the three Republican senators responded:

  • Tennessee Sen. Lamar Alexander: “I’m going to listen to all of the arguments on both sides. We’re giving the House managers plenty of opportunity to make their arguments. We’re going to give the President plenty of time to do that. We’re going to have a chance to ask our questions. And we’ll see if we need any more evidence and I’ll make a decision after that.”
  • Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner: “We’ll continue to have a trial the rest of the week.”
  • Maine Sen. Susan Collins: Would not comment other than to say goodnight.

11:34 p.m. ET, January 23, 2020

House manager Jerry Nadler: We have an "airtight case for anyone who's willing to listen"

From CNN's Michael Warren

Drew Angerer/Getty Images
Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Democratic House manager Rep. Jerry Nadler spoke to reporters after the trial wrapped for the day and was asked if they were making an effective case to convince Republicans to convict President Trump.

Here's how he responded:

“I think we’re making an airtight case for anyone who’s willing to listen,” he said. “The evidence is overwhelming. The President’s counsels have not offered any evidence against it, nor will they.”

11:15 p.m. ET, January 23, 2020

Gordon Sondland's testimony was referenced the most in the Democrats' arguments today

From CNN's Olanma Mang and Nicolle Okoren

The Democratic House managers continued to supplement their argument with video clips in day three of the Senate impeachment trial.

Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland remained the most referenced testimony used to illustrate how President Trump was directly involved in a quid pro quo scheme with Ukraine.

Representatives also showed footage of Trump aides and GOP allies, including, former Homeland Security adviser to the President, Tom Bossert, Rudy Giuliani and a 1999 clip of Sen. Lindsey Graham.

Another addition to their visual presentation was a video of Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky at a bilateral meeting in September, where Zelensky made clear his intentions to establish a close US-Ukraine relationship.

Here’s CNN’s tally of all the soundbites that were presented in today’s trial:

  • Sondland: 15
  • Bill Taylor, top US diplomat in Ukraine: 12
  • Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, National Security Council official: 10
  • Fiona Hill, Trump’s former top Russia adviser: 9
  • David Holmes, US Embassy in Ukraine official: 9
  • President Trump: 6
  • Kurt Volker, former US special envoy for Ukraine: 5
  • George Kent, State Department official: 4
  • Rudy Giuliani, Trump’s personal lawyer: 3
  • Pamela Karlan, impeachment expert witness: 3
  • Marie Yovanovitch, former Ambassador to Ukraine: 3
  • White House adviser Tim Morrison: 3
  • Michael Gerhardt, impeachment expert witness: 2
  • Noah Feldman, impeachment expert witness: 2
  • Jennifer Williams, senior adviser to Vice President Mike Pence: 2
  • Tom Bossert, former Homeland Security adviser to the President: 1
  • Alan Dershowitz, member of Trump’s impeachment legal team: 1
  • Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham: 1
  • FBI Director Christopher Wray: 1
  • Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky: 1

11:31 p.m. ET, January 23, 2020

Sen. Rick Scott claims Schiff "doesn’t want Donald Trump on the ballot" in November

From CNN's Kristin Wilson

 Alex Wong/Getty Images
 Alex Wong/Getty Images

Sen. Rick Scott claimed House manager Adam Schiff "doesn't want Donald Trump on the ballot" this fall

"Schiff is absolutely committed to making sure he changes his election in 2020 — he doesn’t want Donald Trump on the ballot," the Florida Republican said following the end of the impeachment trial today.

Where Scott stands on having trial witnesses: Yesterday Scott said he is "absolutely" open to having witnesses testify in Trump's Senate impeachment trial, a position that's at odds with many of his GOP colleagues who've pushed against having additional witnesses.

Scott's comments were especially notable given that he's hasn't widely been considered in the group of senators open to voting to hear from witnesses. That pool has mainly consisted of Republican Sens. Susan Collins of Maine, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Mitt Romney of Utah and Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, who is retiring at the end of his term.

With the GOP controlling 53 seats to Democrats' 47, Democrats would need to win over at least four senators to vote to hear from witnesses in order to pass such a proposal.

10:33 p.m. ET, January 23, 2020

The impeachment trial has ended for the day

The House impeachment managers have concluded their second day of opening remarks in the impeachment trial of President Trump.

The trial will continue tomorrow at 1 p.m. ET, and Democrats will resume their opening statements.

Watch today's biggest moments: