Impeachment trial of President Trump

By Meg Wagner, Veronica Rocha and Mike Hayes, CNN

Updated 12:24 AM ET, Sat January 25, 2020
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7:49 p.m. ET, January 24, 2020

Sekulow gives a preview of the defense team's arguments

Jacquelyn Martin/AP
Jacquelyn Martin/AP

Ahead of the final few hours of the House managers’ presentation, President Trump's lawyer Jay Sekulow offered his assessment of the case: “Really, trying to remove the President from the ballot in 2020… they don’t trust the American people to make a decision.”

Sekulow noted that House managers “kicked the door down” on Burisma and the Bidens, and that they will be responding. “They spent hours on it,” he said.

He suggested his team will bring up Christopher Steele's dossier during their presentation.

“How do you not bring up the Steele dossier? They talked about all the foreign interference as if this is — I’m going to bring a couple of things tomorrow ... I’m gonna tell you something. Look for things. Look for things like the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance court. You want to talk about foreign interference? See what the FISA court had to say about that in the last couple of weeks,” he said.

7:41 p.m. ET, January 24, 2020

Democrats have about 4 hours left to make their case, but will only take 2, aide says

From CNN's Ted Barrett

The Democratic House managers have about four hours left on the clock but only are expected to take about two hours, an aide to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said.

An aide to Rep. Adam Schiff would not confirm that but did say that Schiff will speak when the end is near. 

The aide doesn’t know how long the speech will be, because Schiff is at the table on the Senate floor still writing it out in longhand.

Republican Sen. Roy Blunt also said he expects there to be about two hours more. 

7:33 p.m. ET, January 24, 2020

The trial has resumed

The senators are back from their dinner break. The House managers are continuing their opening arguments.

7:35 p.m. ET, January 24, 2020

Here's what Trump said about the tape of him demanding the firing of Yovanovitch

From CNN's Betsy Klein

Former US Ambassador to the Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch
Former US Ambassador to the Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images/FILE

Fox News just aired a clip of President Trump’s interview, which is set to air in the 10 p.m. hour tonight.

Trump doesn’t deny the ABC recording report, and reiterates that he is “not a fan” of former Ambassador to the Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch.

Asked specifically if he was telling Lev Parnas to dismiss Yovanovitch, Trump said, “Well I wouldn’t have been saying that. I probably would have said if it was Rudy there or somebody, but I make no bones about it, I won’t have ambassadors — I have every right, I want ambassadors that are chosen by me, I have a right to hire and fire ambassadors.”

More context: Trump was captured on tape at a 2018 dinner with Parnas and another indicted Giuliani associated, Igor Fruman, demanding the firing of Yovanovitch, who was then the US ambassador to Ukraine, according to Bondy.

"Get rid of her!" a voice appearing to belong to Trump says on the recording, according to ABC News, which on Friday first reported its existence.

"Get her out tomorrow. I don't care. Get her out tomorrow. Take her out. OK? Do it."

CNN has not reviewed the tape.

7:17 p.m. ET, January 24, 2020

Why House managers keep pushing for additional witnesses and documents

Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP/Getty Images
Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP/Getty Images

Former federal prosecutor Anne Milgram took questions from viewers today on Anderson Cooper Full Circle.

One of the questions posed was about the Democrats' repeated request for additional witness testimony and documents.

Milgram said that while House managers have described a lot of the evidence they already have in their opening remarks this week, "there are critical witnesses that are really in the Trump inner circle that provide a lot of information that I think the American people probably want to know, that the House managers clearly want to know, that have been withheld."

She went on to break down their argument:

"So the argument is that, you know when you're a prosecutor ... you always want everything you can possibly get to be able to prove your case. So can they argue: look, based on what we have now, there is a lot of evidence and we didn't even get into the President's inner circle."
7:06 p.m. ET, January 24, 2020

Lev Parnas's attorney turned over Trump tape about Yovanovitch to the House Intelligence Committee

From CNN's Jim Acosta 

Attorney Joseph Bondy, left, and Lev Parnas depart federal court December 2, 2019 in New York City.
Attorney Joseph Bondy, left, and Lev Parnas depart federal court December 2, 2019 in New York City. Stephanie Keith/Getty Images/FILE

Joseph Bondy, attorney for indicted Rudy Giuliani associate Lev Parnas, said he turned over audio of President Trump talking about former Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch to the House Intelligence Committee, confirming a report in the New York Times.

Bondy said he had Parnas go back through his "cloud" and Parnas found the audio.

What's this about: Trump was captured on tape at a 2018 dinner with Parnas and another indicted Giuliani associated, Igor Fruman, demanding the firing of Yovanovitch, who was then the US ambassador to Ukraine, according to Bondy.

"Get rid of her!" a voice appearing to belong to Trump says on the recording, according to ABC News, which on Friday first reported its existence.

"Get her out tomorrow. I don't care. Get her out tomorrow. Take her out. OK? Do it."

CNN has not reviewed the tape.

6:46 p.m. ET, January 24, 2020

Senators take a 30-minute break

The Senate trial is on a 30-minute break for dinner.

House impeachment managers will resume their remarks after the break.

6:37 p.m. ET, January 24, 2020

Jeffries: Trump impeachment investigation "largely tracks" with Nixon

Senate TV
Senate TV

Rep. Hakeem Jeffries said during remarks this afternoon that the "sequence of events" in the Trump impeachment "largely track those in the Nixon proceedings." 

He summarized the Nixon inquiry like this:

"The House Judiciary proceedings began in October of 1973 when resolutions calling for President Nixon's impeachment were introduced and the House referred to the judiciary committee. Over the next several months, the committee investigated the Watergate break-in and the cover-up among other matters. Using its existing investigatory authority the committee also hired a special counsel and other attorneys to assist in these efforts. Most importantly, all of this occurred before the House approved a resolution directing the judiciary committee to investigate whether grounds to impeach Richard Nixon existed."

Jeffries argued that the course of events in the Trump inquiry is "entirely consistent with the Richard Nixon precedent."

In addressing how Trump has repeatedly criticized the process of the impeachment, Jeffries said that the President "is a suspect, a suspect who may have committed a high crime or misdemeanor." 

"He cannot tell the detectives investigating the possible constitutional crime what they should do in the context of their investigation," he said.
6:02 p.m. ET, January 24, 2020

House manager Jerry Nadler calls Trump "a dictator"

Senate TV
Senate TV

House manager Jerry Nadler closed out his remarks this afternoon with some of the most fiery language that's been heard so far directed at President Trump, calling him "a dictator."

The New York Democrat said Trump is the "first and only president ever to declare himself unaccountable and to ignore subpoenas backed by the Constitution's impeachment power." 

He continued: "If he is not removed from office, if he is permitted to defy the Congress entirely, categorically, to say the subpoenas from Congress in the impeachment inquiry are nonsense, then we will have lost, the House will have lost, the Senate certainly will have lost, all power to hold any president accountable." 

Nadler said Trump "wants to be all powerful. He does not have to respect the Congress. He does not have to rescue the representatives of the people. Only his will goes." 

"He is a dictator. This must not stand, and that is why another reason he must be removed from office," Nadler said.

Watch the moment: