As the third presidential impeachment trial in American history got underway this week, Democrats used their three days of opening arguments to lay out why Trump should be removed from office for alleged abuse of power and obstruction in the Ukraine scandal.
Trump’s defense team and the assembled Senators, including his Republican allies, are required by trial rules to stay silent during the other side’s arguments. Democrats will then have to do the same for Trump’s defense team.
Each side was given 24 hours over three days for their arguments. While they are not required to use that full time, Democrats have.
But the president (for a particularly Trumpian reason) isn’t happy about his defense team’s arguments having to start on Saturday.
“After having been treated unbelievably unfairly in the House, and then having to endure hour after hour of lies, fraud & deception by Shifty Schiff, Cryin’ Chuck Schumer & their crew, looks like my lawyers will be forced to start on Saturday, which is called Death Valley in T.V.,” Trump, 73, tweeted on Friday morning.
Though Trump had a point about Saturday TV viewership — especially primetime viewing — a 2018 U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics report did show that “TV viewership was greater on weekend days” in recent years.
(The president has a well-known fascination, even fixation, with TV ratings dating back years.)
After having been treated unbelievably unfairly in the House, and then having to endure hour after hour of lies, fraud & deception by Shifty Schiff, Cryin’ Chuck Schumer & their crew, looks like my lawyers will be forced to start on Saturday, which is called Death Valley in T.V.— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 24, 2020
Trump was also voicing conservative frustration that’s likely been simmering more and more after three days of listening to Democrats argue he should be removed from office.
House impeachment managers (essentially the prosecutors in Trump’s trial) have been re-telling the case against Trump in meticulous detail, relying on the information gathered in a months-long investigation that broadly corroborated the allegations against the president. House Democrats say he withheld support for Ukraine in order to pressure the country to investigate his political rivals.
Some Republicans saw the Democrats’ arguments at the trial differently.
“So far we haven’t heard anything new from what he heard yesterday,” Sen. John Cornyn told reporters Thursday. “I hope this isn’t just going to be a series of repetitious arguments just to try to fill the time allotted.”
RELATED: Democrats Press the Case for Trump’s Removal on First Day of Impeachment Trial Arguments
Following arguments from both sides, senators will be able to ask written questions. Then there will be a vote, likely next week, about whether new testimony and evidence should be introduced.
Democrats have pushed for allowing further testimony from top Trump administration officials who previously refused to cooperate in the House investigation.
Trump became the third president in American history to be impeached in mid-December when the House voted to impeach the president on charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. The House investigation found Trump withheld nearly $400 million in military aid to Ukraine while Trump and other top officials pressured the country to publicly announce it would launch an investigation into former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter, who had worked in Ukraine.
The House impeachment managers say Trump was essentially bribing Ukraine into tarnishing Biden, who is one of the Democratic front-runners to challenge Trump in the 2020 election.
“The president has shown that he believes that he’s above the law and scornful of constraint,” Rep. Adam Schiff, the House’s leading impeachment manager, said Wednesday in his opening argument.
Trump has continued to deny any wrongdoing, labeling his impeachment and the trial a “hoax.”
Not so, Schiff said.
“President Trump’s objective was not to encourage a foreign government to investigate legitimate allegations of misconduct or wrongdoing abroad,” he said. “Rather, the president simply wanted to reap a political benefit by tarnishing a political rival.”