Chief Justice Scolds Managers and Trump Team: Impeachment Update

Steven T. Dennis
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Chief Justice Scolds Managers and Trump Team: Impeachment Update

(Bloomberg) -- Donald Trump’s impeachment trial began Tuesday, making him the third president in U.S. history to face possible removal from office by the Senate. He is charged with abusing his office and obstructing the House investigation of his actions.

Here are the latest developments:

Chief Justice Scolds Managers and Trump Team (1:13 a.m.)

Chief Justice John Roberts admonished House prosecutors and Trump’s defense team to respect Senate decorum after the two sides engaged in a fiery back and forth, accusing each other of not telling the truth.

Roberts, who had stuck to procedural comments until that point, said, “I think it is appropriate at this point for me to admonish both the House managers and president’s counsel in equal terms to remember that they are addressing the world’s greatest deliberative body.”

The remarks came after House Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler accused White House Counsel Pat Cipollone of lying.

“It is beyond belief that the president claims monarchical powers -- I can do whatever I want under Article 2, says he, and then acts on that, defies everything, defies the law to withhold aid from Ukraine, defies the law in a dozen different directions all the time and lies about it all the time and says to Mr. Cipollone here to lie about it,” Nadler said

The exchange followed another 53-47 vote to shelve the eighth Democratic amendment to change Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s resolution to set the trial rules. Schumer offered a ninth amendment as the trial stretched into its 12th hour.

Republicans Stick Together on Trial Rules (12:02 a.m.)

The Senate voted 53-47 to shelve the seventh amendment from Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, continuing a long day of straight party-line votes on the rules for Trump’s impeachment trial.

Schumer then offered his eighth amendment, calling for the Senate to subpoena former National Security Adviser John Bolton.

Late-Night Amendment Again Shelved by GOP (11:17 p.m.)

The Senate voted by the same party-line margin, 53-47, to shelve Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer’s sixth amendment to the resolution that will set the rules for the Senate trial.

Schumer previously rejected a request from McConnell to bundle his amendments together to speed the procedural debate. Democrats said the discussion about calling witnesses and seeking new evidence is too important to cut short.

With the debate stretching into its 10th hour, Schumer offered a seventh amendment regarding the admission of evidence.

GOP Votes Down Another Democratic Amendment (10:29 p.m.)

All 53 Republican senators voted to shelve the fifth amendment from Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, which would have subpoenaed documents from the Department of Defense. They overruled the 47 Democratic senators who wanted to include Schumer’s amendment to the trial rules offered by Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff, one of the impeachment managers, acknowledged that the night was getting long for senators who had been in the chamber since 1 p.m. But he said “it’s not our job to make it easy for you” to disagree with calls for additional testimony.

Schumer then offered a sixth amendment to subpoena two additional Trump administration officials.

GOP Shelves Amendment to Call Mulvaney (9:27 p.m.)

The Senate once again voted on strict party lines to reject a Democratic amendment to subpoena acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney to testify in the impeachment trial. Mulvaney is one of four Trump administration officials that Democrats say they want to call. The vote was 53-47.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer will also offered a fifth amendment to the resolution setting trial rules, which would have the Senate subpoena documents from the Department of Defense related to Trump’s hold on aid for Ukraine.

Third Democratic Amendment Rejected by GOP (7:32 p.m.)

The Senate rejected the third Democratic amendment, which would have subpoenaed documents from the White House Office of Management and Budget. The vote again was 53-47.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer then offered an amendment that would require a subpoena for testimony from acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said that after debate on the amendment, he will move to block it.

The Senate now will take a break until 8 p.m. for dinner before continuing into the evening.

Both Sides Spar Over Bolton Testimony (6:56 p.m.)

The House managers and the White House team sparred Tuesday over how seriously House Democrats tried to get testimony from Trump’s former National Security Advisor John Bolton before the Senate trial began.

Lead House manager Adam Schiff disputed a claim by Trump’s lawyers that the House needs the Senate to help put together its case against the president by insisting on subpoenas for witnesses and documents. Schiff said the House is ready to prosecute its case.

“The House calls John Bolton!” said Schiff. And, referring to the acting White House chief of staff, he added, “The House calls Mick Mulvaney!”

Trump lawyer Pat Cipollone responded that Schiff may be making such declarations now, but that House investigators declined to subpoena Bolton during the House investigation.

“And now they come here and they ask you to issue a subpoena for John Bolton. It’s not right,” Cipollone said.

Later, Schiff said the House did invite Bolton to testify, but that Bolton’s lawyer said he wouldn’t appear and would sue if the House subpoenaed him.

Now, said Schiff, Bolton is willing to testify.

“I can’t speak to his motivation,” said Schiff. But he said that Bolton, for whatever reason, is now willing to testify.

Schumer Bid to Seek State Documents Rejected (6:31 p.m.)

The Senate rejected Minority Leader Chuck Schumer’s amendment that would subpoena State Department documents on another 53-47 party-line vote.

Democratic House manager Val Demings had argued in favor of the amendment, saying that Trump ordered his administration “to defy every subpoena.”

“The president engaged in this coverup because he is guilty and he knows it,” said Demings of Florida, who served as Orlando’s first female police chief.

She said the Senate needs to see State Department officials’ text and WhatsApp messages, emails and notes. The agency has gathered the records and they’re ready to be turned over, Demings said.

Schumer proposed a third amendment that would subpoena documents from the White House Office of Management and Budget. -- Laura Litvan, Steven T. Dennis

GOP Defeats First Schumer Amendment to Rules (4:39 p.m.)

The Senate blocked Minority Leader Chuck Schumer’s amendment that would subpoena White House documents about the Trump administration’s actions on Ukraine. The vote was 53-47.

Schumer offered another amendment that would subpoena State Department documents related to the articles of impeachment.

A statement from his office said the Trump administration prevented the State Department from turning over “highly relevant records and communications” that could shed light on the events in Ukraine underpinning the charge that Trump abused his office. -- Laura Litvan, Steven T. Dennis

Documents Vital to Fair Trial, Democrat Says (3:46 p.m.)

House impeachment manager Zoe Lofgren argued that Minority Leader Chuck Schumer’s amendment to subpoena White House documents would produce vital evidence that could get at the truth behind the allegations about Trump’s decision to delay aid to Ukraine.

Getting the documents “would ensure a fair, legitimate trial based on the full evidentiary record,” Lofgren said.

While she insisted the House had already produced “powerful” evidence that Trump is guilty of the two articles, the White House has refused to produce key witnesses or documents.

Lofgren is the first female House impeachment manager to speak at a presidential impeachment trial.

“The amendment prevents the president from hiding evidence, as he has previously tried to do,” Lofgren said. She argued that the “most important documents” in the investigation would come from the White House.

She said those documents would reveal the extent of the administration’s coordination with people who acted on Trump’s behalf in Ukraine, and how key players in the White House, including acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney, helped set up the deal by withholding the aid from Ukraine. -- Laura Litvan, Steven T. Dennis

Schumer Urges Senate to Subpoena Documents (2:51 p.m.)

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer introduced an amendment that would order the White House to produce what could be thousands of pages of documents related to the charges against Trump, including material from Acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney.

That includes any records related to meetings or calls between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, and any inquiries regarding Ukraine including those related to Joe Biden, his son Hunter and Ukrainian energy company Burisma Holdings, on whose board Hunter Biden served.

Other records that would be subpoenaed include those of then-White House National Security Advisor John Bolton and Robert Blair, a Mulvaney adviser, that relate to any efforts to coerce Ukraine’s leaders to investigate Biden in exchange for U.S. military assistance and a meeting between Zelenskiy and Trump.

In addition, the amendment seeks records related to efforts by Trump personal attorney Rudy Giuliani and his associates regarding the decision to recall former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch. -- Laura Litvan, Steven T. Dennis

Democrats Want Fair Trial, Schiff Says (2:35 p.m.)

Lead House manager Adam Schiff said the most important decision senators will make is “will the president and the American people get a fair trial?”

“If you only get to see part of the evidence,” Schiff said, “your verdict will be predetermined by the bias in the proceeding.”

“If the House cannot call witnesses or introduce documented evidence, it is not a fair trial,” the Democrat said. “It is not really a trial at all.”

Trump lawyer Pat Cipollone said Democrats “have no case. Frankly they have no charge.” He said the two impeachment counts are “not only ridiculous, they’re dangerous to our republic.”

“A partisan impeachment is like stealing an election,” Cipollone said.

Another Trump lawyer, Jay Sekulow, asked whether Trump was impeached “because of a phone call” between Trump and the president of Ukraine or because “there was a desire to see him removed.”

He said House Democrats engaged in a “rush to impeachment” instead of going to court resolve possible disputes over witnesses and executive privilege. -- Laura Litvan, Steven T. Dennis

Trump Did ‘Nothing Wrong,’ Lawyer Says (1:45 p.m.)

Trump lawyer Pat Cipollone and lead House manager Adam Schiff began up to two hours of debate on the GOP proposal for trial rules.

Cipollone said the president’s lawyers support McConnell’s proposed trial rules, and he added that in the trial, “The only conclusion will be that the president has done absolutely nothing wrong.”

Schiff argued that McConnell’s proposed procedural rules are “completely backwards -- trial first, then evidence.”

“Although the evidence against the president is already overwhelming,” senators may never know the full extent of Trump’s wrongdoing, Schiff said.

McConnell made another change to his proposed rules, in addition to the one giving each side three days to present their case instead of two. The other change would allow House evidence to be made part of the record unless 51 senators vote to object, according to a Republican aide. Previously, the House record wasn’t set to be automatically made part of the record.

After the debate on rules, Minority Leader Chuck Schumer will offer his amendment to the rules, and there will be up to two hours of debate. McConnell said he’ll then propose tabling Schumer’s amendment. -- Laura Litvan, Steven T. Dennis

McConnell Tweaks Rules on Trial Length (1:31 p.m.)

A Senate Republican leadership aide said McConnell made a last-minute change to his resolution and it now will allow three days for the defense and impeachment managers to make their 24 hours of arguments, not two. -- Laura Litvan

Trump Trial Opens in Senate With Rule Debate (1:18 p.m.)

The Senate formally opened Trump’s trial, the third presidential impeachment trial in U.S. history. Soon, senators will begin debating the rules proposed by Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to govern the process.

Before the opening of the trial, McConnell said his resolution already has enough Republican support to be adopted and said the Senate should stay in session Tuesday until members agree to it.

“This is the fair road map for our trial,” McConnell said.

The demand from House Democrats for the Senate to call additional witnesses suggests that they ended their inquiry prematurely, without sufficient evidence to back up the claims against Trump, McConnell said.

The witnesses Democrats want to call were prohibited from participating in the House inquiry by the Trump administration. Some of them ignored House subpoenas, and the House impeachment investigators said they didn’t want to wait for a court decision to enforce those subpoenas. -- Steven T. Dennis, Laura Litvan

Trump Must Be Ousted From Office, House Says (12:43 p.m.)

The House impeachment managers said in a reply to Trump’s trial brief that if the Senate doesn’t convict and remove him from office, “he will have succeeded in placing himself above the law.”

“President Trump’s view that he cannot be held accountable, except in an election he seeks to fix in his favor, underscores the need for the Senate to exercise its solemn constitutional duty to remove President Trump from office,” the managers said.

They said Trump’s defense consists of “bluster and evasion, which amount to the frightening assertion that he may commit whatever misconduct he wishes.”

Saying that the president hasn’t offered any witnesses or documents in his defense, the House members said, “This is not how an innocent person behaves.” -- Billy House

Murkowski Open to Hearing From Hunter Biden (12:22 p.m.)

Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski said she’s open to hearing from “anybody” as a trial witness, including possibly the unidentified whistle-blower or Joe Biden’s son Hunter.

After presentations of evidence and questioning by the senators, the Senate should “make a determination if they want to hear from anybody,” said Murkowski of Alaska.

A number of Republicans have said they want to call Hunter Biden as a witness. Democrats contend any information he has isn’t relevant to the question of whether Trump improperly withheld U.S. funds from Ukraine to pressure that country to investigate Biden’s ties to a Ukrainian energy company.

Another GOP senator, John Kennedy of Louisiana, said the Senate might hear from witnesses but they won’t “make the decision until they understand the case.” -- Laura Davison

Most Americans Back More Evidence, Poll Says (11:06 a.m.)

Most Americans support introducing new witnesses and new evidence in Trump’s Senate impeachment trial, according to a poll from Monmouth University.

More than three in four Americans say Trump administration officials, and the president himself, should be invited to testify before the Senate. The poll found that 57% of Americans say the House impeachment managers should be able to introduce new evidence to support the two articles of impeachment.

Two other polls also show majority backing for calling witnesses. A CNN poll showed that almost seven in 10 Americans support witnesses, while a Quinnipiac poll found support for witnesses among two-thirds of Americans.

The Monmouth poll showed backing for new evidence from 87% of Democrats, 56% of independents and 24% of Republicans. Support for removing Trump from office remains split, with 49% saying he should be removed and 48% saying he should not be removed.

“The process has now moved on to the Senate and there are some new revelations, but public opinion on impeachment and Trump’s overall performance has shifted only slightly,” said Patrick Murray, director of the Monmouth University Polling Institute. -- Daniel Flatley

Schiff Says Rules Would Lead to Rigged Trial (10:52 a.m.)

Lead House trial manager Adam Schiff said the procedures proposed by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell would set the stage for a coverup instead of a fair trial.

“This is not a process for a fair trial,” Schiff told reporters a few hours before the trial is scheduled to begin. “This is a process for a rigged trial.”

Schiff, the Intelligence Committee chairman, said the plan for House prosecutors to present 24 hours of arguments over only two days means that the sessions would go late into the night.

“There is a wealth of evidence to present here,” Schiff said. “Is this about hiding the evidence from the American people with late-night sessions?”

House Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler said that in any ordinary court trial, both sides would be allowed to present all their evidence, while in Trump’s trial the Senate will decide whether to hear witnesses at all.

“Do the Republican senators want to be complicit in the coverup of the president?” Nadler said, adding that the president’s defenders are “afraid of what the witnesses will say.” -- Billy House

House Team Says Cipollone Is ‘Fact Witness’ (9:25 a.m.)

The House impeachment managers on Tuesday declared in a letter that Trump’s lead defense lawyer in his Senate impeachment trial is himself a “fact witness” who must turn over evidence, and whose trial involvement raises ethical questions.

The seven managers argued evidence gathered as part of the impeachment inquiry in the House indicates that White House counsel Pat Cipollone witnessed numerous critical events related to the president’s actions, and remains deeply involved in actions implementing Trump’s alleged directive to obstruct the House’s impeachment inquiry.

“You must disclose all facts and information as to which you have first-hand knowledge that will be at issue in connection with evidence you present or arguments you make in your role as the president’s legal advocate so that the Senate and chief justice can be apprised of any potential ethical issues, conflicts, or biases,” they wrote.

“These risks are so serious that they can require a lawyer’s disqualification,” the managers added. Most importantly “when one individual assumes the role of both advocate and witness it may so blur the line between argument and evidence that the [factfinder’s] ability to find facts is undermined.”

The characterization by the House managers of Cipollone as a “fact witness”appears to be designed, in part, to deflect some Republican calls for House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff to appear as a witness to testify about any of his or his committee’s first-hand dealings with the whistle-blower who initially brought Trump’s Ukraine dealings to the attention of Congress. -- Billy House

Pelosi Says McConnell Lied About Trial Rules (8:43 a.m.)

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said the American public now knows why Mitch McConnell has been “hiding his resolution” for rules in the impeachment trial.

“The Senate GOP Leader has chosen a cover-up for the President, rather than honor his oath to the Constitution,” Pelosi said in her first statement on McConnell’s resolution, which was made public Monday.

Calling McConnell’s rules a “plan for a dark of night impeachment trial,” Pelosi slammed his plan to bar admitting the House record into evidence in the Senate trial and said the proposal doesn’t adhere to the rules used during the impeachment trial of Bill Clinton.

“The public now knows why Leader McConnell has been hiding his resolution: the Clinton comparison was a lie,” Pelosi said. “Clearly and sadly, Leader McConnell has misled the American people. For weeks, he has insisted that he will adhere to the rules used during the Clinton impeachment trial and that ‘fair is fair’ -- but his proposal rejects the need for witnesses and documents during the trial itself.”

In contrast, she said the Clinton trial included deposed witnesses and the President provided more than 90,000 documents.

Schumer to Push Votes on Witnesses, Evidence (8:05 a.m.)

Senate Democrats will force votes on the ability to call witnesses and include documents in the impeachment trial, Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said Tuesday.

“We will have votes on witnesses, we will have votes on documents and we will have some votes to try and undo some of the most egregious things” that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell laid out in his rules for the chamber’s handling of impeachment, Schumer told MSNBC.

McConnell’s impeachment resolution, released Monday, gives House managers and Trump’s defense 24 hours of floor time each to make their arguments, but it limits them to just two days each, instead of the three allowed in Bill Clinton’s 1999 impeachment trial.

Neither side will be allowed to call witnesses or seek documents under the proposed rules unless a majority of the Senate votes to allow such motions after the opening phase of the trial, which includes up to 16 hours of senators’ questions. The trial is set to begin Tuesday and the rules need to be approved by a majority of the Senate.

McConnell’s approach creates a trial that is “rushed” and “rigged,” Schumer said in the interview. “We can have votes before this awful resolution -- this resolution that I have called a national disgrace -- is enacted.” -- Kathleen Miller

Trump’s Historic Senate Trial Begins Today (6 a.m.)

The Senate trial is scheduled to begin at 1 p.m. Washington time, and the first day will be spent debating Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s proposed rules for the proceedings, followed by a series of public votes on many expected Democratic amendments.

The rules for the impeachment trial that McConnell is proposing would allow just two calendar days and 24 floor hours each for the House and Trump’s defense to make their case, a compressed schedule that accelerates the timetable for a trial Republicans intend to end in a quick acquittal.

Neither side will be allowed to call witnesses or seek documents unless a majority of the Senate votes to allow such motions after the opening phase of the trial. The proposed rules resolution wouldn’t prevent Trump’s team from swiftly moving to dismiss the case, though many GOP senators have said they at least want to hear arguments.

Democrats have said they plan to offer numerous amendments, including proposals to subpoena witnesses and documents Trump has blocked from Congress. -- Laura Litvan and Steven T. Dennis

Catch Up on Impeachment Coverage

McConnell Plans Compressed Timeline for Trump Impeachment Trial

Trump Impeachment Defense Remains Work in Progress Near Trial

Key Events

Trump chose celebrity lawyers Alan Dershowitz and Ken Starr, both seasoned by some of the most high-profile legal cases of the past half century, to join his legal team.The House impeachment resolution is H.Res. 755. The Intelligence Committee Democrats’ impeachment report is here. Here is House Democrats’ web page containing documents related to the impeachment trial.Gordon Sondland’s transcript is here and here; Kurt Volker’s transcript is here and here. Former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch’s transcript is here and here; the transcript of Michael McKinley, former senior adviser to the secretary of State, is here. The transcript of David Holmes, a Foreign Service officer at the U.S. Embassy in Kyiv, is here.The transcript of William Taylor, the top U.S. envoy to Ukraine, is here and here. State Department official George Kent’s testimony is here and here. Testimony by Alexander Vindman can be found here, and the Fiona Hill transcript is here. Laura Cooper’s transcript is here; Christopher Anderson’s is here and Catherine Croft’s is here. Jennifer Williams’ transcript is here and Timothy Morrison’s is here. The Philip Reeker transcript is here. Mark Sandy’s is here.

--With assistance from Laura Davison, Billy House, Kathleen Miller, Daniel Flatley, Emily Wilkins, Laura Litvan and John Harney.

To contact the reporter on this story: Steven T. Dennis in Washington at sdennis17@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Joe Sobczyk at jsobczyk@bloomberg.net, Laurie Asséo, Anna Edgerton

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