rarrarorro/iStock(WASHINGTON) — Trump legal team wraps opening arguments at Senate impeachment trial
Schumer rejects GOP talk of letting senators see Bolton manuscript before deciding whether he should testify
In next phase, senators will submit written questions to both sides
President Donald Trump’s impeachment defense team on Tuesday heads into their final day of opening arguments as questions over whether senators will hear new witnesses at the trial remain up in the air.
Trump’s lawyers are expected to finish making their case on the Senate floor by late afternoon.
The next phase of the trial — in which senators will submit questions to both sides for up to 16 hours — is expected to begin Wednesday, according to White House sources and Senate aides. After that, a key point in the trial — a Senate vote on whether to consider new witnesses and other evidence — could come as early as Friday.
Republicans faced new pressure to add witnesses following newly reported revelations from the New York Times that former National Security Adviser John Bolton claims Trump told him he wanted help from Ukraine to investigate Democrats and would withhold their military aid to get cooperation.
But in a twist late Monday, Oklahoma Republican James Lankford suggested that senators could review the unpublished manuscript of Bolton’s forthcoming book. In a video posted to Facebook Monday, after Republicans spent the day largely dodging questions of whether to accept new witnesses, Lankford called Bolton’s information “pertinent” to the trial.
“If John Bolton’s got something to say, there’s plenty of microphones all over the country that he should step forward and start talking about it right now,” Lankford said.
Sen. Lindsey Graham, a staunch ally of President Trump, said he agrees that the draft manuscript of Bolton’s forthcoming book be made available to senators, but in a classified setting.
Here is how the day is unfolding. Please refresh for updates.
1:08 p.m. White House lawyer echoes Dershowitz argument
Tuesday’s trial session gets underway with White House deputy counsel Patrick Philbin saying he wants to elaborate on arguments made last night by former Harvard Law School professor Alan Dershowitz. He argued that a president cannot be impeached for “abuse of power” and “obstruction of Congress” because the language is too vague — that the Constitution requires a crime or something like a crime.
Philbin also asks, “How do we tell what an illicit motive is? How do we get inside the president’s head?” regarding what he says are Trump’s lawful actions on their face.
12:31 p.m. GOP’s Murkowski signals she’s increasingly open to hearing Bolton
GOP moderate Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska is signaling that she is increasingly likely to support hearing from John Bolton. Asked if she wants to read his manuscript, she says, “I think that Bolton probably has something to offer us. So we’ll figure out how we’re going to learn more,” she said, before hopping into an elevator.
12:04 p.m. GOP’s Lankford says seeing manuscript will help senators decides whether to call Bolton
GOP Sen. James Lankford, who late Monday floated the idea of reviewing Bolton’s manuscript, tells CNN the review is necessary before senators can decide whether to call him as a witness.
“This at least allows people to reach a decision based on facts that they can actually read in the manuscript,” Lankford says.
The National Security Council, which is based at the White House, has held Bolton’s manuscript since he submitted it for a standard review process last month, according to a Bolton representative and an NSC spokesperson.
11:16 a.m. Romney says hearing witnesses from both sides ‘has some merit’
Sen. Mitt Romney, one of the key moderates Democrats hope will support new testimony, again appears open to new testimony. But he goes further on Tuesday, suggesting he’s just as open to hearing from other witnesses called by Trump’s defense team.
“I’d like to hear from John Bolton and I think the idea that’s been expressed in the media about having each side be able to choose a witness or maybe more than one witness on a paired basis, it has some merit,” Romney tells reporters.
Some Republicans and Democrats have reportedly considered calling former Vice President Joe Biden to the Senate floor in exchange for senior officials with closer connections to the President.
But Democratic senators have publicly rejected the idea, insisting the accusations that the Bidens engaged in Ukraine-related corruption are baseless distractions.
11:13 a.m. Schumer says Bolton must testify so senators can decide whether he or Trump is telling the truth
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer makes another argument for witnesses before Trump’s impeachment trial convenes at 1 p.m.
He notes that with the president’s denial of John Bolton’s allegation on Monday, the two are telling opposing stories and says, since Trump won’t testify, senators need to hear from Bolton to decide who’s telling the truth.
He says it’s “on the shoulders of four Republican senators” to make sure Bolton, acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney and two other administration officials testify, referring to GOP Sens. Mitt Romney, Susan Collins, Lisa Murkowski and Lamar Alexander.
He also called the GOP talk of having senators read the Bolton manuscript in a secure setting is an “absurd proposal.”
“Nothing is a substitute for a witness testifying under oath,” Schumer says.
“We’re not bargaining with them,” Schumer says of Republican talk of having Hunter Biden testify in exchange for Bolton appearing.
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