Daily updates: Senate prepares for final vote on articles of impeachment


Provided by Nikolas Liepins / The Rubicon with the NSPA Campaign 2020 Photo Exchange project

President Donald J. Trump addresses the crowd at Target Center in Minneapolis, MN, for his 2020 presidential campaign rally on Oct. 10, 2019. Trump’s Senate impeachment trial began today.

by Kathy Fang, Arushi Saxena, and Varsha Rammohan

As the Senate proceeds with the historic impeachment trial of President Donald J. Trump, this article will be updated with the latest news. Check Harker Aquila for more updates.

Feb. 5

President Donald Trump was acquitted today of abuse of power and obstruction of congress, officially marking the end of a historic impeachment trial.

In order to impeach Trump, the U.S. Senate had to meet the threshold of 67 votes, but neither article of impeachment came close. The “abuse of power” article was defeated 48 to 52, and obstruction of Congress was defeated 47 to 53. Senator Mitt Romney (R.-U.T.) was the only senator to break with party lines by voting in favor of the abuse of power charge.

White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham said in a briefing statement, “The President is pleased to put this latest chapter of shameful behavior by the Democrats in the past, and looks forward to continuing his work on behalf of the American people in 2020 and beyond.”

The vote to not convict Trump signifies a victory for him and the Republican Party after more than five months of political scandal surrounding the President’s alleged quid-pro-quo relationship with Ukraine.

Jan. 31

The Senate agreed to hold a final vote on the articles of impeachment next Wednesday at 1 p.m., with a high likelihood that Trump will be acquitted.

The agreement came after the Senate rejected a measure to hear from additional witnesses, making this trial the first in U.S. history without witnesses. The 51-49 vote fell largely along party lines, with Mitt Romney (R.-U.T.) and Susan Collins (R.-Maine) joining the other 47 Democrats, who voted for more witnesses.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R.-K.Y.) and Trump discouraged additional testimony from former national security adviser John Bolton. Additional witnesses would lengthen the trial and increase the possibility of increasing incriminating evidence against the president being found.

“If the president is acquitted with no witnesses and no documents, the acquittal will have no value because Americans will know that this trial was not a real trial,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D.-N.Y.) said to reporters after the trial. “It is a tragedy on a very large scale.”

The impeachment trial will resume on Monday with closing arguments. Senators will have until Wednesday to offer speeches.

Jan. 29-30

The senate impeachment court began the question and answer period of the trial on Wednesday, allowing senators from both sides of the aisle to question the House managers and President Donald J. Trump’s defense team.

Among the questions asked were inquiries from both sides of the Senate about the inclusion of witnesses and other unreleased evidence in the trial, the existence of a direct quid pro quo link and the powers of the president.

Senators were given 8 hours on Wednesday and an additional 8 hours yesterday to ask questions. 

Tomorrow, the Senate will vote on witnesses, transitioning into the next stage of the trial. After the conclusion of today’s questioning period, Sen. Lamar Alexander (R.-Tenn.), a key swing vote on the matter of calling witnesses to the trial, released a statement announcing that he will not be voting to include additional witnesses and evidence in the Senate trial.

“I worked with other senators to make sure that we have the right to ask for more documents and witnesses, but there is no need for more evidence to prove something that has already been proven and that does not meet the United States Constitution’s high bar for an impeachable offense,” he wrote in the statement.

Another key swing vote in the Senate, Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R.-Alaska), hinted at her witness vote when she asked a question regarding the inclusion of former national security adviser John Bolton’s manuscript as testimony.

“The reporting on Ambassador Bolton’s book suggests the president told Bolton directly that the aid would not be released until Ukraine announced the investigations the president desired. This dispute about material facts weighs in favor of calling additional witnesses with direct knowledge. Why should this body not call Ambassador Bolton?” Murkowski asked the House managers and the president’s defense team.

The Senate will convene at 1 p.m. today and vote on the inclusion of additional witnesses this afternoon.

Jan. 28

President Donald Trump’s team of lawyers finished presenting his defense on Tuesday, the last of three days given to them to make their case in the Senate.

On this third day, the testimony of former national security adviser John Bolton was a central topic. The recent announcement of Bolton’s upcoming manuscript has led to tensions in the GOP. 

GOP Senator Mitt Romney (R.-UT.)  voiced his support for Bolton’s testimony, implying that a look at the manuscript from Bolton’s upcoming book would not be sufficient in response to a question. Senator Susan Collins (R.-ME.) concurred with Romney’s statement, requesting in-person testimony from Bolton as well. GOP Senators floated the idea of classified access to Bolton’s drafts, but Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D.-N.Y.) rejected the plan later in the day, calling it an “absurd proposal.”

Following a discussion about Bolton’s involvement in the trial, Trump’s team began their closing arguments. Lead lawyer Pat Cipholone asked senators to “respect and defend the sacred right of every American to vote and to choose their president.”

This last day of arguments will be followed by 16 hours of questioning by both Democratic and Republican senators.

Jan. 27

The impeachment trial continued its proceedings today as much of the spotlight revolved around last night’s report from the New York Times that President Trump allegedly ordered former national security adviser John Bolton to freeze Ukrainian military aid in order to secure political favors. 

The Times credited the information to Bolton’s unpublished manuscript, which he propagated in the recent weeks. Criminal defense attorney Alan Dershowitz argued that Bolton’s statements are insufficient grounds to be considered an impeachable offense.

“Let me repeat, nothing in the Bolton revelations, even if true would rise to the level of an abusive power or an impeachable offense,” Dershowitz said in his testimony. “That is clear from the history, that is clear from the language of the constitution, you cannot turn conduct that is not impeachable into impeachable conduct simply by using words like quid pro quo and personal benefit.”

Despite calls to invalidate the manuscript, Senator Mitt Romney (R-U.T.) repeated demands for Bolton to testify, and Senator Lindsey Graham (R.-S.C.) expressed wishes to bring the report to the Senate floor.

“Whether there are other witnesses and documents, why that’s another matter, but I think John Bolton’s relevance to our decision has become as become increasingly clear,” Romney said to reporters before the trial.

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

Jan. 25

The impeachment trial of President Donald J. Trump continues with the beginning of the defense presentation, in which Trump’s lawyers argued against the House impeachment case.

Lawyers Pat Cipollone, Patrick Philbin, Jay Sekulow and Michael Purpura delivered the opening argument today, arguing against the House managers’ case for impeachment and laying out the case for Trump’s acquittal. The president’s lawyers referred often to the evidence that the House managers brought up in their presentation as well as the evidence that the managers did not bring up in their presentation.

In particular, the president’s defense team argued that elections decide the presidency

“The American people decide elections. They have one coming up in nine months. So we will be very efficient. We will begin our presentation today. We will show you a lot of evidence that they should have showed you and we will finish efficiently and quickly so that we can all go have an election,” Cipollone said in his opening argument speech.

After using 1 hour and 54 minutes of their allotted 24 hours, the president’s defense team will continue presenting their argument to the Senate on Monday at 1 p.m.

Jan. 24

Democrats presented their case for the impeachment of President Donald J. Trump in the last of their three allocated days before the Senate on Friday, laying out arguments in support of the second article of impeachment, obstruction of Congress.

Members of Congress convened on the Senate floor, as House managers closed out their case in the 7 hours and 52 minutes left in their allocated 24 hours. Rep. Adam Schiff (D.-Calif.) began the presentation, opening with a brief history of why the framers included impeachment in the Constitution. He then recapped the specifics of the case against Trump, using clips of remarks from the President and footage from House impeachment inquiry hearings to back up his arguments. 

Six other managers continued Schiff’s argument throughout the day. Urging Republican Senators to allow additional evidence and witnesses in the trial, they referenced Hunter Biden, former Vice President Joe Biden’s son, with Democrats emphasizing how he went after the Ukrainian prosecutor for ignoring corruption. Republicans have said that they are willing to hear from the Democrats’ new witnesses, such as former national security adviser John Bolton, only if they can hear testimony from Biden, whose position on the board of a Ukrainian national gas company sparked GOP controversy. 

Democrats then used Trump’s allies’ testimonies against him, playing an old clip of Senator Lindsey Graham (R.-S.C.) from former President Bill Clinton’s impeachment trial, when he said impeachment can be justified even without a criminal offense. They also reiterated how Trump violated public trust and is working for himself, rather than the country. 

Schiff closed the day reading a transcript of President Trump’s call with Russian President President Volodymyr Zelensky verbatim. The call is the source of criticism which sparked calls for Trump’s impeachment, in which he requests the foreign leader to contact US Attorney General William Barr and his personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, to undertake two separate investigations. 

Trump’s team began making their case yesterday, in the first of three days they will receive to prove why Trump should not be impeached.

Jan. 23

The House impeachment managers continued their case regarding the impeachment of President Donald J. Trump before the Senate today, reviewing in detail the first article, abuse of power.

Rep. Jerry Nadler (D.-N.Y.), one of the managers, outlined the agenda of the House’s presentation. With 16 hours and 42 minutes left to present their case at the start of today’s Senate meeting, the House managers will examine the two articles of impeachment, abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, one by one. 

Today, Nadler and the other six House managers provided their case for the first article of impeachment, abuse of power, analyzing the legal terms of Trump’s alleged quid pro quo with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. Throughout the meeting, House managers played clips of testimonies from the House impeachment inquiry and provided interpretations of the U.S. Constitution to supplement their case.

“Convening in the shadow of rebellion and revolution, the framers would not deny the nation an escape from presidents who deemed themselves above the law. Instead, they adopted the power of impeachment,” Nadler said in his argument speech today.

House managers continued pressuring the White House to release classified documents to be considered as evidence for the impeachment trial. Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D.-Calif.), who has worked on three impeachments in total, brought up a phone call between Vice President Mike Pence and Zelensky on Sept. 18 and called for the White House to declassify the transcript, which has been submitted to the senators on the impeachment court.

“Again, in case the White House needs a reminder, it’s improper to keep something classified just to avoid embarrassment or to conceal wrongdoing,” Lofgren said in her argument speech.

The House managers have 7 hours and 16 minutes left to present their case to the Senate court tomorrow. Afterwards, the president’s legal team will provide the defense case, which will span 24 hours over the course of three days.

Jan. 22

The U.S. Senate convened for the second day of President Donald J. Trump’s impeachment trial, the first of three days allocated to the House managers to make their case. After the managers present their case, Trump’s team will receive three days as well, with both groups receiving 24 hours over the course of their allocated three days to present their sides. 

This afternoon, Rep. Adam Schiff (D.-Calif.), one of the impeachment managers, began with opening arguments. Reviewing the charges against Trump, Schiff cited the President’s foreign interference to “improve his reelection prospects at home.” He also mentioned the second charge, Trump’s alleged obstruction of the investigation into his misconduct.

After a recap of both the charges and Trump’s call with Ukranian President Volodymyr Zelensky, Schiff began presenting the U.S. House of Representatives’ case against Trump. He challenged the Senate to demand witnesses and documents thus far denied by the Trump administration, such as former national security adviser John Bolton.

Next, the House managers accused Trump of using his power “to cheat” in the election. After Schiff laid out his part of the testimony, he was followed by Jerry Nadler (D.-N.Y.), Sylvia Garcia (D.-TX.), Jason Crow (D.-WI.), Val Demings (D.-FL.), Hakeem Jeffries (D.-N.Y.) and Zoe Lofgren (D.-Calif) who each continued the House Presentation. Schiff then resumed the mic at the end, delivering his closing statement at 9:42 p.m. before adjourning for the day. 

Prior to adjourning, Schiff made the case for allowing new evidence within the case. He closed Tuesday’s session with arguments to Chief Justice John Roberts, who today ruled that a single page of classified supplement testimony from an aide to Vice President Mike Pence would be admitted into the record. This document is currently private, only viewable by the 100 Senators in a closed setting. The Democrats will continue to lay out evidence over the next two days.

Jan. 21

The U.S. Senate convened for the first day of President Donald J. Trump’s impeachment trial, debating procedural guidelines for the trial.

The U.S. House of Representatives passed the impeachment vote on Dec. 18, with two articles: abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. The impeachment proceedings have since passed into the Senate, who is responsible for putting the president on trial. Chief Justice John Roberts will preside over the Senate impeachment trial.

This morning, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R.-Ala.) sent the organizing resolution that sets the rules for the Senate impeachment trial. In his final draft of the resolution, McConnell does not allow for either the president or the House impeachment managers to subpoena witnesses. McConnell did notably change his original stance by allowing both the House managers and the president’s team 24 hours over three days, rather than two days, each to present their cases.

In response to this resolution, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer’s (D.-N.Y.) put forth eight amendments, which called for the subpoenas of various top White House officials, such as acting White House Chief of Staff John Michael “Mick” Mulvaney, and other state documents. The Senate debated on seven of these amendments over the course of 11 hours, ultimately voting 53-47 to table seven of the eight along party lines, with the eighth amendment, which calls for the subpoena of former national security advisor John Bolton, still pending.

The Senate debate over the trial’s rules will continue tomorrow.

Prior to the Senate’s meeting today, both the House managers and Trump’s legal team filed their formal trial memorandums to the Senate. In the House brief, the managers’ declared that “President Trump’s abuse of power requires his conviction and removal from office,” providing evidence and arguments in favor of the two articles of impeachment, which are abuse of power and obstruction of congress.

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D.-Calif.) appointed the House impeachment managers and sent the articles of impeachment to the Senate on Jan. 15, nearly a month after the president was formally impeached by the House. The House managers are Adam Schiff (D.-Calif.), Jerry Nadler (D.-N.Y.), Zoe Lofgren (D.-Calif), Hakeem Jeffries (D.-N.Y.), Val Demings (D.-Fla.), Jason Crow (D.-Colo.) and Congresswoman Sylvia Garcia (D.-Texas).