US President Donald Trump’s impeachment defence team kicked off their first day of opening arguments on Saturday following three days of presentations by the Democrats making the case against the president.
The day is expected to be shorter than the previous four days, with Trump’s team saying Saturday will act as a “preview” to its line of defence.
Democrats from the House of Representatives gave 24 hours of arguments over three days. Trump’s team will have the same amount of time.
As Trump’s defence team takes the podium, here are all the latest updates as of Saturday, January 25:
Sunday talk shows. Although there is no Senate session scheduled for Sunday, expect the president’s defenders and critics to appear on Sunday political talk shows in the United States to continue to make their cases.
On Monday, Trump’s defence team will continue their opening arguments.
Trump’s defence team took about two hours to deliver their first day of opening arguments.
They will be back at it on Monday.
As Trump’s team took to the podium to mount its defence, #AmericansWantWitnesses trended on Twitter.
The important question mark still on the trial is whether witnesses will be called.
Democrats want to hear from at least four people, including former Trump National Security Advisor John Bolton and acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney.
Republicans say Democrats should have called those witnesses during the impeachment investigation.
A poll from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research suggested the public slightly more likely to say the Senate should convict and remove Trump from office than to say it should not, 45 percent to 40 percent. But a sizable percentage, 14 percent, said they did not know enough to have an opinion.
— Alyssa Milano (@Alyssa_Milano) January 25, 2020
#AmericansWantWitnesses and Trump should want them too if he's innocent.
— Mrs. Krassenstein (@HKrassenstein) January 25, 2020
From the White House, Trump turned to his favourite social media platform as the defence team took the podium.
He tweeted that his team was making his case “against lyin’, cheatin’, liddle’ Adam “Shifty” Schiff, Cryin’ Chuck Schumer, Nervous Nancy Pelosi” and others of “the Radical Left”.
Our case against lyin’, cheatin’, liddle’ Adam “Shifty” Schiff, Cryin’ Chuck Schumer, Nervous Nancy Pelosi, their leader, dumb as a rock AOC, & the entire Radical Left, Do Nothing Democrat Party, starts today at 10:00 A.M. on @FoxNews, @OANN or Fake News @CNN or Fake News MSDNC!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 25, 2020
In his opening arguments, Trump defence team lead Pat Cipollone said the president’s team was not allowed to participate in the House’s impeachment inquiry, despite House Democrats making a formal offer to the White House to be present during the House’s hearings.
As expected, Trump’s defence team went after lead House manager Adam Schiff over his interpretation of the Trump phone call with the Ukrainian president.
Trump railed against Schiff after the House Democrat talked about the call during impeachment hearings before the House Intelligence Committee.
Trump’s team continued that line of defence on Saturday.
“We can shrug it off and say we were making light or a joke, but that was in a hearing in the United States House of Representatives discussing the removal of the President of the United States from office,” said defence lawyer Mike Purpura.
An associate of Rudy Giuliani has provided congressional investigators with a recording of Trump saying he wanted to get rid of the US ambassador to Ukraine, whose removal emerged as an issue in the president’s impeachment, his attorney told The Associated Press on Friday.
The Giuliani associate, Lev Parnas, attended a small dinner with Trump at his Washington, DC, hotel in April 2018. Joseph Bondy, Parnas’s lawyer, said he turned over to the House Intelligence Committee a recording from the dinner in which Trump demands the removal of Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch.
The recording, which was first reported by ABC News, appears to contradict the president’s statements that he did not know Parnas, a key figure in the investigation. It came to light as Democrats continue to press for witnesses and other evidence to be considered during the Senate impeachment trial.
ABC News released a portion of the recording online late Friday. A voice that appears to be Parnas can be heard saying, “The biggest problem there, I think where we need to start is we got to get rid of the ambassador.” He later can be heard telling Trump, “She’s basically walking around telling everybody: ‘Wait, he’s gonna get impeached. Just wait.'”
A speaker who appears to be Trump then responds: “Get rid of her! Get her out tomorrow. I don’t care. Get her out tomorrow. Take her out. OK? Do it.”
Harrowing #TrumpTapes reveal just how close @potus Trump and #LevRemembers Parnas have been and the vile attacks on career diplomat Ambassador Marie Yavonovich are all the more reason #AmericansWantWitnesses at the impeachment trial!
— Christine Pelosi (@sfpelosi) January 25, 2020
Trump’s defence team is expected to argue that the president did nothing wrong. They will also focus on Joe and Hunter Biden, the Ukrainian gas company and Burisma, and executive privilege.
Lead lawyer Pat Cipollone opened his remarks by saying House Democrats did not meet “their burden for what they’re asking you to do”.
“You’ve heard the House managers speak for nearly 24 hours over three days. We don’t anticipate using that much time. We don’t believe that they have come anywhere close to meeting their burden for what they’re asking you to do,” he said.
Opening arguments have started, with Trump’s lawyer Pat Cipollone telling the Senate his team expects to go two-three hours on Saturday.
Trump’s defence team will likely begin their arguments on Saturday.
Like the House managers, they will be given 24 hours over three days to lay out their defence.
Read more about the key players in the trial here.
The House of Representatives appointed seven Democrats to make their case against Trump, which they will conclude on Friday. They were granted 24 hours over three days to lay it all out.
Read more about them here.