US President Donald Trump’s impeachment defence team started its second day of arguments on Monday, following three days of presentations by the Democrats making the case against the president.
On Saturday, Trump’s defence team offered only a “preview” to its line of defence, apparently responding to the ratings-minded president’s complaints that the first day of the United States weekend is the “Death Valley” of television viewing.
In just two hours of arguments, Trump’s lawyers maintained that Democratic House of Representative managers prosecuting the case had not presented a full picture to senators while framing the impeachment as an attempt to undermine US democracy.
The seven Democrat House managers had previously been given 24 hours of arguments over three days to make their case. Trump’s team will have the same amount of time.
As Trump’s defence team prepares for what is expected to be a much longer second day of proceedings, here are all the latest updates as of Monday, January 27:
Senate adjourns for the day
Things will pick back up on Monday at 1pm local time (18:00GMT).
Dershowitz: Nothing in Bolton manuscript ‘would rise to the level of abuse of power’
Constitutional lawyer Alan Dershowitz, a member of Trump’s defence team, said former White House National Security Advisor John Bolton’s accusations would not rise to the level of an impeachable offence.
His comments came after Trump’s defence team largely ignored the weekend revelations about Bolton’s book in which he reportedly wrote that Trump had told him that he wanted to continue to withhold congressionally approved military aid from Ukraine until officials from the country agreed to help with investigations of his Democratic political rival Joe Biden and his son Hunter.
“If a president, any president, were to have done what the Times reported about the content of the Bolton manuscript, that would not constitute an impeachable offence. Let me repeat: Nothing in the Bolton revelations – even if true – would rise to the level of an abuse of power or an impeachable offence,” Dershowitz said during opening arguments on Monday.
Senate resumes session after dinner
Trump’s defence team says they have two more presentations: one from former independent counsel Robert Ray and the final one of the evening by constitutional lawyer Alan Dershowitz.
‘This is stunning’: Quotes from Day 7 of Trump’s impeachment trial
A New York Times newspaper report that former National Security Advisor John Bolton has written in an unpublished book manuscript that Trump told him he wanted to freeze security aid to Ukraine until Kyiv helped with politically beneficial investigations prompted fresh calls by Democrats for Bolton and other witnesses to testify at the trial.
Here are the top 10 quotes of the day:
President Donald Trump
“I haven’t seen the manuscript, but I can tell you nothing was ever said to John Bolton.”
Republican Senator Mitt Romney
“I think it’s increasingly likely that other Republicans will join those of us who think we should hear from John Bolton.”
Republican Senator Susan Collins
“The reports about John Bolton’s book strengthen the case for witnesses and have prompted a number of conversations among my colleagues.”
Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer
“This is stunning. It goes right to the heart of the charges against the president.”
“Ambassador Bolton essentially confirms the president committed the offences charged in the first article of impeachment.”
House Manager Adam Schiff
“It completely blasts another hole in the president’s defence.”
“This would be another witness that would corroborate in very direct terms, if this report is accurate, that the president told him unequivocally he was holding up the money until Ukraine did these investigations.”
Trump lawyer Jay Sekulow
“It is our position, as the president’s counsel, that the president was at all times acting under his constitutional authority, under his legal authority, in our national interest and pursuant to his oath of office.”
Republican Senator Lindsey Graham
“If there is a desire and decision by the Senate to call Democratic witnesses, then at a minimum the Senate should allow President @realDonaldTrump to call all relevant witnesses he has requested.”
If there is a desire and decision by the Senate to call Democratic witnesses, then at a minimum the Senate should allow President @realDonaldTrump to call all relevant witnesses he has requested.
— Lindsey Graham (@LindseyGrahamSC) January 27, 2020
Republican Representative Mark Meadows
“We’re talking about an unpublished manuscript that only ‘anonymous sources’ have seen, leaked by someone at the 11th hour, just as Democrats are losing what little impeachment momentum they had left. We’ve seen this playbook used before. Americans won’t buy it.”
Democratic Senator Richard Blumenthal
“They are fast losing any shred of credibility by essentially ignoring the need for the evidence from John Bolton and others who have first-hand knowledge. They say there isn’t enough evidence. But they’re trying to stop it from coming before the Senate.”
Democratic Presidential Candidate Joe Biden
“Let’s remember one thing: why the man’s on trial. He’s afraid to run against me.”
Trump team targets Bidens
Democratic senators were visibly uncomfortable during the presentation by Trump’s lawyers detailing an appearance of a conflict of interest in Hunter Biden’s paid position on the Burisma board.
Senator Bernie Sanders, a contender for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, rubbed his temples beneath his eyeglasses, his face flushed and red. Other Democrats sat with arms crossed, frowns upon their faces. Some held their heads in their hand and looked downward at the floor as Trump’s lawyers spoke.
Staff lawyers for the House managers passed hurriedly scribbled notes to each other.
The son of former Vice President Biden was paid an estimated $3m over three years to be on the Burisma board, Trump’s defence claims.
“All we are saying is that there was a basis” for President Trump “to raise the issue” with Ukraine President Zelenskyy, argued Pam Bondi, a former Florida Attorney General and member of Trump’s team.
There has been no evidence of wrongdoing by the Bidens.
House Intelligence Committee challenges claims it never sought Giuliani testimony
The House Intelligence Committee, a tweet, challenged a claim from Trump’s defence team that they never sought testimony of the president’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani.
White House Claim: The House never subpoenaed Rudy Giuliani, therefore he is not central to the Ukraine scheme.
— House Intelligence Committee (@HouseIntel) January 27, 2020
Trump lawyer Jane Raskin: Focus on Giuliani meant to distract from lack of evidence
Trump Lawyer Jane Raskin argued on Monday that House Democrats focused their inquiry on Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani “to distract from the fact that the evidence does not support their claims”.
She described Giuliani as”colourful” and “controversial” as well as an expert in fighting corruption during her arguments. She said Giuliani’s role had been overblown by Democrats and was based on “presumptions, assumptions, and unfair conclusions”.
Schumer: Bolton revelation ‘a little bit’ like Watergate
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer characterised new information reportedly detailed in the draft of a book by John Bolton as “a little bit like Watergate” – referring to the scandal that took down former President Richard Nixon.
“It’s a little bit in this case like Watergate,” said Schumer, in that “in that every week more evidence comes out …The average American is saying, why don’t they want witnesses and documents? … Why is [the president] so afraid of having witnesses and documents?”
Senator King predicts five to 10 Republicans will vote for witnesses: report
Senator Angus King, one of two independent Senators in the chamber, has said he thinks five to 10 Republicans could vote to allow more witnesses in the trial.
“I’m already hearing a number of Republicans who are moving toward voting to at least hear from John Bolton, if not other witnesses,” he told National Public Radio.
Responding to whether four Republicans would vote to hear from witnesses, King said: “I think there’ll be more. My bold prediction will be five or 10.”
Bolton, publisher and literary agency deny coordination with New York Times
Former National Security Advisor John Bolton, publisher Simon and Schuster and Javelin Literary agency have denied leaking a draft of the former White House official’s new book to the New York Times, according to media reports.
The statement further denied that the information was leaked to garner excitement for the upcoming book, The Room Where it Happened: A White House Memoir.
Hillary Clinton urges Americans to call Republican Senators
Former secretary of state and presidential candidate Hillary Clinton urged Americans to call their Republican Senators.
“A trial that doesn’t allow testimony from material witnesses isn’t a trial at all. It’s a cover-up,” Clinton tweeted on Monday as the seventh day of the impeachment trial began.
“Your Republican senators need to hear from you today,” she added, with the telephone number for the Senate switchboard.
A trial that doesn't allow testimony from material witnesses isn't a trial at all. It's a cover-up.
Your Republican senators need to hear from you today. (202) 224-3121https://t.co/38CGlIXM4G
— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) January 27, 2020
Trump says he has not read Bolton manuscript
President Donald Trump charged the report that he told former Security Advisor John Bolton about wanting to continue to withhold aid from Ukraine until they help with investigations into political rivals were “false”.
He told reporters he had not read Bolton’s draft of his upcoming book, which reportedly detailed the exchange. The president made the comments as he met Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday.
Starr: Nixon, Clinton impeachment involved crimes
Trump lawyer Kenneth Starr argued on Monday that the previous Presidents Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton impeachment cases involved crimes, unlike the impeachment of President Donald Trump.
The line of argument underlines a continueing debate over whether a president can abuse power without committing a crime. Democratic House managers had previously argued that a crime is not required for a president to abuse their power.
Trump lawyer Kenneth Starr: ‘We are living in the age of impeachment’
Trump’s lawyer Kenneth Starr began his arguments on Monday by portraying impeachment as an increasingly normalised and partisan endeavour, saying: “We are living in the age of impeachment”.
“Like war, impeachment is hell, or at least presidential impeachment is hell,” said Starr, who lead an investigation that resulted in the impeachment of former President Bill Clinton.
"Every time there's a policy difference of significance—or an approach difference of significance about a policy—we're going to start an impeachment proceeding?" pic.twitter.com/rPod6JYmQX
— The White House (@WhiteHouse) January 27, 2020
Trump’s defence team have framed the impeachment proceedings as a partisan attempt to overturn the 2016 US elections.
Trump lawyer Sekulow begins arguments
Trump lawyer Jay Sekulow said the defence team will continue the same line of argument they started on Saturday, by framing the proceedings as Democrats’ attempt to overturn the election.
Sekulow said the impeachment proceedings were part of a “pattern and practice of attempts over a three year period … to interfere with our constitutional framework”.
Senators, Senate chaplain wish Chief Justice John Roberts: Happy birthday
After Chaplain Barry Black gave the opening prayer for the seventh day of the impeachment trial, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell began the proceedings with a bit of levity.
“As the Chaplain has indicated happy birthday,” McConnell said to Roberts, who is constitutionally mandated to preside over the trial. “I’m sure it’s exactly how you wanted to spend the day”.
Roberts turned 65 years old on Monday.
Senate chaplain references death of Kobe Bryant, daughter Gianna
Senate chaplain Barry Black referred to basketball star Kobe Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter Gianna, who died in a helicopter crash in California on Sunday, during his opening prayer as the seventh day of the impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump.
Senators Braun, Barrasso say Bolton revelations do not change the facts
Senator Mike Braun said the President had already said: “What Bolton is contending in his book promo is not the case”.
However, he admitted that the Bolton revelations “added some fuel to the fire” and will increase the “decibel level and intensity” of the debate over whether to allow witnesses.
Bolton, in a draft of his new book provided to the White House, reportedly said Trump told him he wanted to continue to withhold aid from Ukraine until they agreed to investigate his political rivals.
Meanwhile, Senator John Barrasso said “the facts of the case stay exactly the same” and called the Bolton New York Times report “a story about selective leaks from a book you can pre-order on Amazon.com”.
Schumer: Bolton revelation goes ‘right to the heart’ of impeachment trial
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer has renewed calls for former National Security Advisor John Bolton to testify in light of new reports.
Bolton, in a draft of his new book, reportedly wrote that President Donald Trump had said he wanted to withhold military aid to Ukraine until the country agreed to help with politically motivated investigations.
“This is stunning. It goes right to the heart of the charges against the president, Ambassador Bolton essentially confirms the president committed the offences charged in the first article of impeachment,” Schumer told reporters on Monday, adding any “shred” of justification for not calling Bolton to testify had been removed.
“It boils down to one thing, we have a witness with first-hand evidence of the president’s actions for which he is on trial. He is ready and willing to testify,” Schumer said.
Murkowski: ‘Time is almost here’ to determine if Bolton testimony needed.
Moderate Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski said on Monday she is curious about what former White House National Security Advisor John Bolton has to say, following reports of his manuscript, and it is nearly time to consider whether senators weighing evidence in the impeachment trial need additional information.
“I stated before that I was curious as to what John Bolton might have to say … I’ve also said there is an appropriate time for us to evaluate whether we need additional information – that time is almost here,” Murkowski said in a statement.
Collins: ‘Case for calling witnesses’ strengthened by Bolton report
Republican Senator Susan Collins of Maine said the case for calling witnesses had been strengthened by the New York Times report on Bolton.
“The reports about John Bolton’s book strengthen the case for witnesses and have prompted a number of conversations among my colleagues,” Collins said in a statement she posted to Twitter on Monday.
My statement on Bolton developments. pic.twitter.com/3M59J7suts
— Sen. Susan Collins (@SenatorCollins) January 27, 2020
Bolton, in a draft of his new book provided to the White House, reportedly said Trump told him he wanted to continue to withhold aid from Ukraine until they agreed to investigate Democrats.
Romney: ‘Increasingly likely’ at least four senators will vote for Bolton’s testimony
Republican Senator Mitt Romney said on Monday that it was “increasingly likely” at least four Republican senators would join Democrats in calling for John Bolton, the former White House national security adviser, to testify in the Senate impeachment trial of Trump.
A simple majority is needed for such a measure to pass. Bolton had reportedly written in an unpublished manuscript that Trump had told him in August of last year that he wanted to keep withholding military aid from Ukraine until the country agreed to help investigate his Democratic rivals. Bolton has said he will testify if subpoenaed.
No White House personnel outside of National Security Council have reviewed Bolton manuscript: Spokesman
The spokesman for the National Security Council has said that no other White House personnel have reviewed a manuscript by Bolton.
In the draft of his upcoming book, Bolton reportedly recounts that Trump told him he wanted to withhold military aid to Ukraine until the country agreed to launch investigations into the president’s political rivals.
Bolton had submitted the draft to the White House for a standard review process, The New York Times reported. The review may have given insights into Bolton’s possible testimony to Trump’s defence team, the newspaper noted.
Schiff: Trump tweets intended to be a threat
The Senate impeachment trial took a break on Sunday, but tweets from the president did not.
Trump again claimed there was no evidence of wrongdoing presented by Democrats, derided those prosecuting the case against him, and claimed he never told Bolton that he was withholding military aid to Ukraine in exchange for politically motivated investigations.
In one tweet, the president said that “Shifty Adam Schiff is a CORRUPT POLITICIAN, and probably a very sick man. He has not paid the price, yet, for what he has done to our Country!”
Shifty Adam Schiff is a CORRUPT POLITICIAN, and probably a very sick man. He has not paid the price, yet, for what he has done to our Country!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 26, 2020
Asked later on NBC whether he considered the tweet as a threat, the California lawmaker – a House Democrat who is leading the impeachment team – said he thought it was “intended to be”.
Who is on Trump’s defence team?
Trump’s defence team will begin their second of three days of arguments on Monday. Read more about the key players in the trial here.
Who are the House managers?
The House of representatives designated seven Democrats to present the case against Trump, which they concluded last week.
Bolton to testify?
On Sunday, The New York Times reported that Trump said he wanted to maintain a freeze on military assistance to Ukraine until it aided political investigations into his Democratic rivals – information attributed to former national security adviser Bolton in a draft of his forthcoming book.
The report, which was later confirmed by The Associated Press news agency, challenges the defence offered up by Trump and his lawyers that the freeze in aid was related to a general fight against corruption in Ukraine.
Under the rules resolution passed at the beginning of the trial, debate on whether additional witnesses can be subpoenaed will begin after the defence finishes three days of arguments and the Senators are given 16 hours for questions. In light of revelations, that debate will be particularly lively, especially since Bolton has said he will testify if subpoenaed. Read more on what to expect this week here.
Trump tapes, new evidence?
A new recording has emerged of a 2018 meeting at the Trump International Hotel in Washington, DC that Trump had with donors, including two now-indicted associates of his personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani. The audio portion includes Trump inquiring about Ukraine and asking, “How long would they last in a fight with Russia?” He later calls for the firing of the US ambassador to Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch.
The recording contradicts the president’s statements that he didn’t know the Giuliani associates, Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman. They are key figures in the investigation who were indicted last year on campaign finance charges.
As Senators debate whether new evidence and witnesses will be allowed in the trial, the recording could take centre stage in the proceedings.
What has happened so far in the trial?
The impeachment trial of Trump began in earnest last week, after a ceremonial start on January 16 that saw the swearing-in of Chief Justice John Roberts, who is presiding over the proceedings, and the 100 members of the Senate.
On early Wednesday morning, the Senate voted along partisan lines to approve Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s rules resolution after nearly 12 hours of debate. Meanwhile, 11 amendments introduced by Democrats were blocked. Read more about that day here.
The Democratic House managers then presented their arguments for three days, followed by Trump’s defence’s first arguments on Saturday. Catch up on the live blogs from Wednesday, Thursday , Friday and Saturday.