The impeachment trial of President Donald Trump started again on Monday, with Trump’s legal counsel offering arguments for why the president should not be impeached. It follows arguments made last week by House managers led by Reps. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) and Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.).
The defense continues their opening arguments amid news of allegations from John Bolton, who was Trump’s national security adviser until he departed late last year.
Details of Bolton’s book were leaked to several news outlets on Sunday evening, which contained the claim that Trump allegedly linked hundreds of millions of dollars to investigations in Ukraine. Trump said on Monday that such claims were false.
Trump attorney Jay Sekulow said at the beginning of the proceedings regarding the allegations, “We deal with transcript evidence, we deal with publicly available information. We do not deal with speculation, allegations that are not based on evidentiary standards at all.”
9:10 p.m. – Senate Adjourns, To Resume 1:00 p.m. Tuesday
Pat Cipollone delivered closing remarks after Dershowitz wrapped up his arguments. The Senate is adjourned for the night, and McConnell announced the trial is set to resume at 1 p.m. on Tuesday.
The president’s defense team has used 8h and 27 minutes so far, and have 15h and 33 minutes remaining. The team has indicated that they will not use the total 24h available to them for their opening arguments.
8:38 p.m. – Dershowitz on ‘Abuse of Power’ and ‘Quid Pro Quo’
Dershowitz said that presidents in the past were accused of abuse of power, but were not impeached. He names several former presidents including George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, Abraham Lincoln, Ronald Reagan, and George H.W. Bush.
He later turns to the term “quid pro quo,” saying that it is not a basis for abuse of power, and that it is “part of the way foreign policy has been operated by presidents since the beginning of time.”
“The claim that foreign policy decisions can be deemed abuse of power based on subjective opinions about mixed or sole motives that the president was interested in only helping himself demonstrates the dangers of employing the vague, subjective and politically malleable phrase ‘abuse of power’ as a constitutionally permissible criteria for the removal of the president.”
He also said that “nothing in the [John Bolton] revelations, even if true, would rise to the level of an abuse of power or an impeachable offense.”
“That is clear in 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,'” he said, adding that the term “abuse of power” has been weaponized as a tool of impeachment.
7:55 p.m. – Dershowitz Takes the Floor
Harvard Law professor Alan Dershowitz takes the Senate floor and is delivering a Constitutional argument against the impeachment of President Trump.
Earlier, Robert Ray argued that Trump’s actions have not risen to a level that would qualify as an impeachable offense.
7:30 p.m. – VP Chief of Staff Releases Statement Regarding Aid to Ukraine
In an apparent reference to John Bolton’s recent allegations, Vice President Mike Pence’s chief of staff, Marc Short, released a statement to clarify the situation regarding the military aid to Ukraine.
“As a matter of policy we don’t typically share or discuss conversations between the President and Vice President, but given the journalistic fury over alleged conversations, the President has given me permission to set the record straight,” Short said in his statement.
“In every conversation with the President and the Vice President in preparation for our trip to Poland, the President consistently expressed his frustration that the United States was bearing the lion’s share of responsibility for aide to Ukraine and that European nations weren’t doing their part.
“The President also expressed concerns about corruption in Ukraine. At no time did I hear him tie aid to Ukraine to investigations into the Biden family or Burisma. As White House Counsel presented today, based upon testimony provided by Democrat witnesses in the House hearings, these were Theo only issues that the Vice President with Ukraine officials—because that’s what the President asked him to raise.”
A recent New York Times report contained allegations that claimed Bolton was told by Trump about a link between military aid to Ukraine and investigations into Burisma or the Bidens.
7:00 p.m. – Senate Returns From Dinner
The Senate returned from dinner around 6:55 p.m. Robert Ray, a member of President Trump’s defense team, proceeds to deliver his arguments.
6:20 p.m. – Cruz: Hunter Biden is Potentially ‘Most Important Witness’
Sen. Ted Cruz—when asked whether he would be open to a one-for-one witness call for Republicans and Democrats—told reporters outside the Senate chamber that he thinks additional witnesses are not necessary.
“In my view, additional witnesses are not necessary. The House managers have presented their case, they haven’t come remotely close to meeting their burden of proof,” he said. “If the Senate later this week, when we vote on witnesses, decides to go down the road to additional witnesses, I think at a minimum, the most important witness for the Senate to hear from is now Hunter Biden.”
Commenting on the trial so far, Cruz said that the Senate had “just seen two hours of evidence” of corruption presented by Trump’s defense team that he believes justifies Trump’s call to investigate such corruption.
“The legal issue before this Senate is whether a president has the authority to investigate corruption. The House managers built their entire case on the proposition that investigating Burisma corruption, investigating the Bidens for corruption was baseless and a sham,” he said. “[House managers] said there wasn’t a shred of evidence concerning corruption. We’ve just seen 2 hours of evidence.”
Sen. Mike Braun (R-Ind.) said he believed “that last hour closes the deal for anybody needing more information.”
Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) told reporters that the Senate will decide on Friday on whether to allow witnesses.
Rep. Debbie Lesko (R-Ariz.) commented that the House could have called witnesses during the impeachment inquiry.
“I would advise the senators not to call for more witnesses. The reason is the House was supposed to call witnesses … they could have subpoenaed John Bolton but they chose not to,” she said. “Don’t put the burden of proof on the Senate for something that the Democrats didn’t do in the House.”
6:02 p.m. – Senate Takes Dinner Break
The Senate is having a 45-minute break for dinner. The trial is set to resume 6:45 p.m. where President Trump’s defense team will continue their opening arguments.
4:50 p.m. – Trump Lawyer Pam Bondi Highlights Ukraine Corruption
Trump’s lawyer Pam Bondi, a former Florida attorney general, sought to highlight corruption in Ukraine and questioned why former Vice President Joe Biden’s son worked on a gas company that has been investigated for corruption.
She noted that former Vice President Biden led a U.S. delegation into Ukraine in 2014 and was the Obama administration’s “point man.”
She said Hunter Biden, the ex-vice president’s son, worked on the board of Burisma Holdings, whose oligarch owner Mykola Zlochevsky was accused of corruption and fled the country, soon after Biden became the administration’s “point man” on policy in Ukraine.
Hunter was brought on the Burisma board with a business partner, Devon Archer, who was the roommate of former Obama Secretary of State John Kerry’s stepson Christopher Heinz, Bondi noted. She said his hiring came “one month” after the United Kingdom opened a corruption case against Burisma. She noted that Heinz later tried to distance himself from the two.
“Hunter Biden’s choice to join Burisma raised [red] flags almost immediately,” Bondi said, highlighting reports that Hunter and Archer were allegedly paid $3.1 million by Burisma.
In an interview in October, Hunter Biden said that he did nothing wrong but acknowledged that working on Burisma’s board would create the perception of a conflict of interest.
4:30 p.m. – Giuliani Thanks Trump Lawyer
Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani thanked President Trump’s lawyer Jane Raskin for her defense of him.
“Jane Raskin is doing a masterful job defending me in my role as defense counsel. As she pointed out, I did not dig up dirt on Joe Biden. The information RE his outrageous criminal conduct was handed to me, along with a video tape, 4 witnesses, incriminating documents. It was already a fully-intact bribery/extortion case,” he wrote on Twitter.
“The reason you don’t know about it is because of the cover up by the corrupt Democrats and their establishment media!” he added.
Giuliani had served as Trump’s personal attorney and has been the subject of allegations by House Democrats in their impeachment push against the president.
…incriminating documents. It was already a fully-intact bribery/extortion case.
The reason you don’t know about it is because of the cover up by the corrupt Democrats and their establishment media!
— Rudy Giuliani (@RudyGiuliani) January 27, 2020
4 p.m. – Trump lawyer Jane Raskin: Giuliani a ‘Minor’ Player
Trump’s lawyer Jane Raskin told the Senate that Rudy Giuliani, Trump’s personal lawyer, is a small player in the impeachment case.
Raskin said Giuliani “was not on a political errand” for Trump and was following a lead to defend his client against false allegations.
“In this trial, in this moment, Mr. Giuliani is just a minor player, that shiny object designed to distract you,” Raskin said. “Senators, I urge you most respectfully, do not be distracted.”
3:15 p.m. – Trump: ‘Nothing Was Ever Said to John Bolton’
“Well, I haven’t seen a manuscript, but I can tell you: Nothing was ever said to John Bolton. But I have not seen a manuscript. I guess he’s writing a book. I have not seen it,” Trump told reporters before meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday.
The president is referring to allegations contained in a New York Times report that claimed Bolton was told by Trump about a linkage between military aid to Ukraine and investigations.
3 p.m. – Bolton Denies NY Times Collaboration
A spokesperson for former Trump national security adviser John Bolton responded to allegations that he timed his book and released details for publication in the New York Times.
“Ambassador John Bolton, Simon & Schuster, and Javelin Literary categorically state that there was absolutely no coordination with the New York Times or anyone else regarding the appearance of information about his book, THE ROOM WHERE IT HAPPENED, at online booksellers. Any assertion to the contrary is unfounded speculation,” Bolton aide Sarah Tinsley said in a statement on Monday afternoon.
The NY Times reported that Bolton’s forthcoming book alleges President Trump sought to link U.S. military aid to Ukraine and investigations. The book did not use any direct quotes.
2:20 p.m. – Newest GOP Senator Calls for Quick End
The newest senator, Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R-Ga.), said fellow Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) is trying to appease Democratic members of Congress with recent statements about witnesses.
“After 2 weeks, it’s clear that Democrats have no case for impeachment. Sadly, my colleague @SenatorRomney wants to appease the left by calling witnesses who will slander the @realDonaldTrump during their 15 minutes of fame. The circus is over. It’s time to move on!” she wrote on Twitter. Loeffler took over former longtime Sen. Johnny Isakson earlier this month.
Romney told news outlets Monday that he would like to hear witnesses following reports about details from a forthcoming book from John Bolton.
1:45 p.m. – Ken Starr Takes the Floor
Trump’s lawyer, Ken Starr, a former Clinton impeachment prosecutor, took to the floor and issued a statement.
“Those of us who lived through the Clinton impeachment, including members of this body, full well understand that a presidential impeachment is tantamount to domestic war, but thankfully protected by our beloved First Amendment, a war of words and a war of ideas. But it’s filled with acrimony and it divides the country like nothing else. Those of us who lived through the Clinton impeachment understand that in a deep and personal way,” Starr said.
He said the impeachment against Trump is being weaponized. “Let the people decide,” Starr, a current Fox News contributor, said.
1:35 p.m. – Mulvaney Responds to Bolton
White House chief of staff and former OMB Director Mick Mulvaney, in a statement (pdf) via a spokesman, disputed a report about former national security adviser John Bolton’s book, where he alleged Trump told him that he linked military aid to investigations in Ukraine.
“The latest story from the New York Times, coordinated with a book launch, has more to do with publicity than the truth. John Bolton never informed Mick Mulvaney of any concerns surrounding Bolton’s purported August conversation with the President. Nor did Mr. Mulvaney ever have a conversation with the President or anyone else indicating that Ukrainian military aid was withheld in exchange for a Ukrainian investigation of Burisma, the Bidens, or the 2016 election. Furthermore, Mr. Mulvaney has no recollection of any conversation with Mr. Giuliani resembling that reportedly described in Mr. Bolton’s manuscript, as it was Mr. Mulvaney’s practice to excuse himself from conversations between the President and his personal counsel to preserve any attorney-client privilege,” the statement reads.
Trump has also denied the claims on Twitter.
Democrats have sought to obtain Senate trial testimony from Mulvaney and Bolton.
1 p.m. – Trial Starts
President Trump’s defense has taken the floor, led by counsel Pat Cipollone.
12:15 p.m. – GOP Senators Suggest Witnesses
Sens. Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Mitt Romney (R-Utah) both suggested on Monday that a report about National Security Adviser John Bolton’s upcoming book should warrant calling witnesses to testify in President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial.
“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.
Details of Bolton’s book were leaked to several news outlets on Sunday evening. Trump, meanwhile, said on Monday that alleged details offered in the forthcoming book by Bolton, who was Trump’s national security adviser until he departed late last year, were false—namely, the alleged claim that Trump linked hundreds of millions of dollars to investigations in Ukraine.
Collins added that she has “always said” that she would likely vote to call witnesses in the trial “just as I did in the 1999” impeachment trial of President Bill Clinton.
“I’ve said that in fairness to both parties, the decision on whether or not to call witnesses should be made after both the House managers and the president’s attorneys have had the opportunity to present their cases,” she said.
Romney, considered another possible swing-vote who has been an outspoken critic of Trump within the GOP, told reporters Monday that “it is increasingly apparent that it would be important to hear from John Bolton” before adding that it is “increasingly likely” other Republican senators would join in too.
12 p.m. – Schumer Calls for Bolton Testimony
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) on Monday said reports about former national security adviser John Bolton should prompt the need for witnesses.
“This is stunning. It goes right to the heart of the charges against the president,” Schumer told reporters. “Ambassador Bolton essentially confirms the president committed the offenses charged in the first article of impeachment.”
Trump, meanwhile, has denied allegations in the book on Twitter.
“I NEVER told John Bolton that the aid to Ukraine was tied to investigations into Democrats, including the Bidens. In fact, he never complained about this at the time of his very public termination. If John Bolton said this, it was only to sell a book,” he wrote on Twitter.
From The Epoch Times