Trump attorney Jay Sekulow holds the Mueller report as Rep. Adam Schiff and other impeachment managers listen. Photo: Senate TV via AP

On opening day of the defense casePresident Trump's legal team didn't try to burn down the house by going after the Bidens.

The state of play: The team put on a fairly conventional legal rebuttal — trying to poke holes in the House impeachment managers' case, and arguing that Democrats just don't have enough evidence of wrongdoing to throw Trump out of office — especially in a year when he's up for re-election.

  • "They have the burden of proof, and they have not come close to meeting it," White House counsel Pat Cipollone said.

In the chamber: 

  • Sen. Collins, Murkowski and Gardner were the most diligent notetakers of the Senate Republicans who are being eyed as possible votes to call witnesses.
  • Sen. Mitt Romney, sitting at the back of the chamber, and Sen. Lamar Alexander mostly sat back and listened.
  • Republicans mostly paid close attention to most of the presentations, though a few began looking away or reading as White House deputy counsel Patrick Philbin spoke. Democrats looked more bored.
  • Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer listened closely, scowling.

2020 watch:

  • Sen. Bernie Sanders sat slumped back in his seat, fidgeting or resting with his chin in his hand (though he leaned forward with a puzzled look when Philbin criticized Schiff).
  • Sen. Elizabeth Warren spent a long time hunched over a legal pad, writing and not appearing to pay close attention — though she sat up and listened to Cipollone's closing remarks.
  • Sen. Amy Klobuchar took some notes and listened to some of the arguments, but often looked away and stared around the room.

What to watch: Whether the Trump team stays focused on the legal issues or veers into attacks on the Bidens when they resume arguments Monday at 1 p.m.

  • Either way, Cipollone said the team doesn't plan to take the full 24 hours — because they don't think they need it.

Go deeper: Impeachment trial draws shrugs — by design

Go deeper

Updated 40 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Tim Scott says Trump "misspoke" when he told Proud Boys to "stand by"

Photo: Bonnie Cash/Pool/AFP via Getty Images

Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) told reporters on Wednesday that he believes President Trump "misspoke" when he told the far-right "Proud Boys" group to "stand back and stand by" in response to a question about condemning white supremacy at the first presidential debate.

Catch up quick: Moderator Chris Wallace asked Trump on Tuesday, "Are you willing, tonight, to condemn white supremacists and militia groups and to say that they need to stand down?" Trump asked who specifically he should condemn, and then responded, "Proud Boys, stand back and stand by. But I'll tell you what, somebody's got to do something about antifa and the left."

Updated 48 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Commission on Presidential Debates wants changes

Photos: Jim Watson and Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

The Commission on Presidential Debates announced Wednesday that it plans to implement changes to rules for the remaining debates, after Tuesday night's head-to-head between Joe Biden and Donald Trump was practically incoherent for most of the night.

What they are saying: "Last night's debate made clear that additional structure should be added to the format of the remaining debates to ensure a more orderly discussion of the issues," the CPD said in a statement.

Trump says he doesn't know who Proud Boys are after telling them to "stand by"

President Trump told reporters on Wednesday that he doesn't know who the Proud Boys are, after saying at the presidential debate last night that the far-right group should "stand back and stand by" in response to a question asking him to condemn white supremacists.

Why it matters: The comments set off outrage and calls for clarification from a number of Republican senators. After being asked several times on Wednesday whether he will condemn white supremacy, Trump responded, "I have always denounced any form — any form of any of that, you have to denounce. But I also — Joe Biden has to say something about antifa."

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