Jan 23, 2020

Trump impeachment trial recap, day 2: Democrats kick off their case

Democratic House impeachment managers walk to the Senate floor. Photo: Getty Images

The second day of the Senate impeachment trial of President Trump on Wednesday saw a full dose of opening arguments from Democratic House impeachment managers.

What happened: Lead House impeachment manager Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) walked through an extensive timeline of the actions by both Trump and other administration officials toward Ukraine. Many of the key facts were pulled from the House's public impeachment hearings, which Schiff admitted may not have been watched in full by many Americans — including the senators themselves.

The big picture: Democrats have 24 hours — spread out over three days — to take their time and lay out their case against the president's alleged abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. It'll also allow them to highlight gaps that could be filled out by additional witnesses and documents from the administration.

Off the floor: Just before the trial resumed, Schiff said Democratic senators shouldn't entertain the idea of calling Hunter Biden to testify in exchange for other administration witnesses.

  • Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) later told reporters definitively that a so-called "witness trade" is "off the table." On the campaign trail in Iowa, 2020 candidate Joe Biden said he would not participate in a witness trade for his testimony.

The highlights:

  • At one point, Schiff laid out how "three days in July" — the 24th, 25th and 26th — tell "so much of the story" about Trump's alleged attempts to solicit foreign election interference. He argued that Trump's conduct in those three days alone is "grounds for removal" as president.
  • Schiff also underscored why Democrats believe Trump's conduct is not something that can be resolved at the ballot box, arguing that he has used the powers of the presidency to attempt to "cheat" in the 2020 election. "For precisely this reason, the president's misconduct cannot be decided at the ballot box, for we cannot be assured that the vote will be fairly won," Schiff said.
  • A Senate Democratic aide told Axios about Schiff's presentation: "It’s not supposed to be a single thing or a single moment. It’s about making a fact based case. Remember that a lot of senators haven’t seen a lot of this. So it’s powerful for them to hear it like that."

From the room, via Axios' Alayna Treene:

  • Senators' exhaustion became palpable just an hour into the opening arguments as many were rubbing their eyes repeatedly, fidgeting in their seats, or "resting their eyes."
  • Spotted for the second day in a row in the Senate chamber: Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas) on the floor behind Republican senators and Alyssa Milano in the visitor's gallery.

The other side: As he flew back from the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Trump broke his personal record for most tweets and retweets in a day, with diatribes directed mostly toward the House impeachment managers.

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