Jan 24, 2020

Trump impeachment trial recap, day 3: Schiff argues that "the truth matters"

Lead House impeachment manager Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) ended Democrats' second day of opening arguments in President Trump's impeachment trial on Thursday with an impassioned speech arguing for Trump's conviction.

What he said: In a clip that's sure to be played on cable news all morning, Schiff closed by saying, "If you find him guilty, you must find that he should be removed. Because right matters, because right matters. And the truth matters. Otherwise, we are lost."

The big picture: Democratic House managers have roughly eight hours remaining later today to finalize their case against the president — with today's portion expected to focus on the obstruction of Congress impeachment article.

Highlights:

  • "He could release the aid or break the law. He chose to break the law," House impeachment manager Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) said, referencing a Government Accountability Office report that found the administration violated the law when it withheld military aid to Ukraine.
  • House impeachment manager Rep. Val Demings (D-Fla.) pointed to phone calls made between Lev Parnas and Trump's personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, as evidence of Giuliani keeping the president "informed about what was going on" regarding an alleged pressure campaign on Ukraine.
  • Schiff invoked Parnas' recently released notes, arguing they insinuated that the announcement of a Biden investigation was Trump's precondition for Ukrainian officials, not necessarily an actual investigation.
  • House impeachment manager Rep. Sylvia Garcia (D-Texas) spent her part of the presentation debunking the Trump administration's position that the Biden family was engaged in corruption in Ukraine. She argued that "Trump didn't care about any of this until 2019" — when Biden looked like a 2020 frontrunner.

The other side: Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) latched onto Garcia's presentation about the Bidens, stating on Twitter that it would require both Joe and Hunter Biden to be called as witnesses. He told reporters that he was "surprised" that Democrats made it so central to their early presentation.

  • Sen. Mike Braun (R-Ind.) characterized impeaching Trump as a political act as extreme as a "death sentence" when speaking with reporters Thursday, saying that he doesn't think the case for impeachment has been made so far.

Spotted on the floor, via Axios' Alayna Treene:

  • Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) distributed several fidget spinners to GOP colleagues on the Senate floor before Thursday's proceedings began, per NBC News.
  • Senators slouched back in their chairs, some on the verge of nodding off, others yawning.
  • Democratic Reps. Nanette Barragán and Mary Gay Scanlon watched, while former Democratic Rep. Steve Israel sat in the visitor’s gallery. At one point, Sen. Thom Tillis moved to the visitor’s gallery to get a bird’s eye view.
  • Senate public galleries held nearly 200 people listening on Thursday, per the New York Times.

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