Updated Jan 25, 2020

Trump impeachment trial recap, day 5: White House lawyers begin their rebuttal

Photo: Senate Television via Getty Images

President Trump's legal team took their turn before the Senate on Saturday to rebut Democrats' lengthy arguments for removing Trump from office.

Why it matters: The two-hour session was a first look at Trump's defense. The Trump team methodically tried to poke holes in the House impeachment managers' case, rather than going after the Bidens, as they previously suggested they will.

  • Trump's defense team noted during two hours every bit of evidence they say the managers skipped, trying to cast doubt whenever it could on linking Trump's requests to investigate the Bidens to delaying military aide to Ukraine.

Highlights:

  • Trump lawyer Jay Sekulow held up a copy of the Mueller report and quoted, "'ultimately this investigation did not establish that the campaign coordinated or conspired with the Russian government and its election interference activities."
    • Context: The Mueller investigation established multiple links between Trump campaign officials and people tied to the Russian government — including Russian offers of campaign assistance that the campaign was occasionally receptive to.
  • Trump deputy counsel Michael Purpura pointed to testimony from Bill Taylor, George Kent, Kurt Volker, and Tim Morrison to argue that Ukrainian officials did not know key military aid was withheld at the time of Trump's infamous July 25 call with Ukraine's president, so withholding aid could not have been a threat.

The mood in the chamber: Of the five Republicans who are being watched most closely as possible votes for witnesses, Sens. Susan Collins, Lisa Murkowski, and Cory Gardner were the most prolific note-takers.

Of the Democrats seeking the White House:

  • Sen. Bernie Sanders sat slumped at his desk, resting his chin on his hand or fidgeting with his fingers clasped in front of his face.
  • Sen. Elizabeth Warren sat hunched over a legal pad for a long time, writing furiously and not appearing to pay attention to the trial.
  • Sen. Amy Klobuchar took some notes and watched some of the Trump team's remarks, but often looked away and stared around the room.

The other side: Democratic House impeachment managers marched 28,578 pages of impeachment trial and witness records to the Senate on Saturday morning.

What you need to know:

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