Jan 28, 2020

Trump impeachment trial recap, day 7: Trump's team closes its case

Members of Trump's legal team leave the Capitol on Monday. Photo: Samuel Corum/Getty Images

President Trump's legal team closed out its opening arguments during the seventh day of his Senate impeachment trial on Tuesday.

The big picture: Republicans spent their three days of arguments lamenting the facts that form the basis of the trial — claiming they don't rise to the level of an impeachable offense — and accusing Democrats of pushing forward a plot to subvert the will of American voters and remove the president from office.

  • Despite presenting their opening arguments over three days, Trump's team didn't use even half of its available 24 hours.

The highlights:

  • Deputy White House counsel Pat Philbin argued that Democrats had ascribed nefarious motives to actions "perfectly within [Trump's] authority" when drafting the articles of impeachment. "How are we supposed to get the proof of what’s in the president’s head?” he asked.
  • Trump's lawyer Jay Sekulow brushed aside the leak from former national security adviser John Bolton's book draft, calling it "an unpublished manuscript that maybe some reporters have an idea of maybe what it says ... I don't know what you'd call that. I'd call it inadmissible, but that's what it is."
  • White House counsel Pat Cipollone closed out the arguments in a mellow tone, asking for senators to "respect and defend the sacred right of every American to vote and to choose their president" in 2020.

From the floor:

  • Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) was chided by staff for bringing a bottle of chocolate milk onto the Senate floor, which is against the chamber's rules. Per the Wall Street Journal, Romney returned to the floor with the chocolate milk poured into a glass.

The big picture: It's still unclear if the Bolton leak will upend Republicans' plans for a speedy end to the trial later this week.

  • On Monday, Trump's team largely shied away from the topic, and Trump attorney Alan Dershowitz, who spoke in the 8pm hour, was the only member of the team to namecheck Bolton.
  • "Nothing in the Bolton revelations, even if true, would rise to the level of an abuse of power or an impeachable offense," Dershowitz said.

What's next: Senators will now have 16 hours over the next two days to submit prewritten questions to Chief Justice John Roberts, who will direct them to the House impeachment managers or Trump's legal team.

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Updates: George Floyd protests continue for 9th day

Demonstrators march on Pennsylvania Avenue on June 3. Photo: Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

Largely peaceful protests over the death of George Floyd and other police-related killings of black people continued Wednesday, marking nine straight days of demonstrations.

The latest: As several major cities moved to lift curfews, NYPD officers "aggressively" dispersed large crowds in Brooklyn and Manhattan beyond New York City's 8 p.m. curfew, per the New York Times. The National Guard was stationed outside many protests Wednesday night, including in Hollywood and Atlanta.

Trump hits back at Mattis: "I gave him a new life"

President Trump speaks at the White House. Photo: Doug Mills - Pool/Getty Images

President Trump unloaded on his former defense secretary via Twitter on Wednesday, hours after James Mattis condemned him for making a "mockery of our Constitution" in his response to mass protests in the wake of George Floyd's killing.

What he's saying: "Probably the only thing Barack Obama & I have in common is that we both had the honor of firing Jim Mattis, the world’s most overrated General. I asked for his letter of resignation, & felt great about it. His nickname was 'Chaos', which I didn’t like, & changed it to 'Mad Dog'"

Obama praises young protesters, urges mayors to pursue police reforms

Former President Barack Obama called on all mayors to review their use-of-force policies and commit to policing reform in a virtual town hall Wednesday hosted by the Obama Foundation's My Brothers Keepers Alliance.

Why it matters: Obama has addressed the killing of George Floyd and the nationwide protests that followed on social media and in a Medium post, but this was his first time speaking about the past week's events on camera. His voice will add weight to the growing pressure on local, state and federal officials to pursue policing reforms.