⚖️ Trump’s Senate Impeachment Trial:

tl;dr Today marks the last chance for the Democratic impeachment managers to make their pitch to GOP senators on whether to subpoena new witnesses and documents. Democrats need four Republicans to vote with them in order to call witnesses. Trump’s legal team will also have 24 hours over three days for its opening arguments – starting tomorrow, Monday, and Tuesday. Senators will then get to ask questions. Trump is reportedly “bored” by the impeachment proceedings.

1/ House managers used their final day of opening arguments to conclude their presentation on the first article of impeachment, abuse of power. House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff said Trump “did exactly what our framers feared most: He invited foreign interference in our elections and sold out our country’s security for his personal benefit, and betrayed the nation’s trust to a foreign power.” Impeachment manager Jason Crow added that the hold on the aid “wasn’t lifted for any legitimate reason. It was only lifted because President Trump had gotten caught.” Impeachment manager Hakeem Jeffries, using witness testimony from the House proceedings, detailed what he called a “failed” effort to “coverup” Trump’s attempt to “cheat” in the 2020 election. Jeffries said the White House “tried to bury” the summary of Trump’s July 25 call on a secure server because it was politically damaging, adding that the military aid was released only “after the House launched an investigation and after Congress learned about the existence of a whistleblower complaint.”

2/ House managers then moved on to the second article of impeachment, Trump’s alleged obstruction of Congress by directing witnesses not to testify and refusing to allow the release of documents. Impeachment manager Val Demings called Trump’s refusal to cooperate “categorical, indiscriminate and historically unprecedented.” She added that under “Trump’s orders, the Office of the Vice President, the Office of Management and Budget, the Department of State, the Department of Energy, and the Department of Defense all continued to refuse to produce a single document or record in response to 71 specific requests, including five subpoenas.” Further, Demings characterized “Trump’s attacks on whistleblowers and witnesses” who testified the House probe as “witness intimidation.” Impeachment manager Sylvia Garcia added that Trump had “orchestrated a cover-up” in “plain sight” and “should be removed.” Zoe Lofgren, another House impeachment managers, compared Trump to Nixon, saying “Not only did Nixon allow his staff to testify before Congress, he publicly directed them to testify without demanding a subpoena.” And, finally, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler called Trump “a dictator” during his presentation, arguing that Trump is “the first and only president ever to declare himself unaccountable.” In his closing remarks, Schiff warned that a failure to remove Trump for obstructing Congress would inflict “an unending injury to this country” because “the balance of power that our founders set out will never be the same.”

3/ Trump appeared to order two Rudy Giuliani associates to “get rid” of then-US ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch during a dinner in April 2018 at the Trump International Hotel, according to a recording made by Igor Fruman. “Get her out tomorrow. I don’t care. Get her out tomorrow. Take her out. Okay? Do it,” Trump reportedly said of Yovanovitch after being told by Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman that the career foreign service officer was “badmouthing” him in Kiev. Parnas turned over the recording to the House Intelligence Committee. Trump claimed in November that didn’t “know much” about Yovanovitch when he signed off on recalling her from Kiev. Pence defended Trump after the 2018 recording emerged, saying “All of the ambassadors for the United States of America serve at the pleasure of the president of the United States.” (ABC News / New York Times / Daily Beast / Talking Points Memo)

  • 📌 Day 1092: Trump “knew exactly what was going on” in Ukraine, according to Lev Parnas, an associate of Rudy Giuliani. Parnas said Trump was “aware of all my movements. I wouldn’t do anything without the consent of Rudy Giuliani, or the President.” While Parnas never spoke with Trump directly about his efforts to push Ukraine to investigate the Bidens and the 2016 election, he met with Trump on several occasions, and was told by Giuliani that Trump was kept informed about his work. Parnas also said he warned an aide to then-Ukrainian President-elect Volodymyr Zelensky at the direction of Giuliani that the U.S. would halt aid to the country if it didn’t announce investigations that could benefit Trump politically. Parnas also implicated several senior officials in the scheme, including Mike Pence, John Bolton, Devin Nunes, and William Barr. Parnas claimed that Barr “had to have known everything” going on with Ukraine because “Barr was basically on the team.” Parnas also claimed that Pence’s planned trip to attend Zelensky’s inauguration was canceled because the Ukrainians did not agree to the demand for an investigation of the Bidens. (New York Times / NBC News / Politico / CNN / Wall Street Journal / Washington Post)

4/ Trump complained that his impeachment defense “will be forced to start on Saturday,” which he called “Death Valley in T.V.” Saturday’s impeachment session will begin at 10 a.m. and will last for several hours. The White House wanted to present some arguments on Saturday to rebut three days of charges from Democrats and to provide fodder for Sunday shows. Trump’s defense team plans to save the bulk of its arguments for Monday and Tuesday, when viewers will be more tuned in. Trump also complained that it is “wrong” for House managers to use “ALL of their” allotted time for opening arguments. (Reuters / Politico / NBC News)

  • Witness testimony could hinge on Sen. Lamar Alexander, a retiring Republican senator who said it was “inappropriate” for Trump to ask foreign governments to investigate his political opponents. Three other GOP senators have expressed some level of support for calling witnesses, and if they joined all Democrats, the result would be a 50-50 tie. While Alexander has expressed no indication of how he will vote, both parties see him as a wild card and possible tie-breaker. (Politico)

  • Sen. Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said a so-called witness exchange with Republicans involving Hunter Biden is “off the table.” Schumer also criticized Republicans for not calling witnesses. (Reuters)

5/ Trump tweeted 54 times before noon, criticizing Democrats and the impeachment process. “The Do Nothing Democrats just keep repeating and repeating, over and over again, the same old ‘stuff’ on the Impeachment Hoax,” Trump tweeted at one point. (CNN)

poll/ 47% of Americans say the Senate should remove Trump from office and 49% saying they should not. 44% of Americans approve of Trump’s overall job performance and 51% disapprove. (Washington Post)

poll/ 66% of Americans say the Senate should call new witnesses to testify at the impeachment trial, while 27% say the Senate should not. (ABC News)


Notables.

  1. The Pentagon said 34 U.S. service members were diagnosed with traumatic brain injuries after the Iranian ballistic missile attack in Iraq this month. Trump previously claimed that no U.S. troops were harmed and later downplayed the significance of the brain injuries, saying “I heard that they had headaches.” (CNN / Bloomberg / Politico / Washington Post)

  2. The Trump administration threatened to cut off some federal funds to California unless it drops a state requirement that insurers cover abortion. The administration says the policy violates a federal law banning government entities that receive federal money from the Department of Health and Human Services from discriminating against healthcare organizations because they don’t provide abortion or abortion coverage. HHS is giving California 30 days to comply or face the loss of unspecified funds. (Politico / Wall Street Journal)

  3. Trump’s re-election campaign threatened the nonpartisan presidential debate commission that Trump may not participate if the process is not “fair.” Trump’s campaign manager, Brad Parscale, campaign operating officer, Michael Glassner, complained to Frank Fahrenkopf, the co-chairman of the Commission on Presidential Debates, that the board of directors and moderators were all against the president. Trump privately told advisers that because his television ratings are so high, he can exert more control over the debates. (Washington Post)


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