The Senate impeachment trial resumes at 1 p.m. EST today. Refresh here for updates.
WASHINGTON – Sen. Lindsey Graham, an ally of President Donald Trump, tweeted out his support Tuesday for giving senators access to explosive material about Trump written by former national security adviser John Bolton.
“I totally support @SenatorLankford’s proposal that the Bolton manuscript be made available to the Senate, if possible, in a classified setting where each senator has the opportunity to review the manuscript and make their own determination,” tweeted Graham, R-S.C.
In an upcoming book, Bolton reportedly says Trump personally told him that he hoped to continue to withhold nearly $400 million in military aid for Ukraine until the country announced investigations into political rival Joe Biden and his son Hunter.
Democrats need four GOP senators to vote with them to subpoena Bolton as a witness, a showdown expected in the Senate later this week.
Sen. James Lankford, an Oklahoma Republican who serves on the intelligence committee, told The Oklahoman that Bolton’s manuscript is pertinent, and senators should be able to read it. That could be done in a classified setting since the manuscript is undergoing a pre-publication screening process to ensure it doesn’t reveal classified information, Lankford said.
He also encouraged Bolton to step forward on his own if he has something to say.
After the Bolton news broke Sunday, many GOP senators dismissed it as irrelevant to the bottom line and said it would unnecessarily prolong the impeachment trial to subpoena Bolton.
Some senators who have expressed interest in hearing from Bolton – including Maine’s Susan Collins and Alaska’s Lisa Murkowski – said they will wait to decide on witnesses until after the defense finishes its presentation Tuesday and senators have had a chance to ask questions of both sides.
The liberal group MoveOn announced Tuesday that it is running TV ads in Maine calling on Collins to “honor her oath and ensure a fair impeachment trial with witnesses and documents.”
– Maureen Groppe
Why didn’t House managers subpoena Bolton?
One of the refrains Republicans have been making about John Bolton is that if Democrats were so eager to call in President Donald Trump’s former national security adviser, they should have subpoenaed him during their impeachment inquiry last fall.
House impeachment managers Tuesday said he threatened to sue when they asked to appear before them. And they did not want a protracted court battle that would have likely stretched beyond the presidential election in November.
“The essential (element) of what the president is doing is to cheat for the 2020 election,” Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-California, told reporters on a conference call Tuesday morning. “And to engage in a court process that would allow him to continue to cheat between now and the election was really not consistent with our oath to the Constitution.”
The New York Times reported Sunday that Bolton’s forthcoming book alleges Trump told him directly that he wished to continue withholding nearly $400 million in military aid for Ukraine unless the country announced investigations into his 2020 political rival Joe Biden and his son Hunter.
Lofgren said they also didn’t view Bolton’s testimony at the time as crucial because they had “substantial evidence (from other witnesses) about the scheme.”
Another manager, Jason Crow of Colorado, pointed to the already lengthy court battle to compel former White House counsel Don McGahn to testify about potential actions Trump took to obstruct justice as outlined in special counsel Robert Mueller’s report.
“Let’s not forget the House subpoenaed Don McGann in April and we’re still litigating that,” Crow told reporters on Tuesday’s call.
– Ledyard King
Trump team hopes to wind up defense in 2-3 hours
The White House is signaling a relatively short trial session Tuesday as President Donald Trump’s impeachment lawyers prepare their final day of arguments.
White House Counsel Pat Cipollone and Trump’s private attorney Jay Sekulow will make the case for the president for no more than two to three hours, officials said, speaking on condition of anonymity because final preparations are still evolving. Attorneys are still trying to address how to approach a key issue: Their argument that witnesses are not needed.
Officials said they do not know whether enough Republicans will support calling witnesses, including former national security adviser John Bolton, whose forthcoming book alleges Trump told him directly that he wished to continue withholding nearly $400 million in military aid for Ukraine unless the country announced investigations into his political rival Joe Biden and his son Hunter. The trial could stretch into into next week or beyond if enough Republicans decide to support calling witnesses.
Trump’s attorney’s are expected to call for a dismissal of the case later this week.
– David Jackson
Lawyers: Trump justified in asking Ukraine for probe
On Monday, the president’s team slammed the impeachment process as partisan and argued Trump was justified in asking the Ukrainian government to open investigations into his political adversaries.
House Democrats impeached Trump for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress in mid-December. They allege Trump withheld military aid and an Oval Office meeting with the Ukrainian president to get Ukraine to open investigations into former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden, and that the Trump administration stonewalled Congress’ investigation into Trump’s actions.
Trump’s team goes into day three
Trump’s defense team will offer its final arguments in this phase of the trial, concluding the three days maximum of presentation time allowed under the rules for the first phase of the impeachment trial.
Trump’s team has offered a vigorous defense of the president’s actions while also asserting Trump’s lack of wrongdoing.
Dershowitz makes the case:Alan Dershowitz tells Senate Trump’s impeachment is unconstitutional
Tuesday’s presentation will not be the last chance to convince senators, however. The rules for the impeachment trial allow for 16 answers of questions of both sides submitted by senators following the presentations by the impeachment managers and the defense.
What Trump’s team has said so far
Members of Trump’s spent their part of their Monday presentation arguing Trump was justified in asking for investigations into the Bidens and withholding aid to Ukraine, and concluded it with a presentation from Alan Dershowitz, a celebrity lawyer on Trump’s team.
Dershowitz argued the articles of impeachment were unconstitutional because they did not charge Trump with a federal crime.
Response to his arguments split along party lines.
“I liked Dershowitz,” said Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, told reporters as she left the Capitol on Monday night.
“The job is being done, and the case is being well-presented,” Rep. Mike Johnson, R-La., a member of the president’s defense team, told reporters following the trial.
So far, Trump’s team has not addressed most of the allegations from former national security adviser John Bolton’s upcoming book, which says Trump told Bolton military aid to Ukraine would be linked to the opening of investigations.
Democrats vigorously disagreed when Dershowitz claimed on Monday that Bolton’s testimony was unnecessary because the new revelations would not “rise to the level of an abuse of power or an impeachable offense.”
Sen. Mark Warner of Virginia, whose education at Harvard Law School overlapped with Dershowitz’s tenure as a professor, laughed at the declaration, shaking his head and taking off his glasses to rub his eyes.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., formerly a Harvard Law School professor, told reporters as she left the Capitol that Dershowitz’s presentation was “contrary to both law and fact.”
What happens next
Following the conclusion of presentations from the defense, the Senate will hold 16 hours of questions from senators, which will be read out by the Chief Justice.
“We’ll be able to combine questions, and it’ll be up to the Chief Justice to combine them in an orderly fashion, both sides having equal opportunity for asking questions,” said Sen. Mike Rounds, R-S.D.
What happens after the question phase is uncertain. At that point, the Senate will take votes on whether to allow additional witnesses and documents in the trial, and the outcome of that vote is up in the air.
Some Republican senators have signaled their willingness to hear from witnesses like Bolton Any vote to call witnesses would require four Republicans to vote with all Democrats because Republicans control the Senate 53-47.
Murkowski, a potential swing vote on witnesses, told reporters going into Republicans’ daily lunch meeting on Monday she was “curious” about Bolton’s testimony.
During their daily lunch meeting on Monday, several senators floated the idea of a witness trade, where Democrats would get to call a witness like Bolton in exchange for a witness Republicans have wanted like Hunter Biden.
Some Democrats, however, are hesitant to engage in witness-trading.
“I’m not going to be party to the same scheme that the President is being impeached for, and that’s what they’re trying to get us to do,” Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Ct., told reporters Monday, describing witness trading as part of a Republican scheme to “destroy the Bidens.”