Author: TEGNA, LISA MASCARO (ERIC TUCKER and ZEKE MILLER Associated Press)
WASHINGTON D.C. — House Democrats will have their final chance to make their opening statement in the Senate impeachment trial of President Donald Trump Friday. It comes after a day in which they outlined the case for Trump’s alleged abuse of power, and ended with a passionate warning to senators that the president would choose his own best interests over the country if he’s not removed from office.
Friday will be the third and final day allowed under the Senate rules for House managers to make their initial case. They are expected to show how Trump obstructed the House investigation into the Ukraine matter.
House prosecutors argued Thursday that Trump abused power like no other president in history, swept up by a “completely bogus” theory about Ukrainian interference in the 2016 election. The Democrats say that led Trump to demand that Ukraine announce an investigation into his potential 2020 election rival Joe Biden while he withheld crucial military aid as leverage.
The prosecution also used the words of some Trump supporters to help bolster their case. In one instance, they played a video of Sen. Lindsey Graham from the 1999 impeachment trial of President Bill Clinton. Graham was a House member then and one of the managers prosecuting the case. Graham argued then that no crime was needed for impeaching a president. Trump’s defense team is now arguing that the impeachment articles against him are invalid because they do not allege he committed a specific crime.
Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Missouri, praised the Democrats’ presentation, but said, “There’s just not much new here,” according to the Associated Press.
Every Republican, including Blunt, voted Tuesday to table allowing new witnesses to testify and documents to be subpoenaed — all of which likely could have brought new material to the trial. Those subpoenas may be voted on again later.
The day ended with House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif, telling senators in a late-night speech that “right matters.” It was a quote from Army Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, who testified in the House hearings. “Otherwise we are lost.”
Schiff also warned that if Trump is not removed from office, he will do it again.
“And you know, you can’t trust this president do what’s right for this country. You can trust he will do what’s right for Donald Trump. He’ll do it now. He’s done it before. He’ll do it for the next several months. He’ll do it in the election if he’s allowed to,” Schiff said.
In addition to making its case, the House prosecutors are also having to deal with a jury that is getting restless. Unlike Wednesday’s session, most of the senators reportedly stayed in their seats. Sen. Richard Burr, R-NC, passed out fidget spinners, stress balls and other toys to the senators, according to The Associated Press.
Trump’s defense team will have 24 hours over the course of Saturday, Monday and Tuesday to make their opening statement. The Senate will not be in session Sunday.
“We will be putting on a vigorous defense of both facts, rebutting what they said,” Jay Sekulow, Trump’s personal attorney, reportedly said.