Updated at 2 p.m. ET
House impeachment managers are resuming their prosecution of President Trump in the Senate on Thursday, outlining how the law applies to what they see as the president’s “corrupt scheme” with Ukraine to tilt the 2020 election in his favor.
The Democrats plan to focus on Article 1 of impeachment, abuse of power. They will take up Article 2, obstruction of Congress, on Friday. Read the articles here.
Rep. Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., an impeachment manager and the chairman of the House judiciary committee, gave extended remarks on Thursday afternoon.
He said the president abused his power by withholding military aid and a meeting with the president of Ukraine, unless the Ukrainian government investigated former Vice President Joe Biden, a possible political opponent, and his son’s activities there.
Nadler told senators that conduct was wrong and dangerous.
“No president has ever used his office to compel a foreign nation to help him cheat in our elections,” Nadler said. “Prior presidents would be shocked to the core by such conduct.”
Reports that Democrats were willing to allow one of the Bidens to testify in the trial in exchange for a senior administration official’s testimony were shot down by lead impeachment manager Adam Schiff, D-Calif., on Wednesday.
As Nadler began making his case, Trump tweeted that Democrats “don’t want a Witness Trade” because it “would be a BIG problem for them.”
Thursday’s remarks on the Senate floor follow a day of presentations and arguments in which Democratic impeachment managers implored skeptical Republicans to buck their party’s leadership and vote to remove the president for abusing the power of his office and obstructing Congress.
“The president’s misconduct cannot be decided at the ballot box, for we cannot be assured that the vote will be fairly won,” Schiff, who also chairs the House Intelligence Commitee, said on Wednesday.
“In corruptly using his office to gain a political advantage and abusing the powers of that office in such a way to jeopardize our national security and the integrity of our elections, in obstructing the investigation into his own wrongdoing, the president has shown that he believes that he’s above the law and scornful of constraint,” Schiff said.
Trump’s defense team will have its turn to counter Democratic arguments and make a case for the president’s acquittal when the prosecution is finished. If Democrats take up all of their allotted time, that would mean House managers would wrap up Friday and the president’s defense lawyers would mount a defense starting this weekend.
Speaking Wednesday from Davos, Switzerland, Trump called the Democrats leading his prosecution “sleazebags” and “very, very dishonest people,” and he dismissed the case built against him as “a hoax.”
“I think it’s so bad for the country,” Trump said, adding: “I’d love to go to the trial, sit in the front row and stare at their corrupt faces.”
Later, Jay Sekulow, Trump’s private attorney and part of the impeachment defense team, bristled at the idea of Trump pulling off such a stunt.
“His counsel might recommend against that,” he said with a laugh.
The trial centers on Trump’s dealings with Ukraine. In particular, House prosecutors say the president dangled $391 million in congressionally approved security assistance needed to counter Russian aggression as a way to get Kyiv to announce an investigation into potential political rival former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter. Such an announcement, House Democrats say, would benefit Trump’s reelection prospects.
The president’s acquittal is all but certain. Democrats would need 20 GOP senators to defy their party’s leadership and vote to convict in order to remove Trump from office.
That outcome is not likely with partisan battle lines so deeply drawn, especially in the backdrop of how Americans are deeply divided over impeachment and with the nation watching as the political proceeding plays out ahead of a presidential election.
The White House has blocked key witnesses from participating in the trial and has not cooperated with subpoenas from House investigators. Democrats need four Republicans to join them to win a procedural battle that will enable them to request documents or witness testimony. There are no indications right now that any GOP senators will break with their leadership.