56°F
weather icon Clear

Democrats wrap up impeachment arguments Friday

Updated January 24, 2020 - 9:47 pm

WASHINGTON — Democrats made their final arguments Friday in the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump, alleging a cover-up to obstruct a congressional investigation into attempts to enlist a foreign government to boost his re-election bid.

“President Trump tried to cheat. He got caught, then he worked hard to cover it up,” said Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y., during the third day of Democratic arguments in the impeachment trial.

Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., the lead House impeachment manager, told the Senate that a pattern of abuse by the president required his removal from office.

“You cannot leave a man like that in office,” Schiff said. “You know it’s not going to stop. It’s not going to stop unless the Congress does something about it.”

Schiff, a former federal prosecutor, also made his closing arguments personal.

“The next time, it just may be you,” he said, pointing at one senator after another. “Do you think for a moment that if (President Trump) felt it was in his interest, he wouldn’t ask you to be investigated?”

House managers stepped up their pleas to the Senate to subpoena witnesses and documents.

“I implore you to give America a fair trial,” Schiff said. “She’s worth it.”

Republican senators, however, said Democrats failed to convince them that the president should be removed from office.

Some GOP lawmakers said they would reject the subpoena request because the burden of proof is on the House.

“It’s not our job to make the case,” said Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., the Senate Republican Policy Committee chairman.

Other Republican senators grumbled that a decision to subpoena former national security adviser John Bolton would draw a legal challenge from the White House. Trump has threatened to invoke executive privilege if Bolton is called to testify.

Trump’s legal team will begin its response to the Democratic argument Saturday.

Lawyers on the president’s team will have an equal number of hours to argue that there was no crime and that the president’s conduct doesn’t reach the threshold for impeachment and removal from office.

Trump attorney Jay Sekulow told reporters “We’re going to rebut and refute, and we’re going to put on an affirmative case tomorrow.”

The president’s team, in briefs filed with the Senate, accused Democrats of using impeachment as a political weapon and conducting a partisan plan to overturn the results of the last election, which they said was a perversion of the House’s constitutional authority.

But the weekend start for the president’s legal defense drew the ire of Trump, who railed on Twitter that he was being treated unfairly after hours “of lies, fraud & deception” by Democrats.

“Looks like my lawyers will be forced to start on Saturday, which is called Death Valley in T.V.,” Trump tweeted.

‘Crime in progress’

The House voted in December to approve two articles of impeachment charging Trump with abuse of office and obstruction of Congress.

Those charges stem from a request by Trump in a July 25 telephone call to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy to announce investigations into political rival Joe Biden and a theory debunked by U.S. intelligence agencies that Ukraine meddled in the 2016 presidential election.

Trump made the request as he withheld nearly $400 million in military aid approved by Congress for Ukraine to fight Russia-backed separatists.

The political request during the telephone call was reported by a whistleblower. The inspector general for intelligence agencies found the complaint a matter of of “urgent concern” and notified key congressional committees.

Jeffries, D-N.Y., said the cover-up was launched to hide the president’s solicitation of a foreign nation to provide a political favor. Trump told Zelenskiy to contact his personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani and Attorney General William Barr.

When the call became public, the Justice Department immediately issued a statement denying any involvement.

The cover-up became “a constitutional crime in progress,” Jeffries said.

As the House began an investigation, the president blocked officials familiar with the phone call from testifying, Jeffries explained.

Divided on witnesses

As the congressional investigation and media scrutiny increased, acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney admitted to reporters at the White House that there was a quid pro quo in the request to Ukraine. He later walked back that statement.

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., said she would like to have Mulvaney appear before the Senate to explain the context of those comments.

Gillibrand said she was talking to Republican colleagues about the need for testimony from key witnesses and the need for more information that could be provided through subpoenas.

But Republicans were sounding increasingly confident that no witnesses would be called.

“I am not hearing from many Republican senators who think we need more information,” said Sen. Mike Braun, R-Ind.

“This needs to end,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., a Trump confidant.

Republicans hold a 53-47 majority in the Senate. It would take four GOP senators to join Democrats to reach the majority vote necessary to call additional witnesses. GOP lawmakers also have suggested calling as witnesses Biden and his son, Hunter, who served on the board of directors of the Ukrainian gas company Burisma while his father was vice president.

Trump’s legal team is expected to focus on the Bidens in their defense of the president.

House impeachment managers addressed the Biden connections in their arguments earlier this week, a move that the source on the president’s legal team said made it “relevant to the case.”

“We thought it was a risky thing to do for the prosecution to bring up the Bidens,” Barrasso told reporters during a break from trial proceedings Thursday.

Sekulow said Democrats raised the issue for the president’s legal team.

“They have certainly opened the door,” Sekulow told reporters.

Democrats, though, said Joe Biden became the focus of the president’s attention after public opinion polls at the time showed the Democratic presidential hopeful beating Trump with likely voters.

A peek of the president’s legal defense strategy will be unveiled Saturday, with the bulk of the president’s defense case beginning Monday, with time allotted through Tuesday if needed. The trial will take a break on Sunday.

Following the arguments, senators from each party will have equal time to question House managers and the president’s legal team.

The Senate will then take up motions, according to rules outlined by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.

The impeachment trial is the third in U.S. history. President Andrew Johnson was acquitted in 1868, and President Bill Clinton acquitted in 1999.

Contact Gary Martin at gmartin@reviewjournal.com or 202-662-7390. Follow @garymartindc on Twitter. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
Politics Videos
2020 candidates rally in Southern Nevada ahead of caucus - VIDEO
2020 candidates Joe Biden, Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders held rallies all over Southern Nevada on Saturday ahead of the Democratic caucus. (James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
First day of early voting - VIDEO
Nevada Democrats turned out in force on Saturday for the first day of early voting in the Democratic presidential caucuses.
Biden and Sully Sullenberger speak in Henderson - VIDEO
Presidential candidate Joe Biden and famed pilot Sully Sullenberger spoke at Sun City MacDonald Ranch to get out the vote for early voting for the Nevada caucus. (James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Nevada Poll: Bernie Sanders leads Democratic presidential candidates - VIDEO
Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders leads the presidential field by a solid margin among likely Democratic caucus-goers heading into Nevada’s four-day early voting period, with with 25 percent of respondents expressing support. (Renee Summerour/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Nevada Poll: caucus vs. primary - VIDEO
A new Nevada Poll finds two-thirds of likely Democratic caucus-goers surveyed in a Review-Journal poll say they’d like to see Nevada replace its caucuses with a secret-ballot primary election to determine support for a presidential nominee. (Renee Summerour/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Caucus events Leading up to Caucus Day 2020 - VIDEOl
As presidential candidates make their way to Las Vegas, here's a look at events, dates and times for the days leading up to Nevada's Caucus Day 2020 on Feb. 22. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Election 2020: Nevada Caucus and Early Voting - Video
AARP's Nevada Caucus discussion with Steve Sebelius about the Nevada Caucus and early voting.
Caucus 101: Early voting in the Nevada Democratic caucus - VIDEO
The who, what, when, where and hows of early voting before and on caucus day in Nevada. (Renee Summerour and Bizuayehu Tesfaye /Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Election 2020: Nevada Caucus - Video
AARP's Nevada Caucus Discussion with Steve Sebelius. Join us as we discuss the Nevada Caucus process.
Dina Titus speaks on Biden and Nevada's importance - VIDEO
Nevada Congresswoman Dina Titus sat down with political reporter Rory Appleton to discuss Joe Biden and Nevada's place in the 2020 election.
Las Vegas ready to enforce homeless camping ban - VIDEO
Las Vegas police will begin enforcing a controversial camping ban on city streets on Saturday, but officials say they expect to impose the penalties available under the new ordinance only in rare instances. (James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Nevada Caucus 101: How to caucus - VIDEO
How does the caucus work in Nevada? Shelby Wiltz, the caucus director for the Nevada State Democratic party takes us through the process. (Renee Summerour and James Schaeffer/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Trump administration OKs new water rule - VIDEO
Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Andrew Wheeler signed a new rule Thursday replacing a 2015 definition of “navigable waters” created in the Obama administration that farmers, developers and others found overly restrictive. (James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Yvanna Cancela Speaks on Supporting Biden - Video
The RJ Politics podcast crew sits down with Nevada State Senator Yvanna Cancela to discuss why she is supporting former Vice President Joe Biden in the 2020 presidential race.
RJ Politics Podcast with Deval Patrick - VIDEO
2020 Presidential Candidate Deval Patrick joins hosts Rory Appleton and Steve Sebelius on the RJ Politics Podcast.
Tom Steyer on Donald Trump and the economy - Video
Tom Steyer joins the RJ Politics podcast to talk about his campaign presence in Nevada and how he plans to take Trump on when talking about the economy. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas City Council Votes On Homeless Ordinance - Video
The Las Vegas City Council on Wednesday will discuss expanding on a controversial camping and sleeping ban aimed at deterring the homeless from bivouacking on city streets to include hours when public sidewalks are being cleaned.
Biden meets with Vegas Latino community - VIDEO
Presidential candidate Joe Biden met with members of the Latino community at Rancho High School. (James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Henderson, other Nevada cities consent to refugee resettlement - VIDEO
Henderson will continue to welcome refugees for resettlement, according to a December letter from Mayor Debra March. (James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Pete Buttigieg Speaks At Black Empowerment Event - Video
Pete Buttigieg speaks at a black empowerment event to talk about his Douglass plan.
Joe Biden at the national hospitality workers union.
Democratic presidential candidate, former Vice President Joe Biden speaks to members of the national hospitality workers union during UNITE HERE's town hall on Wednesday, Dec. 11, 2019 at Culinary Union Hall in Las Vegas. @bizutesfaye
Elizabeth Warren at Culinary Union
Elizabeth Warren speaks at a Culinary Union town hall in Las Vegas on Dec. 9, 2019.
Secretary of Education visits Henderson school
Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos visited students at Pinecrest Academy in Henderson to talk about college planning on Dec. 4, 2019. (Erik Verduzco/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Trump dropped from Terry Fator’s show on Las Vegas Strip - VIDEO
Fator has edited out one prominent figure: President Donald Trump, a focal point of Fator’s regular stage show and also Christmas show over the past 3½ years. The Trump puppet, with his pop-up hairpiece, has been sidelined from both shows until further notice. (James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
THE LATEST
Nevada caucuses test candidates with Latino voters

The Nevada caucuses pose an important test for former Vice President Joe Biden, Democratic frontrunner Bernie Sanders and other presidential hopefuls with Latinos, who make up a third of the state’s population.

 
Paper option helps speed Nevada caucus early voting on Day 2

A Democratic party spokesperson said the party believed early voting went well overall and that having a paper backup option used by some precincts to speed up the process was a planned contingency.

Trump making pit stop at Daytona 500 before heading West

Trump will be only the second president to attend the Daytona 500 after President George W. Bush, who also appeared at the race during his reelection year.

 
Democratic presidential candidates speak at Las Vegas gala

Former Vice President Joe Biden, Sen. Bernie Sanders, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Sen. Amy Klobuchar, businessman Tom Steyer and former South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg spoke during the Clark County Democrats gala at the Tropicana in Las Vegas on Saturday night.