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Politics Democrats scale back language as Trump and GOP press ahead with attacks on Senate impeachment trial

04:31  23 january  2020
04:31  23 january  2020 Source:   washingtonpost.com

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  Schumer on Senate impeachment trial: 'We will force votes' on witnesses and documents Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said Sunday night he is prepared to "force votes for witnesses and documents" in the Senate impeachment trial if Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell does not call for it in his proposal. "We have the right to do it, We are going to do it and we are going to do it at the beginning on Tuesday if leader McConnell doesn't call for these witnesses in his proposal," Schumer said at a press conference in New York. "We're allowed to amend it, and ask for them.

House Democrats charged with prosecuting the impeachment case against President Trump on Wednesday scaled back their fiery language following a rare But as Democrats softened their tone if not their message, Trump and his fellow Republicans dialed up their partisan rhetoric, with GOP

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In this image from video, House impeachment manager Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif., speaks during the impeachment trial against President Donald Trump in the Senate at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2020. (Senate Television via AP)© AP In this image from video, House impeachment manager Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif., speaks during the impeachment trial against President Donald Trump in the Senate at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2020. (Senate Television via AP)

House Democrats charged with prosecuting the impeachment case against President Trump on Wednesday scaled back their fiery language following a rare scolding from Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., as they began laying out their case for Trump’s removal from office for pressuring Ukraine to help him win reelection.

But as Democrats softened their tone if not their message, Trump and his fellow Republicans dialed up their partisan rhetoric, with GOP senators largely ignoring Roberts’s admonition and leveling scathing attacks against the trial’s prosecutors.

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12:20 p.m. GOP senators call Democrats ' efforts so far a failure. Republican senators ABC News talked to this morning don't think their Democratic "I thought the presentations had the unfortunate tone that impeachment is almost always going to have. Impeachment is not a pleasant process.

The rare impeachment trial , unfolding in an election year, is testing whether Trump 's actions toward Ukraine warrant removal at the same time that voters are forming their own verdict on his White House. Four senators who are presidential candidates are off the campaign trail, seated as jurors.

Democrats also appeared to shut down talk of a deal to secure testimony from former national security adviser John Bolton by offering to trade testimony from the son of former vice president Joe Biden, who was the focus of Trump’s alleged pressure campaign on Ukraine. Biden himself said he would refuse such an arrangement.

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The Republican barrage was led by Trump himself, who in Davos, Switzerland, called the top House managers “sleazebags” while denouncing his impeachment as a “hoax” and “disgrace” to his presidency.

“I watched the lies from Adam Schiff. He’ll stand, he’ll look at a microphone, and he’ll talk like he’s so aggrieved,” Trump said at a news conference from the World Economic Forum in Davos, referring to the House Intelligence Committee chairman leading the prosecution.

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Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer bemoaned the limitations, saying Wednesday the impeachment trial “begins with a cloud hanging over it, a cloud of unfairness.” Republicans were eager for a swift trial . Yet Trump ’s legal team passed on an opportunity to file a motion to dismiss the case

On Schiff and House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold L. Nadler (D-N.Y.), another impeachment manager and longtime Trump foe, the president added: “These two guys — these are major sleazebags. They’re very dishonest people. Very, very dishonest people.”

As he flew back to Washington on Air Force One, Trump stirred up a veritable Twitter storm as he tweeted and retweeted messages primarily about impeachment, particularly from his Republican defenders — a barrage that marked the most tweets of any day of his presidency, with 125 as of 4:25 p.m., according to Factba.se, a website that tracks Trump’s tweets and speeches.

That posturing provided a sharp contrast to the Democratic House managers, who struck a chastened tone in the Senate chamber Wednesday after the Roberts admonishment issued in the early hours of Wednesday. Saying that the Democrats had “adrenaline going through our veins,” Schiff began opening arguments Wednesday afternoon by expressing gratitude for the senators’ attentiveness.

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Trump ’s campaign website notes the start of the Senate trial looking into “my PERFECT PHONE CALL” and asks for With Trump and his lawyers resisting Democratic demands that administration officials testify, Pompeo said, “If I Here is House Democrats ’ web page containing documents related to the impeachment trial . Subscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.

And Nadler, whose accusations that GOP senators were engaging in “treacherous” behavior angered Republicans, made sure to thank Roberts and the lawmakers for “your temperate listening and your patience last night as we went into the long hours.”

“I think that was an attempt to shift the tone,” said Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.). “A lot of senators were offended last night at saying that a vote against their amendments was treachery, that it was a vote against the United States.”

But the politics of the trial Wednesday rippled not only in Europe and in Washington but in Iowa, where 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Biden was confronted with questions about whether he would be willing to testify in the proceedings.

The former vice president — who, along with his son, Hunter, has been the target of political investigations that Trump had asked of Ukraine — dismissed the idea that Democrats were even talking about a witness exchange involving Hunter and insisted he himself would not testify.

“The reason I would not make the deal, the bottom line is, this is a constitutional issue,” Biden said in response to a voter’s question in Osage, Iowa. “We’re not going to turn it into a farce or political theater. I want no part of that.”

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(Bloomberg) -- President Donald Trump ’s impeachment trial formally opens in the Senate on The trial could shift those numbers and carries the potential for unpredictability, as Democrats may win Assuming McConnell’s rules are adopted, both House managers and Trump ’s defense will be given

But as his Senate trial got under way in earnest, Trump received a powerful boost of support from the majority leader, Mitch McConnell, who on Monday night The document attacked the Democrats ’ case on constitutional grounds, arguing that the impeachment was invalid because Trump had not

Some Senate Democrats had started grappling with the prospect that they might have to greenlight witnesses desired by Republicans to subpoena key Trump administration officials. Such a decision could be made if a majority of senators agree to call witnesses after listening to opening arguments and questioning the two sides.

But Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) told reporters Wednesday that any deal with Republicans on a witness trade involving the Bidens is “off the table.” His remarks echoed those of Schiff, the lead impeachment manager, who said “trials aren’t trades for witnesses.”

Schiff laid out high expectations for senators as the trial got underway, calling on them to “decide what kind of democracy that you believe we ought to be” and what Americans can expect “in the conduct of their president.”

As he continued his remarks, Schiff called Trump “the key player in the scheme” to pressure Ukraine for investigations that could benefit him politically in exchange for a White House meeting and the release of nearly $400 million of military aid. Both coveted items were of a “great consequence to Ukraine,” Schiff said, particularly the funding meant to help the small Eastern European nation guard itself from Russia.

“Everyone was in the loop,” Schiff said. “[Trump] directed the actions of his team. He personally asked a foreign government to investigate his opponent. These facts are not in dispute.”

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Senate Republicans have been publicly and privately maneuvering to give Trump as quick of an acquittal as possible while still keeping 51 GOP senators on board. With that level of equivocation, GOP senators say Trump isn’t forcing their hand in his impeachment trial yet.

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Trump, who had wanted Ukraine to investigate the Bidens as well as a discredited theory that Ukraine worked with Democrats to interfere in the 2016 election, insists he has done nothing wrong and that a rough transcript of a July 25 call with Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelensky, exonerates him of any wrongdoing.

But if the Senate does not hold Trump accountable, Schiff warned, “the damage to our democratic elections, to our national security, to our system of checks and balances will be long-lasting and potentially irreversible.”

Even on the first day of opening arguments, the seats of many Republican senators and a handful of Democrats were empty as Schiff wrapped up his remarks. Some members were standing against the back wall to stretch their legs, but others stayed out of the chamber for an extended period, even though the rules call for senators, like jurors at any trial, to be in their seats the entire time.

During breaks outside the Senate chamber, Republicans dismissed the proceedings and said they were learning nothing new as they kept up their attacks on the House managers, particularly Nadler.

When asked whether Trump’s attorneys had also deserved their admonishment by Roberts, Sen. John Cornyn (R-Tex.) responded, “No,” saying Nadler “is embarrassing.”

“And it’s outrageous,” Cornyn added. “At some point, you got to call it what it is.”

The heated rhetoric from some Democrats on Tuesday risked turning off a small slate of influential GOP senators in the center of the procedural fight over witnesses and documents.

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“Well, I took it as very offensive,” Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) said of Nadler’s performance. “As one who is listening attentively and working hard to get to a fair process, I was offended.”

At a news conference in Davos, Trump said he “can live either way” with the Senate’s decision about whether to call witnesses at his impeachment trial, but he argued that testimony by former national security adviser John Bolton could pose national security and other concerns, including that Bolton left the administration on bad terms.

“You don’t like people testifying when they didn’t leave on good terms,” Trump said.

Democrats seized on another portion of Trump’s news conference, when he praised his legal team and added: “Honestly, we have all the material. They don’t have the material.”

Rep. Val Demings (D-Fla.), one of the House impeachment managers, said that comment provided more evidence of obstruction of Congress. But Jay Sekulow, one of Trump’s lawyers, responded by defending the president’s executive privilege rights.

“This isn’t nonsense,” Sekulow said. “This is really what the Constitution is about.”

Meanwhile, Trump said he would like to see an “acquittal fairly quickly” during a Fox Business Network interview in which he also called the Democrats pressing the case against him “totally nuts.”

But the White House set aside one avenue to end the proceedings quickly, at least for now, deciding against filing a motion Wednesday to dismiss the charges.

That does not preclude his lawyers from filing such a motion later, but Senate Republican leaders have warned that such a move would not have majority support from senators until fuller trial proceedings take place.

seung-min.kim@washpost.com

elise.viebeck@washpost.com

colby.itkowitz@washpost.com

Mike DeBonis, Karoun Demirjian, John Wagner, Felicia Sonmez, Paul Kane and Rachael Bade in Washington and Matt Viser in Osage, Iowa, contributed to this report.

GOP senator gives Democrats 'credit' for impeachment case and says trial should be 'instructive' to future Trump behavior .
Sen. Mike Braun complimented Democrats on making their case so far in President Trump's impeachment trial and argued that the process "ought to be instructive" to the president's future behavior.Joining NBC's Meet the Press on Sunday, the Indiana Republican gave his thoughts on the Senate impeachment trial, which began with 24 hours of opening arguments from the House impeachment managers followed by two hours of defense from Trump's legal team.

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