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Washington Insider

    Beginning up to 24 hours of opening arguments, House impeachment managers started Wednesday to lay out the basics of their case against President Donald Trump, arguing the evidence is overwhelming that the President is guilty of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. 'Ultimately, the question for you is whether the President's undisputed actions require the removal of the 45th President from office,' said Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), who opened the House presentation with a speech of over two hours. 'Over the coming days, you will hear remarkably consistent evidence of President Trump's corrupt scheme and cover up,' Schiff added, arguing that Mr. Trump tried to use Ukraine to do his 'political dirty work' in an effort to smear former Vice President Joe Biden. Democrats charge the President withheld over $200 million in military aid for Ukraine in a bid to force the government to announce an investigation of Biden, and another investigation into what Schiff labeled 'that crazy conspiracy theory,' where Ukraine - and not Russia - hacked Democrats during the 2016 campaign. At the first break of the afternoon, the sharp break along party lines was clearly evident as Senators spilled out of the chamber. 'So far, we haven't heard anything new,' Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) told reporters just off the Senate floor.  'What we ought to be presented is evidence by witnesses that have personal knowledge,' Cornyn said, drawing an approving reaction from Senate Democratic Leader Charles Schumer, who was waiting to speak to reporters. But Cornyn made clear those witnesses should have testified in the House - not in the Senate, as Democrats have asked the Senate to hear testimony. Asked if there was any deal in the works between the two parties to have witness testimony - where Democrats would be able to call former Trump aide John Bolton, and Republicans would question Hunter Biden, the son of former Vice President Joe Biden - Schumer told reporters that was not happening. 'That's not even on the table,' Schumer said. Under the rules, House prosecutors have up to 24 hours - over three days - to present their case, which means they could be talking on the Senate floor through Friday. For now, there was no evidence that it was changing any GOP minds. 'I stayed awake, but I didn't hear anything new,' said Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY).
  • The first substantive day of President Donald Trump's Senate impeachment trial turned into a late night, insult-filled battle between House prosecutors and the President's legal team, as Republicans voted down repeated efforts by Democrats to have the Senate subpoena witnesses and documents related to the Ukraine impeachment investigation. 'They will not permit the American people to hear from the witnesses,' Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-NY) said, taking direct aim at the President's lawyers. 'And they lie. And lie and lie and lie.' That prompted an immediate response from White House Counsel Pat Cipollone, who demanded that Nadler apologize, accusing him of making repeated false allegations about President Trump. 'The only one who should be embarrassed, Mr. Nadler, is you,' Cipollone said. Just before 1 am, Chief Justice John Roberts warned both sides to tone it down, his first real foray into the impeachment trial. 'I think it is appropriate at this point for me to admonish both the House managers and the President's counsel, in equal terms, to remember that they are addressing the world's greatest deliberative body,' as the Chief Justice made clear the debate was not following along the lines of civil discourse. 'I do think those addressing the Senate should remember where they are,' Chief Justice Roberts added. Democrats kept the Senate working past midnight in a bid to put Republicans on the record on calling witnesses like former Trump National Security Adviser John Bolton, acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney, and other top officials who defied subpoenas from the House. 'The House calls John Bolton. The House calls Mick Mulvaney,' Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) said at one point. 'Let's get this trial started, shall we?' But with Republicans sticking together, GOP Senators defeated a series of Democratic amendments to an impeachment rules resolution on identical votes of 53-47 - straight along party lines. Democrats said there was only one reason why Republicans were not looking to hear from new witnesses - because they don't want to hear the real Ukraine story. On the other side, Republicans joined the White House legal team in blasting the demands of Democrats. 'The only thing that’s rigged is Democrats’ perpetual effort to undo the results of the 2016 election,' said Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX). In the end, no Republicans broke ranks, as the GOP defeated 11 different amendments by Democrats to change the GOP rules plan, bringing about a final vote over 12 hours after the Senate convened.
  • Facing opposition from within Republican ranks, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell presented an amended rules proposal on Tuesday to govern the start of President Donald Trump's impeachment trial, most significantly giving more time for House prosecutors and the President's lawyers to make their opening arguments. The changes came after a lunch meeting of GOP Senators, where Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) and others expressed reservations about the idea of forcing each side to cram 24 hours of opening arguments into just two days. 'She and others raised concerns about the 24 hrs of opening statements in 2 days,' a spokeswoman for Collins told reporters. Along with that change, McConnell backed off a provision which would not allow evidence from the House impeachment investigation to be put in the record without a vote of the Senate. The changes were made as House prosecutors and the President's legal team made their first extended statements of the Trump impeachment trial. 'Why should this trial be any different than any other trial? The short answer is, it shouldn't,' said Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), as he made the case that the Senate rules would not pass muster in a regular courtroom. 'This idea that we should ignore what has taken place over the last three years is outrageous,' said Jay Sekulow, the President's personal attorney, who joined White House Counsel Pat Cipollone in arguing against the impeachment charges. 'It's very difficult to sit there and listen to Mr. Schiff tell the tale that he just told,' Cipollone said, in one of the first direct jabs of the impeachment trial. “A partisan impeachment is like stealing an election,” Cipollone added. While there were GOP differences on the rules package offered by Republican leaders, GOP Senators stuck together on the first substantive vote of the impeachment trial, defeating an effort by Democrats to subpoena certain materials from the White House. The first vote was 53-47 to block an amendment offered by the Democratic Leader, Sen. Schumer.  It was straight along party lines. A second vote along party lines blocked a call by Democrats to subpoena documents from the State Department. Opening arguments are expected to begin on Wednesday.
  • A GOP rules plan for the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump unveiled by Senate Republicans on Monday could pave the way for the trial to be finished in as little as two weeks, as the plan envisions squeezing 48 hours of opening arguments into just four days, with the option of voting on the impeachment articles without any additional witnesses or evidence. 'Just because the House proceedings were a circus that doesn’t mean the Senate’s trial needs to be,' said Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN), who fully endorsed the proposal from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. While GOP Senators said the plan would be modeled on a bipartisan rules deal at the start of the Clinton impeachment trial, there were two notable differences from 21 years ago, governing opening arguments, and the submission of evidence. While each side would get 24 hours to make their opening arguments, this GOP plan would force that time to be used in just two days - raising the specter of an impeachment trial which could stretch well into the night because of those time constraints. Another change would require an affirmative vote by the Senate to simply put the investigatory materials from the House into the trial record, something which was done automatically in the Clinton impeachment trial. Also, even if extra witnesses were approved by Senators, it would not guarantee their testimony on the Senate floor, as there would have to be a vote after the depositions on whether the witness would testify publicly. With a Tuesday debate set on the rules, Republicans also made clear they would not support any move to add witnesses until after opening arguments have been completed. 'If attempts are made to vote on witnesses prior to opening arguments, I would oppose those efforts,' said Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT). Meanwhile, Democrats roundly denounced the GOP rules details. 'The proposal that Majority Leader McConnell just released looks more like a cover up than a fair trial,' said Sen. Chris Coons (D-DE). 'Mitch McConnell doesn't want a fair trial, he wants a fast trial,' said Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-HI). 'It's all about the cover up,' said Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT). 'These are not the Clinton rules.' 'There’s nothing in this resolution that requires hearing witnesses or admitting evidence — which is unlike any trial I’ve ever seen,' said Sen. Tina Smith (D-MN). 'Under this resolution, Senator McConnell is saying he doesn’t want to hear any of the existing evidence, and he doesn’t want to hear any new evidence,' said Senate Democratic Leader Charles Schumer, who promised to offer amendments to the plan on Tuesday afternoon. Debate and votes on the rules resolution will start on Tuesday afternoon - and could turn into an extended battle on the floor of the U.S. Senate.
  • In a 171 page submission made to the U.S. Senate on Monday, President Donald Trump's legal team said the impeachment charges submitted by the House do not identify any violations of criminal law and should immediately by dismissed by Senators. 'The articles should be rejected and the President should immediately be acquitted,' the legal brief states, arguing the charge of 'abuse of power' does not state an impeachable offense - even though that charge was drawn up by the House in 1974 against President Richard Nixon. 'House Democrats’ novel conception of “abuse of power” as a supposedly impeachable offense is constitutionally defective,' the Trump brief states. 'It supplants the Framers’ standard of “high Crimes and Misdemeanors” with a made-up theory that the President can be impeached and removed from office under an amorphous and undefined standard of 'abuse of power.'' On the question of whether President Trump held back military aid for Ukraine while pressing the Ukraine government to announce investigations related to Joe Biden and his son, the White House legal team says there is no evidence to support those claims. 'The most important piece of evidence demonstrating the President’s innocence is the transcript of the President’s July 25 telephone call with President Zelenskyy,' the trial brief states, referring to the call which President Trump has repeatedly said was 'perfect.' 'President Trump did not even mention the security assistance on the call, and he certainly did not make any connection between the assistance and any investigation,' the White House legal team states, without mentioning that a hold was put on the aid to Ukraine 90 minutes after that phone call concluded on July 25, 2019. From the White House on Monday, the President tweeted out his familiar opposition to the impeachment trial, continuing to characterize the House impeachment process as unfair. Minutes after the White House filed its trial brief, Democrats in the House responded to his initial 'answer' to the Senate trial summons. 'The House denies each and every allegation and defense in the Preamble to the Answer,' the nine page response began. 'He used Presidential powers to pressure a vulnerable foreign partner to interfere in our elections for his own benefit,' referring to the President's interactions with the leader of Ukraine.  'President Trump maintains that the Senate cannot remove him even if the House proves every claim in the Articles of impeachment,” the House reply added. “That is a chilling assertion. It is also dead wrong,' the House concluded.
  • In the first legal submissions of President Donald Trump's impeachment trial, Democrats on Saturday said the President had violated his oath and should be removed from office, while the White House denounced the impeachment charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress as 'constitutionally invalid.' In their 111 page legal brief, Democrats said the President had abused his power by trying to pressure the government of Ukraine into announcing investigations against Joe Biden, all in an effort to help Mr. Trump's 2020 re-election bid. Democrats said the very public effort by President Trump to block top White House officials from testifying before Congress - as they defied subpoenas for the impeachment investigation - was a violation of the Constitution. 'In exercising its responsibility to investigate and consider the impeachment of a President of the United States, the House is constitutionally entitled to the relevant information from the Executive Branch concerning the President's misconduct,' Democrats wrote. 'The Framers, the courts, and past Presidents have recognized that honoring Congress’s right to information in an impeachment investigation is a critical safeguard in our system of divided powers,' that trial brief added. In their initial answer to the Senate summons for this impeachment trial, the White House delivered a seven page legal rebuke to Democrats. 'The Articles of Impeachment are constitutionally invalid on their face. They fail to allege any crime of violation of law whatsoever,' wrote White House Counsel Pat Cipollone and the President's personal lawyer Jay Sekulow. 'In the end, this entire process is nothing more than a dangerous attack on the American people themselves and their fundamental right to vote,' the President's legal team concluded. 'The notion that President Trump obstructed Congress is absurd,' said sources close to the President's legal team. The White House has until 12 noon on Monday to file a trial brief to the Senate; Democrats would have until 12 noon on Tuesday to file a rebuttal. The Senate will reconvene as a court of impeachment on Tuesday afternoon. Senators must still approve rules to govern the first phase of the trial. Senate Republicans have said they would base that rules plan on one approved by the Senate for the start of the Clinton impeachment trial in 1999. That rules resolution gave each side 24 hours to make their opening arguments - which would likely be split up over three or more days on the Senate floor. Like 1999, it's possible the Senate may also take an early vote to dismiss the case entirely, an outcome preferred by President Trump.
  • With opening arguments in the Senate impeachment trial of President Donald Trump expected to begin in coming days, the White House on Friday unveiled a team of legal experts including former Whitewater prosecutor Ken Starr, and Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz to defend the President on Capitol Hill. 'President Trump has done nothing wrong and is confident that this team will defend him, the voters, and our democracy from this baseless, illegitimate impeachment,' White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham said in a written statement. 'The President looks forward to the end of this partisan and unconstitutional impeachment,' Grisham added. The Trump legal team members will join White House Counsel Pat Cipollone and the President's personal lawyer Jay Sekulow in defending Mr. Trump. Here is the list provided by the White House: + Ken Starr, Former Independent Counsel, Whitewater investigation + Alan Dershowitz, Professor of Law, Emeritus, Harvard Law School + Pam Bondi, Former Attorney General of Florida + Jane Serene Raskin, Private Counsel to President Donald J. Trump + Eric D. Herschmann, Kasowitz, Benson, Torres LLP + Robert Ray, Former Independent Counsel. While Dershowitz is a famous legal mind, Starr is the more political figure, given that his Whitewater investigation launched the impeachment of President Bill Clinton in 1999. And his appearance immediately drew the evil eye from allies of the former President. Democrats mocked the choices. 'If President Trump is looking to turn the impeachment trial into a reality TV show, he chose the right team with Alan Dershowitz, Ken Starr, and Robert Ray,' said Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA). But this is the U.S. Senate, not the People's Court.  'Well, that's their choice,' Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) said of Starr during a Friday interview on MSNBC. 'But it's a weird choice.' The choice of Starr also drew a profane response from Monica Lewinsky, who was the focus of Starr's investigation. The Senate impeachment trial resumes on Tuesday with votes expected on the rules to govern the initial phase of the Trump impeachment trial.
  • President Donald Trump said Thursday that he did not know Lev Parnas, an indicted business associate of Rudy Giuliani who claims the President knew all about Giuliani's efforts to oust the U.S. Ambassador in Ukraine, as well as behind the scenes work to get Ukraine to announce investigations related to Joe Biden, in order to help Mr. Trump's 2020 re-election bid. 'I don't know him. I don't know Parnas,' the President said a number of times to reporters at the White House. 'I don't know him at all. Don't know what he's about,' Mr. Trump added. But in interviews with MSNBC, CNN, and the New York Times, Parnas has said the President is not telling the truth about his efforts to put pressure on the leader of Ukraine. Documents and electronic messages provided by Parnas to the House Intelligence Committee in recent days included a letter that Rudy Giuliani wrote in May 2019, asking for a meeting with the newly-elected Ukraine President, in which Giuliani said he was 'private counsel to President Donald J. Trump.' 'I don't know anything about the letter,' President Trump said, praising Giuliani's time as mayor but not addressing what he did for Trump in Ukraine with Parnas and others. Also denying any knowledge of Parnas's claims was Vice President Mike Pence. 'I don’t know the guy,' Pence told reporters during a visit to Florida on Thursday, as the Vice President said the claim by Parnas that Pence knew about pressure being put on the Ukraine leader was 'completely false.' Democrats used those denials to question why Pence's office has refused to declassify further impeachment answers from a State Department official detailed to his office. Some Democrats have raised the possibility of asking to hear testimony from Parnas in the Trump impeachment trial, though any request for witness testimony must get a majority of Senators. As of now, most Republicans remain hotly opposed to any new witnesses, arguing the Senate should not have to find evidence which the House did not uncover. 'That's not our job,' said Sen. David Perdue (R-GA). 'Our job is to look at what they brought us and decide if that rises to the level of impeachment.' Perdue was part of the ceremonial first day of the Senate impeachment trial - just the third time a President has faced such a challenge in U.S. history. Opening arguments will take place next Tuesday.
  • Just before the official start of the Senate impeachment trial of President Donald Trump, the Government Accountability Office said Thursday that the White House had broken federal law by withholding over $200 million in military aid for Ukraine, as Democrats said the new findings should be aired before the Senate in coming days. 'Faithful executive of the law does not permit the President to substitute his own policy priorities for those that Congress has enacted into law,' wrote Thomas Armstrong, the General Counsel of the GAO. Democrats immediately latched on to the government watchdog opinion to reinforce their impeachment arguments. 'This is an important ruling that deserves a thorough hearing in the impeachment trial,' said Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) on the floor of the Senate. 'GAO confirmed the President broke the law,' said Senate Democratic Leader Charles Schumer. 'When President Trump froze congressionally approved military aid to Ukraine, he did so in violation of the law and the Constitution,' said Sen. Pat Leahy (D-VT). 'The GAO has confirmed what we’ve always known: President Trump abused his power,' said Rep. Chellie Pingree (D-ME). 'Another fact for the Senate to consider.' 'The hold Trump ordered was illegal,' said Rep. Don Beyer (D-VA). The law in question is known as the Congressional Budget and Impoundment Control Act of 1974,' which was passed after President Nixon had refused to release money approved by Congress.
  • Hours after Speaker Nancy Pelosi named seven Democratic lawmakers to act as the prosecutors for the House impeachment case against President Donald Trump, the House on Wednesday evening gave the Senate official notification that it was ready to proceed with a trial of the President on charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. 'A few minutes ago, the Senate was notified that the House of Representatives is finally ready to proceed with their articles of impeachment,' said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. The historic trial - only the third of a President in U.S. history - will officially begin on Thursday with the arrival of Chief Justice John Roberts and the swearing-in of Senators. Opening arguments in the case are expected to begin on Tuesday. The official moves came four weeks after the House had voted to impeach the President on two charges, as Democrats delayed in hopes of forcing Senate Republicans to call witnesses who refused to testify in House impeachment hearings. While that gambit did not work, new evidence did surface over that time period, including documents and messages gathered by Lev Parnas, an indicted associate of the President's personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani. Parnas worked with Giuliani in Ukraine, helping in his effort to force out then-U.S. Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch. The new materials, which included texts and other electronic messages involving Parnas, Giuliani, and others, also held notes which mentioned getting Ukraine to announce 'that the Biden case will be investigated.' It was the President's withholding of military aid - combined with an effort to ask for the Ukraine government to announce investigations of the Bidens and the 2016 elections - which prompted Democrats to convene impeachment hearings. Republicans greeted the official arrival of the impeachment charges with scorn and ridicule. 'Democrats have politicized impeachment and denied President Trump his fundamental right to due process,' said Sen. David Perdue (R-GA). 'It’s clear Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives failed to make their case.' 'By delaying the process, Speaker Pelosi confirmed that this impeachment is a partisan political exercise,' said Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV).
  • Jenks has grown a lot during the past few years, but the city is gearing up for what Jenks Chamber of Commerce President  Josh Driskell says will be a game-changer: the new outlet mall. It's set to open in the middle part of next year. He says it will bring in lots of shoppers and lots of spending all over Jenks. “They're going to be in downtown Jenks, they're going to be visiting Riverwalk, they're going to be visiting restaurants all throughout the community,” Driskell said. Besides the mall, there are other notable projects, including a new hotel that recently broke ground near the Gateway Mortgage headquarters near Highway 75. Driskell said there could be a new office building coming to that area too. He says city leaders are also excited about a new octopus exhibit at the Oklahoma Aquarium which is expected to boost attendance figures there when it opens in March.
  • Beginning up to 24 hours of opening arguments, House impeachment managers started Wednesday to lay out the basics of their case against President Donald Trump, arguing the evidence is overwhelming that the President is guilty of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. 'Ultimately, the question for you is whether the President's undisputed actions require the removal of the 45th President from office,' said Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), who opened the House presentation with a speech of over two hours. 'Over the coming days, you will hear remarkably consistent evidence of President Trump's corrupt scheme and cover up,' Schiff added, arguing that Mr. Trump tried to use Ukraine to do his 'political dirty work' in an effort to smear former Vice President Joe Biden. Democrats charge the President withheld over $200 million in military aid for Ukraine in a bid to force the government to announce an investigation of Biden, and another investigation into what Schiff labeled 'that crazy conspiracy theory,' where Ukraine - and not Russia - hacked Democrats during the 2016 campaign. At the first break of the afternoon, the sharp break along party lines was clearly evident as Senators spilled out of the chamber. 'So far, we haven't heard anything new,' Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) told reporters just off the Senate floor.  'What we ought to be presented is evidence by witnesses that have personal knowledge,' Cornyn said, drawing an approving reaction from Senate Democratic Leader Charles Schumer, who was waiting to speak to reporters. But Cornyn made clear those witnesses should have testified in the House - not in the Senate, as Democrats have asked the Senate to hear testimony. Asked if there was any deal in the works between the two parties to have witness testimony - where Democrats would be able to call former Trump aide John Bolton, and Republicans would question Hunter Biden, the son of former Vice President Joe Biden - Schumer told reporters that was not happening. 'That's not even on the table,' Schumer said. Under the rules, House prosecutors have up to 24 hours - over three days - to present their case, which means they could be talking on the Senate floor through Friday. For now, there was no evidence that it was changing any GOP minds. 'I stayed awake, but I didn't hear anything new,' said Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY).
  • Spain’s new government declared a national climate emergency on Tuesday, taking a formal first step toward enacting ambitious measures to fight climate change. The declaration approved by the Cabinet says the left-of-center Socialist government will send to parliament within 100 days its proposed climate legislation. The targets coincide with those of the European Union, including a reduction of net carbon emissions to zero by 2050. Spain’s coalition government wants up to 95% of the Mediterranean country’s electricity to come from renewable sources by 2040. The plan also foresees eliminating pollution by buses and trucks and making farming carbon neutral. Details of the plan are to be made public when the proposed legislation is sent to parliament for approval. More than two dozen countries and scores of local and regional authorities have declared a climate emergency in recent years. Scientists say the decade that just ended was by far the hottest ever measured on Earth, capped off by the second-warmest year on record. Also Tuesday, young climate activists including Greta Thunberg told the elites gathered at the World Economic Forum in Switzerland they are not doing enough to deal with the climate emergency and warned them that time was running out.
  • Mayor G.T. Bynum has confirmed to KRMG that he will name TPD Major Wendell Franklin as the next police chief for the city of Tulsa. Franklin, 46, had most recently served as commander of the department's Headquarters Division. In a public forum featuring the four finalists for the position held last Friday, Franklin spoke about the importance of using modern technology and data-driven decision making to enhance public safety. And, he promised to make the gathering and dissemination of that data as transparent as possible. Franklin was promoted over three deputy chiefs who were also finalists, Jonathan Brooks, Eric Dalgleish, and Dennis Larsen. Franklin grew up in Tulsa, and at only two years old, lost his mother to violence. But, he said Friday, he hadn't planned on a career in law enforcement until after he graduated from Booker T Washington High School. He enrolled at Tulsa Community College, where a counselor steered him toward criminal justice. He has served with the department for 23 years. 
  • Drugmaker GlaxoSmithKline has announced a temporary halt to its production of certain Excedrin headache pills, multiple news outlets are reporting. According to CNN and WSYR-TV, the company said in a statement Tuesday that it “discovered inconsistencies in how we weigh ingredients for Excedrin Extra Strength Caplets and Geltabs, and Excedrin Migraine Caplets and Geltabs.” The inconsistencies should not affect customer safety, the statement read. The company added that it is “working hard to resolve the issue as quickly as possible” but could not say when it would start producing the items again, the outlets reported. “Other Excedrin products are available along with other pain-relieving drugs, but dosages may differ,” the statement said. WSYR reported that some drugstores had a shortage of Excedrin products as a result. Read more here or here.

Washington Insider

  • Beginning up to 24 hours of opening arguments, House impeachment managers started Wednesday to lay out the basics of their case against President Donald Trump, arguing the evidence is overwhelming that the President is guilty of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. 'Ultimately, the question for you is whether the President's undisputed actions require the removal of the 45th President from office,' said Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), who opened the House presentation with a speech of over two hours. 'Over the coming days, you will hear remarkably consistent evidence of President Trump's corrupt scheme and cover up,' Schiff added, arguing that Mr. Trump tried to use Ukraine to do his 'political dirty work' in an effort to smear former Vice President Joe Biden. Democrats charge the President withheld over $200 million in military aid for Ukraine in a bid to force the government to announce an investigation of Biden, and another investigation into what Schiff labeled 'that crazy conspiracy theory,' where Ukraine - and not Russia - hacked Democrats during the 2016 campaign. At the first break of the afternoon, the sharp break along party lines was clearly evident as Senators spilled out of the chamber. 'So far, we haven't heard anything new,' Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) told reporters just off the Senate floor.  'What we ought to be presented is evidence by witnesses that have personal knowledge,' Cornyn said, drawing an approving reaction from Senate Democratic Leader Charles Schumer, who was waiting to speak to reporters. But Cornyn made clear those witnesses should have testified in the House - not in the Senate, as Democrats have asked the Senate to hear testimony. Asked if there was any deal in the works between the two parties to have witness testimony - where Democrats would be able to call former Trump aide John Bolton, and Republicans would question Hunter Biden, the son of former Vice President Joe Biden - Schumer told reporters that was not happening. 'That's not even on the table,' Schumer said. Under the rules, House prosecutors have up to 24 hours - over three days - to present their case, which means they could be talking on the Senate floor through Friday. For now, there was no evidence that it was changing any GOP minds. 'I stayed awake, but I didn't hear anything new,' said Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY).
  • The first substantive day of President Donald Trump's Senate impeachment trial turned into a late night, insult-filled battle between House prosecutors and the President's legal team, as Republicans voted down repeated efforts by Democrats to have the Senate subpoena witnesses and documents related to the Ukraine impeachment investigation. 'They will not permit the American people to hear from the witnesses,' Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-NY) said, taking direct aim at the President's lawyers. 'And they lie. And lie and lie and lie.' That prompted an immediate response from White House Counsel Pat Cipollone, who demanded that Nadler apologize, accusing him of making repeated false allegations about President Trump. 'The only one who should be embarrassed, Mr. Nadler, is you,' Cipollone said. Just before 1 am, Chief Justice John Roberts warned both sides to tone it down, his first real foray into the impeachment trial. 'I think it is appropriate at this point for me to admonish both the House managers and the President's counsel, in equal terms, to remember that they are addressing the world's greatest deliberative body,' as the Chief Justice made clear the debate was not following along the lines of civil discourse. 'I do think those addressing the Senate should remember where they are,' Chief Justice Roberts added. Democrats kept the Senate working past midnight in a bid to put Republicans on the record on calling witnesses like former Trump National Security Adviser John Bolton, acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney, and other top officials who defied subpoenas from the House. 'The House calls John Bolton. The House calls Mick Mulvaney,' Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) said at one point. 'Let's get this trial started, shall we?' But with Republicans sticking together, GOP Senators defeated a series of Democratic amendments to an impeachment rules resolution on identical votes of 53-47 - straight along party lines. Democrats said there was only one reason why Republicans were not looking to hear from new witnesses - because they don't want to hear the real Ukraine story. On the other side, Republicans joined the White House legal team in blasting the demands of Democrats. 'The only thing that’s rigged is Democrats’ perpetual effort to undo the results of the 2016 election,' said Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX). In the end, no Republicans broke ranks, as the GOP defeated 11 different amendments by Democrats to change the GOP rules plan, bringing about a final vote over 12 hours after the Senate convened.
  • Facing opposition from within Republican ranks, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell presented an amended rules proposal on Tuesday to govern the start of President Donald Trump's impeachment trial, most significantly giving more time for House prosecutors and the President's lawyers to make their opening arguments. The changes came after a lunch meeting of GOP Senators, where Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) and others expressed reservations about the idea of forcing each side to cram 24 hours of opening arguments into just two days. 'She and others raised concerns about the 24 hrs of opening statements in 2 days,' a spokeswoman for Collins told reporters. Along with that change, McConnell backed off a provision which would not allow evidence from the House impeachment investigation to be put in the record without a vote of the Senate. The changes were made as House prosecutors and the President's legal team made their first extended statements of the Trump impeachment trial. 'Why should this trial be any different than any other trial? The short answer is, it shouldn't,' said Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), as he made the case that the Senate rules would not pass muster in a regular courtroom. 'This idea that we should ignore what has taken place over the last three years is outrageous,' said Jay Sekulow, the President's personal attorney, who joined White House Counsel Pat Cipollone in arguing against the impeachment charges. 'It's very difficult to sit there and listen to Mr. Schiff tell the tale that he just told,' Cipollone said, in one of the first direct jabs of the impeachment trial. “A partisan impeachment is like stealing an election,” Cipollone added. While there were GOP differences on the rules package offered by Republican leaders, GOP Senators stuck together on the first substantive vote of the impeachment trial, defeating an effort by Democrats to subpoena certain materials from the White House. The first vote was 53-47 to block an amendment offered by the Democratic Leader, Sen. Schumer.  It was straight along party lines. A second vote along party lines blocked a call by Democrats to subpoena documents from the State Department. Opening arguments are expected to begin on Wednesday.
  • A GOP rules plan for the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump unveiled by Senate Republicans on Monday could pave the way for the trial to be finished in as little as two weeks, as the plan envisions squeezing 48 hours of opening arguments into just four days, with the option of voting on the impeachment articles without any additional witnesses or evidence. 'Just because the House proceedings were a circus that doesn’t mean the Senate’s trial needs to be,' said Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN), who fully endorsed the proposal from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. While GOP Senators said the plan would be modeled on a bipartisan rules deal at the start of the Clinton impeachment trial, there were two notable differences from 21 years ago, governing opening arguments, and the submission of evidence. While each side would get 24 hours to make their opening arguments, this GOP plan would force that time to be used in just two days - raising the specter of an impeachment trial which could stretch well into the night because of those time constraints. Another change would require an affirmative vote by the Senate to simply put the investigatory materials from the House into the trial record, something which was done automatically in the Clinton impeachment trial. Also, even if extra witnesses were approved by Senators, it would not guarantee their testimony on the Senate floor, as there would have to be a vote after the depositions on whether the witness would testify publicly. With a Tuesday debate set on the rules, Republicans also made clear they would not support any move to add witnesses until after opening arguments have been completed. 'If attempts are made to vote on witnesses prior to opening arguments, I would oppose those efforts,' said Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT). Meanwhile, Democrats roundly denounced the GOP rules details. 'The proposal that Majority Leader McConnell just released looks more like a cover up than a fair trial,' said Sen. Chris Coons (D-DE). 'Mitch McConnell doesn't want a fair trial, he wants a fast trial,' said Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-HI). 'It's all about the cover up,' said Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT). 'These are not the Clinton rules.' 'There’s nothing in this resolution that requires hearing witnesses or admitting evidence — which is unlike any trial I’ve ever seen,' said Sen. Tina Smith (D-MN). 'Under this resolution, Senator McConnell is saying he doesn’t want to hear any of the existing evidence, and he doesn’t want to hear any new evidence,' said Senate Democratic Leader Charles Schumer, who promised to offer amendments to the plan on Tuesday afternoon. Debate and votes on the rules resolution will start on Tuesday afternoon - and could turn into an extended battle on the floor of the U.S. Senate.
  • In a 171 page submission made to the U.S. Senate on Monday, President Donald Trump's legal team said the impeachment charges submitted by the House do not identify any violations of criminal law and should immediately by dismissed by Senators. 'The articles should be rejected and the President should immediately be acquitted,' the legal brief states, arguing the charge of 'abuse of power' does not state an impeachable offense - even though that charge was drawn up by the House in 1974 against President Richard Nixon. 'House Democrats’ novel conception of “abuse of power” as a supposedly impeachable offense is constitutionally defective,' the Trump brief states. 'It supplants the Framers’ standard of “high Crimes and Misdemeanors” with a made-up theory that the President can be impeached and removed from office under an amorphous and undefined standard of 'abuse of power.'' On the question of whether President Trump held back military aid for Ukraine while pressing the Ukraine government to announce investigations related to Joe Biden and his son, the White House legal team says there is no evidence to support those claims. 'The most important piece of evidence demonstrating the President’s innocence is the transcript of the President’s July 25 telephone call with President Zelenskyy,' the trial brief states, referring to the call which President Trump has repeatedly said was 'perfect.' 'President Trump did not even mention the security assistance on the call, and he certainly did not make any connection between the assistance and any investigation,' the White House legal team states, without mentioning that a hold was put on the aid to Ukraine 90 minutes after that phone call concluded on July 25, 2019. From the White House on Monday, the President tweeted out his familiar opposition to the impeachment trial, continuing to characterize the House impeachment process as unfair. Minutes after the White House filed its trial brief, Democrats in the House responded to his initial 'answer' to the Senate trial summons. 'The House denies each and every allegation and defense in the Preamble to the Answer,' the nine page response began. 'He used Presidential powers to pressure a vulnerable foreign partner to interfere in our elections for his own benefit,' referring to the President's interactions with the leader of Ukraine.  'President Trump maintains that the Senate cannot remove him even if the House proves every claim in the Articles of impeachment,” the House reply added. “That is a chilling assertion. It is also dead wrong,' the House concluded.