/LIVE UPDATES: Trump impeachment trial opening arguments – Business Insider

LIVE UPDATES: Trump impeachment trial opening arguments – Business Insider


A summary of what to expect

Trump, McConnell

President Donald Trump alongside Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., talks to the media about Robert Mueller’s report upon arriving for the Senate Republican Policy luncheon in the Capitol on Tuesday, March 26, 2019.
Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call


This week, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell drafted a resolution calling for each side to be given 24 hours to argue their case over three days of trial. Senators will then be given 16 hours for questioning.

The resolution, which passed Tuesday evening, allows for senators to vote on whether to call witnesses. If they vote to do so, the witnesses would be deposed behind closed doors before a separate vote on whether to have to have them testify publicly.

As with any other trial, Trump’s impeachment trial consists of two sides. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts is presiding over the trial.

The prosecutors, known here as impeachment managers, consist of lawmakers from the House of Representatives. The defense team is made up of lawyers tapped by the president.

Below are the seven lawmakers who Pelosi named last week to serve as impeachment managers:

  • Rep. Adam Schiff of California
  • Rep. Jerry Nadler of New York
  • Rep. Zoe Lofgren of California
  • Rep. Val Demings of Florida
  • Rep. Hakeem Jeffries of New York
  • Rep. Jason Crow of Colorado
  • Rep. Sylvia Garcia of Texas

Starting Wednesday, the impeachment managers, led by Schiff and Nadler, are expected to take several days to present their evidence against the president. This will include relevant testimony and documents that were obtained during the impeachment inquiry in the House last year.

But it’s also likely to include new details and documents that Lev Parnas, one of Trump’s Ukrainian associates intricately involved in the Ukraine pressure campaign, provided to the House Intelligence Committee this month.

Next up, Trump’s legal team will argue against impeachment and removal and move to have the charges tossed out. The defense’s arguments will also most likely last several days. Here are the lawyers representing Trump in various capacities:

  • Pat Cipollone, the White House counsel, who is spearheading the defense team
  • Michael Purpura, Cipollone’s deputy in the White House counsel’s office
  • Patrick Philbin, another deputy in Cipollone’s office
  • Jay Sekulow, Trump’s personal lawyer
  • Jane Raskin, Trump’s personal lawyer
  • Kenneth Starr, the former Whitewater independent counsel
  • Robert Ray, who succeeded Starr as independent counsel in the Whitewater investigation
  • Alan Dershowitz, a Harvard emeritus law professor and constitutional and criminal-law scholar
  • Pam Bondi, the former attorney general of Florida

The president’s legal team has argued that the charges against him, along with the impeachment process as a whole, are “constitutionally invalid” and should be dismissed. It is likely to drill down on this argument during its opening arguments.

Trump’s lawyers have repeatedly made contradictory or outright false statements about the impeachment process itself and the constitutionality of impeaching Trump.

On Tuesday, for instance, as the Senate debated the rules of the trial, Sekulow said Democrats didn’t seek enough testimony from witnesses before charging the president with abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.

He failed to mention that the reason Democrats were unable to obtain key testimony from senior officials was the White House’s directive that no one cooperate with the impeachment inquiry.

Sekulow also argued the courts should step in to settle disputes between Trump and Congress over subpoenas and witness testimony. But the Justice Department has argued for months that the courts should not have a role in the matter because it would become politicized.

At another point, Sekulow said the special counsel Robert Mueller’s report on Russian interference in the 2016 election found no evidence of obstruction of justice.

In fact, Mueller’s team outlined more than 10 instances that fit the criteria for obstruction but declined to make a “traditional prosecutorial judgment” because of Justice Department guidelines barring prosecutors from indicting a sitting president.

The Senate trial will go on for six days a week — senators get Sunday off — and is expected to begin at 1 p.m. ET every day to accommodate Roberts’ schedule for the Supreme Court. The trial is likely to last about two weeks but could go longer if the Senate changes the rules of procedure.

Grace Panetta contributed to this report.

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