Politics

Trump impeachment trial: Democrats push for witnesses and documents

Key Points
  • House Democrats are set Thursday to press for documents and witnesses to be included in President Donald Trump's impeachment trial in the Senate.
  • House managers seized on Trump's boasts in Davos that "honestly, we have all the material. They don't have the material."
  • The trial is scheduled to resume at 1 p.m. ET
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Trump impeachment trial highlights: Democrats lay out case against president

House Democrats are ready to press their case Thursday that President Donald Trump should be removed from office, including arguing that the Senate should allow witnesses and documents in the impeachment trial. 

The seven House managers, led by Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., were given 24 hours to lay out their case that Trump should be convicted and removed from office.

They have up to three days to make their arguments, after which Trump's lawyers will have the same amount of time to present the defense.

The House impeached Trump on Dec. 18 on charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress over his efforts to pressure Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy to launch investigations of former Vice President Joe Biden and a debunked conspiracy theory alleging Ukrainian interference in the 2016 presidential election.

While Trump sought those investigations, his administration was withholding hundreds of millions of dollars in congressionally approved military aid to Ukraine as it battled Russia-back forces. Democrats also impeached Trump for blocking the House's investigation into the matter, by refusing to hand over any documents and directing key witnesses not to comply with Congress.

Schiff and his team kicked off their statements Wednesday by painting a detailed timeline of events encompassing Trump's dealings with Ukraine, and moving to establish that the president's actions constitute abuses of his office.

Trump, Schiff said, "does not, under our laws and under our Constitution, have a right to use the powers of his office to corruptly solicit foreign aid, prohibited foreign aid, in his reelection."

"He does not have the right to withhold official presidential acts to secure that assistance, and he certainly does not have the right to undermine our elections and place our security at risk for his own personal benefit," Schiff said. "No president, Republican or Democrat, can be permitted to do that."

Wednesday's proceedings went until nearly 10 p.m. ET. They are scheduled to restart Thursday at 1 p.m.

Trump's lawyer Jay Sekulow said Wednesday that the defense lawyers will challenge the House managers' arguments and present "an affirmative case" in Trump's defense.

As the Democrats put forward their case, they also argued for the Senate to permit new documents and witness testimony.

"We can and will prove President Trump guilty of the conduct and investigation into his misconduct," Schiff said toward the end of his final remarks Wednesday. "But you should know who else was involved in the scheme. You should want the whole truth to come out."

Rep. Jason Crow, D-Colo., another House impeachment manager, said Thursday on MSNBC that "with documents, that's going to be the ultimate judge of how serious [Republicans are] taking this, whether or not they're just going to be a rubber stamp for the president."

Democrats have also seized on Trump's boast in Davos, Switzerland, that "honestly, we have all the material. They don't have the material."

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President Trump on impeachment: The Republican Party has never been this unified

At the World Economic Forum, Trump slammed what he called the impeachment "hoax" and called out some of the leading Democrats, including "sleazeball" Rep. Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., before returning to the U.S.

Meanwhile, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., scoffed at the possibility of a witness trade in which former national security advisor John Bolton could be allowed to testify if Biden's son Hunter were also brought in as a witness.

Democrats see Bolton as a key fact witness who heard firsthand from the president about Ukraine. Many Republicans have adopted Trump's suspicions about Hunter Biden, who served on the board of a Ukraine natural gas company while his father was vice president.

"No, I think that's off the table," Schumer said, when asked about the possibility of a witness trade. "That trade is not on the table."