Nicholas Wu and Bart Jansen
The impeachment trial has resumed. Refresh this page for updates.
WASHINGTON – Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said Senate Republicans’ refusal to call witnesses in the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump “fails the laugh test.”
Schumer said the charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress against Trump were “extremely serious.”
“To interfere in an election – to blackmail a foreign country to interfere in our elections – gets at the very core of what our democracy is about,” Schumer said. “If Americans believe that they don’t determine who is president, who is governor, who is senator, but that some foreign potentate out of reach can join us in our elections, that’s the beginning of the end of democracy.”
Senate Minority Leader Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., speaks to reporters near the Senate subway in the U.S. Capitol on Monday. Sarah Silbiger, Getty Images
The Senate voted Friday to reject witnesses at the trial, clearing the way for a final vote Wednesday.
“I thought they made a compelling case. But even if you didn’t, the idea that that means that you shouldn’t have witnesses and documents when we’re doing something as august, as important as an impeachment trial fails the laugh test,” Schumer said. “The Republicans refused to get the evidence because they were afraid of what it would show and that’s all that needs to be said.”
– Bart Jansen
GOP senators slam impeachment during speeches
The first Republican senators to give speeches on the Senate floor Tuesday offered few surprises as they slammed the “partisan” impeachment and argued Democrats had not proven their case against President Donald Trump.
Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., said the House managers prosecuting Trump failed to prove a case matching the “high bar” set by the nation’s founders to remove a president from office.
“Removing the president from office – and from the ballots for the upcoming election – would almost certainly plunge the country into even greater political turmoil,” he said.
Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-La., said Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer was a “prophet” for predicting during President Bill Clinton’s impeachment that the bar for impeachment had been lowered so much that, “we have broken the seal on this extreme penalty.”
Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, slammed the impeachment process as “fraught from the beginning with political aims and partisan innuendos.”
Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., said the managers did not prove the “allegations contained in the articles of impeachment,” and the articles did not “allege conduct that may be used for grounds of removal.”
Senators are given up to 10minutes to talk on the Senate floor about impeachment, and while most senators have publicly discussed their final impeachment vote, a handful of senators have not, including Democrats Joe Manchin, Doug Jones, and Kyrsten Sinema, and Republicans Susan Collins and Mitt Romney.
– Nicholas Wu
McConnell tells senators: ‘Vote to acquit’
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell attacked the House impeachment of President Donald Trump as a grave injustice and an example of “factional fever” on Tuesday.
The Kentucky Republican urged senators to acquit the president Wednesday, when the Senate impeachment trial comes to an end with a vote on whether acquit Trump or convict and remove him from office..
“We must vote to reject the House abuse of power,” McConnell said. “Vote to protect our institutions. Vote to reject new precedents that would reduce the framers’ design to rubble. Vote to keep factional fever from boiling over and scorching our republic. Vote to acquit the president of these charges.”
McConnell recited a history of Democratic antagonism to Trump that began with his election in 2016 and continued through the investigation of former special counsel Robert Mueller and the impeachment inquiry over Ukraine.
Rep. Jason Crow: Democrat reads from his children’s Constitutions during the Trump impeachment trial
“It insults the intelligence of the American people that this is a solemn process reluctantly begun because of withheld foreign aid,” McConnell said. “Their position was obvious when they openly rooted for the Mueller investigation to tear our country apart.”
McConnell, who occasionally smiled and chuckled during the speech, said the article accusing Trump of obstruction of Congress was absurd because the president was simply protecting presidential powers such as executive privilege when defying subpoenas during the inquiry.
“Impeachment is not some magical constitutional trump card that melts away the separations between the branches of government,” McConnell said.
McConnell also blasted the accusation that Trump abused the power of his office, blaming the dispute on a policy disagreement over Ukraine.
– Bart Jansen
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., walks from the Senate Floor in the U.S. Capitol on Tuesday. Alex Brandon, AP
Final vote awaits senators as they state their positions
Senators are set to explain their positions on impeachment ahead of a final vote Wednesday on whether acquit President Donald Trump or remove him from office.
After House impeachment managers and Trump’s defense team finished their closing arguments Monday, senators were given time to speak on the trial. Those speeches are expected to continue Tuesday. The trial resumed about 9:30 a.m. EST.
Only a handful of senators remain publicly uncommitted on their final impeachment votes, and some might use the speeches as an opportunity to explain their position to their constituents.
The speeches also come the same day Trump will give his State of the Union address. Here’s what will happen:
What happens Tuesday
Starting at 9:30 a.m. ET, senators are given ten minutes of speaking time to talk on the Senate floor.
A handful of senators remain publicly undecided on the final impeachment vote, including Democratic Sens. Doug Jones of Alabama, Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, and Joe Manchin of West Virginia.
What happened Monday: GOP Sen. Lisa Murkowski says she ‘cannot vote to convict’ Trump
Two Republican lawmakers, Sens. Mitt Romney of Utah and Susan Collins of Maine, have also been tight-lipped about their final decision.
In a floor speech yesterday, Manchin said he was “undecided” on how he would vote but called for censuring Trump instead of impeaching him.
A motion to censure Trump would formally express the Senate’s disapproval of his actions but would not remove him from office.
The draft censure resolution, which Manchin’s office provided to USA TODAY, would “condemn” Trump’s conduct “in the strongest terms.” But it could not be introduced until after the end of the impeachment vote on Wednesday.
Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, who had been tight-lipped about her final decision, announced she could not vote to convict Trump in a floor speech Monday.
Speaking on the Senate floor, Murkowski called Trump’s behavior in Ukraine “shameful and wrong” but argued she “cannot vote to convict” him.
Rep. Jason Crow: Democrat reads children’s Constitutions during impeachment trial
What has happened
Both sides gave their closing arguments on Monday, when Democrats urged senators to remove Trump and Republicans pushed for acquittal.
Democratic impeachment managers told senators Trump had to be removed before further misconduct was committed.
“You can’t trust this president to do the right thing, not for one minute, not for one election, not for the sake of our country,” said Impeachment Manager Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., during his closing remarks.
Republicans denounced the partisanship of the impeachment and called for senators to acquit Trump and let voters decide who their next president will be in November.
“This is exactly and precisely what the founders feared,” Trump’s attorney Jay Sekulow said. “This was the first totally partisan presidential impeachment in our nation’s history and it should be our last.”
How impeachment works: Pathway of the impeachment process: How it works, where we are
Contributing: Bart Jansen
Source USA Today.