Senate adopts trial rules after bitter debate over evidence.
After rejecting repeated Democratic attempts to subpoena witnesses and documents, Republicans early Wednesday morning pushed through ground rules for President Trump’s impeachment trial on a party-line vote of 53 to 47.
The adoption of the trial rules ended more than 12 hours of acrimonious debate in which House managers and White House lawyers clashed over the role of the Senate in seeking additional evidence relevant to the accusations against Mr. Trump of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.
Under the rules, orchestrated by Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the majority leader, the House managers and Mr. Trump’s lawyers will each have 24 hours starting Wednesday afternoon to argue their cases for and against the articles of impeachment. Senators will have 16 hours to ask questions, submitted in writing, likely early next week. After that, the Senate will again consider the matter of whether to subpoena witnesses or documents, at which point a few Republicans have signaled they may be open to doing so.
But all day Tuesday and into the wee hours of Wednesday, in vote after vote — eleven in total — Republicans turned back Democratic efforts to subpoena records from the White House, the State Department and other federal agencies and compel testimony from John R. Bolton, the former national security adviser, Mick Mulvaney, the acting White House chief of staff, and two other administration officials.
Democrats assailed the rules as aiding in a “cover-up” for Mr. Trump because they will not allow senators to revisit the issue of admitting new evidence until later in the trial. During the debate, the House managers argued that would deny senators the chance to consider important facts until the proceeding was largely finished, if ever.
Bid forcing Roberts to rule on subpoena motions is rejected.
The Senate rejected early Wednesday morning the final amendment offered by Democrats — this time by Senator Chris Van Hollen, Democrat of Maryland — that would have required Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. to rule on motions to subpoena witnesses and documents. The vote, 53 to 47, was along party lines.
“It would give this decision to a neutral party,” said Representative Adam B. Schiff of California, the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee.
But Jay Sekulow, one of President Trump’s personal lawyers, rejected the measure out of hand. “This is not an appellate court; there is not an arbitration clause in the United States Senate,” he said.
Senate rejects request for more time to respond to motions.
The Senate on Wednesday morning rejected a Democratic request to provide more time to respond to any motions that might be made during the trial, voting 52 to 48.
The proposed rules give only two hours on Wednesday to respond to any motions that might be made. House managers asked for 24 hours, a move that would have added a day of delay. White House lawyers argued against the change, saying they were ready to proceed.
Senator Susan Collins, Republican of Maine, voted with Democrats to ask for more time to respond to motions.
Senate rejects Democratic bid to ensure votes on witnesses.
The Senate early Wednesday morning rejected a Democratic effort to guarantee that senators will eventually take a vote on specific requests for witnesses, and hear from them on the floor of the Senate.
Under the rules proposed by Republicans, senators will eventually debate whether to consider subpoenaing witnesses. But only if Democrats win that vote would votes be taken calling specific people. And even then, the rules assert that any witnesses agreed to will be deposed privately before yet another vote on whether they can testify publicly in the Senate.
The Democratic amendment to make the changes failed by a vote of 53 to 47.
Roberts admonishes Nadler and Cipollone.
Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. early Wednesday morning delivered an extraordinary admonishment of Representative Jerrold Nadler of New York, one of the impeachment managers, and Pat Cipollone, the White House counsel, after the two men traded insults in a particularly biting exchange.
Chief Justice Roberts urged the men to “remember that they are addressing the world’s deliberative body,” and stressed that the Senate had earned that title in part because “its members avoid speaking in a manner and using language that is not conducive to civil discourse.”
“I do think those addressing the Senate should remember where they are,” the chief justice said.
The censure came after Mr. Nadler, the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, infuriated Mr. Cipollone by telling Republican senators they showed all the signs of being ready to aid the president’s “cover up” in voting down a measure to compel John R. Bolton, the president’s former national security adviser, to testify during the trial.
Mr. Cipollone said Mr. Nadler “should be embarrassed” and reminded him that as a member of the House, he wasn’t “in charge here” in the Senate.
Senate rejects bid to subpoena Bolton for testimony.
The Senate on Wednesday rejected a Democratic effort to subpoena John R. Bolton, the former national security adviser, for testimony in President Trump’s impeachment trial. The vote fell along party lines, with the Republican majority prevailing.
At least one Republican, Senator Mitt Romney of Utah, has indicated that he might eventually support summoning Mr. Bolton, but only after opening arguments and senators have a chance to question each side. Others have expressed openness to doing so.
Mr. Bolton said this month that he would comply with a Senate subpoena if he received one, and other witnesses told House investigators that Mr. Bolton was deeply troubled by Mr. Trump’s dealings with Ukraine. But with the White House prepared to try to sue in federal court to restrain him from speaking, any subpoena could set off a messy and protracted legal fight over whether he could answer questions in the trial.
Debate between Nadler and Cipollone grows testy.
As the debate limped into 1 in the morning, the back-and-forth between Representative Jerrold Nadler of New York, the chairman of the Judiciary Committee and an impeachment manager, and Pat Cipollone, the White House counsel, grew remarkably testy, as the two men hurled undisguised barbs at each other on the Senate floor.
After Mr. Nadler told Republican senators they showed all the signs of being ready to aid the president’s “cover up” in voting down a measure to compel John R. Bolton, the president’s former national security adviser, to testify during the trial, Mr. Cipollone replied with a retort of his own.
“The only one who should be embarrassed, Mr. Nadler, is you, for the way you address this body,” he said. “This is the United States Senate. You’re not in charge here.”
Mr. Nadler shot back: “The president’s counsel has no standing to talk about lying.”
Trump roars back on Twitter.
President Trump, who was overseas at an economic forum, remained uncharacteristically quiet during the first 11 hours of the trial on Tuesday. But as the proceedings reached midnight in Washington, and 6 a.m. in Davos, Switzerland, where the president was, his Twitter feed roared back to life.
From the snowy Alps, Mr. Trump began blitzing out messages at a frenzied pace, reposting tweets, one after another, from Republican allies and friendly commentators in the news media defending him and attacking the House managers, aiming arrows at the trial half a world away.
He pushed out more than 40 tweets in as many minutes, recirculating messages asserting that he did nothing wrong and accusing Democrats of lying about him and depriving him of due process. Among those that he reposted was one from his son Donald Trump Jr. assailing one of the House managers, Representative Adam B. Schiff, saying, “this clown has 0 credibility!”
Senate turns back amendment over admission of evidence.
The Senate blocked another amendment by Democrats along a 53-to-47 party-line vote, this time with Republicans opposing a measure that would have forced President Trump’s defense team to provide documents that Democrats had sought if the president’s lawyers tried to introduce new evidence into the trial record.
The measure, Democrats insisted, would have prevented the selective admission of evidence by Mr. Trump’s team.
Senate blocks push to hear from 2 administration officials.
Republican senators blocked a Democratic amendment on Tuesday that would have subpoenaed Michael P. Duffey, a White House budget office official, and Robert B. Blair, a top adviser to the White House chief of staff, who was closely involved in the decision over the summer to freeze almost $400 million in military aid for Ukraine. The party-line vote, 53 to 47, stymied the latest attempt by Democrats to guarantee witness testimony as part of the trial.
Mr. Blair defied a subpoena from House impeachment investigators in the fall, but news reports since then have suggested he would be a valuable witness. He helped enact Mr. Trump’s order on the aid freeze, and he listened in real time to a July 25 phone call between President Trump and the leader of Ukraine that is at the center of the case. “Expect Congress to become unhinged,” Mr. Blair warned in one email reported by The New York Times, anticipating the reaction if the White House blocked the aid, which had been approved by Congress.
Mr. Duffey is a Trump appointee who played a notable role in enforcing the president’s freeze over the summer on the military aid for Ukraine. Career nonpartisan government officials testified that his involvement was unusual, but under White House orders, Mr. Duffey defied a subpoena from House investigators for testimony.
Senate rejects effort to subpoena documents from the Pentagon.
The Senate again voted on Tuesday to reject a Democratic effort to subpoena documents and communications related to charges against the president in yet another party-line vote, this time over records from the Defense Department.
Democrats are particularly interested in correspondence between the administration’s budget office and the Defense Department. In an August email released by the administration in a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit, Michael Duffey, a top budget official, wrote to the Defense Department’s acting comptroller and said there was “Clear direction from POTUS to continue to hold” the military aid Congress had appropriated to Ukraine.
It is the fifth Democratic-led amendment the Senate has rejected. Democrats have so far failed to compel the Senate to subpoena documents from the White House, the State Department and the Office of Management and Budget, as well as testimony from the acting White House chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney.
Late night of debate takes its toll on the Senate.
With no end in sight for the debate over amendments, senators appeared to be growing more frustrated with the limitations of the trial. As the Senate reconvened, about a third of its members were late to return, straggling into the chamber.
An aide to Senator Cory Booker tweeted a picture of staff aides carrying 10 large pizzas into the Senate — an indication that people were readying for the long night to continue.
“I will be brief,” Patrick F. Philbin, a counsel to the president, promised the chamber.
Negotiations to limit debate over evidence yield no deal.
An attempt to strike a deal to shorten debate over whether the Senate should hear testimony from top administration officials and subpoena new documents quickly went nowhere late Tuesday night as Democrats indicated they would continue their efforts to compel new information.
The Senate took a brief break after Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the majority leader, asked that Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the Democratic leader, bundle his amendments requesting witnesses and documents into a single package. Such a move would have allowed the Senate to debate and vote on the requests once, instead of individually.
Mr. Schumer seemed open to striking some sort of deal, but when the leaders returned from the break, no deal had been reached, according to aides with knowledge of the discussions, and it appeared that Democrats would press on.
McConnell requests that Democrats bundle their amendments.
Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the majority leader, requested that Democrats bundle their amendments so senators would not have to debate each one for hours given “a certain similarity to all” of the measures.
Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the Democratic leader, responded that he would not force senators to vote on Tuesday night on each amendment he had planned.
“But we will not back off on getting votes on all of these amendments, which we regard as extremely significant,” Mr. Schumer said. Senators are now taking a break, as the two leaders try to determine the floor schedule for the rest of the evening.
Senate rejects bid to subpoena Mick Mulvaney for testimony.
Senate Republicans blocked a Democratic attempt on Tuesday to issue a subpoena summoning Mick Mulvaney, the acting White House chief of staff, to testify in President Trump’s impeachment trial. The 53-to-47 vote, which fell along party lines, was the latest effort by Democrats to force the inclusion of new evidence in the proceeding.
Mr. Mulvaney could still be summoned later under Republicans’ proposed rules, but only after opening arguments and a period in which senators can ask questions of the House managers and president’s lawyers is complete. House Democrats subpoenaed Mr. Mulvaney in the fall during their inquiry, but he defied the order. Any similar attempt by the Senate is likely to set off a legal battle with the White House.
Few witnesses have greater access to Mr. Trump than Mr. Mulvaney, who serves as a White House gatekeeper and helped enforce Mr. Trump’s order over the summer to freeze almost $400 million in military aid for Ukraine as he pressed the country to investigate his political rivals. At one point, Mr. Mulvaney acknowledged on national TV that the two acts were connected, only to later recant his statement.
Democrats push to hear witness testimony from Mulvaney.
After recessing for dinner, Democrats began debate over an amendment to subpoena Mick Mulvaney, the acting White House chief of staff, to testify in President Trump’s impeachment trial.
The push for his testimony raises the larger question of whether any Republican senators will join Democrats in insisting that senior administration officials appear before the Senate and recount what they knew about Mr. Trump’s pressure campaign against Ukraine. But Democrats are particularly interested in hearing from Mr. Mulvaney given his proximity to Mr. Trump and his role in enacting a freeze on vital military aid that Congress had appropriated to go to Ukraine.
“The Senate has always taken its duty to obtain evidence, including witness testimony, seriously,” said Representative Hakeem Jeffries of New York, one of the House impeachment managers. “This is the only way to ensure fundamental fairness for everyone involved.”
A sketch artist captures the scene inside the chamber.
Art Lien, a courtroom sketch artist, will be observing the impeachment trial from the press gallery and capturing scenes that might not appear on television, including senators catching a few winks during debate.
Mr. Lien has primarily covered the Supreme Court since 1976, but this is not his first impeachment. He drew scenes from President Bill Clinton’s trial in 1999.
Senators recess for dinner.
Senators in President Trump’s impeachment trial have taken a dinner break, briefly putting on pause the acrimonious debate about the rules of the trial. The trial — only the third in history — has been underway for nearly seven hours as Democrats and Republicans wrangled over whether the Senate should seek additional documents and witnesses before both sides present their arguments.
So far, Democrats have failed to compel the Senate to subpoena documents from the White House, the State Department and the Office of Management and Budget. When the senators return, they will resume debate on a Democratic motion to subpoena Mick Mulvaney, the acting White House chief of staff.
At 7:30 p.m., Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the majority leader, announced a 30-minute break for senators to get dinner, though the lawmakers are likely to take longer than that to return.
Senate rejects a third bid by Democrats to subpoena records.
The Senate turned back a Democratic effort to subpoena White House budget documents for President Trump’s impeachment trial. The move to table the effort succeeded along party lines, 53 to 47, with Republicans prevailing in the latest in a series of partisan votes to block new evidence demanded by Democrats from coming to light. Republicans had succeeded in tabling two other similar measures.
Democrats had argued that emails among officials at the Office of Management and Budget about the suspension of security aid from Ukraine had already been disclosed through Freedom of Information Act lawsuits. In particular, they noted communications between Michael P. Duffey, the associate director of the agency, and the Defense Department, in which Mr. Duffey requested that the Pentagon “hold off” on additional aid to Ukraine and to keep the information “closely held.”
The Trump administration had refused House attempts to secure emails and other communications among officials in the budget office and the Defense Department.
Senate rejects a Democratic push for State Dept. documents.
The Senate blocked a Democratic attempt on Tuesday to subpoena State Department documents, emails and other correspondence for President Trump’s impeachment trial, including records involving Gordon D. Sondland, the United States ambassador to the European Union. The vote — the second push for documents — was 53 to 47, with the Republican majority prevailing.
Mr. Sondland, a wealthy business executive and Trump donor, told lawmakers that he did not have access to his written records before his testimony in the House impeachment inquiry. Mr. Sondland testified he worked with others to pressure Ukraine “at the express direction of the president” and confirmed that there was a clear “quid pro quo” linking a White House meeting for Ukraine’s president to the investigations Mr. Trump wanted.
The State Department had refused demands by House investigators to turn over documents from Mr. Sondland and other diplomats who testified in the impeachment inquiry. In arguments Tuesday evening, House managers said the documents were essential to fully understand Mr. Trump’s actions. White House lawyers argued that the administration had the right to assert privileges over documents like those from the State Department.
Democrats continue to press their case over Senate rules.
The first party-line defeat, 53 to 47, of a Democratic demand for documents made it clear that Republicans have the votes to hold off Democrats in the impeachment trial for now. So why will Democrats continue to press their case with a series of proposals seemingly destined to lose?
First, Democrats want to show their supporters that they are going to put up a fight and not be dismissed so easily by united Senate Republicans. Democrats have surrendered quickly in the past on other issues and drawn flak from the left.
Second, they want to force Republicans into a series of votes Democrats can then highlight to show the depth of what Democrats will portray as a Republican eagerness to shield President Trump from scrutiny. These votes will no doubt show up in campaign spots this year.
They also want to inflict a little punishment on their Republican colleagues for their refusal to give any ground and force them to listen to these arguments and vote. They do not want to give Republicans a pass.
Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the Democratic leader, has indicated, though, that he won’t press the matter too far.
Lawmakers debate a Democratic amendment for more documents.
After the Senate voted to block a bid to subpoena White House documents related to President Trump’s pressure campaign on Ukraine, Democrats tried again, mounting a new push to subpoena documents from the State Department.
That amendment, which is likely to be defeated along party lines, would cover a series of communications the administration has withheld, including messages between Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and other senior officials that Democrats say go to the heart of what they knew about Mr. Trump’s pressure campaign on Ukraine.
Representative Val B. Demings of Florida, the first black woman to serve as a House impeachment manager, made her debut speech on the Senate floor, imploring Republicans to support the measure. “We’re talking about a specific, discrete set of materials held by the State Department,” Ms. Demings said.
Senate blocks Democrats’ bid to subpoena White House documents.
The Senate voted Tuesday to block a Democratic bid to subpoena White House emails, memos and other documents related to President Trump’s pressure campaign on Ukraine that is at the heart of the impeachment case against him. The vote was 53 to 47 to table the amendment to the trial rules, with Republicans prevailing.
Mr. Trump’s administration refused to provide the documents — including correspondence among the president and his top national security aides — during the House impeachment inquiry. Democrats argued that the documents are necessary for a fair trial that would hold the president accountable.
Republicans have repeatedly said it was the House’s responsibility to gather all the evidence before sending articles of impeachment to the Senate. But the White House stonewalled every request made by the House investigators.
Flake says argument that president ‘did no wrong’ pains him.
There was a familiar face in the gallery overlooking the Senate chamber on Tuesday: Jeff Flake, the former senator from Arizona who decided not to seek re-election in 2018 after concluding that there was no room in the Republican Party for a critic of President Trump.
Chatting with reporters, Mr. Flake — who also served in the House — said he was not certain whether he would have voted to impeach the president: Good arguments can be made, he said, both for or against the idea that the president’s campaign to pressure Ukraine to investigate his political rivals rose to the level of an impeachable offense.
But one argument that cannot be made, he said, is that Mr. Trump did nothing wrong.
“As a Republican,” he said, “it pains me when I see Republicans, House Republicans, try to maintain that the president did no wrong, that this is somehow normal. It’s not.”
McConnell offers decorum advice to his colleagues on an open microphone.
Moments before the Senate reconvened to debate a Democratic amendment this afternoon, Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky offered his colleagues a lesson in decorum, Senate-style.
“I’d like to remind everybody to take their seats and when the chief justice comes in we really should all stand,” Mr. McConnell, the majority leader, told senators. The comment was caught on open microphones and broadcast through the Senate press gallery.
Shortly afterward, the cameras clicked on. Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. was once again seated at the dais and the senators were in their seats, ready to proceed.
Trump’s lawyers are a study in contrasts.
The two people arguing on behalf of Mr. Trump — Jay Sekulow and Pat A. Cipollone — are a contrast in style for a television-focused president. Mr. Cipollone, the low-key White House counsel, has almost no presence on the internet and has barely been photographed since taking on the role. His prominent role on the Senate floor was his first open-to-the-public speaking appearance in a year.
Mr. Sekulow, who helped install Mr. Cipollone in his White House role, has been Mr. Trump’s personal lawyer for nearly three years. Mr. Sekulow is used to talking before an audience, and it showed, as he hammered home points about the investigation by the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, and what he argued was a systematic effort to legally ensnare Mr. Trump.
House’s impeachment evidence will automatically become part of the trial record.
In a significant change, the rules resolution submitted by Senator Mitch McConnell automatically enters the evidence collected by the House impeachment inquiry into the Senate record of the trial, in the same way that a similar resolution treated evidence during the 1999 impeachment trial of former President Bill Clinton.
Democrats had railed against a provision in the proposed rules that would not have automatically admitted into the official record the House’s evidence. They warned that Republicans were attempting to conduct a trial with “no evidence” at all.
The change was hand written into the resolution — one of two changes made before it was introduced to the Senate.
Trump’s team is preparing just in case witnesses like John Bolton are called.
White House lawyers are preparing contingencies for the possibility that witnesses are allowed at the impeachment trial and that John R. Bolton, the former national security adviser, will be called, according to people working with President Trump’s legal team.
Objections to Mr. Bolton’s testimony would most likely involve a combination of arguing that portions of it are classified, and then taking that argument to federal court, according to the people working with the Trump team. They anticipate that such a move might go to the Supreme Court.
The prospect of Mr. Bolton testifying has caused alarm at the White House, even as some officials have played down how much direct knowledge he has about the events related Ukraine aid’s being withheld. Mr. Bolton, though his lawyer, has suggested he had additional relevant information pertaining to the Ukraine matter to share. He also said he was willing to testify.
White House counsel gets personal in remarks about Schiff, the lead House manager.
If there was any doubt that the Senate impeachment trial of President Trump would get bitter and personal, Pat A. Cipollone, the White House counsel, dispelled it quickly.
The arguments on the articles haven’t yet begun. But as he argued on behalf of the trial rules proposed by Republicans, Mr. Cipollone lashed out — personally and directly — at Representative Adam B. Schiff of California, the lead House manager.
“It’s very difficult to listen to Mr. Schiff tell the tale that he just told,” Mr. Cipollone said. Referencing a summary of Mr. Trump’s call with Ukraine’s president Mr. Schiff once gave during a committee hearing — which Mr. Trump frequently mocks — Mr. Cipollone said that Mr. Schiff “manufactured a fraudulent version” of the call. (Mr. Schiff has said that his depiction of the call conferred “the essence” of the presidents’ exchange as a “classic organized crime shakedown.”)
In a chamber renowned for the faux-graciousness of the senators, who regularly address each other as “my good friend,” Mr. Cipollone spoke directly to “Mr. Schiff,” denying him his title as a member of Congress or even a House manager.
Senators are now held to a vow of silence.
With the Senate sergeant-at-arms uttering the proclamation “All persons are commanded to keep silence, on pain of imprisonment,” the 100 senators are now held to a vow of silence and confined to their chairs for the duration of the day’s proceedings.
As Mr. Cipollone and Mr. Schiff began debating Mr. McConnell’s proposed rules, several senators in the chamber began scribbling notes at their desk, some using large white legal pads while others jotted down notes on the backs of small cards. Most of the desks in the chamber were stocked with pens, pencils and binders.
As they listened, some senators fiddled with pens in their hands while others like Senators Jerry Moran, Republican of Kansas, and Bernie Sanders, Democrat of Vermont, folded their hands as they listened.