Democrat House managers began their opening arguments Wednesday afternoon in the impeachment trial of President Trump, laying out their case as to why they think the President should be removed from office.
"President Trump withheld hundreds of millions of dollars in military aid to (Ukraine) a strategic partner at war with Russia to secure foreign help with his reelection," Rep. Adam Schiff, (D-CA) lead House impeachment manager argued. "In other words, to cheat. In this way, the president used official state powers available only to him and unavailable to any political opponent to advantage himself in a democratic election. His scheme was undertaken for a simple but corrupt reason to help him win reelection in 2020. But the effect of his scheme was to undermine our free and fair elections and to put our national security at risk."
Republicans say the Ukraine case wasn't about the election as much as it was about not sending US money to fund a potentially corrupt situation. At the heart of that case, Joe Biden's son Hunter Biden had been given a key Ukrainian job for which he wasn't qualified.
Rich Lowry, the editor of The National Review tweeted, "I don't get how people who didn't balk at Obama's refusal to give Ukraine lethal aid can as *as a policy matter* object to a brief delay in military aid by Trump as a horrendous blow to Ukraine's defense."
I don't get how people who didn't balk at Obama's refusal to give Ukraine lethal aid can as *as a policy mattter* object to a brief delay in military aid by Trump as a horrendous blow to Ukraine's defense
— Rich Lowry (@RichLowry) January 22, 2020
Before beginning opening statements, dueling press conferences took place on Capitol Hill. Republican senators, House managers, and Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Senate minority leader.
"Let me point out, the fact that McConnell had to change his resolution showed that Republicans can make this trial more fair if they want to," he said. "It's not a question of ability. They can if they want. It's a question of conscience. Senate Republicans have the power in their hands to make it a fair trial. Will they use it when it matters? The next real test will come after Q and A when we revisit the issue of witnesses and documents."
Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OHIO) responded in a tweet. "House Dems couldn't be bothered to wait for the Courts to decide on witnesses. They said impeachment was urgent!" he wrote. "Now in the Senate, they're admitting how weak their case is by demanding more witnesses."
House Dems couldn't be bothered to wait for the Courts to decide on witnesses. They said impeachment was urgent! Now in the Senate, they're admitting how weak their case is by demanding more witnesses.
— Rep. Jim Jordan (@Jim_Jordan) January 22, 2020
House Minority Leader Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA) also tweeted about Democrats' refusal to go to court, writing: "A Democrat Impeachment Manager admitted the reason they're doing this is because going to court wouldn't have been quick enough to get this done before the election. Now we know why we're really here: So Dems can try to rig the 2020 election."
Along with his tweet, Scalise posted a video of Rep. Val Demings (D-FL), another House manager arguing before the Senate last night.
There it is folks.
A Democrat Impeachment Manager admitted the reason they're doing this is because going to court wouldn't have been quick enough to get this done before the election.
Now we know why we're really here: So Dems can try to rig the 2020 election. pic.twitter.com/BY9KXAn4Q3
— Steve Scalise (@SteveScalise) January 22, 2020
Also for the first time since the trial began, President Trump spoke about the Senate trial. He's been overseas the last couple days, but is heading back to Washington tonight.
Before boarding Air Force One, Trump called a surprise news conference. He lashed out at Democrats in the trial calling it a "hoax", adding he'd like to "sit in the front row and stare at their corrupt faces."
"I think it's so bad for our country when we have the head of the World Trade Organization here and he has to listen to this nonsense about a call that was perfect that nobody talks about," he said. "I never see them talking about transcription. I never see them talking about the call because there is nothing to say. You read it. Somebody should sit there and read it and everybody is going to say that is an impeachable event?"
The latest Politico/Morning Consult poll reveals 47% are in favor of Trump's removal from office with 45% opposed.
President Trump's lawyers will now get three days to make their case that the commander-in-chief did not commit a crime. But first up are Democrat prosecutors who get the same amount of time to prove he did.
Trump said he supports former National Security Advisor John Bolton and Acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney testifying during the Senate trial. But in the end, it will be up to the Senate to decide.
"I'd love to have Mike Pompeo testify but again that is a national security problem," he said. "But it's a national security problem. I'd love to have Rick Perry. Rick Perry has asked me, 'I would love to testify. Please let me testify' because he knows this is a hoax. He understands it better than most. Rick Perry would love to testify. We are dealing with national security."
Trump's lawyers say House Democrats rushed to impeach without fighting for witnesses in court. The commander-in-chief praised his legal team saying he "thought they did a very good job."