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Takeaways from the Trump impeachment trial

In the impeachment trial of Donald Trump, Rep. Adam Schiff argues that it was "one hell of a Russian intelligence coup" that the president chased kooky theories about Ukraine pushed by Rudy Giuliani that benefited Vladimir Putin at U.S. expense. (Jan. 24) (Credit: SENATE TV)

WASHINGTON — Rep. Adam Schiff on Friday wrapped up the Democrats’ three-day case for the removal of President Donald Trump from office by arguing the articles of impeachment of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress had been proved.

Schiff also delivered a prebuttal to the case he expects Trump’s legal defense team to make beginning Saturday morning and ended with a plea to Republican senators to vote next week to subpoena unheard witnesses and unseen documents so the Senate holds a fair trial.

One of the things that makes the United States the “indispensable nation” is a fair trial, and no one is above the law, Schiff said. “So I ask you, I implore you, give America a fair trial. Give America a fair trial. She is worth it.”

The president’s lawyers will spend two to three hours starting at 10 a.m. to put on a “coming attractions preview” of the case they intend to present more fully and in greater detail on Monday, when the trial resumes after a day off on Sunday, a source working on the team said.

Here are highlights from Friday’s session of the Senate impeachment trial.

1 Trump Accused of a “Cover-up”

Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-Brooklyn) set out the first layer of the argument that Trump attempted to cover his tracks, after trying to coerce Ukraine to help his reelection by announcing an investigation into Joe Biden, a Democratic candidate for president. “President Trump tried to cheat, then he got caught, and then he tried hard to cover it up,” Jeffries said. “As additional evidence of the president’s wrongdoing mounted, White House lawyers redoubled their efforts to prevent Congress and the American people from learning of the president’s misconduct,” Jeffries said. After Trump’s July 25 call with Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky, Jeffries said, “There can be no mistake, the president of the United States was undoubtedly calling the shots.”

2 Democrats Detail Trump’s Defiance

Trump, the House managers said, did something no other president has done in his “categorical, indiscriminate and historically unprecedented” refusal to produce documents and testimony. Rep. Sylvia Garcia (D-Texas), a former judge, said she had “never, ever seen anything” like Trump’s attempt to “hide key evidence.” Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) said President Richard Nixon was more forthcoming. “Not only did Nixon allow his staff to testify before Congress, he publicly directed them to testify without demanding a subpoena,” Lofgren said. “Now compare to President Trump. He publicly attacked the House’s impeachment inquiry, calling it ‘constitutionally invalid,’ and he ordered every single person working in the executive branch to defy the House impeachment inquiry.” And Demings, citing Trump's tweets attacking former Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch while she was testifying, accused Trump of “witness intimidation.”

3 Schiff Invokes McCain

Schiff turned to the late Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) in explaining why Trump’s withholding of security aid and a White House meeting from Ukraine’s new anti-corruption president signaled a weakening of U.S. support for Ukraine. When Russia seized Crimea in 2014, McCain stood up for Ukraine. Schiff brought McCain back into the chamber where he served for decades in a video clip that his former colleagues, including Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), watched intently. “Suppose Ukraine, finally, after failing in 2004, gets it right: democracy, gets rid of corruption, economy is really improving and it’s right there on the border with Russia,” McCain said. Speaking of Russian President Vladimir Putin, McCain said, “And so I think it makes him really nervous if there was a success in Ukraine.”

4 Trump Defense to Target Steele, Bidens

Trump personal attorney Jay Sekulow said the president’s defense team will turn the tables on the Democratic House managers’ accusations that Trump solicited foreign interference in the U.S. election to help his election. That defense will accuse Democrats of also soliciting foreign interference in the 2016 election by hiring former British spy Christopher Steele, he said. And Sekulow said the House Democrats had opened the door “as wide as a double door” by mounting an extensive defense Thursday of Biden and his son Hunter Biden for their activities in Ukraine. “We’re going to rebut and refute,” Sekulow said, “and we’re going to put on an affirmative case tomorrow,”

5 Trump: Defense Opens in TV “Death Valley”

Although the president’s legal defense team finally gets its turn after three solid days of House Democrats pounding away on their evidence, Trump is not too happy about the fact that they’ll start on a Saturday. Trump on Friday tweeted: “After having been treated unbelievably unfairly in the House, and then having to endure hour after hour of lies, fraud & deception by Shifty Schiff, Cryin’ Chuck Schumer & their crew, looks like my lawyers will be forced to start on Saturday, which is called Death Valley in T.V.”

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