Senator Bernie Sanders ‘would rather be in Iowa.’
Senator Bernie Sanders, the Vermont independent who is a leading Democratic candidate for president, has not been around the Senate much lately.
On Thursday, shortly after taking the oath to do “impartial justice” in President Trump’s impeachment trial, he confessed there were places he would rather be.
“I would rather be in Iowa today, there’s a caucus there in two-and-a-half weeks,” he said, after being asked whether he was concerned the trial would do damage to his presidential campaign. “I’d rather be in New Hampshire and in Nevada and so forth. But I swore a constitutional oath as a United States senator to do my job and I’m here to do my job, and I think the people of the United States understand that.”
Trump says he ‘just got impeached’ and wants a short trial.
President Trump waited until after Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. was sworn in and all 100 senators signed an oath book before he shared his thoughts on becoming the third president in history to be impeached and stand trial.
In fact, Mr. Trump was impeached almost a month ago, when the House of Representatives voted to impeach him on charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. The all-caps expression of astonishment followed an event celebrating National Religious Freedom Day that Mr. Trump held in the Oval Office, where he said he hoped the trial would be wrapped up quickly.
“I think it should go very quickly,” he told reporters. “It’s a hoax, it’s a hoax. Everybody knows that.”
Mr. Trump has vacillated between favoring a short trial — and fast acquittal — or a longer spectacle that could be used as an opportunity to present his side of the story using witnesses like the still-anonymous whistle-blower and Hunter Biden, the former vice president’s son. Senator Mitch McConnell, the majority leader, has made it clear he wants to push forward with as short of a process as possible.
On Thursday, Mr. Trump also claimed he did not know Lev Parnas, an associate of his personal lawyer, Rudolph W. Giuliani, who in a series of interviews earlier in the week asserted that the president knew everything about the effort to push Ukraine to investigate the Bidens and the 2016 election.
“Don’t know where he comes from,” said Mr. Trump, dismissing photographic evidence that the two had spent time together. Mr. Trump also said he knew nothing about a letter Mr. Giuliani had sent to Volodymyr Zelensky, the president of Ukraine, requesting a private meeting in his capacity as Mr. Trump’s private counsel.
“I don’t know anything about the letter, but certainly Rudy is one of the great crime fighters in the history of our country,” Mr. Trump said. “If he wrote a letter, it wouldn’t have been a big deal.”
Schumer vows to immediately push to hear from witnesses.
Senator Chuck Schumer, the minority leader, said Thursday that as soon as President Trump’s impeachment trial reconvened on Tuesday, he would immediately call for a vote to subpoena witnesses and documents.
“We expect that we will have votes on these witnesses Tuesday,” Mr. Schumer told reporters, referring to four witnesses Democrats have asked for: John R. Bolton, Mr. Trump’s former national security adviser; Mick Mulvaney, the acting White House chief of staff; Robert Blair, a top aide to Mr. Mulvaney; and Michael Duffey, a top budget official. The four men, Mr. Schumer said, have direct knowledge of Mr. Trump’s decision to withhold $391 million in military aid to Ukraine while pressing that country’s leader to investigate the president’s political rivals.
Mr. Schumer’s motion is all but certain to fail: Senator Mitch McConnell, the majority leader, is expected to offer an organizing resolution that would allow for a vote on witnesses and documents after both sides have presented their cases rather than at the outset, as Mr. Schumer wants.
Mr. Schumer also complained that Mr. McConnell has yet to show him the organizing resolution. “At this moment, we still haven’t seen it!” Mr. Schumer said.
The Senate issues a summons to President Trump to answer to the charges.
The summons requires the president to respond in writing by Saturday evening.
Senator Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky and the majority leader, then moved to set up a series of deadlines so that when senators return on Tuesday, they can proceed to the substance of the trial. The Senate adjourned and will not reconvene until Tuesday at 1 p.m.
If they wish, the House impeachment managers and the president’s legal team are allowed to file written trial briefs laying out their arguments for and against conviction. The House’s will be due at 5 p.m. Saturday, and the White House’s by noon on Monday. The House can then submit a rebuttal by Tuesday at noon.
The House will also be allowed to file a “replication,” or response, to Mr. Trump’s answer to the summons by noon Monday.
When the trial resumes, the Senate will vote on additional procedural rules to govern the first part of the trial and then could move as soon as Wednesday to hearing oral arguments.
“The Senate sitting as court of impeachment is adjourned until Tuesday, January 21 at 1 p.m.” Chief Justice Roberts said.
In Iowa and Florida, cheers for Trump.
As the ceremonial and solemn affair of President Trump’s impeachment trial began in Washington, several high-profile campaign and administration officials hit the road to promote red-meat issues as counterprogramming.
In Iowa, a women for Trump bus tour featuring the president’s daughter-in-law, Lara Trump, was underway, and in Florida — the president’s new home state — Vice President Mike Pence climbed aboard his own tour bus and traveled to meet with a mostly-white crowd of about 750 supporters at a rally in Tampa, Fla.
Pam Bondi, the White House’s in-house impeachment messenger, was a notable administration official Aboard Air Force Two, but when asked, she said she was just tagging along for a ride to her hometown.
At the event, Mr. Pence was flanked by Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida — a Republican in the Trump mold who proudly announced to the crowd that “we were able to ban sanctuary cities in the state of Florida.”
Mr. Pence spoke to the crowd about immigration, the Iran strike, border security and the administration’s recent trade wins, including the passage of Mr. Trump’s revised North American Free Trade Agreement.
“Just about an hour ago,” Mr. Pence said, “the United States Senate passed the biggest North American trade deal in history,” he said.
The trade deal was hailed as rare product of bipartisan politics, though both Republicans and Democrats have criticized it. “I heard that Chuck Schumer didn’t vote for it,” Mr. Pence said. “He led a minority of 11.”
Aside from disparaging the “obstruction” of congressional Democrats, Mr. Pence steered clear of impeachment.
The crowd cheered wildly, shouting “Four More Years,” “Build the Wall” and “Impeach Schiff” at points.
Senators take oath to ‘do impartial justice’ in Trump’s impeachment trial.
The Senate swore in Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. to preside over President Trump’s impeachment trial, formally opening a somber proceeding in which senators will consider whether to remove the president from office.
In a ceremony that has happened only twice before in the nation’s history, Chief Justice Roberts took an oath that dates to 1798.
The oath was administered by Senator Charles Grassley of Iowa: “Do you solemnly swear that in all things appertaining to the trial of the impeachment of Donald John Trump, president of the United States, now pending, you will do impartial justice according to the Constitution and laws: So help me God.”
Chief Justice Roberts said: “I do.”
He then delivered it to the senators themselves, asking them to stand while they made their vow.
The senators were then called in groups of four to sign the oath book.
Chief Justice Roberts has arrived in the Capitol.
Not long before 2 p.m., Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. made the short trip across First Street from the Supreme Court to the Capitol, where he will administer an oath to senators for President Trump’s impeachment trial and preside over it.
Chief Justice Roberts entered the building to a burst of camera flashes dressed in a suit tie, without his judicial robes on. He was escorted by the Senate sergeant-at-arms.
When the time comes, a group of four senators — two Republicans, two Democrats — will escort a robed Chief Justice Roberts into the chamber.
CNN calls senator’s retort to a reporter ‘extremely unbecoming.’
CNN responded on Thursday after Senator Martha McSally, an Arizona Republican, dismissed a basic question from the network’s congressional reporter by calling him “a liberal hack.”
“It is extremely unbecoming for a U.S. senator to sink to this level and treat a member of the press this way for simply doing his job,” the network said in a statement.
The reporter, Manu Raju, who is well-respected on Capitol Hill by members of both parties, had asked Ms. McSally if the Senate would consider new evidence in the impeachment trial. The senator responded by repeatedly calling Mr. Raju “a liberal hack,” adding, “I’m not talking to you.” She posted a video of her exchange on Twitter, earning plaudits from presidential allies like the Fox News host Sean Hannity. @TrumpWarRoom, a Trump 2020 account, congratulated Ms. McSally — “THIS is how you handle FAKE NEWS” the account wrote — and urged followers to donate to her re-election campaign.
The moment captured both the polarized state of Capitol Hill ahead of the president’s trial, and the open hostility faced by journalists in the Trump era, even in traditionally stoic venues like the Senate, where reporters and politicians frequently interact.
The impeachment oath sworn by senators and the chief justice dates to the 1700s.
The Constitution dictates little about how the Senate must run its trial, but it does require senators sitting in judgment and the chief justice of the United States who presides to take a special oath at the outset of the proceeding.
The oath that will be recited on Thursday can be traced back to 1798, when the Senate heard arguments in the impeachment of Senator Blount. Very little has changed since then, and some version of the oath was sworn at the outset of the 1868 trial of President Andrew Johnson and the 1999 trial of President Bill Clinton.
The oath sworn on Thursday reads: “I solemnly swear that in all things appertaining to the trial of the impeachment of Donald John Trump, president of the United States, now pending, I will do impartial justice according to the Constitution and laws: So help me God.”
When the Senate updated its impeachment rules for the television era in 1986, senators decided to incorporate a printed book where they could record their affirmation of the traditional oath, according to Daniel S. Holt, a historian in the Senate’s Historical Office.
Silence in the Senate as managers present the articles.
At five minutes past noon on Thursday, something rare happened in the Senate: All senators were seated, and the chamber came to a hush as the wooden doors swung open and a team of seven House Democrats, escorted by the Senate sergeant-at-arms, marched into the chamber. It was a grave moment, freighted with history, in the ordinarily bustling chamber.
“Hear ye, hear ye, hear ye,” the sergeant-at-arms declared, using language from another era to admonish the senators not to speak while Representative Adam B. Schiff, the lead impeachment manager, prepared to read the articles aloud. “All persons are commanded to keep silent upon pain of imprisonment.”
Senators reacted in various ways: Several — Kyrsten Sinema, Democrat of Arizona; Rob Portman, Republican of Ohio; Benjamin L. Cardin, Democrat of Maryland — took furious notes. Senator Joe Manchin III, Democrat of West Virginia, rested his head on his left hand. Senator Jack Reed, Democrat of Rhode Island, clasped his hands before him and bowed his head, as if in prayer.
At 12:20 p.m., Mr. Schiff finished reading the articles, and Senator Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky and the majority leader, rose to announce that he and his Democratic counterpart, Senator Chuck Schumer, the minority leader, had named four senators to escort Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. into the chamber at 2 p.m. to swear the senators in. They are Roy Blunt, Republican of Missouri, Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina (who was an impeachment manager during the trial of President Bill Clinton); Dianne Feinstein, Democrat of California; and Patrick J. Leahy, Democrat of Vermont.
Chief Justice Roberts will hold two jobs during the trial.
Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. received a formal request to attend the impeachment trial on Thursday morning, hand delivered by the Secretary of the Senate, Julie E. Adams. At least for the next few weeks, the chief justice will be working two jobs.
He will be sworn in as the presiding officer of the impeachment trial at 2 p.m. on Thursday by Senator Charles E. Grassley, Republican of Iowa and the Senate’s president pro tempore. After taking the oath, the chief justice will administer the oath to the entire Senate.
Since the impeachment trial is scheduled to be held in the afternoons, the chief justice is unlikely to miss any arguments.
If he does, he will participate in the cases based on the briefs and argument transcripts. The senior member of the court, Justice Clarence Thomas, will preside should the chief justice be absent.
The Supreme Court has no arguments scheduled for Thursday or Friday, but the justices will hold a private conference on Friday morning to decide which cases to add to their docket. The last arguments of the court’s current sittings are set for Tuesday and Wednesday, after which the court will take its four-week midwinter break.
Chief Justice Roberts will most likely use the ceremonial president’s room as an office, just as Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist did during the 1999 impeachment trial of President Bill Clinton. He and his law clerks will work on the court’s cases there during lulls in the trial proceedings.
Trump was not watching as the articles were read on the Senate floor.
As the impeachment proceedings on the Senate floor took place after the noon hour, President Trump was not watching on television, according to a person familiar with his schedule. Instead of sitting in the little dining room off the Oval Office, he was at work in the Oval, which does not have a television.
In the past, Mr. Trump has told aides to say he was busy working and wasn’t watching impeachment hearings, only to tweet or tell reporters later that he had followed the proceedings.
Impeachment managers read the charges against Trump to the Senate.
For the second time in two days, the seven House members who will serve as prosecutors made a solemn march through the Capitol to the Senate chamber, this time to formally announce the charges against President Trump and initiate only the third presidential impeachment trial in American history.
His words echoing from the well of the Senate, Mr. Schiff accused the president of abusing the power of his office, charging Mr. Trump with pressuring Ukraine for investigations into his political rivals and withholding $391 million in military aid as leverage. By blocking witness testimony and evidence from the House’s inquiry, Mr. Trump then unconstitutionally obstructed Congress, the House concluded.
“President Trump thus warrants impeachment and trial, removal from office, and disqualification to hold and enjoy any office of honor, trust, or profit under the United States,” he concluded.
Mr. Schiff, who spent months leading the effort to impeach the president, was accompanied by Representatives Jerrold Nadler of New York, the chairman of the Judiciary Committee and five other House members, each chosen for their litigation experience in the hopes of securing a guilty verdict in the nation’s third impeachment trial.
Moments before, the Senate sergeant-at-arms, Michael C. Stenger, commanded senators to sit in silence.
“Hear ye! Hear ye!” Mr. Stenger bellowed. “All persons are commanded to keep silence, on pain of imprisonment, while the House of Representatives is exhibiting to the Senate of the United States articles of impeachment against Donald John Trump, president of the United States.”
Senate passes revised North American trade deal just before hearing the articles of impeachment.
The Senate gave final approval to President Trump’s revised North American trade pact, less than an hour before the seven impeachment managers were set to begin the ceremonial process of reading the articles of impeachment against him on the Senate floor.
It marked the end of a strange track for the overwhelmingly bipartisan trade pact, which has run parallel to the impeachment inquiry and investigation. Even as senators were set to be sworn in as jurors, the majority of them agreed to hand Mr. Trump his second trade victory of the week — he signed an initial trade deal with China on Wednesday — in part because of significant changes negotiated between the administration and a core group of House Democrats.
Schiff says managers will consider calling Parnas for testimony at trial.
Representative Adam B. Schiff of California, the lead impeachment manager, said his team would consider whether to press the Senate to call Lev Parnas to testify once the trial begins.
The voluminous records Mr. Parnas turned over to the House in recent days and aired in news interviews “corroborate much of what we already knew about the president’s scheme to coerce Ukraine into helping him cheat in the next election,” Mr. Schiff said. “We are continuing to review his interviews and the materials he has provided to evaluate his potential testimony in the Senate trial,” he added.
Regardless of what the managers decide, it will ultimately be up to the Senate to determine which witnesses are called. A majority of the body — 51 senators — must agree on any witness.
Republican Senator Martha McSally lashes out at a CNN reporter.
It was a straightforward question being put to nearly every Republican senator in the Capitol on Thursday: Should the Senate consider new evidence as part of the impeachment trial?
But when Manu Raju of CNN, a well-respected congressional reporter, put it to Senator Martha McSally of Arizona, the first-term Republican who is up for re-election this fall went on the attack.
“You’re a liberal hack,” she said. “I’m not talking to you. You’re a liberal hack.”
Then Ms. McSally disappeared into a Senate office space without answering the question.
The exchange was remarkable for the usually respectful Senate, betraying just how polarized American politics have become and the raw nerves surrounding the impeachment trial.
Far from apologizing, Ms. McSally responded to Mr. Raju’s account of the episode on Twitter by posting a video of it. Reporters quickly vouched for Mr. Raju’s long record of credibility.
Pelosi addresses the idea of testimony from Lev Parnas.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Thursday that Lev Parnas, the Soviet-born businessman who says President Trump was fully aware of efforts to dig up damaging information that would help him in the 2020 election, would be “a credible witness” during the impeachment trial, though she stopped short of saying he should testify.
“He’d be a credible witness if what he’s testifying to relates to the issue at hand — the president’s behavior,” Ms. Pelosi said of Mr. Parnas, who is under federal indictment. But she said she would leave it to the House impeachment managers to determine whether they want to seek his testimony.
Mr. Parnas, an associate of Rudolph W. Giuliani, the president’s personal lawyer, played a central role in the campaign to pressure Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. Mr. Parnas is under indictment on largely unrelated criminal charges; in an interview with The New York Times on Wednesday evening, he expressed remorse for his role in the Ukrainian pressure campaign but blamed the president and Mr. Giuliani.
Security beefs up around the Capitol — with more formal attire.
The first sign that something unusual is happening in the Capitol on Thursday was apparent at every entrance door: Capitol Police officers are wearing their ties, mandatory attire for the impeachment trial. On ordinary days, the officers have the option of wearing ties but are also permitted to wear turtlenecks bearing a gold police insignia under their dress navy blue shirts.
The ties were just one sign that the Capitol is beefing up security in advance of the trial. Reporters, staff members and Capitol Police officers are required to wear special color-coded badges — maroon for reporters, brown for staff members, gray for police officers — in the Senate during the trial. Staff members from the House were not issued badges; they have been notified that they cannot cross the Capitol into the Senate while the trial is in session.
A federal watchdog weighs in on the Ukraine matter, saying the Trump administration broke the law.
The Trump administration violated the law in withholding security assistance aid to Ukraine, a nonpartisan federal watchdog agency said on Thursday, weighing in on a decision by President Trump that is at the heart of the impeachment case against him.
The Government Accountability Office said the White House Office of Management and Budget withheld the nearly $400 million, which was allocated by Congress, for “a policy reason” in violation of the Impoundment Control Act. The decision was directed by the president himself, and during the House impeachment inquiry, administration officials testified that they had raised concerns about its legality to no avail.
The White House budget office rejected the report’s conclusions.
The report, on its own, does not result in any action, although its release just as Mr. Trump’s impeachment trial is getting underway is certain to fuel additional questions about the impact of his actions.
The White House press secretary dismisses new evidence tying a Giuliani associate to the Ukraine affair.
The White House press secretary, Stephanie Grisham, tried to dismiss the stream of new details emerging about President Trump’s pressure campaign on Ukraine via Lev Parnas, an associate of the president’s personal lawyer, Rudolph W. Giuliani.
“We’re not too concerned about it. Once again, we know that everything in the Senate is going to be fair,” Ms. Grisham told Fox News on Thursday. “It’s unfortunate that he’s now making a media tour out with a lot of the outlets that are against the president. I think that shows exactly what he’s doing.”
Ms. Grisham also criticized the House impeachment proceedings and said the White House expected that Mr. Trump’s formal response to the charges would prove he did nothing wrong.
Mr. Giuliani worked with Mr. Parnas to try to oust the American ambassador to Ukraine. Mr. Parnas is under federal indictment and has been giving interviews to reporters, including cable news, while he is out on bail.
New evidence in the Ukraine pressure campaign looms over the trial.
Even as the trial was about to begin, lawmakers on both sides of the Capitol were again wading on Thursday through a trove of newly released text messages, voice mail messages, calendar entries and other records related to a campaign to pressure Ukraine to investigate Mr. Trump’s political rivals.
The evidence, handed over by Lev Parnas, adds significant new detail to the public record about how the pressure campaign undergirding the House impeachment charges played out and who knew about it. On Wednesday, Mr. Parnas also told The New York Times that he believed Mr. Trump knew that he and Rudolph W. Giuliani, the president’s personal lawyer, were working to dig up dirt on his political rivals.
The House managers could try to weaponize pieces of the material once the trial begins, but for now, they hoped the gusher of information would increase pressure on Senate Republicans to agree to call witnesses and collect new evidence during the trial.
It was unclear, though, if Republicans were so moved. One key Republican moderate, Senator Susan Collins of Maine, asked a question Democrats do not want to hear: Does not the Parnas disclosure suggest the House ended its investigation too hastily, leaving too many stones left unturned?
Impeachment proceedings move to the Senate. Here’s a rundown of the day.
History will be made swiftly on Thursday, as the Senate initiates only the third presidential impeachment trial in American history in three hours or less. The events begin at noon, and senators may be on airplanes out of town before business hours are over.
Here is a run-down of the day’s proceedings, based on guidance from Senate officials:
Before the impeachment trial gets underway, the Senate has some big unfinished business to wrap up. Around 11 a.m. Eastern, senators are expected to vote to approve Mr. Trump’s long-sought trade agreement with Canada and Mexico.
At noon, the newly appointed House managers will assemble on their side of the Capitol and process for a second consecutive day to the Senate chamber. This time, they will enter with the intention of exhibiting their articles and being introduced to senators. This entails reading the articles out loud, in full, as all 100 senators sit quietly at their desks listening.
The Senate plans to recess whenever the House managers are done with their presentation. Both parties will retreat to their usual luncheons to discuss strategy for the coming trial.
Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. will be escorted into the Senate chamber around 2 p.m. to preside over the trial. Senator Charles E. Grassley of Iowa, the Senate president pro tempore, will swear the chief justice in. His first task is to administer an oath to all senators, who must swear to do “impartial justice.” Senators will respond orally, but they must each sign an oath book to sit in trial.
At some point thereafter, the Senate will issue a summons to Mr. Trump informing him of its trial and demanding he answer to the charges, which will most likely be delivered in writing. They will also assign written trial briefs to the House managers and the president’s legal teams to be submitted next week.
With that, the Senate will recess the trial until Tuesday, Jan. 21, to give lawmakers one last long weekend break.