Saturday July 4th, 2020 7:45AM

Democrats face risks and limits in Trump's impeachment trial

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

WASHINGTON (AP) — The challenge is becoming increasingly clear for House Democrats prosecuting President Donald Trump's impeachment case as the Senate convenes for a second day of arguments in the landmark trial.

No matter how overwhelming the evidence confronting Trump, it becomes less compelling when presented again and again, day after day, as Democrats try to convince not just fidgety senators but an American public deeply divided over the Republican president in an election year.

The team led by Rep. Adam Schiff, the chairman of House Intelligence Committee, constructed a gripping account of Trump's political pressure on Ukraine and attempt to cover up the “corrupt scheme” central to the charges. But the limits are apparent. Prosecutors must rely on the same loops of videotaped testimony — ambassadors, national security officials and even the president himself — after Trump's GOP Senate allies blocked new witnesses.

Democrats were once reluctant to take on impeachment during an election year but are marching toward a decision by the Senate that the American public also will judge.

“We're trying this case to two juries — the Senate and the American people,” Schiff acknowledged Wednesday ahead of opening arguments. “The American people are watching. The American people are listening. And they do have an open mind.”

Trump blasted the proceedings in a Thursday morning tweet, declaring them the “Most unfair & corrupt hearing in Congressional history!”

House Democrats impeached Trump last month, arguing he abused his office by asking Ukraine to investigate political rival Joe Biden while withholding crucial military aid. They also charged him with obstructing Congress by refusing to turn over documents or allow officials to testify in the House probe. Republicans have defended Trump’s actions as appropriate and cast the process as a politically motivated effort to weaken the president in the midst of his reelection campaign.

Campaigning in Iowa, Biden stood by the effort to remove Trump from office.

“People ask the question, ‘Isn’t the president going to be stronger and harder to beat if he survives this?’ Yes, probably. But Congress has no choice,” he said. Senators must cast their votes and "live with that in history.”

Each side has 24 hours over three days to present their case. After the House prosecutors finish Friday, the president's lawyers will follow. They are expected to take only Sunday off and push into next week.

Then there will be 16 hours for senators, who must sit quietly at their desks, no speeches or cellphones, to ask written question, and another four hours for deliberations.

“There’s a lot of things I’d like to rebut,” said Trump lawyer Jay Sekulow at the Capitol, “and we will rebut.”

On the first day of opening arguments, Schiff appealed to senators not to be “cynical” about politics, but to draw on the intent of the nation’s Founding Fathers in providing the remedy of impeachment and removal. He spoke directly to Republicans to join them in voting to oust Trump from office to “protect our democracy.”

Holding the room proved difficult. Most senators sat at their desks throughout, as the rules stipulate, though some stretched their legs, standing behind the desks or against the back wall of the chamber, passing the time. Sometimes they outwardly yawned. Republicans quietly smirked at the presentation from Schiff and the lesser-known House Democrats prosecuting the case.

Nearing nine long hours of arguments, the empty seats became glaringly apparent. Sen. Dianne Feinstein D-Calif., was under the weather and left early. Some lawmakers dashed down the hall to appear on television. Visitors thinned from the galleries, one briefly interrupting in protest and being removed by Capitol police.

The impeachment trial is set against the backdrop of the 2020 election. All four senators who are Democratic presidential candidates are off the campaign trail, seated as jurors.

Several GOP senators said Wednesday they’d seen no evidence to support the allegations against Trump even though, just 24 hours earlier, they had rejected subpoenas for additional witnesses as well as documents. Democrats, meanwhile, described the evidence against the president as overwhelming but said senators had a duty to gather more.

A new poll from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research showed the public slightly more likely to say the Senate should convict and remove Trump from office than to say it should not, 45% to 40%. But a sizable percentage, 14%, said they didn't know enough to have an opinion.

One issue with wide agreement: Trump should allow top aides to appear as witnesses at the trial. About 7 in 10 said so, including majorities of Republicans and Democrats, according to the poll.

The strategy of more witnesses, though, seemed all but settled. Republicans rejected Democratic efforts to get Trump aides including former national security adviser John Bolton, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, to testify in back-to-back votes earlier this week.

Senators were likely to repeat that rejection next week, shutting out any chance of new testimony.

A long-shot idea to pair one of Trump's preferred witnesses — Biden's son Hunter Biden — with Bolton or another that Democrats want was swiftly rejected. “That's off the table,” Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer told reporters.

Biden also rejected having his son testify or even appearing himself. “I want no part of that,” he told voters in Iowa.

Some Republicans expressed disdain for it all. Sen. Joni Ernst of Iowa spoke sarcastically about how excited she was to hear the “overwhelming evidence" the House Democrats promised against Trump.

"And once we’ve heard that overwhelming evidence," she said, raising her voice mockingly, “I don’t know that we’ll need to see additional witnesses, but let’s hear about that overwhelming evidence.”

Schumer bemoaned the limits on witnesses, saying Wednesday the impeachment trial “begins with a cloud hanging over it, a cloud of unfairness.”

Republicans remained eager for a swift trial. Yet Trump’s legal team passed on an opportunity to file a motion to dismiss the case on Wednesday, an acknowledgment that there were not enough Republican votes to support it.

The White House legal team, in its court filings and presentations, has not disputed Trump's actions. But the lawyers insist the president did nothing wrong.

___

Associated Press writers Mary Clare Jalonick, Alan Fram, Andrew Taylor, Laurie Kellman, Matthew Daly and Padmananda Rama in Washington and Bill Barrow in Osage, Iowa, contributed to this report.

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP National News, AP Online National News, Top General short headlines, AP Online Headlines - Washington, AP Online Congress News
© Copyright 2020 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Williamson's late surge not enough for for Pelicans
Zion Williamson capped his long-awaited NBA debut by scoring 17 of his 22 points in the fourth quarter and stirring the crowd into a frenzy only to see his team come up short
12:24AM ( 12 minutes ago )
Australian crews search for firefight plane feared crashed
Officials in Australia are searching for a water tanker plane that is feared to have crashed while fighting wildfires on Thursday
12:24AM ( 13 minutes ago )
Buttigieg's unlikely Iowa rise now carries high expectations
Pete Buttigieg finds himself in a place that he could hardly have contemplated when he began running for president a year ago: He likely cannot finish lower than second in the Iowa caucuses if he wants to advance in the Democratic presidential nominating campaign
12:17AM ( 19 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
Democrats appeal for GOP help to convict 'corrupt' Trump
House Democrats have wrapped up a day of arguments in President Donald Trump's impeachment trial, appealing to skeptical Republican senators to join them in voting to oust Trump from office to “protect our democracy
11:29PM ( 1 hour ago )
1 dead, 7 wounded in downtown Seattle shooting
Police say multiple people opened fire in the busiest part of downtown Seattle during the Wednesday evening commute, killing one person and wounding seven others
11:24PM ( 1 hour ago )
China closes off large city to stop spread of deadly virus
China has closed off a city of more than 11 million people to try to stop the spread of a deadly new virus that has sickened hundreds and spread to other cities and countries in the Lunar New Year travel rush
10:38PM ( 1 hour ago )
AP National News
Giants' Eli Manning retires after 16 seasons, 2 Super Bowls
New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning has retired
8:56PM ( 3 hours ago )
Crime required for impeachment? Not so, say legal experts
The defense in President Donald Trump's Senate impeachment trial may sound very similar to the defense in the first impeachment case in American history
8:06PM ( 4 hours ago )
Aerosmith drummer loses bid to rejoin band for Grammy honors
Aerosmith's drummer has lost his bid to rejoin the band as its set to perform and be honored at Grammy events this week
7:01PM ( 5 hours ago )
AP Online National News
Hallmark media CEO leaves, month after same-sex ad backlash
The head of Hallmark's media business is leaving the company after 11 years
4:40PM ( 7 hours ago )
Dems appeal for GOP open minds as impeachment arguments open
Opening arguments began Wednesday in President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial as House prosecutors outlined his “corrupt scheme” to abuse power and obstruct Congress
4:25PM ( 8 hours ago )
Impeachment trial brings angst for 4 presidential hopefuls
The four senators seeking the White House have been pulled off the presidential campaign trail and into the Senate as jurors in President Donald Trump's impeachment trial
4:10PM ( 8 hours ago )
Top General short headlines
Impeachment trial not ready for broadcast prime time
ABC, CBS and NBC stuck to entertainment programming Wednesday night instead of showing President Donald Trump's impeachment trial in the Senate
11:43PM ( 53 minutes ago )
Trump's rollback of US water protections nears completion
The Trump administration is expected to announce completion as soon as Thursday of one of its most momentous environmental rollbacks, removing federal protections for millions of miles of the country’s streams, arroyos and wetlands
11:35PM ( 1 hour ago )
S. Carolina elected official now backing Sanders over Biden
A black South Carolina elected official who considers herself a conservative Democrat is switching her allegiance from Joe Biden to Bernie Sanders in the state's first-in-the-South presidential primary
10:16PM ( 2 hours ago )
AP Online Headlines - Washington
Schiff takes conciliatory tone after Roberts' admonishment
Lead impeachment manager Adam Schiff, is taking a conciliatory tone at President Donald Trump’s Senate trial
4:30PM ( 8 hours ago )
Holding court in Davos, Trump distracted by impeachment
President Donald Trump has wrapped up two days in the Alps, where he showcased the American economy to world leaders and global elites
4:15PM ( 8 hours ago )
Italy's 5-Star leader Di Maio steps down as party struggles
The head of Italy's 5-Star Movement has stepped down as party leader following a string of parliamentary defections, falling poll numbers and questions about the movement's future
2:21PM ( 10 hours ago )
AP Online Congress News
Williamson's late surge not enough for for Pelicans
Zion Williamson capped his long-awaited NBA debut by scoring 17 of his 22 points in the fourth quarter and stirring the crowd into a frenzy only to see his team come up short
12:24AM ( 12 minutes ago )
Australian crews search for firefight plane feared crashed
Officials in Australia are searching for a water tanker plane that is feared to have crashed while fighting wildfires on Thursday
12:24AM ( 13 minutes ago )
Trump's rollback of US water protections nears completion
The Trump administration is expected to announce completion as soon as Thursday of one of its most momentous environmental rollbacks, removing federal protections for millions of miles of the country’s streams, arroyos and wetlands
12:20AM ( 17 minutes ago )
Buttigieg's unlikely Iowa rise now carries high expectations
Pete Buttigieg finds himself in a place that he could hardly have contemplated when he began running for president a year ago: He likely cannot finish lower than second in the Iowa caucuses if he wants to advance in the Democratic presidential nominating campaign
12:17AM ( 19 minutes ago )
AP-NORC poll: Public doubts Senate trial will be revealing
Americans are sharply divided along party lines about whether President Donald Trump should be removed from office and they doubt the Senate impeachment trial will do anything to change their minds,
12:16AM ( 20 minutes ago )