LIVEBLOG: Senators Sworn In For Impeachment Trial

January 16, 2020

Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts was sworn in just after 2 p.m. ET to preside over the Senate impeachment trial of President Trump. After being sworn in himself, Roberts swore in the senators to serve as jurors in the trial. Follow along below, and refresh this page for updates.

6:01 p.m.

Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) issued a statement saying that “there has been a lot of mischaracterization and misunderstanding” regarding her position on the Senate impeachment trial process and that it is “likely” she “would support a motion to call witnesses” like she did in Clinton’s impeachment trial in 1999. Collins, a vulnerable senator who is up for reelection in 2020, recently came under fire for arguing that the Senate can vote on whether to have witnesses or documents on the condition that both sides present their cases.

There has been a lot of mischaracterization and misunderstanding about my position on the process the Senate should follow for the impeachment trial.  

Rather than have my position relayed through the interpretation of others, I wanted to state it directly:

1.     From the outset, I have said that we should follow the model that we used with the Clinton impeachment trial.

2.     That process provided for the opportunity for both sides to state their case and for Senators to ask questions through the Chief Justice. 

3.     At the conclusion of that phase of the 1999 trial, the Senate voted on a motion to subpoena witnesses and admit additional materials after the case had been heard and the questions had been posed.  I voted in favor of that motion subpoenaing witnesses.  

4.     For this trial, as was done in 1999, both sides should have the opportunity to state their case and the Senators should have the opportunity to pose questions. Then, the Senate should have an up-or-down-vote on whether to subpoena witnesses and documents. 

5.     While I need to hear the case argued and the questions answered, I tend to believe having additional information would be helpful. It is likely that I would support a motion to call witnesses at that point in the trial just as I did in 1999.  

6.     Prior to hearing the statement of the case and the Senators asking questions, I will not support any attempts by either side to subpoena documents or witnesses.  Instead, that issue should be addressed at the same point that it was in the 1999 trial.

7.     I have not made a decision on any particular witnesses.  When we reach the appropriate point in the trial, I would like to hear from both sides about which witnesses, if any, they would like to call. 

4:39 p.m.

When the Senate votes on a resolution setting out the procedures for impeachment, Democrats will likely force votes on calling witnesses, Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said at a press conference Thursday.

“We expect that we will have votes on these witnesses on Tuesday. We can’t be sure until we see the resolution that [Leader Mitch] McConnell has put together,” Schumer said.

3:46 p.m.

Minutes after speaking to reporters at the White House, President Trump expressed his grievances with the Senate impeachment trial formally kicking off in a tweet:

The impeachment case against Trump is about a whole lot more than a single phone call, of course.

3:33 p.m.
Speaking from the White House shortly after the Senate impeachment trial formally kicked off, Trump denied knowing Parnas, who said on MSNBC last night that the President “knew exactly what was going on” regarding the Ukraine pressure campaign: “I don’t even know who this man is other than I guess he attended fundraisers so I take a picture with him. I’m in a room I take pictures with people. I take thousands and thousands of pictures with people all the time.”
3:24 p.m.

Schumer and several other Democratic senators held a press conference after the swearing-in session was adjourned, during which the Democratic Senate leader addressed Lev Parnas’ “astonishing” MSNBC interview.

“Remarkably, crucial pieces of information related to the charges against the President are still coming out,” Schumer said.

He stated that both the interview and the GAO’s opinion that the Office of Management and Budget’s freeze on military aid to Ukraine broke the law “strengthen our push for witnesses and documents in the trial.”

2:43 p.m.

Roberts adjourned the trial until Tuesday, January 21 at 1:00 P.M.

2:13 p.m.

Senators are being sworn in for the impeachment trial of President Trump.

2:09 p.m.

Chief Justice Roberts is sworn in as presiding officer in the impeachment trial.

1:48 p.m.

John Roberts is in the building:

12:54 p.m.

Meanwhile, Connecticut GOP chair J.R. Romano wants Robert Hyde, the congressional candidate who regularly texted Lev Parnas about former Ukraine Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch’s whereabouts, to end his campaign and stop embarrassing the party.

“It’s not helpful to the President. It’s not helpful to other Republican candidates,” Romano told CNN. “And it provides an opportunity for Democrats to raise money.

12:17 p.m.

Schiff officially presented the two articles of impeachment to the Senate:

“The managers on the part of the House of Representatives are present and ready to present the articles of impeachment, which have been preferred by the House of Representatives against President Donald John Trump, President of the United States.”

12:04 p.m.

So it begins: The House impeachment managers are walking over to the Senate floor to deliver the impeachment articles right now.

11:51 a.m.

House Intel Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-CA) said that the newly uncovered documents and materials relating to Lev Parnas “corroborate” much of what the investigators already knew about the Ukraine pressure campaign.

He said that they are reviewing his interviews and materials to “evaluated his potential testimony in the Senate trial.”

Schiff added that the latest information dump only underscores the importance of having a Senate trial that is “open” to accepting evidence and calling witnesses.

11:47 a.m.

Senators have special cue cards to help them blow off journalists by telling them things like “You are preventing me from doing my job” and “Please do not touch me.”

11:31 a.m.

Pelosi offered Trump some options for the State of the Union, if he wants to delay it until after the Senate trial.

One of those was for him to just provide a written speech, which no President has done since Jimmy Carter in 1981, just days before his term ended following his defeat to Ronald Reagan.

She also said that he could ask to postpone the speech, but that most importantly, the Senate trial should not be “hastened” because he wants to make a speech to Congress.

11:27 a.m.

Pelosi calls Attorney General Bill Barr a “rogue attorney general”: “When I said that the attorney general was implicated, as I said this testimony implicated the rogue attorney general who has been the puppet — I don’t know who is the puppet, Trump or the attorney general.”

11:19 a.m.

Pelosi said Senate Republicans’ pushback against allowing the Parnas docs to be included in the trial “is just another avoiding of the facts and the truth on their part.”

“They want to ignore anything new that comes up,” she told reporters.

11:12 a.m.

Pelosi addressed the nation Thursday just before the impeachment managers officially deliver the articles to the Senate. Her lapel was bejeweled with the Mace of the House, a striking symbol of her chamber’s power that she usually dons on significant days.

11:04 a.m.

Pelosi’s up. Watch the livestream below:

10:46 a.m.

Schumer knocked McConnell’s Senate floor speech, saying that his GOP colleague would rather focus on trivialities instead of allowing a fair Senate trial process.

“He complains about process and pens and signing ceremonies, but still does not address the charges against the President and why we shouldn’t have witnesses and documents,” the Senate minority leader said.

10:26 a.m.

When asked during a Fox News interview whether Lev Parnas lied on MSNBC last night when he said that President Trump “knew what was going on,” White House counselor Kellyanne Conway did not give a straightforward answer: “When he says the President knew all of my moves, he gave consent — objection. You cannot say what someone else knew or thought. You can’t do that.” Conway would later add that Parnas is “a proven liar” and that she “never heard the President mention this person to me ever a single time.”

10:25 a.m.

Pelosi is scheduled to hold a presser at 10:45 EST.

10:24 a.m.

Sen. Martha McSally (R-AZ), considered to be one of the most vulnerable Republican senators, lashed out at a CNN reporter when pressed on if she’d consider new evidence as part of her impeachment deliberations.

McSally posted a video of the exchange:

10:16 a.m.

McConnell took the Senate floor Thursday, railing against Pelosi and other leading Democrats posing for pictures with the pens used to sign the articles of impeachment Wednesday.

“Nothing says seriousness and sobriety like handing out souvenirs, as though this were a happy bill signing instead of the gravest process in our constitution,” he said, per a rough transcript.

He then revisited his oft-repeated assertion that Democrats were looking for a reason to impeach the President from the beginning due to their dislike.

6:58 p.m.

MSNBC released a clip of Rachel Maddow’s interview with indicted Rudy Giuliani associate Lev Parnas, in which he says President Trump “knew exactly what was going on” regarding the pressure campaign in Ukraine. The full interview is set to air at 9 p.m. ET. Watch the clip here:

5:48 p.m.

McConnell also announced that Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts will be sworn in Thursday at 2 PM E.T. by Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA), the president pro tempore. Roberts will then swear in the rest of the senators.

McConnell also announced that the trial will begin in earnest on Tuesday, after the Martin Luther King Jr. Day holiday. In the meantime, the White House will be formally notified of the pending proceedings.

5:42 p.m.

McConnell accepted the message that the articles have been signed and said he would accept the articles themselves Thursday at noon, to be delivered by the House impeachment managers.

5:37 p.m.

The seven House managers walked two by two (with Rep. Sylvia Garcia of Texas bringing up the rear), carrying the articles of impeachment to the Senate chambers. They are about to enter.

5:31 p.m.

Pelosi hands out the pens she signed the articles with to an array of impeachment managers and committee chairs and leaves the room.

5:26 p.m.

With an array of pens, Pelosi signs the two articles of impeachment against Trump.

(Photo by BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP via Getty Images)
5:22 p.m.

Here are the pens Pelosi will use to sign the articles of impeachment:

(Photo by BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP via Getty Images)
4:58 p.m.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) is expected to sign the two articles of impeachment against Trump at 5 p.m.

4:52 p.m.

Even if former National Security Adviser John Bolton doesn’t end up testifying before the Senate’s impeachment trial — which he has said he would do if subpoenaed — he will spill some of what he witnessed as the Ukraine pressure scheme unfolded in his new book, the New York Times reported. 

The book, which will be published by Simon and Schuster before Democratic and Republican conventions this summer, is nearly finished, people familiar with the matter told the Times. Witnesses who testified before the House Intelligence Committee revealed Bolton was, on several occasions, vocally opposed to the scheme at the heart of the impeachment inquiry. At one point he called it a “drug deal.”

4:36 p.m.

House Intelligence Committee Chair and impeachment manager Adam Schiff (D-CA) told his home-state newspaper Tuesday that “new evidence” will likely come out as the Senate conducts its impeachment trial and argued it would be only reasonable for Senate Republicans to consider it.

“There’s going to be new evidence coming out all the time. And if this is conducted like a fair trial, then that new evidence should be admitted. If it’s relevant, if it’s probative, if it sheds light on the guilt or innocence of the President, then it should be admitted,” he told the Los Angeles Times on Wednesday, as the House voted to app0int him and six other members as impeachment managers.

“It will be hard, I think, for the senators to ignore new and probative evidence,” Schiff continued. “What are they gonna say? ‘We’re not going to look at that. We don’t want to see it. We’re going to close our eyes and close our ears and just pretend it didn’t happen or we didn’t learn this fact’?”

4:10 p.m.

Rep. Justin Amash (I-MI), who defected from the Republican Party, told CNN that he was not approached to serve as a House impeachment manager. He said he would have considered the role, adding that the case against President Trump is “very strong.”

3:09 p.m.

Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) said Wednesday that the Senate’s impeachment procedures will guarantee an up-or-down vote on hearing witnesses. There will be a recorded vote to call witnesses after the two sides make their cases, he told reporters. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) hasn’t released proposed procedures yet.

Tierney Sneed contributed reporting from Washington, D.C. 

1:37 p.m.

The House has officially voted to approve the impeachment managers and send the articles to the Senate by a largely party-line vote: 228 yeses to 193 nos.

There was one defection: Rep. Collin Peterson (D-MN), who voted against the articles of impeachment. He and Rep. Jeff Van Drew were the only Democrats to vote against the articles then, though Van Drew has since switched parties and now votes with the Republicans.

This marks the official move into next phase of the proceedings, after Pelosi held on to the articles for about three weeks after Trump was formally impeached.

1:14 p.m.

The House is officially voting on the impeachment managers and to send the articles to the Senate. It’s a solidly party-line vote so far, with about a quarter of the members having voted.

1:02 p.m.

Pelosi blasted Collins for his comment about Democrats being “in love with terrorists” after the passage of the war powers resolution to curtail Trump’s military authority in Iran.

“As I enter into the conversation, I do want to thank the distinguished gentleman from Georgia for his apology for his ridiculous remarks about me and House Democrats,” she said, holding eye contact with Collins. “Thank you. We accept your apology, Mr. Collins.”

Collins walked back the comment last week in a tweet.

12:48 p.m.

Nadler opened the debate on the impeachment managers resolution with praise for Pelosi’s handling of the articles and an extensive soliloquy on the need for witnesses and evidence as part of the Senate trial.

“The American people have common sense,” he said. “They know that any trial that does not include witnesses is not a trial — it’s a cover-up.”

Doug Collins, the ranking member on the Judiciary Committee, took the floor next. He spent his time trashing the “political impeachment” in the House and blaming Democrats for impeaching Trump out of personal dislike.

12:21 p.m.

House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Eliot Engel reacted to the news that ex-Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch may have been spied on by the Trump allies seeking her ouster, with a statement calling for the State Department to inform the committee of any awareness the Department had of the surveillance.

“Today, I will convey a formal request for documents, information, and a briefing from senior officials related to this matter.  This unprecedented threat to our diplomats must be thoroughly investigated and, if warranted, prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law,” Engel said.

Read the full statement here.

11:31 a.m.

An hour after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) announced the seven Democrats who will serve as House impeachment managers, House Democrats released the text of the resolution authorizing their role in the Senate impeachment trial.

10:56 a.m.

White House responds to Pelosi

White House spokesperson Stephanie Grisham responded to Speaker Pelosi’s press conference, saying Pelosi “failed” and that President Trump “has done nothing wrong.”

Read her full statement below:

“The only thing Speaker Pelosi has achieved with this sham, illegitimate impeachment process, is to prove she is focused on politics instead of the American people. The Speaker lied when she claimed this was urgent and vital to national security because when the articles passed, she held them for an entire month in an egregious effort to garner political support.  She failed and the naming of these managers does not change a single thing.  President Trump has done nothing wrong.  He looks forward to having the due process rights in the Senate that Speaker Pelosi and House Democrats denied to him, and expects to be fully exonerated. In the meantime, after President Trump signs the historic China Trade Deal greatly benefiting the people of this country, he will continue working and winning for all Americans, while the Democrats will continue only working against the President.”

10:36 a.m.

House Judiciary Chair and impeachment manager Jerry Nadler (D-NY) warned the Senate that it would be just as guilty of engaging in a “disgusting coverup” as the President if it doesn’t allow witnesses and documents to be brought forward.

“If the Senate doesn’t permit the introduction of all relevant witnesses and of all documents that the House wants to introduce because the House is the prosecutor here, then the Senate is engaging in an unconstitutional and disgusting coverup,” he said. “So the question is does the Senate — the senate is on trial as well as the President. Does the Senate conduct the trial according to the Constitution, to vindicate the Republic? Or does the Senate participate in the President’s crimes by covering them up?”

10:34 a.m.
10:34 a.m.

The President is watching:

10:30 a.m.

Schiff highlighted the importance of having documents in the impeachment proceedings, arguing that while witnesses may or may not tell the truth, “documents don’t generally lie.”

10:24 a.m.

Pelosi reiterated her argument that dismissing the articles outright would be a “cover-up,” expressing her disappointment that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-KY) signed onto a resolution to dismiss.

10:20 a.m.

10:19 a.m.

Pelosi announced the seven Democrats who will serve as House impeachment managers:

– House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff (D-CA)
– House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-NY)
– Rep. Val Demings (D-FL)
– Rep. Zoe Logren (D-CA)
– Rep. Jason Crow (D-CO)
– Rep. Sylva Garcia (D-TX)
– Rep. Hakeen Jeffries (D-NY)

10:13 a.m.

Pelosi kicked off the Democrats’ press conference with an emphasis on the fact that Trump’s impeachment is permanent, no matter what McConnell does with the articles when they arrive in the Senate: “On December 18th, the House of Representatives impeached the President of the United States– an impeachment that will last forever.”

10:04 a.m.

Pelosi is expected to sign the articles of impeachment at 5 p.m. ET.

10:03 a.m.

The House is expected to vote on impeachment managers early Wednesday afternoon, likely between 12:30 and 1 p.m. ET.

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