UPDATE, 12:06 PM PT: Donald Trump’s legal team wrapped up their opening argument in the Senate impeachment trial, and the proceedings will move on to its next phase: A Q&A session that will start on Wednesday and run through Thursday.
When the Senate reconvenes at 1 p.m. ET on Wednesday, members will be allowed to pose questions to the House impeachment managers and Trump’s legal team, but they also will come in the form of written queries. Chief Justice John Roberts, who is presiding over the trial, also said that the questions should be phrased so that they yield answers no longer than five minutes. The questions will alternate between the Republican and Democratic sides.
After the Q&A sessions on Wednesday and Thursday, the future of the trial is uncertain. It looks more likely that Friday could see a vote on whether to call witnesses – a prospect that would extend the proceedings. If the Senate rejects calling witnesses, a final vote on whether to convict or acquit could come by the end of the weekend.
“We want a fair trial and a true trial where the facts come out,” said Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY).
PREVIOUSLY: President Donald Trump’s attorney Jay Sekulow called reports over the contents of John Bolton’s upcoming book “inadmissible” as evidence, and dismissed it as an “unsourced allegation.”
Trump’s legal team is in their final hours of their arguments in the impeachment trial, but until Tuesday they largely avoided The New York Times report that Bolton, Trump’s former national security adviser, writes in his upcoming memoir that Trump told him that aid to Ukraine was connected to whether the country conducted an investigation of his political rivals.
“You cannot impeach a president on an unsourced allegation,” Sekulow told the Senate, where all 100 members are present for the trial.
He noted that Trump has denied that he told that to Bolton.
But his pushback on the Bolton allegation likely will lead to further calls from Democrats that the Senate call Bolton to testify. That will take 51 votes of the Senate, or at least four Republicans breaking ranks and voting to call witnesses. So far, Mitt Romney of Utah and Susan Collins of Maine have indicated that they favor doing so.
Sekulow dismissed the reports of Bolton’s account of what happened. He said it was based on an “unpublished manuscript that maybe some reporters have an idea of maybe what it says.” He said that such evidence would be “inadmissible.”
The Times report solidified the direction that Bolton had been going in the eyes of a number of Trump supporters — from a favorite foreign policy voice to persona non grata.
On his show on Monday, Fox Business host Lou Dobbs said that Bolton has been “reduced to a tool for the radical Dems.” Bolton is a former Fox News commentator.
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