Trial highlights: Democrats roll out case as senators fidget
WASHINGTON (AP) — House Democrats opened arguments in President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial Wednesday, urging skeptical Republican senators to vote to remove Trump from office to “protect our democracy.”
Highlights of Wednesday’s session and what’s ahead as senators conduct just the third impeachment trial of a president:
Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., the lead prosecutor, spoke for more than two hours, laying out the case House Democrats made in weeks of hearings last year. Schiff, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, said Trump had pursued a “corrupt scheme” to abuse his presidential power and then obstruct Congress’ investigation.
He appealed to senators not to be “cynical” about the politics of impeachment, asking them to draw on the intent of the nation’s Founding Fathers.
The founders “feared that a president could subvert our democracy by abusing the awesome power of his office for his own personal or political gain,’’ Schiff said. ”And so they devised a remedy as powerful as the evil it was meant to combat: Impeachment.’’
The challenge before Schiff and other House managers was clear, as they tried to win over not just fidgety senators sitting silently in the chamber but a divided American public. Senators were especially restless Wednesday, as lawmakers convened less than 12 hours after a marathon session that stretched to nearly 2 a.m.
Freshman Rep. Jason Crow, D-Colo., a House impeachment manager, had trouble holding the attention of senators, who by Senate rules were sitting in silence without access to phones or other electronics. Many senators left their seats and headed to nearby cloak rooms, or stood in the back or openly yawned as Crow talked about Trump’s hold on military aid to Ukraine. At one point, more than 10 senators’ seats were empty.