The Senate impeachment trial resumes at 1 p.m. today. Refresh here for live updates
WASHINGTON – House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Thursday said Thursday that President Donald Trump can’t be exonerated if senators don’t call witnesses in his impeachment trial.
“He will not be acquitted,” Pelosi told reporters. “You cannot be acquitted if you don’t have a trial. And you don’t have a trial if you don’t have witnesses and documentation.”
The speaker was responding to repeated questions from reporters about Democrats’ next move if the Senate clears Trump.
“We’re still prayerful, hopeful,” she insisted, “that the Senate will have the courage to hear the truth.”
Does she think Trump will be chastened and understand that Congress is watching him, she was asked, or will he be emboldened?
Pelosi restated the question before answering.
“Does the president know right from wrong? I don’t think so,” she said. “That’s all I can say.”
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Channeling Paul Revere, Pelosi warned that democracy and the nation’s system of government are at stake.
“The Russians are coming. The Russians are coming,” she said. “And the president has led a clear path for them to interfere, once again, in our election as they are currently doing.”
Pelosi, who has said before that all roads lead to Russia, added: “I don’t know what the Russians have on the president, politically, personally or financially, but he doesn’t see Russia as an adversary.”
– Maureen Groppe
Another 8 hours of questions on tap Thursday
The second and final question session begins at 1 p.m. With opening arguments out of the way for each side, the question phase sets up pivotal votes Friday about whether the Senate will call witnesses such as former national security adviser John Bolton.
Many of the questions Wednesday focused on Bolton because the New York Times reported that his pending book says Trump demanded Ukraine investigate his political rival, former Vice President Joe Biden, in exchange for military aid. Trump has denied saying it and his defense team attacked Bolton as a disgruntled former worker.
Bolton’s accusation could serve as confirmation of the central House impeachment allegation. But the National Security Council contends the book contains classified information, which could hinder its publication scheduled in March.
The House managers led by Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., contend that the trial won’t be fair unless the Senate calls witnesses such as Bolton and acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney.
But Trump’s defense team called the House case “half-baked” and said if witnesses were necessary, the House should have called them. Trump’s team also said the testimony could potentially be blocked by executive privilege, in order to protect confidential advice from top aides.
Several questions focused on the burden of proof senators should weigh in deciding whether to convict Trump and remove him from office. The president’s removal is unlikely because it would require a two-thirds majority in a chamber with 53 Republicans and 47 Democrats.
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Trump’s team has argued that the impeachment is unconstitutional because it isn’t based on violations of criminal statute, but on vague accusations of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. The defense lawyers argued that the House managers should have to prove their case beyond a reasonable doubt, as with a criminal case.
House managers contend that the article on abuse of power has been used in past impeachment inquiries against former Presidents Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton. In this case, Schiff said the charge is akin to bribery or extortion because Trump demanded an investigation in exchange for $391 million in military aid. The House managers said senators should use their own judgment in deciding whether to remove Trump.