The questions senators asked during the Q&A

Bolton strongly implied Yovanovitch ouster was improper

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WASHINGTON — Senators engaged in the first of two eight-hour question-and-answer sessions in the Senate impeachment trial of President Donald Trump on Wednesday, and by the end of it each side had used its time to counter the other’s opening arguments.

Lawmakers submitted written questions to Chief Justice John Roberts, who read them aloud to the Democratic House managers and Trump’s legal defense team. They had five minutes to respond to questions, which rotated between Democratic and Republican senators.

There were themes. Republicans asked about the anonymous whistleblower whose complaint sparked impeachment, and Democrats wondered how the Senate could do justice without hearing witnesses.

Here are some highlights from senators’ questions:

Concerns over the impeachment and removal process

  • Republican question for Trump team: Did the House bother to seek testimony or litigate executive privilege issues during the month during which it held the impeachment articles before sending them to the Senate?
  • Republican question for Trump team: Does the House’s failure to enforce subpoenas render its “obstruction of Congress” theory unprecedented?
  • Democratic question for House managers: Even if a communication or a document is covered by executive privilege, that privilege can be overcome by showing that evidence is important and unavailable elsewhere. On Jan. 22 while this trial was underway, President Trump said, “I thought our team did a very good job, but honestly we have all the material. They don’t have the material.” Can you comment on whether executive privilege allows the president to conceal information from Congress, particularly if the evidence cannot be obtained elsewhere?
  • Democratic question for House managers: The president has taken the position that there should be no witnesses and no documents provided by the executive branch in response to these impeachment proceedings. Is there any precedent for this blanket refusal to cooperate and what are the consequences if the Senate accepts this position here?

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