Closing arguments to begin in the Senate impeachment trial of President Trump – live updates

The Senate impeachment trial resumes Monday at 11 a.m. EST. Refresh this page for updates.

WASHINGTON – House impeachment managers and President Donald Trump’s legal team will make their closing arguments Monday as senators prepare to vote on whether to convict or acquit the president on charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. 

Those two articles of impeachment were approved by the Democratic-controlled House on Dec. 18 after a two-month inquiry into allegations that Trump held up military aid to pressure Ukraine into announcing investigations for his political benefit – including one involving former Vice President Joe Biden, a Democratic rival in the 2020 election. Trump has insisted he did nothing wrong and his defense team has argued that even if the allegations were true, they did not rise to the level of an impeachable offense. 

Last week, the Senate voted 51-49 against issuing subpoenas for additional witnesses and documents, which would have delayed the trial’s conclusion. 

Each side will have two hours to argue the case a final time before senators take to the floor to deliver speeches explaining how they view the charges. With a 53-47 seat Republican majority in the Senate and a two-thirds vote needed for conviction, it is almost certain the president will be acquitted in the final vote on Wednesday. 

What we know: Senators will vote Wednesday to acquit or convict Trump

Schiff: The House proved its case 

The lead House impeachment manager, Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calf., said Sunday Democrats “proved the corrupt scheme that they charged in the articles of impeachment.” 

“That’s pretty remarkable when you now have senators on both sides of the aisle admitting the House made its case and the only question is: ‘Should the president be removed from office because he’s been found guilty of these offenses?'” Schiff said on CBS News’ “Face the Nation.” 

Schiff said even if the Senate votes to acquit, “it’s enormously important that the president was impeached” because “by standing up to this president as we have, by making the case to the American people, by exposing his wrongdoing, we are helping to slow the momentum away from our democratic values.” 

“But I’m not letting the senators off the hook. We’re still going to go into the Senate this week and make the case why this president needs to be removed,” he said. “It will be up to the senators to make that final judgment and the senators will be held accountable for it.” 

Schiff declined to say if the House would continue to seek testimony from former national security adviser John Bolton, who says in his upcoming book that Trump told him the aid to Ukraine was tied to the investigations Trump desired, according to news media reports. But he said one way or the other, “the truth will come out.” 

– William Cummings 

Republicans concede Trump should have gone through DOJ 

GOP Sens. Joni Ernst of Iowa and Lamar Alexander of Tennessee said Sunday that while Trump’s acts were not impeachable, he should have gone through the Department of Justice if he had concerns about Biden and his son’s former position on the board of Burisma, a Ukrainian energy company. 

“I think, generally speaking, going after corruption would be the right thing to do,” Ernst, who declared she will vote to acquit, said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”  

“But I think he could have done it through different channels,” she added, referring to Trump’s decision to have his personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, handle it. “He should have probably gone to the DOJ. He should have worked through those entities, but he chose to go a different route.” 

On NBC News’ “Meet the Press,” Alexander said he believed Trump “called the president of Ukraine and asked him to become involved in investigating Joe Biden.” And he said, “at least in part, he delayed the military and other assistance to Ukraine in order to encourage that investigation.” 

“I think he shouldn’t have done it. I think it was wrong,” said Alexander, who plans to vote for acquittal.

“If he was upset about Joe Biden and his son and what they were doing in Ukraine, he should have called the attorney general and told him that, and let the attorney general handle it the way they always handle cases that involve public figures,” said Alexander, who is not seeking re-election in November’s election.

When asked why he thought Trump did not go to the DOJ, Alexander said, “Maybe he didn’t know to do it.” 

“I would think he would think twice before he did it again,” he added. 

– William Cummings 

‘He shouldn’t have done it’: GOP senator who scolded Trump on Ukraine explains why he backs acquittal

Republicans keep Biden in the spotlight 

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., told Fox News on Sunday that “the day of reckoning is coming for congressional and Senate oversight of Joe Biden.” 

“I’m going to bring in State Department officials and ask them, why didn’t you do something about the obvious conflict of interests Joe Biden had?” said Graham, who previously pledged to have his committee investigate the matter but has not yet scheduled any hearings.

“We’re going to get to the bottom of this,” he said. “And I can prove beyond any doubt that Joe Biden’s effort in the Ukraine to root out corruption was undercut, because he let his son sit on the board of the most corrupt company in the Ukraine, and we’re not going to give him a pass on that.” 

In an interview with Bloomberg News, Ernst said Democrats had lowered the bar for impeachment to the point that if Biden were to become president there would be voices calling for his removal because of Hunter Biden’s connection to Burisma. 

“I think this door of impeachable whatever has been opened,” Ernst told Bloomberg. “We can have a situation where if it should ever be President Biden, that immediately, people, right the day after he would be elected would be saying, ‘Well, we’re going to impeach him.'” 

– William Cummings 

Contributing: Bart Jansen, Maureen Groppe and Ledyard King 

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