KEY POINTS

  • Republican senators are looking for justification in White House arguments for not calling additional witnesses
  • The president's lawyers wrap up their defense Tuesday, opening the way for 16 hours of questions to begin Wednesday
  • A vote on calling witnesses could come as early as Friday.

Update: 3:05 p.m. EST

Trump's legal team wrapped up their impeachment defense Wednesday, saying justice demands the articles of impeachment be rejected.

White House counsel Pat Cipollone told senators all they need is the Constitution and commonsense to reject the articles of impeachment.

He played clips of Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and others arguing against the impeachment of Bill Clinton, in which they warned against tit-for-tat impeachments as political payback.

"You were right, but I'm sorry to say you were also prophetic," he said, adding, "You know what the right answer is."

He said throwing Trump out of office would weaken the country. He said the decision should be left to the November election.

"The election is only months away. The american people are entitled to choose their president," he said.

The trial was to resume at 1 p.m. EST Wednesday at which time lawmakers will ask questions.

Update: 2:05 p.m. EST

Trump attorney Jay Sekulow addressed reported allegations in former national security adviser John Bolton’s book by calling the New York Times story as inaccurate.

Sekulow quoted the president as denying he ever told Bolton military aid to Ukraine was tied to an investigation of former Vice President Joe Biden. He also quoted Attorney General William Barr as saying his discussions with Bolton did not cover special favors for despots.

Sekulow said House Democrats are asking the Senate to remove Trump from office over policy disagreements, and that, he said, is not why a president should be impeached.

Update: 12:15 p.m. EST

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer Tuesday shot down suggestions senators read John Bolton's book in a secure setting.

He said there's no need for that "unless you want to hide something."

Schumer is among Democrats pushing for Bolton to testify. He again rejected suggestions Hunter Biden, the former vice president's son be called to testify, saying he has nothing to do with the impeachment trial.

At the same time, Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., warned Republicans who break with Trump may face repercussions.

Update: 12:05 p.m. EST

President Trump Tuesday took offense at Fox News efforts to present the Democrats' side of the impeachment arguments, complaining the network gave Sen. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., too much air time.

He also criticized Fox host Chris Wallace, saying the veteran journalist belongs on CNN or MSNBC.

Original story

President Trump’s legal team dealt with revelations the president explicitly linked $391 million in military aid to Ukraine to an investigation of former Vice President Joe Biden by ignoring them, urging lawmakers to just focus on the case presented by House managers at the Senate impeachment trial.

“We deal with publicly available information,” Trump defense attorney Jay Sekulow said. “We do not deal with speculation, allegations that are not based on evidentiary standards at all.”

The defense is expected to wrap up its case Tuesday. Watch the proceedings below when they resume at 1 p.m. EST:

Once the defense rests, senators will have 16 hours to ask questions. A vote on witnesses could come as early as Friday.

The revelation came in former national security adviser John Bolton’s forthcoming book and has roiled Republicans’ efforts to head off calling any witnesses at the trial. But GOP Sens. Mitt Romney of Utah, Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski have expressed interest in hearing from Bolton and Trump defender Lindsey Graham of South Carolina said he wanted to see the Bolton manuscript.

The book is scheduled to be published March 17.

Trump supporters were busy impugning Bolton’s motivations, saying he just wants to sell books. Some Republicans complained they had been blindsided by the revelations.

Trump Monday denied he ever told Bolton the military aid and investigation were linked while his lawyers argued none of Trump’s actions amounted to an impeachable offense.

Sekulow accused Democrats of treating the impeachment process as a game, showing a clip of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi handing out special pens as part of the impeachment articles signing ceremony. He said it should have been a somber occasion, not a party.

Former Clinton special counsel Kenneth Starr said Democrats entered the impeachment process cavalierly and have lowered the bar so far, they’re in danger of creating the kind of parliamentary system the Founding Fathers wanted to avoid. He called presidential impeachment “hell” and warned: “Impeachment and removal not only overturns a national election and perhaps profoundly affects an upcoming election.”

White House deputy counsel Michael Purpura argued that because Trump met with Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky on the sidelines of a U.N. General Assembly meeting in New York, there was no link between the face-to-face encounter and an investigation into Biden and his son’s position on the board of the Ukraine energy company Burisma.

Jane Raskin, who defended Trump in the Mueller investigation, argued Trump personal Rudy Giuliani was not the mastermind of Ukraine policy the Democrats made him out to be. She said he actually was a minor player being used to “distract” from the facts and that he was acting as a personal lawyer with no influence on policy despite Trump’s directive in a July 25 call that Zelensky work with Giuliani on a Biden investigation.

Former Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi discussed corruption in Ukraine, an effort to make Trump’s desire for an investigation into the Bidens sound reasonable. Bondi said there were enough questions about Hunter Biden’s job with Burisma to justify an investigation.

Attorney Eric Herschmann argued if Trump is guilty of abuse of power, so was former President Barack Obama.

Patrick Philbin, deputy counsel to the president, to on the second article of impeachment, obstruction of Congress, saying Democrats erred by not taking a full House vote to authorize the impeachment inquiry. He said all the subpoenas issued were invalid because of that, and that’s why the didn’t have to be honored by the administration.

Robert Ray, who also worked as special counsel investigating former President Bill Clinton, said Trump’s actions were not as clear cut as Democrats make out, and they were just assuming his motivations were impeachable.

Harvard law Professor Alan Dershowitz said the impeachment articles are too vague and that the Founding Fathers reserved impeachment for criminal acts like treason or bribery.