Updated at 3:37 p.m.
Opening arguments are under way in the Senate impeachment trial of President Trump.
The seven House managers are formally making their case that the Senate should convict President Trump on two articles of impeachment, which charge him with abusing the power of his office and with obstructing Congress.
In his opening statement, the lead impeachment manager, Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., addressed the 100 senators acting as jurors in the impeachment trial.
“I recognize that there will be times during the trial that you may long to return to the business of the Senate,” Schiff said. “The American people look forward to the same. But not before you decide what kind of democracy you believe we ought to be, and what the American people have a right to expect in the conduct of their president.”
Schiff said that unless Trump is convicted by the Senate and removed from power, his “abuse of his office and obstruction of Congress will permanently alter the balance of power among our branches of government, inviting future presidents to operate as if they, too, are also beyond the reach of accountability, congressional oversight, and the law.”
Wrapping up his lengthy opening statement, Schiff said: “We all, Democrats and Republicans alike, must ask ourselves whether our loyalty is to our party or whether it is to our constitution.”
Earlier, as he met with reporters just before heading to the Senate, Schiff said the managers “will lay out all the facts and chronology,” in the coming days.
“We believe we will make an overwhelming case for the president’s conviction on both Article 1 and Article 2,” he added.
Schiff threw cold water on reports of a deal to allow Hunter Biden, son of former Vice President Joe Biden, to testify in return for a witness Democrats want to hear from, saying this is not “some fantasy football trade.”
That stance was echoed later in the day by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y. who said a witness trade is “off the table.”
After Schiff completed his argument, House Judiciary Committee chairman Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., spoke next.
At nearly 2 a.m. ET on Wednesday morning, the Senate adopted a resolution that calls for 24 hours of opening statements for each side, to be spread over three days, after rejecting efforts by Democrats to subpoena documents the Trump administration has refused to turn over.
The GOP majority also rejected efforts to subpoena current and former Trump administration officials to testify, including former national security adviser John Bolton and current acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney.
In Davos, Switzerland, where he was attending the World Economic Forum meeting, Trump re-emphasized his view that the impeachment case against him is a “hoax.”
“I think it’s so bad for the country,” he said, adding: “I’d love to go to the trial, sit in the front row and stare at their corrupt faces.”
The president, who has said he is open to hearing from witnesses in the Senate trial, said Wednesday that that decision was ultimately up to the Senate.
“Personally, I’d rather go the long route,” he said.
But Trump, who is returning to Washington on Wednesday, also cited “national security” for why he has reservations about testimony from some witnesses Democrats are seeking, such as Bolton. Trump said that Bolton knows too much about his personal conversations with other world leaders and that revealing them in any testimony could hurt the presidency.
“I don’t know if we left on the best of terms, probably not, and you don’t want someone testifying who didn’t leave on the best of terms,” Trump said of Bolton.
It is still possible but unclear whether the Senate will hear witnesses after the two sides have made their opening arguments. A number of GOP senators have expressed support for hearing from some witnesses. It would take four Republican senators voting with the 47-member Democratic caucus to call for witnesses. But that would likely not happen until next week.
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