“President Trump thus warrants impeachment and trial, removal from office and disqualification to hold and enjoy any office of honour, trust or profit under the United States,” Schiff said as he finished reading from the articles.
Before Schiff’s remarks, senators were admonished to remain silent upon “pain of imprisonment” by the Senate sergeant at arms.
As Schiff spoke for 20 minutes, all 100 senators sat at their desks.
Some pulled out pen and paper and took notes, including senators Rob Portman, Sherrod Brown, Robert Casey Jr., and Amy Klobuchar. Others sat expressionless, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Minority Leader Chuck Schumer.
At the midway point, Senator Bernie Sanders pulled out a yellow legal pad and jotted down some notes. Senator Jack Reed folded his arms on his desk the entire speech, almost as if in prayer.
The other six House Democratic managers stood off to the Democratic side of the chamber – which is the designated spot for managers during an impeachment trial, regardless of party affiliation – holding their own copies of the articles of impeachment.
Just after 12.20pm local time, as Schiff finished, the managers lined up and departed back to the House, not set to return until next week when the actual prosecution of their case begins.
On Thursday afternoon, Chief Justice John Roberts is expected to be sworn in to preside over the trial will then swear in the 100 senators to serve as jurors. A bipartisan group of four senators – Roy Blunt, Patrick Leahy, Lindsey Graham, and Dianne Feinstein – were named to escort the chief justice to the Senate chamber at 2pm.
Roberts will be pulling double duty as he does his job at the Supreme Court and presides over the impeachment trial of Trump. Assuming impeachment proceedings begin in the afternoon, the chief justice will hear arguments at the court in the morning and go to the Capitol afterward, as Chief Justice William Rehnquist did when he presided over the impeachment trial of President Bill Clinton.
McConnell has said the trial will get under way “in earnest” next week.
Earlier on Thursday, in his opening remarks on the Senate floor, Schumer urged senators not to “rush through this trial.”
Also on Thursday, Democrats seized on a congressional watchdog report that found the White House violated federal law when it held on to security aid to Ukraine last year, arguing that the findings bolstered their case for subpoenaing additional documents during the Senate trial.
The Government Accountability Office, a nonpartisan agency that reports to Congress, found that the Trump administration violated a law that governs how the White House disburses money approved by Congress.
“President Trump and his top aides refused to cooperate with this independent investigation, just as they obstructed the impeachment investigation conducted by the House of Representatives,” Representative Carolyn Maloney said in a statement.
Fallout also continued from new allegations by Lev Parnas, a former associate of Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, that Trump knew of his efforts to dig up dirt in Ukraine that could benefit Trump politically.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi suggested a special prosecutor should be appointed in the wake of the Parnas revelations and took aim at Attorney General William Barr, describing him as a “rogue attorney general” who likely would not support such a move.
“Under other circumstances, if somebody like Parnas came forward and there was evidence – there was reason to believe that some of that was factual – there would be a special prosecutor appointed,” Pelosi said.
But House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy dismissed the Parnas revelations at a news conference. “This man lacks all credibility,” McCarthy said of Parnas.
The Washington Post