|Kyle Cheney, Politico|
Monday, February 3, 2020
AMERICANA / DEMS, SCHIFF POWERFUL TO THE END.
Here is Politico.com’s excellent coverage of the closing arguments on Feb. 3. 2020 in the Senate:
“Is there one among you”: Schiff seeks single GOP “guilty” vote in closing pitch.
Schiff: “...truth matters to you. Right matters to you. You are decent,” Adam Schiff said in his closing argument.
GUEST BLOG / By Andrew Desiderio and Kyle Cheney, Reporters, Politico.com--Adam Schiff knows the Senate is not going to remove President Donald Trump from office.
So the House’s lead impeachment prosecutor tailored his final pitch toward the small group of Republican senators who have expressed an open mind to the case — pleading at least for a symbolically bipartisan vote to convict the president of the United States on abuse of power and obstruction of Congress charges.
“Every single vote, even a single vote by a single member, can change the course of history,” Schiff intoned to a Senate that has already turned its back on the House’s case. “It is said that a single man or woman of courage makes a majority. Is there one among you who will say enough?”
Schiff’s closing was unmistakably geared toward the tiny band of Republican centrist or institutionalist senators that includes Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, Susan Collins of Maine, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Mitt Romney of Utah. Democrats know a Trump conviction was virtually impossible, but landing even a single Republican vote of support on either of the House’s two articles of impeachment would help wipe away Trump’s talking points about a partisan impeachment process — especially after every Republican rejected the articles in the House.
And even if they fail to win a single vote, the House’s impeachment managers used their closing arguments to try to make it as painful as possible for those few Republicans to toe the party line.
“Truth matters to you. Right matters to you. You are decent,” Schiff said, working to emphasize the fractures that have at times bubbled between Trump and these few GOP senators. “He is not who you are.”
Democrats also know they are at risk of losing a handful of senators from their own party, too. Sens. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona and Doug Jones of Alabama have all indicated that they are open to an acquittal, at least on one of the two impeachment charges. Sinema was intently taking notes on Monday as Trump’s lawyers offered their own final pitch for a summary acquittal, accusing the House of a rushed and partisan process that did not support the charges as outlined in the articles.
Losing even one Democratic vote would arm Trump with a potent case that the effort to remove him garnered bipartisan opposition — one that Schiff and Speaker Nancy Pelosi are undoubtedly working to rebut with a claim of bipartisanship on their side, too.
Schiff, aware of the political consequences of losing just one Democratic vote, sought to isolate and drive up the pressure on those GOP senators who could at least conceivably break from their party — in particular the retiring Alexander.
Alexander, who said he is prepared to acquit Trump, has nevertheless argued that the House proved its impeachment case — that Trump pressured Ukraine to investigate his political rivals and withheld military aid to drive up the pressure. But Alexander said such “inappropriate” conduct does not warrant Trump’s removal from office.
Schiff directly addressed that dynamic in his closing pitch.
“If you find that the House has proved its case and still vote to acquit your name will be tied to his with a cord of steel and for all of history,” Schiff warned, causing Alexander to lean in and strike a more inquisitive look, raising his hand to his chin.
Schiff’s closing remarks clearly resonated on the Democratic side of the aisle. A line of Democratic senators formed near the well of the Senate chamber, where Schiff had just sat back down at the long desk reserved for the House’s impeachment managers and their staff, to shake his hand. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) gave Schiff a large bear hug and slapped his back so loud that it sounded like someone had clapped inside the chamber.
Even Jay Sekulow, Trump’s lead personal attorney for the impeachment trial, approached Schiff and shook his hand. But whether any of Schiff’s lofty closing remarks will resonate among GOP senators appeared unlikely on Monday.
“There won’t be bipartisan support for removal in the Senate,” said Rep. John Ratcliffe (R-Texas), one of Trump’s impeachment surrogates, moments after Schiff’s close.
It came long after Sekulow, along with Cipollone, had wrapped up their own closing arguments to senators. Their pitches, though, were made with the full knowledge that the president would prevail in the final vote.
Monday’s closing arguments in the nearly three-week impeachment trial were little more than a formality, given the Senate’s party-line decision Friday to shut down the pursuit of new witnesses or evidence to bolster the House’s case that Trump abused his power and obstructed the impeachment inquiry.
The Senate’s decision to not hear from new witnesses came in the face of newly emerging evidence that Trump conditioned $391 million in military aid to Ukraine as he pressed that country’s president to launch investigations of his political rivals.
Trump’s defense lawyers reiterated their view that the House impeachment managers did not meet their burden of proof — and that Trump’s impeachment was an effort to overturn the results of the 2016 election and to interfere in the 2020 campaign. They also played a montage of Democrats seeking Trump's impeachment prior to the Ukraine scandal, arguing that the current impeachment effort was really the playing out of a long-held desire of congressional Democrats.
“The only appropriate result here is to acquit the president and to leave it to the voters to choose their president,” Cipollone said.
“This was a purely partisan impeachment from the start,” added White House Deputy Counsel Patrick Philbin.
Senate Republicans defeated several Democrat-led motions throughout the trial to subpoena additional witnesses and documents. And on Friday, the Senate passed a resolution that formally closes the evidentiary record in the case and prevents Democrats from forcing more votes on witnesses and documents. The resolution also states that the Senate will vote on Wednesday at 4 p.m. on the impeachment articles, when the Senate is all but certain to reject both charges.
Schiff made the case for witnesses throughout the trial, and he was given a boost when The New York Times reported on a forthcoming book manuscript from former national security adviser John Bolton, who intends to allege that Trump told him directly about the link between Ukraine’s military aid and his desire for investigations into his political adversaries, including former Vice President Joe Biden.
Bolton has indicated he is willing to testify if the Senate subpoenas him. Now that the Senate has officially shut the door to hearing from witnesses, it is unclear whether Bolton would similarly honor a House subpoena — or if the House would even move to seek his testimony. Bolton previously warned House leaders that he would fight a subpoena attempt during their impeachment inquiry last year, raising the specter of months of legal battles that Democrats opted against pursuing.
Aides to Schiff, Bolton and Pelosi all declined to comment on whether a House subpoena is in the offing, and whether Bolton would be more amenable to it this time — especially with his book slated for publication in March.
Melanie Zanona contributed to this report.