Schiff makes his case for Trump's removal: 'He chose to believe Rudy Giuliani'

House impeachment manager Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., speaks during the impeachment trial against President Donald Trump on Jan. 23, 2020. Copyright Senate TV via AP
Copyright Senate TV via AP
By Chuck Todd and Mark Murray and Carrie Dann with NBC News Politics
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First Read is your briefing from "Meet the Press" and the NBC Political Unit on the day's most important political stories and why they matter.


WASHINGTON — After two days of arguments, video presentations and highlighted text messages, Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., closed Thursday night with his plea for why the Senate should vote to remove President Trump from office.

The Ukraine scandal shows that Trump will always put his personal interests above the nation's interests, Schiff argued.

"Okay, he's guilty. Okay, he's guilty. Does he really need to be removed?" he said, summarizing one argument that Republicans have made, in which they concede his dealings with Ukraine weren't right — but they don't warrant his removal from office.

"Does he really need to be removed? We have an election coming up. Does he really need to be removed?" Schiff continued.

"This is why he needs to be removed: Donald Trump chose Rudy Giuliani over his own intelligence. He chose Rudy Giuliani over his own FBI director. He chose Rudy Giuliani over his own national security advisers. When all of them were telling him this Ukraine 2016 stuff is kooky crazy Russian propaganda, he chose not to believe them. He chose to believe Rudy Giuliani. That makes him dangerous."

More Schiff: "Let's say [the Russians] start interfering in our election again to help Donald Trump. Can you have the least bit of confidence that Donald Trump will stand up to them and protect our national interest over his own personal interest? You know you can't. Which makes him dangerous to this country."

And he ended his argument with this: "Can any of us really have the confidence that Donald Trump will put his personal interests ahead of the national interests? Is there really any evidence in this presidency that should give us the ironclad confidence that he would do so? You know you can't count on him to do that. That's the sad truth."

Schiff has become a polarizing figure in D.C. — it's what naturally happens to politicians who play prominent roles in our highly partisan times.

But it's awfully hard to deny that he's been the Democrats' star this week.

Rebuttal time: How will the GOP respond?

After the last two days of Democratic arguments (with one more to go today), there's now real suspense how President Trump's lawyers will respond.

Will they go the Devin Nunes route — and just try to muddy the waters?

Will they make a legitimate effort to rebut the Democrats' arguments — with their own video presentations and highlighted text messages?

Or will they simply argue that the allegations — abuse of power, obstruction of Congress — don't rise to high crimes and misdemeanors?

And after last night, will they have a response to Schiff's argument for removal? That the president always puts his interests above the country's?

Impeachment trial update: Last day for the prosecution

On the third and final day for the House Democratic impeachment managers to make their case against President Trump, the prosecution will focus on their second impeachment article - obstruction of Congress, per NBC's Kasie Hunt and the NBC Capitol Hill team.

The Senate gavels in at 1:00 p.m. ET.

Where are we?

This past Tuesday: procedural jousting over the organizing resolution; rules passed around 2:00 a.m. ET


This past Wednesday: prosecution opening arguments, 8 hours

Yesterday: prosecution, 8 hours

Today: prosecution, 8 hours

Saturday: White House defense, 8 hours (likely shorter)

Sunday: off


Monday: White House defense, 8 hours

Tuesday: White House defense, 8 hours

Wednesday: Senators' questions

Thursday: Senators' questions

Friday: Senators' questions


Saturday: Vote on witnesses?

Sunday: off

Monday: Iowa caucuses

Tuesday: State of the Union

Tweet of the day

2020 Vision: Harris and Biden — from debate confrontation to endorsement?

The New York Times reports that Kamala Harris is considering endorsing Joe Biden, citing "multiple Democratic officials familiar with her deliberations."


"Democrats close to Ms. Harris said she wanted to carefully consider the potential impact of her endorsement; was mindful that two of her female colleagues, Senators Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota and Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, were still in the race; and was uneasy about the prospect of backing a candidate only to see him or her lose California."

More: "A Biden-Harris rapprochement would represent an extraordinary turnaround in their relationship after she so memorably confronted him on the debate stage last summer. Yet their would-be alliance is less surprising on closer inspection."

On the campaign trail

Today: Joe Biden stumps in New Hampshire, hitting Claremont… Pete Buttigieg holds a town hall in Durham, N.H… Julian Castro continues to campaign for Elizabeth Warren in Iowa, while Ashely Judd stumps for her in New Hampshire… Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez stumps for Bernie Sanders in Iowa City, Iowa… Andrew Yang is also in the Hawkeye State…

Saturday: Biden starts his day in Salem, N.H., before heading to Iowa, where holds an event in Ankeny… AOC continues to stump for Sanders in Iowa, and the senator joins her for an evening rally in Ames… Pete Buttigieg, also in Iowa, holds town halls in Fort Dodge, Storm Lake and Carroll… And Tulsi Gabbard is in New Hampshire.

Dispatches from NBC's campaign embeds

Michael Bloomberg made his second campaign trip to Minnesota, per NBC's Jordan Jackson, where he talked about the president attacking him on Twitter. "I think what you see is he's obviously worried because he thinks that, I'm sure he thinks, that I'm the one that can beat him. And that's the only reason he would go out and attack me. Otherwise it wouldn't make any sense whatsoever, but he has every reason to be worried because I think I know how to do that, and I think I'm going to get the nomination and have the opportunity and be the next president of the United States," Bloomberg said.


Talking policy with Benjy

As his impeachment continues, President Trump will get a chance on Friday to address one of his most loyal constituencies: pro-life activists, NBC's Benjy Sarlin writes. He's expected to become the first sitting presidentto speak at the March for Life in Washington, which has been held every year since 1974.

Trump speaks at 12:15 p.m. ET.

The president's appearance comes at a heady time for the movement, which is hoping the president's Supreme Court picks will allow states to put new restrictions on abortion — or even overturn Roe v. Wade and allow states to ban abortion outright. The court is currently considering a Louisiana lawthat would require doctors who perform abortions to have admitting privileges at a local hospital, which critics say is unnecessary and would effectively rule out almost all doctors in the state.

"There was a lot of hesitation within the pro-life movement before he took office," March for Life's Vice President of Government Affairs Tom McClusky told NBC News. "I think he's won a lot of converts. He's done what he said he would do and even beyond."

In addition to his judicial appointments, McClusky pointed to Trump's decision towithdraw Title X funding, which finances family planning services, from organizations that refer patients to abortion providers. Planned Parenthood dropped out of the grant program in response.


On the other side, Planned Parenthood's leadership says they're increasingly preparing for scenarios in which Roe v. Wade falls within the next few years. Acting President Alexis McGilll Johnson told reporters this month she fears the court could technically keep Roe in place, but gradually leave it "so gutted, it becomes meaningless," allowing states to effectively ban the procedure.

Data Download: The number of the day is … 36 years

36 years.

That's how long the late Jim Lehrer anchored the nightly newscast at PBS.

Lehrer died yesterday at the age of 85.

Lehrer also moderated 12 presidential debates, more than any other person in U.S. history.


The Lid: Abortion opinion

Don't miss the pod from yesterday, when we previewed the president's historic appearance at today's March for Life and looked at the state of public opinion on abortion.

ICYMI: News clips you shouldn't miss

Here's everything you might have missed on Day Three of the impeachment trial.

Moderate Senate Republicans aren't happy that Rep. Jerry Nadler accused senators of a "cover up."

An app to report Iowa caucus results is causing security concerns.

Trump will hold a New Hampshire rally on the eve of the Democratic primary there.


Pete Buttigieg called Cory Booker backers to ask for their support after the New Jersey senator dropped out. Many of them weren't happy.

Marianne Williamson is giving some support to Andrew Yang in Iowa.

Trump Agenda: Sidelining the scientists

Scientists throughout the federal government have been quitting, sidelined or forced out in the Trump era, the Washington Post reports.

Trump allies have been building a network of supportive regional radio hosts.

Lamar Alexander may be one of the most important voices in the Trump trial.


2020: Bloomberg gets Trump's attention

Mike Bloomberg's big spending has attracted one very annoyed spectator: the president.

How will the caucuses work for Iowa's Latinos?

Joe Biden has a new round of endorsements in New Hampshire.

Pete Buttigieg is still mired in low support from black voters in South Carolina, even after spending millions.

Barack Obama's former fundraising chief is backing Biden.

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