Trump's Senate impeachment trial: What happened on Day Three

Image: Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-NY, walks through the Capitol before the Sena
Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-NY, walks through the Capitol before the Senate impeachment trial against President Donald Trump on Jan. 23, 2020. Copyright Tom Williams CQ-Roll Call via Getty Images
Copyright Tom Williams CQ-Roll Call via Getty Images
By Dareh Gregorian with NBC News Politics
Share this articleComments
Share this articleClose Button

"This president sees no limits on his power or his ability to use his public office for a private gain," Rep. Jerry Nadler told senators.


Democrats on Thursday honed in on their charge that President Donald Trump abused his power, turning to past statements from some of the president's top allies to help make their case on the third day of his Senate impeachment trial.

House prosecutors used old comments from Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, Attorney General William Barr and Trump impeachment defense lawyer Alan Dershowitz to bolster their argument that abuse of power is grounds to remove a president — and pointed to Trump's own statements to illustrate his guilt.

Here are five key moments from the third full day of Trump's trial.

Then vs. now

House manager Rep. Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., used statements Graham and Dershowitz made from the time of President Bill Clinton's impeachment trial to rebut the assertion by Trump's legal team that abuse of power isn't an impeachable offense.

Graham, a House manager in Clinton's 1999 trial, said at the time that "high crimes" didn't have "to be a crime."

"It's just when you start using your office and you're acting in a way that hurts people, you committed a high crime," he said on the Senate floor then.

Dershowitz agreed in a 1998 CNN interview, but tried to walk back those comments this week.

Nadler also pointed to a letter then-private citizen Barr wrote to then-Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein where he called Robert Mueller's investigation of Trump flawed. "The remedy of impeachment demonstrates that the president remains accountable under law for his misdeeds in office," he wrote then.

Democrats highlight Giuliani's involvement as proof of impropriety

Reps. Nadler, Adam Schiff of California and Zoe Lofgren of California pointed to numerous public statements from Trump and his personal attorney Rudy Giuliani to show that the efforts to get Ukraine to announce investigations into Joe Biden and his son were politically motivated, and not out of any concern with widespread corruption in the former Soviet Republic.

The House managers also showed clips of interviews with FBI Director Chris Wray and Trump's former homeland security adviser Tom Bossert saying Trump's claims that Ukraine interfered in the 2016 election were unfounded.

"Are we to really believe that this is about fighting corruption?" Schiff asked the Senate. Trump "didn't care about corruption. He cared only about himself."

Republicans get fidgety

While most of the senators appeared to be paying attention and taking notes, some kept themselves occupied with fidget spinners. Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C., handed out the toys to several of his fellow senators before proceedings got underway Thursday.

Burrwas seen playing with a blue one while listening to arguments by Nadler. Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., was spotted playing with a purple one, while Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., had a white one on his desk.

Sen. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., read a hardcover book — "Resistance (At All Costs): How Trump Haters Are Breaking America" by Kimberley Strassel, according to her press secretary — and occasionally underlined passages.

Trump has tuned in

The president sounded off about the trial on Twitter, where he again mocked the lead House manager as "Shifty Schiff" and suggested Democrats were scared to have the witnesses he has said he wants to testify take the stand.

He later headed down to his Miami resort, where he was set to address the Republican National Committee's winter meeting.

Democrats' time is dwindling

The House managers will wrap up their opening arguments on Friday. Trump's legal team is scheduled to begin its presentation on Saturday. Republican senators told NBC News there are ongoing discussions about whether Saturday's session may start and end earlier in the day.

Trump lawyer Jay Sekulow said the president's legal team is prepared for anything.


"The senators are saying that they have the rules. Our job is to play by the rules they set," Sekulow said.

"I am confident that whether it is Saturday or Monday or Tuesday, that the case will be made defending the president. I have no doubt," he said.

Share this articleComments