Trump's Senate impeachment trial: What happened on Day 6

Image: Trump's legal team continues opening arguments during impeachment tr
President Donald Trump's personal attorney Jay Sekulow speaks as Trump's legal team resumes its presentation of opening arguments in his Senate impeachment trial in this frame grab from video shot in the U.S. Senate Chamber at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 27, Copyright U.S. Senate TV via Reuters
Copyright U.S. Senate TV via Reuters
By Dareh Gregorian with NBC News Politics
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The Bidens and Burisma, Ken Starr, Rudy Giuliani and more came into play in the proceedings against the president.


President Donald Trump's lawyers insisted there was nothing improper about his dealings with Ukraine's government at the president's Senate trial on Monday — and they even offered an impassioned defense of his personal attorney Rudy Giuliani.

All of that while avoiding any direct mention of a bombshell report involving former Trump adviser John Bolton.

Team Trump's opening arguments also included a presentation fromKen Starr, the independent counsel who investigated Bill Clinton's affair with a White House intern. "How did we get here, with presidential impeachment invoked frequently in its inherently destabilizing as well as acrimonious way?" Starr asked the Senate.

Here are five key takeaways from the sixth full day of the Senate impeachment trial.

1. Boltin' from Bolton

Despite a report in The New York Times on Sunday night that Bolton writes in a soon-to-be-released book that Trump told him he was withholding aid to Ukraine until the country announced it was investigating the Democratic National Committee and former vice president Joe Biden, Trump's legal team asserted there was no connection as they continued their opening arguments.

Jay Sekulow, the president's personal lawyer, told senators that "no witness" testified to a direct link between the investigations Trump wanted Ukraine to announce and the withholding of nearly $400 million in aid to the country.

"Not a single witness testified the president himself said that there was any connection between any investigation and security assistance, a presidential meeting, or anything else," Sekulow said.

That's technically true, but two potential witnesses who the White House blocked from testifying have said there was — Bolton and acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney. Mulvaney said at a press conference the aid freeze was related to the president's desire to find out what happened in 2016, although he's since tried to walk back that claim.

2. Movement on witnesses

The Bolton report did seem to have an impact on Republican senators who can vote on whether to hear from witnesses after a question and answer session with House managers and lawyers for the White House, which is expected to wrap up on Thursday.

"I think it's increasingly likely that other Republicans will join those of us who think we should hear from John Bolton," said Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah. "I've spoken with others who've opined upon this as well." Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, had similar comments.

3. Bashing the Bidens

Former Florida attorney generalPam Bondi focused her time looking at Hunter Biden's work on the board of the Ukrainian energy company Burisma. She said the vice president's son was making $83,000 a month, despite being unqualified for the job, and suggested his father pushed to have a Ukrainian prosecutor fired because he wanted to investigate the company.

Several witnesses in the House impeachment inquiry testified the U.S. government, the European Union and the International Monetary Fund all wanted the prosecutor fired because he was not investigating corruption, including at Burisma.

The House managers "say all of this is baseless," Bondi said. "There was basis to talk about this, to raise this issue, and that is enough."

In all, Bondi and lawyer Eric Herschmann spent over 45 minutes talking about the Bidens and Burisma.

4. Defending Rudy

Another Trump lawyer, Jane Raskin, told the Senate that House Democrats were using Trump's personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani's escapades in Ukraine as a "colorful distraction." Giuliani, she said, was trying to defend Trump in the Mueller probe by trying to find information that Ukraine interfered in the 2016 election when he stumbled on officials offering up dirt on the Bidens.

Giuliani thanked her on Twitter, saying she did a "masterful job."

5. Starr retort

Ken Starr, the aggressive independent counsel whose investigation of Bill Clinton included questioningSecret Service agents and getting a blood sample from the president as he investigated whether the president had an affair with an intern, said impeachment proceedings are being used "too frequently."

Trump is the third U.S. president to be impeached, and Starr advocated for impeachment of the second, Clinton.


"We are living in what I think can aptly be described as the 'age of impeachment,'" Starr bemoaned.

"Like war, impeachment is hell, or at least presidential impeachment is hell," he added. "Those of us who lived through the Clinton impeachment, including members of this body, full well understand that a presidential impeachment is tantamount to domestic war, albeit thankfully protected by our beloved First Amendment, a war of words and a war of ideas. But it's filled with acrimony and it divides the country like nothing else."

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