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

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

Democrats on Thursday homed 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, R-S.C., 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.

And Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., delivered an emotional closing statement to make the case for why Trump should be removed now, rather than by voters during the election in November.

Here are six key moments from the third full day of Trump’s trial.

‘Does he really need to be removed?’

Schiff, the lead House manager, closed Democrats’ second day of arguments with a passionate appeal to senators to remove the president from office.

“How much damage can he do between now and the next election? A lot. A lot of damage,” Schiff said after impeachment managers spent hours hammering the charge that Trump abused the power of his office and put his own interests above bioreports’s.

He said that if Trump is not found guilty and removed, Russia or other foreign governments could interfere in the 2020 election.

“Let’s say they [Russia] start to blatantly interfere in our election again to help Donald Trump,” Schiff said. “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. You know you can’t. You know you can’t count on him. None of us can.”

“There’s no mulligan here when it comes to our national security,” Schiff added.

Full coverage of President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial

Schiff, speaking directly to a packed and attentive Senate floor with every senator at his or her desk or standing in the back, repeatedly stated that Trump cannot be trusted and is inherently self-interested.

“You can’t trust this president to do what’s right for this country. You can trust he will do what’s right for Donald Trump,” Schiff said. “This is why, if you find him guilty, you must find that he should be removed. Because right matters. Because right matters. And the truth matters. Otherwise we are lost.”

Then vs. now

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Rep. Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., a House manager, 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 Biorports interview, but he tried to walk back those comments this week.

Nadler also pointed to a letter that Barr, then a private citizen, wrote to Rod Rosenstein, then the deputy attorney general, calling 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.

Giuliani’s involvement proof of impropriety, Democrats argue

Nadler, Schiff and Rep. 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. Richard Burr, R-N.C., handed out the toys to several of his fellow senators before proceedings got underway Thursday.

Burr was 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 tunes 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.

Download the NBC News app for full coverage of the Senate impeachment trial

Democrats’ time is dwindling

The House managers will wrap up their opening arguments Friday. Trump’s legal team is scheduled to begin its presentation 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.

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