Opening the prosecution, Schiff said Trump used his power “to cheat” in the election.
Representative Adam B. Schiff, the lead prosecutor, opened oral arguments in the case to convict and remove President Trump from office, accusing him of subverting the power of his position to leverage foreign aid to win an election.
“President Trump solicited foreign interference in our democratic elections, abusing the power of his office to seek help from abroad to improve his real action prospects at home,” Mr. Schiff, a California Democrat, said from the well of the Senate. “President Trump,” he added, “withheld hundreds of millions of dollars in military aid to a strategic partner at war with Russia to secure foreign help with his re-election. In other words, to cheat.”
The seven House impeachment managers have up to 24 hours over a period of three days to persuade senators to convict Mr. Trump and remove him from office. It’s a tall ask for Senate Republicans, who have been expected to acquit Mr. Trump long before the trial even began. Each manager is expected to present a different aspect of the case without interruption from senators, who are sworn to silence.
Mr. Trump’s legal defense team has the same amount of time to present their side and could start their case as soon as the House managers are done. It is likely that Mr. Trump’s lawyers could spend Saturday presenting their case, based on the Senate impeachment rules which call for the trial to be conducted six days a week, with 1 p.m. start times.
After each side completes oral arguments, senators will have up to 16 hours to ask questions, which much be submitted in writing to Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., who will read them out loud. After that, the Senate will reconsider whether to subpoena witnesses or documents and, if it rejects hearing testimony, then will move to final deliberations on conviction or acquittal.
Mr. Schiff made a point of opening Wednesday’s arguments by praising the Senate for its patience sober consideration, perhaps softening some of the harsher language that he and other managers used on Tuesday accusing at least some senators of not doing their duty and covering up for the president if they do not permit witnesses.
The White House ceded a chance to try to swiftly dismiss the case.
The White House passed up a chance to force a vote to dismiss the impeachment charges against Mr. Trump before arguments get underway.
Both the president’s defense lawyers and the House Democratic impeachment managers had until 9 a.m. to offer motions related to the trial, except for ones that would call for witnesses and new evidence, issues that will be dealt with next week. Neither side did so, aides in both parties said.
The White House’s silence was more significant. Though Republican leaders have been discouraging the president’s team from seeking a swift dismissal, Mr. Trump had endorsed the idea and his conservative allies said the Senate ought to vote promptly to do so. A dismissal vote this week would almost certainly have failed to attract a majority of senators, dividing Republicans and dealing Mr. Trump an early symbolic defeat.
A motion to dismiss could still be offered later in the trial. For now, Republican congressional leaders have counseled the White House that it is better politically for the trial to run its course and deliver a full acquittal of the president, rather than cutting it short and enabling Democrats to argue the result is illegitimate.
— Nicholas Fandos
Trump lashed out from a snowy resort 4,000 miles away.
During an unplanned news conference in Davos, Switzerland, where he was attending the World Economic Forum, Mr. Trump took a break from talking about the economy and lashed out at Democrats back home for impeaching him. He hurled insults at two of the prominent House managers, calling Representative Jerrold Nadler of New York, the Judiciary Committee chairman, a “sleaze bag” and branding Mr. Schiff of California, who is leading the prosecution, a “con job” and a “corrupt politician.”
Mr. Trump said he would love to attend his own trial — something his lawyers have advised against — so he could “sit right in the front row and stare into their corrupt faces.”
While his legal team spent Tuesday arguing that Democrats’ calls for witnesses were inappropriate and a sign of a weak case, and Mr. Trump himself spent months blocking his advisers from participating in the House impeachment inquiry, the president said on Wednesday that he actually would like them to be able to testify.
“I would rather interview Bolton,” he said, referring to John R. Bolton, his former national security adviser. “I would rather interview a lot of people.”
Mr. Bolton has said he would testify during the Senate trial if he was subpoenaed to do so, and Democrats have demanded to hear from him. Unfortunately, Mr. Trump said, national security — and his own reputation — depends on Mr. Bolton staying silent.
“He knows some of my thoughts, he knows what I think about leaders,” Mr. Trump said. “What happens if he reveals what I think about a certain leader, and it’s not very positive? And then I have to deal on behalf of the country?”
Mr. Trump, who is often very open about his opinions of people, including world leaders, added: “It’s going to make the job really hard.”
Mr. Trump is expected to return to the White House on Wednesday evening and is scheduled to speak at the Republican National Committee winter meeting in Doral, Fla., on Thursday.
‘Where’s Hunter?’ is the Republican refrain as a negotiation over witnesses looms.
Tuesday night’s Senate floor brawl was not the end of the haggling over potential witnesses at the impeachment trial. Democrats are still demanding to hear from current and former White House officials including Mr. Bolton.
And Republicans are increasingly answering with a provocative demand of their own: “Where’s Hunter?” as the Republican National Committee put it in an email to reporters on Wednesday.
The reference is to Hunter Biden, the son of former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. The younger Mr. Biden served on the board of a Ukrainian energy company while his father was in office, and in a July phone call, Mr. Trump asked the president of Ukraine to do him “a favor” and investigate both men, a request that is now at the heart of the impeachment charges.
Democratic leaders regard the idea of calling the younger Mr. Biden as a nonstarter, arguing that he is not relevant to the case, and senior aides say there are no serious conversations about calling him. On Wednesday, Mr. Schiff said senators should not agree to it.
“This isn’t like some fantasy football trade,” he told reporters before beginning arguments against Mr. Trump. “Trials aren’t trades for witnesses.”
The former vice president’s many allies in the Senate have been particularly insistent on the point.
“The president is on trial here, not anyone with the last name Biden,” Senator Chris Coons, Democrat of Delaware and a close ally of the elder Mr. Biden, said in a tweet Tuesday night. “VP Biden and Hunter Biden are not relevant witnesses.”
Yet some Republicans, including Senator Ted Cruz of Texas are pressing the idea of “witness reciprocity,” that their side might be open to calling someone like Mr. Bolton if Democrats would agree to summon a figure like Hunter Biden.
At least one Democrat, Senator Sherrod Brown of Ohio, indicated in recent days he would be open to such a trade. But most Democrats dismiss the idea.
Republican leaders told Mr. Trump weeks ago they did not have the votes on their side to call the younger Mr. Biden, and senior Democratic aides say discussing a swap now makes little sense given that. But things could change in what promises to be a lively Senate negotiation that will culminate next week over whether to hear from witnesses — and if so, which ones.
— Nicholas Fandos
A late night of partisan voting kicked off the trial.
The first day of the trial lasted until around 2 a.m. Wednesday, as Democrats forced a number of votes seeking to change the rules and insist on new evidence. Democrats said the Republicans had deliberately pushed the debate into the early morning hours when most Americans were sleeping.
“Is this really what we should be doing when we are deciding the fate of a presidency, we should be doing this at the midnight hour?” asked Mr. Schiff. Mr. Schiff, of California, said he started Tuesday asking whether Americans expect the trial to be fair. “Watching now at midnight this effort to hide this in the dead of night cannot be encouraging to them about whether there will be a fair trial.”
Republicans tried several times without success to get Democrats to drop their demands for changes to the rules and speed the process along, but Democrats refused, forcing 11 votes in a strikingly partisan start to the proceeding. Republicans held together unanimously on almost every vote, blocking subpoenas for witnesses and documents. The Senate will revisit those issues later in the trial.
Chief Justice Roberts spent the morning at his day job before reporting to the Senate chamber.
The only liquids allowed on the Senate floor during the trial are water and milk, but Chief Justice Roberts could be forgiven for wishing for a good jolt of coffee.
After presiding over the Senate trial until nearly 2 a.m., the chief justice reported to his day job for oral arguments at the Supreme Court at 10 a.m. before then returning to the Senate chamber for the session that started at 1 p.m.
The arguments at the Supreme Court focused on a different issue than the one at stake on the Senate floor but one that has been hotly disputed nonetheless. The case, Espinoza v. Montana Department of Revenue, focuses on a since-disbanded voucher program in Montana that provided tax breaks for donors to scholarships for private schools, including religious schools.
After running the oral arguments at the court in the morning, the chief justice resumed his temporary assignment as presiding officer at the Senate proceeding, a role that so far has been essentially ministerial with the exception of his late-night chiding of both sides to keep civil.