President Trump’s lawyers will begin presenting their defense on Saturday, hoping to deliver a sharp counterargument to three days of presentations that House impeachment managers wrapped up Friday night.
As Democrats ended their opening arguments, Republican senators appeared largely unmoved in their belief that Mr. Trump should remain in office, and dismissed the notion that the president’s actions rose to the level of an impeachable offense. But some conceded that the managers, in particular Representative Adam B. Schiff of California, had pieced together a case that at times was impressive.
For a few hours this weekend, Mr. Trump’s legal team will have a chance to change the tone in the Senate chamber.
What we’re expecting to see: A first look at how the president’s defense strategy will play out in the Senate, and at the confrontational approach his lawyers seem prepared to take in their full formal arguments next week.
When we’re likely to see it: The Senate has asked Mr. Trump’s team to begin at 10 a.m. and limit itself to three hours.
How to follow it: The New York Times’s congressional and White House teams will be following all of the developments. Visit nytimes.com for coverage throughout the day.
A three-hour trailer?
On Friday, Jay Sekulow, a member of Mr. Trump’s legal team, characterized the presentation he and his colleagues plan to make on Saturday as “a trailer” and “coming attractions.” He added that the more meaningful and substantial presentation of his team’s case will be reserved for next week.
Nonetheless, the president’s lawyers will have three hours, and anything they say will resonate over the weekend and could be seized on by Democratic presidential candidates who will be campaigning aggressively ahead of the Iowa caucuses on Feb. 3.
With this in mind, the president’s lawyers are likely to take the opportunity to try out a few sound bites that could foreshadow the arguments they plan to push in their fuller presentation on Monday.
New evidence has emerged. Will it be considered?
Senate Democrats on Friday began openly expressing doubt that they would be able to muster the support they need from Republicans to subpoena new witnesses or introduce new evidence in the trial. Yet as House managers brought their opening arguments to a close, new evidence emerged in the form of a recording that seemed to document the president demanding the removal of Marie L. Yovanovitch as the United States ambassador to Ukraine.
How Republicans react to the recording’s existence could provide clues as to whether it has the potential to affect the vote expected next week on whether any additional evidence will be entered into the record before the trial’s conclusion.