House impeachment managers delivered opening remarks during the US Senate trial into Donald Trump and his dealings with Ukraine, as Democrats blasted White House attorneys for presenting Fox News-style “histrionics" at the hearings.

Democratic impeachment manager Adam Schiff ​argued in his opening remarks the president's "misconduct cannot be decided at the ballot box" and suggested that Americans "cannot be assured that the vote will be fairly won" in 2020 after Mr Trump encouraged Ukraine to launch political investigations into one of his Democratic rivals, Joe Biden.​

House Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler, another impeachment manager, also accused Republicans of “voting for a cover-up”, observing: “Only guilty people hide the evidence.”

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The prosecution's marathon opening statements included clips from witness testimonies and, most damning, from the president himself, including his admission that he would accept politically damaging information on a rival candidate from a foreign country and would ask China to investigate the Bidens.

House impeachment managers, acting as the prosecution, each handled a different aspect of the charges against the president and the players involved, from Rudy Giuliani's influence and direction under the president to pressure Ukraine into an investigation, to the on-the-ground consequences of withholding military aid to Ukraine while it was in the middle of a ground war with Russia.

Looking on from the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, the president fired out dozens of retweets in support of his cause while insisting he was “making great progress” at the global summit, as a new poll makes bleak reading for his supporters ahead of 2020.

The president appeared to acknowledge his administrations' participation in the obstruction charges against him by telling reporters: "Honestly, we have all the material. They don't have the material."

He also falsely claimed that Democrats leading his impeachment "don't talk about my conversation" with Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenksky and that "they don't talk about my transcripts" that the president believes exonerate him.

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Senate blocks 11 key amendments to rules as trial gets underway
The Senate impeachment trial of Donald Trump began in acrimonious fashion on Tuesday, with the Republican-dominated chamber voting down 11 Democratic proposals for amendments to the rules, including the rejection of subpoenas for ex-national security adviser John Bolton and White House acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney to give testimony on the Ukraine scandal.
The trial is now on a fast-track with almost no signs of Republican resistance to the actions that led to his impeachment.
"It's about time we bring this power trip in for a landing," said White House counsel Pat Cipollone, the president's lead lawyer, lashing out at the House Democrats prosecuting the case."It's a farce," he said about the impeachment proceeding, "and it should end."

Chief justice John Roberts gaveled open the session, with House prosecutors on one side, Trump's team on the other, in the well of the Senate, as senators sat silently at their desks, under oath to do "impartial justice." No mobile phones or other electronics were allowed.
As the day stretched deep into the night, lawyerly arguments gave way to more pointedly political ones. Tempers flared and senators paced the chamber. Democrats pursued what may be their only chance to force senators to vote on hearing new testimony.
After one particularly bitter post-midnight exchange, Roberts intervened, taking the rare step of admonishing both the Democratic House managers prosecuting the case and the White House counsel to "remember where they are."
"I think it is appropriate at this point for me to admonish both the House managers and the president's counsel in equal terms to remember that they are addressing the world's greatest deliberative body," the usually reserved Roberts said. He told them that description of the Senate stemmed from a 1905 trial when a senator objected to the word "pettifogging," because members should "avoid speaking in a manner and using language that is not conducive to civil discourse."

Over and over, Republicans turned back Democratic amendments to subpoena documents from the White House, State Department, Defense Department and budget office. By the same 53-47 party-line, they turned away witnesses with front-row seats to Trump's actions including Mulvaney and Bolton.

Only on one amendment, to allow more time to file motions, did a single Republican, senator Susan Collins of Maine, join Democrats. But it, too, was rejected, 52-48.

"It's not our job to make it easy for you," Adam Schiff, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee leading the prosecution, told the Senate. "Our job is to make it hard to deprive the American people of a fair trial."

As the visitors' gallery filled earlier with guests, actress-and-activist Alyssa Milano among them and Trump's most ardent House allies lining the back rows, the day that began as a debate over rules quickly took on the cadence of a trial proceeding over whether the president's actions toward Ukraine warranted removal from office.

Cipollone led the prosecution, scoffing that the House charges against Trump were "ridiculous," insisting the president "has done absolutely nothing wrong." The White House legal team did not dispute Trump's actions, when he called Ukraine and asked for a "favour," which was to investigate Democrat Joe Biden as the US was withholding military aid the ally desperately needed as it faced off with hostile Russia on its border. But the lawyers insisted the president did nothing wrong. "Absolutely no case," Cipollone said.

Schiff, the California Democrat, said America's Founders added the remedy of impeachment in the Constitution with "precisely this type of conduct in mind - conduct that abuses the power of office for a personal benefit, that undermines our national security, and that invites foreign interference in the democratic process of an election."
"It is the trifecta of constitutional misconduct justifying impeachment," said Schiff.
The other lead lawyer on Trump's team, Jay Sekulow, retorted, "I'll give you a trifecta," outlining complaints over the House Democrats' impeachment inquiry process. The impeachment trial is testing whether Trump's actions toward Ukraine warrant removal as voters are forming their own verdict on his White House.

All four senators who are presidential candidates were off the campaign trail, seated as jurors. "My focus is going to be on impeachment," senator Bernie Sanders, the Vermont independent, told reporters.

Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell stunned senators and delayed the start of proceedings with his decision to back off some of his proposed rules. He made the adjustment after encountering resistance from Republicans during a closed-door lunch meeting. Senators worried about the political optics of "dark of night" sessions that could come from cramming the 24 hours of opening arguments from each side into just two days.

Collins and Lisa Murkowksi of Alaska, who often buck party leadership, along with a substantial number of other Republicans, wanted to make the changes. It was only when the clerk started reading the dry language of the resolution that the hand-written changes to extend debate to three days became apparent. It also allowed the House impeachment record to be included in the Senate.

The turnaround was a swift lesson as White House wishes run into the reality of the Senate. The White House wanted a session kept to a shorter period to both expedite the trial and shift more of the proceedings into late night, according to a person familiar with the matter but unauthorised to discuss it in public.

Trump's legal team, absent its TV-showcase attorneys, Alan Dershowitz and Ken Starr who were not in the chamber, argued that in seeking new evidence the House was bringing a half-baked case.

But Zoe Lofgren of California, one of the House managers and the first woman to argue for the prosecution in a presidential impeachment trial, said the House wasn't asking the Senate to do the job for them. "The House is asking the Senate to do its job, to have a trial," she said. "Have you ever heard of a trial without evidence?"

The White House had instructed officials not to testify in the House inquiry and refused to turn over witnesses or documents, citing what is says is precedence in defiance of congressional subpoenas.

The ambassadors and national security officials who did appear before the House delivered often striking testimony, highlights that were displayed on television screens during the Senate proceeding.
Here's Chris Baynes's report.
Democrats complain process 'ass-backwards' and 'a cover-up'
Democratic impeachment managers Adam Schiff and Jerrold Nadler complained the marathon process was “ass-backwards” and accused Republicans of “voting for a cover-up”, observing: “Only guilty people hide the evidence.”
Fellow manager Val Demings, a former Florida police chief, echoed Nadler's line of attack when she commented: "I have never seen anyone take such extreme steps to hide evidence allegedly proving his innocence."
Arguably though it was New Yorker Hakeem Jeffries, chairman of the House Democratic Caucus and a hip hop devotee, who had the line of the night when he quoted murdered rapper the Notorious B.I.G. on the Senate floor: ""And if you don't know, now you know."
Mitch McConnell forced to extend time alloted for opening statements to three days in rare concession
While Senate Republicans stayed unified and declined the chance to subpoena new evidence or witnesses, the Democrats were able to force minor concessions like convincing Leader McConnell to allow a third day for each side to make their opening statements, rather than forcing both to cram their arguments into two lengthy 12-hour sessions over two days.
Yesterday's opening salvo was arduous enough, with at least one man - Senate Foreign Relations Committee chair Jim Risch - falling asleep on the job. The assembled lawmakers were only allowed water or milk (!) to drink and sweets to snack on in order to keep their spirits up and that clearly wasn't sufficient for Risch, who was spotted dozing by a court artist and only woke up when a loud clip of acting Ukraine ambassador Bill Taylor's impeachment testimony was played.
The day's talking shop was punctuated with short breaks though, which both sides used to talk to the press and raise competing objections about the other side's behaviour:
When the session finally came to an end in the wee wee hours, the exhausted senators were seen rushing to retrieve their mobiles (banned from the room), prompting Vermont senator to launch into this (somewhat dated) Gollum impression:
Democrat tweets Senate phone number, imploring supporters to flood it with calls for witnesses
The Democrats may not be done there when it comes to forcing McConnell's hands on allowing witnesses to speak.
Hawaii senator Brian Schatz tweeted the Senate's switchboard number out to his followers, inviting them to innudate Congress with calls letting their feelings on the matter be known.
Trump himself did this to South Carolina Lindsey Graham on the campaign trail when they both contenders for the Republican presidential nomination four years ago, back when the men were mortal foes rather than allies.
Graham was ultimately forced to change his number after being deluged with abuse from the MAGA crew.
Trump fires out 50 retweets from Davos but insists he's 'making great progress'

Looking on from the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, while all this was going on, President Trump fired out 50 retweets of support for his cause overnight while insisting he was “making great progress” at the global summit.
The bulk of those retweets to his fan base came from the Senate Majority account or sympathetic senators like Josh Hawley, Andy Biggs or Cindy Hyde-Smith - or, indeed, such impartial sources as, er, Don Jr, Ivanka and his own social media director Dan Scavino.

These are fairly typical examples of the GOP effort to claim the narrative...
...and here they are rewarding rebel Republican Susan Collins for not breaking ranks too far.
Trump will meet with a collective of American corporate CEOS for breakfast this morning in the Swiss resort town, before taking sideline meetings with the president of the Kurdistan regional government Nechirvan Barzani and Iraqi president Barham Salih before returning home to the White House via Zurich.

He also has pre-recorded interviews with Joe Kernan of CNBC's Squawk Box and Fox Business's Maria Bartiromo airing today.

Here's Andrew Buncombe with climate change activist Greta Thunberg's thoughts on the president from Davos yesterday.
Trump's budget office releases Ukraine email dump two minutes before midnight FOI deadline
Away from the Senate floor, another major development last night saw saw the Trump administration releasing a stash of heavily redacted documents about the withholding of military aid to Ukraine just two minutes before the midnight deadline.

A freedom of information (FOI) request by watchdog American Oversight forced the White House Office of Management and Budget to release 192 pages of emails on the matter, including communications between budget officials on the day of the president’s phone call to Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenksy to press for an investigation into his Democrat rival Joe Biden.
Those officials include Russell Vought and Michael Duffey, two persons of interest to the Democratic impeachment inquiry.
Peter Stubley has more details.
New poll finds Trump losing to six Democratic contenders in 2020
The president's 2020 fortunes meanwhile look bleak, according to this new poll of voters from SurveyUSA.
They foresee Trump going down to Bernie Sanders in November by a whopping nine-point margin and losing to Joe Biden and Michael Bloomberg by seven, Elizabeth Warren and Pete Buttigieg by three and even Andrew Yang by two.
CNN meanwhile has a new poll out too - putting Bernie at the head of the pack for the first time off the back of some serious momentum in recent weeks.
President in new dig at Greta Thunberg, calls Jerry Nadler 'a sleazebag'
Trump is up and blustering away in Davos again this morning (flanked by Treasury secretary Steve Mnuchin), bragging once more about his supposed economic achievements at home:
Taking questions now, he again says the impeachment process is a "hoax" and that the Democrats have been "driven crazy" by his successes as leader.
Asked about Greta Thunberg, he said:
“She beat me out on Time magazine,” he adds, evidentally still embittered.
On his China trade deal, he adds:
And he's currently calling Jerrold Nadler "a sleazebag" over their past dealings in New York, so there's that.
Trump claims he'd 'love' to have inner circle testify, calls Lev Parnas 'a groupie' and says Giuliani 'knows corruption'
The president is still dishing up some seriously hot takes out there...
President extending US travel ban to seven more countries
We learned in Davos yesterday that Trump is planning to add seven new countries to his US travel ban, including Nigeria, Africa’s most populous nation.

The president told The Wall Street Journal in an interview from Switzerland that he wants to extend the controversial ban but declined to name names. The paper and Politico subsequently speculated that the other countries likely to be targeted are Nigeria, Sudan, Belarus, Myanmar, Tanzania, Kyrgyzstan and Eritrea.

Oliver O'Connell has more on this.
Ivanka Trump blanks reporter asking about impeachment trial
Also in Davos yesterday, Ivanka Trump was involved in an awkward stand-off with CNN reporter Jim Acosta, once booted out of a White House press briefing by her father's administration.
Here's Oliver O'Connell again.
What DC insiders really think of Mitch McConnell's trial rules

For Indy Voices, Andrew Feinberg has the inside track on the impeachment trial from Capitol Hill.
Senate Democrat calls out 'draconian' reporting restrictions at the 
New Mexico Democrat Martin Heinrich has written to the Senate's sergeant-at-arms Michael Stenger to complain about the "draconian" restrictions on the press being observed at the impeachment trial.
Mitch McConnell has been working hard to protect Trump's interests in drawing up his rules for the process and the president's own views on the press are well known.
He said in Davos just now that he hopes the Fourth Estate can be "straightened out", seemingly threatening an ominous new encroachment on a key democratic check on executive power. 
White House Twitter account confuses Iraq with Iran
As discussed, Trump is due to meet up with the president of Iraq later today at the World Economic Forum.
Someone should tell whoever's in charge of the White House YouTube account. His sitting down with Hassan Rouhani of Iran really would be a story...
Here's Andre Griffin's report.
Kellyanne Conway defends Bernie Sanders in bizarre tweet
The beef that erupted between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders yesterday - after it emerged that the beaten 2016 candidate told a Hulu documentary crew that "nobody likes" the Vermont socialist - created such hysteria on Twitter that even Kellyanne Conway found herself defending Trump's possible 2020 challenger.
Rogue rival candidate Tulsi Gabbard summed it all up rather nicely...
...and Bernie has since laughed off the matter with the very Larry David answer: "On a good day my wife likes me."
Sirena Bergman explains all for Indy100.
Trump pushes Bernie conspiracy, calls Tom Steyer 'major loser'
In Davos, Trump has unleashed another deluge of partisan retweets in the last hour from Mitch McConnell, Lindsey Graham, Ted Cruz, Louis Gohmert, Mark Levin and Dan Bongino and repeated his ludicrous conspiracy theory that the impeachment trial is really about dragging Bernie Sanders off the campaign to serve as a juror to derail his 2020 presidential campaign.
This on Tom Steyer is just mean.
This endorsement of Levin's attack on progressive Democrat Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is also pretty noteworthy.
President praises Elon Musk: 'He does good at rockets'
Trump has been talking to Joe Kernan on CNBC's Squawk Box and praised the eccentric Silicon Valley tech tycoon in gloriously inarticulate fashion.
He also had a kind word for Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg, who continues to refuse to police his political advertising.
Trump was also critical of Boeing, again inflated his record on African American unemployment and attacked the Fed and Michael Bloomberg.
He even found time to touch on impeachment and post-Brexit trade with Britain in what was another scattergun media appearance.
Andrew Griffin has more.
Trump moves to allay fears of coronavirus outbreak
The president also used his interview there to reassure the public that the coronavirus is "completely under control" after the first case was discovered in the US earlier this week.
Chris Riotta has the latest on that.
Trump says Obama officials should be punished for investigating him
In addition to CNBC, Trump has also been speaking (nonsense) to Maria Bartiromo of Fox Business since landing in Davos, pledging juicy tax cuts for the middle class, blowing yet more smoke about his impact on the US economy and saying the Obama-era Justice Department should be punished for having the temerity to investigate his campaign in 2016.


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