Deseret News reporter Matthew Brown is in Washington, D.C., and will be publishing updates about the trial throughout the day.
Romney, Obama election is subject of hypothetical question
In addition to asking a question as a senator and juror, Utah Republican Sen. Mitt Romney was the subject of a hypothetical question asked by fellow Republican Sens. Lindsey Graham and Ted Cruz.
Chief Justice John Roberts posed the question: “In Mr. Schiff’s hypothetical, if President Obama had evidence that Mitt Romney’s son was being paid $1 million per year by a corrupt Russian company and Mitt Romney had acted to benefit that company, would Obama have authority to ask that that potential corruption be investigated?”
It was one of just two questions when senators asked opposing counsel to respond — in this case the House managers.
Romney ran against Obama in 2012.
House manager Adam Schiff said “whether justified or unjustified, to target their political opponent is wrong and corrupt, period, end of story.”
He said under no circumstance should a president go outside his own law enforcement process and ask a foreign power to investigate a political rival and influence an election.
Lee gets two questions in during the first hour of trial
1:30 p.m. MST
Utah GOP Sen. Mike Lee, who helped sort questions from Republicans to make sure there are no duplicates, got in a couple of queries to Trump’s legal team in the first hour of today’s trial. The majority leader’s office decides the order of questions.
The first from Lee was a combination with Sens. Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee, Kelly Loeffler of Georgia, Kevin Cramer of North Dakota and Martha McSally of Arizona.
They asked if the standard for impeachment in the House is lower than the standard for conviction in the Senate and if the House managers met the evidentiary standard for removal from office.
Lee’s second question was his own and a bit of a softball to Trump’s lawyers, hitting on Lee’s contention that the impeachment is an effort by a “deep state” of career government employees who disagree with Trump’s foreign policies.
The question: “The managers say the president contravened U.S. foreign policy. Isn’t it the president’s place to set foreign policy?”
White House attorney Patrick Philbin responded, “Of course it is,” then elaborated why.
First question came from Collins, Murkowski, Romney combination.
1:15 p.m. MST
The questioning phase of the impeachment trial came from the much-watched trio of Republican Sens. Susan Collins of Maine, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Mitt Romney of Utah.
It incorporated a piece of one of Romney’s submitted questions in asking how to consider abuse of power if the president “had more than one motive for his alleged conduct, such as the pursuit of personal political advantage, rooting out corruption and the promotion of national interests.”
Collins posed the question and White House attorney Patrick Philbin said, in short, if the president is acting in the public interest, even if part of the motive is personal interest, a case for impeachment fails.
What did President Trump ask Rudy Giuliani to do in Ukraine?
12:01 p.m. MST
In a tweet, Utah Sen. Mitt Romney released the questions he wants to ask House managers and Trump defense attorneys in the impeachment trial.
The questions I have submitted for the Q&A period of the Impeachment Trial: pic.twitter.com/JTHlKJfcNN— Senator Mitt Romney (@SenatorRomney) January 29, 2020
Romney to ‘do what is right, let the consequence follow’ on vote to call witnesses
10:37 a.m. MST
Speaking to a scrum of reporters on his way to the Capitol, Sen. Mitt Romney paraphrased a line familiar to members of his faith, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
“You do what you believe is right and let the consequence follow,” Romney said explaining how he will vote Friday on allowing more witnesses to testify.
The exact phrase from the popular Latter-day Saint hymn is “do what is right, let the consequence follow.” But he got the point across that he’s among very few GOP senators who want to hear from more witnesses.
Report: Romney is lone firm GOP vote for calling witnesses
9:05 a.m. MST
The Washington Post reports that Republican Sens. Susan Collins, of Maine, and Lisa Murkowski, of Alaska, are now “only soft supporters for witnesses and are not ready to make any firm commitments.”
That would leave Utah Republican Sen. Mitt Romney as the lone firm vote for witnesses in the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump.
The Post, quoting aides who spoke on condition of anonymity, reported efforts to get witnesses has declined since a closed GOP meeting on Tuesday.
The aides said Romney “does not carry significant capital with his colleagues, who see him as a political outlier in the Trump-friendly caucus.”
Rally for impeachment witnesses planned today at Lee and Romney’s Salt Lake offices
8:40 a.m. MST
A local group that supports the removing President Donald Trump from office will rally today at the Salt Lake offices of GOP Sens. Mike Lee and Mitt Romney.
The group Impeach and Remove wants Utah’s senators to vote to hear additional witnesses in Trump’s impeachment trial. Romney supports hearing from new witnesses, particularly former national security adviser John Bolton, while Lee does not favor the idea.
Trump pressure-tweets GOP senators on witness question
7:20 a.m. MST
For those GOP senators still wavering on whether to call witnesses at the his impeachment trial, the president tweeted this today:
Remember Republicans, the Democrats already had 17 witnesses, we were given NONE! Witnesses are up to the House, not up to the Senate. Don’t let the Dems play you!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 29, 2020
No matter how many witnesses you give the Democrats, no matter how much information is given, like the quickly produced Transcripts, it will NEVER be enough for them. They will always scream UNFAIR. The Impeachment Hoax is just another political CON JOB!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 29, 2020
75 percent of registered voters want impeachment witnesses
6:45 a.m. MST
While GOP senators continue to debate whether to call additional witnesses in the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump, a new poll found three-quarters of registered American voters support hearing more evidence.
The party breakdown of the poll from Quinnipiac University shows 49% of Republicans, 75% of independents and 95% of Democrats think witnesses should be allowed to testify.
The latest national survey is the fourth since the trial began to show nearly 70% of voters support hearing witnesses.
The Senate will vote on the witness question Friday. Four GOP senators would need to vote with Democrats to get the 51 votes necessary to allow the Senate to subpoena top White House aides like former national security adviser John Bolton.
Chief justice asks House managers, Trump lawyers to keep it brief
6:50 a.m. MST
Before adjourning Tuesday, Chief Justice John Roberts told senators that he intended to follow the guidance of the late Chief Justice William Rehnquist, who presided over the 1999 impeachment trial of President Bill Clinton, in managing the questioning phase of the trial.
Roberts acknowledged that his predecessor’s advice for attorneys to keep their answers to five minutes or less “was met with laughter.”
“Nonetheless, managers and counsel generally limited their responses accordingly,” Roberts said. “I think the late chief’s time limit was a good one and would ask both sides to abide by it.”