‘The Russians are coming’, and other moments from a busy day in Congress and the impeachment trial

The Senate impeachment trial against President Donald Trump has reached a crossroads that could either extend the trial for days or see a vote soon on whether to remove and convict. 

The designed factor will if Senators decide to allow new witnesses and documents. If that happens, the trial could go on for days or weeks. If not, it could be over by Friday evening. 

Here are some of the top moments from Thursday’s session of the Trump impeachment trial and related news from Congress. 

Nancy Pelosi says Trump ‘will not be acquitted’

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Thursday that President Donald Trump can’t be exonerated if senators don’t call witnesses in his impeachment trial.

“He will not be acquitted,” Pelosi told reporters. “You cannot be acquitted if you don’t have a trial. And you don’t have a trial if you don’t have witnesses and documentation.”

The speaker was responding to repeated questions from reporters about Democrats’ next move if the Senate clears Trump.

More:‘Is that true?’: Here are questions senators asked during Trump’s impeachment trial

“We’re still prayerful, hopeful,” she insisted, “that the Senate will have the courage to hear the truth.”

Channeling Paul Revere, Pelosi warned that democracy and the nation’s system of government are at stake.

“The Russians are coming. The Russians are coming,” she said. “And the president has led a clear path for them to interfere, once again, in our election as they are currently doing.”

Pelosi, who has said before that all roads lead to Russia, added: “I don’t know what the Russians have on the president, politically, personally or financially, but he doesn’t see Russia as an adversary.”

Justice Roberts refuses to read question from Sen. Rand Paul 

Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., submitted a question during the impeachment trial that Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts refused to read.

“The presiding officer declines to read the question as submitted,” said Roberts, who did not offer further explanation. 

Paul walked out of the chamber after Roberts declined the question. He told reporters his question didn’t name the alleged whistleblower – although his question, which he wrote in a tweet, mentioned the name of an official some Republicans have speculated is the whistleblower.

More:Trump lawyer Dershowitz argues president can’t be impeached for an act he thinks will help his reelection

The question revived allegations from some Trump allies that the whistleblower “conspired” with a House committee staff member to reveal information that would lead to the president’s impeachment. Paul did not offer evidence for the claim.

“It was an incorrect finding to not allow a question,” Paul said, but declined to say why he did not force a vote to overrule Roberts.

Before the question, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., opened the question session by assuring Roberts that the Senate would respect his “unique position in reading in reading our questions.”

“I want to be able to continue to assure him that that level of consideration for him will continue,” he said.

McConnell huddles with key vote hours before witness vote

In this image from video, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., speaks during the impeachment trial against President Donald Trump in the Senate at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Tuesday, Jan. 28, 2020.

Hours before the Senate will decide whether it will consider additional witnesses and documents as part of the president’s impeachment trial, McConnell huddled with Sen. Lisa Murkowski, a key vote, for several minutes on the Senate floor during a break. 

While the two were talking, Sen. Susan Collins, another key Republican vote, was approached by Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin, one of the Democrats who is thought to be considering Trump’s acquittal. The two locked arms and Manchin escorted Collins to the back of the chamber, where the pair talked for several minutes then left together. 

Manchin also greeted Sen. John Thune, the Republican whip attempting to unify the GOP in voting against witnesses, with a handshake that turned into a hug. 

Trump’s lawyer claims Trump didn’t ask Ukrain to investigate Bidens

Several Republican senators asked both Trump’s lawyers and Democratic impeachment managers under what circumstances a “president could request a foreign country to investigate a US citizen including a political rival who is not under investigation.”

Deputy Counsel Patrick Philbin answered the question by going back to the record of Trump’s July 25 call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. Trump had asked Zelensky to “do us a favor” and look into allegations against former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden.

Philbin, however, asserted that Trump had not called “for an investigation necessarily into Vice President Biden or his son, but the situation in which the prosecutor had been fired,” referring to the ouster of Ukrainian prosecutor Viktor Shokin.

Republicans have argued Trump’s conduct on the call was justified because of his concerns about the Bidens and corruption.

Philbin continued, arguing that potential malfeasance by an American overseas would be “perfectly legitimate” to ask about, even if it’s “not something that would mean a criminal investigation here in the United States.”

Sens. Collins, Roy Blunt, R-Mo., Marco Rubio, R-Fla., and Mike Crapo, R-Idaho, had posed the question. Collins is a key undecided vote on both allowing witnesses and Trump’s conviction or acquittal.

Democrats disagreed. House Manager Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., said “it would be hard for me to contemplate circumstances where that would be appropriate.”  

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