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During the opening day of oral arguments in the impeachment trial, President Trump was accused of abusing his office to "cheat an election." House impeachment managers spent about eight hours on Wednesday laying out their case for why President Trump should be removed from office. The Senate trial comes a month after the House impeached Trump for withholding congressionally approved military aid to Ukraine as part of an effort to pressure the Ukrainian president to investigate Trump's political rival, Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden.
While the impeachment trial was taking place in the Senate, President Trump was across the Atlantic at the World Economic Forum in Davos, where he tweeted more than 140 times and dismissed the impeachment trial as a hoax. Trump also appeared to boast about having withheld evidence from the impeachment process, saying, "We have all the material; they don't have the material." For more on the historic impeachment trial, we speak with Dahlia Lithwick, senior editor and Supreme Court reporter at Slate.com.
This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.
NERMEEN SHAIKH: In the first day of oral arguments in the historic impeachment trial of President Trump, Democratic lawmakers accused the president of abusing his power to "cheat an election." House impeachment managers spent eight hours Wednesday laying out their case for why President Trump should be removed from office. Democrats will continue to argue their case today and tomorrow. The Senate trial comes a month after the House impeached Trump for withholding congressionally approved military aid to Ukraine as part of an effort to pressure the Ukrainian president to investigate Trump's political rival, Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden. Democratic Congressman Adam Schiff, the lead impeachment manager, outlined the case against President Trump.
REP. ADAM SCHIFF: A president has a right to hold a call with a foreign leader, yes. And he has a right to decide the time and location of a meeting with that leader, yes. And he has a right to withhold funding to that leader, should the law be followed and the purpose be just. But he does not, under our laws and under our Constitution, have a right to use the powers of his office to corruptly solicit foreign aid, prohibited foreign aid, in his re-election. He does not. He does not have the right to withhold official presidential acts to secure that assistance, and he certainly does not have the right to undermine our elections and place our security at risk for his own personal benefit. No president, Republican or Democrat, can be permitted to do that.
AMY GOODMAN: The House Intelligence chair and lead house manager, Congressman Adam Schiff, went on to warn that President Trump's actions put the country on what he described as the "road towards tyranny."
REP. ADAM SCHIFF: When a leader takes the reins of the highest office in our land and uses that awesome power to solicit the help of a foreign country to gain an unfair advantage in our free and fair elections, we all, Democrats and Republicans alike, must ask ourselves whether our loyalty is to our party or whether it is to our Constitution. If we say that we will align ourselves with that leader, allowing our sense of duty to be usurped by an absolute executive, that is not democracy. It is not even factionalism. It is a step on the road towards tyranny.
NERMEEN SHAIKH: While the impeachment trial was taking place in the Senate, President Trump was across the Atlantic at the World Economic Forum in Davos, where he tweeted more than 140 times, a new record for him as president. At a press conference in Davos, Trump dismissed the impeachment trial as a hoax.
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: We're doing very well. I got to watch enough. I thought our team did a very good job. But honestly, we have all the material; they don't have the material.
AMY GOODMAN: After President Trump spoke, one of the House impeachment managers, Val Demings, tweeted, "The second article of impeachment was for obstruction of Congress: covering up witnesses and documents from the American people. This morning the President not only confessed to it, he bragged about it," she tweeted.
We're joined now by Dahlia Lithwick, senior editor at Slate.com, where she's their senior legal correspondent and Supreme Court reporter.
Dahlia, it's great to have you back. Talk about the significance of what Trump admitted yesterday, and then, overall, talk about this opening day of oral arguments in the Senate.
DAHLIA LITHWICK: Yeah, it's such an amazing moment, Amy, where you actually have the reason that everything is playing out as it is in the Senate is because of that second charge, that obstruction charge. So, the reason we don't have witnesses testifying for the first impeachment trial in history, the reason we don't have the documents that were sought, including some documents that now really are owed, all of that is because the White House utterly and completely obstructed the inquiry in the House. And so, to have the president then crowing about it overseas you know, "We have everything; they have nothing" it really is like quite an astonishing moment we're in.
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