Democrats weigh renewed Ukraine push after Trump acquittal

Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House Democrats face a Ukraine conundrum.

They have spent four months arguing that President Donald Trump is an ongoing threat to national security who must be removed from office immediately. So urgent was their drive to remove him from office, Democrats said, that they fast-tracked their articles of impeachment to the Senate, choosing to sidestep a lengthy legal fight with the White House over obtaining new documents and new witnesses.

But now that the Senate has rejected their case and acquitted the president, Democrats are facing the aftershocks of impeachment — in particular, whether to revive the urgent pace of their initial investigation of Trump’s conduct toward Ukraine.

So far, it appears they have not settled on a plan.

“We haven’t made any decisions about what comes next,” Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), the House’s lead impeachment prosecutor, said in an interview. “We wanted to get through the trial, and so we’ll have those conversations among our caucus, within leadership. Right now we’re just trying to take stock of what just took place.”

Pelosi did not respond to a question late Wednesday about her plans for the Ukraine investigation. But in a statement she more broadly foreshadowed continued efforts to investigate Trump — ones that also center on Trump’s finances and allegations of self-dealing.

“The House will continue to protect and defend the checks and balances in the Constitution that safeguard our Republic, both in the courts of law and in the court of public opinion,” Pelosi said.

The noncommittal responses from Pelosi and Schiff come as some House Democrats privately note a tension between the argument that Trump remains an imminent threat to the integrity of the 2020 election and concerns about appearing overzealous in the face of the Senate’s rejection of their impeachment push.

Asked about those conflicting concerns, Rep. Jason Crow (D-Colo.), one of the impeachment prosecutors, said the House should not simply abandon what Democrats view as a larger effort to protect the 2020 election from foreign interference.

“The trial being over does not mean that we don’t respond to abuses and threats going forward — both external threats from foreign actors, but if there are internal threats as well, we will always respond,” Crow said in an interview Wednesday. “The results of the trial do not in any way absolve us of our constitutional obligations to continue to defend our democracy.”

Yet Democrats acknowledge the acute political risks associated with a full-on revival of the Ukraine inquiry. Racing to accelerate an investigation that already resulted in Trump’s acquittal could make House Democrats look like sore losers, some detractors say, and it’s unclear if the House’s most vulnerable Democrats would support that effort.

After a three-month investigation, the House charged the president in December with abusing his power by pressuring Ukraine to investigate his Democratic rivals, including former Vice President Joe Biden. They also accused him of obstructing Congress’ investigation into the alleged scheme. But the Republican-controlled Senate cleared Trump on both charges, accusing the House of a rushed and flawed process, but largely agreeing with Democrats that Trump’s actions were improper.

At the heart of those accusations is the House Intelligence Committee’s decision to forgo subpoenas for high-level White House officials and Trump associates during its Ukraine investigation last year. That choice was intended in part to avoid entangling the impeachment push in months- or even years-long litigation. With the trial in the rearview, that concern is moot.

Indeed, some Democrats are pushing for the Intelligence Committee to immediately subpoena John Bolton, the former national security adviser who declared last month that he would be willingly to testify in the Senate impeachment trial if he were subpoenaed. Democrats, however, never issued one because Senate Republicans defeated their effort.

Still, several Republican senators justified their decision to vote against the impeachment articles by pointing to Pelosi’s decision to delay sending them to the Senate — arguing that it undercuts Democrats’ stated urgency to remove Trump from office. If urgency is the guiding principle, they contended, Pelosi would not have withheld the impeachment articles for so long.

Bolton is one of a handful of senior Trump aides who would have first-hand knowledge of alleged wrongdoing by Trump. Leaked details of Bolton’s forthcoming book, reported last week by The New York Times, indicated that Trump told Bolton he was withholding military aid to Ukraine while he awaited the country’s help with investigations targeting Biden and other Democrats.

In addition, Democrats know the calendar is packed with deadlines for new disclosures of information that could add new evidence to their case. Bolton’s book is scheduled to be published in March, and there have been nearly weekly document dumps in response to third-party Freedom of Information Act requests that continue to plug some holes in the investigation. There are also a series of court decisions that could result in more disclosures or require additional witnesses to testify.

Throughout the House’s three-month Ukraine investigation, Trump sought to block dozens of White House, State Department and Pentagon officials from testifying, and he also refused to provide documents demanded by the House. Ultimately, 17 witnesses defied Trump’s orders; but another dozen — including Bolton, his deputy Charles Kupperman, acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney and senior White House budget officials — refused to testify.

Kupperman, in fact, sued to seek clarity on whether he would be required to honor a House subpoena or Trump’s directive, but a judge dismissed the case after the House withdrew its subpoena. The House’s decision to withdraw the subpoena drew derision from Republican senators who said it proved that the House was more concerned with rushing the impeachment process than ironing out tricky negotiations with the White House.

All of these complications will figure into the House’s ultimate decision about whether — and how aggressively — to pursue the Ukraine matter anew and stoke a continued fight with Trump.

“I view the urgency as to protect the integrity of the upcoming election,” Schiff said, adding: “We can be absolutely certain that he will continue his efforts to cheat in any way he can.”

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Arizona man facing charges for threatening Adam Schiff

An Arizona man indicted in October for threatening to kill Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) told police he was likely reacting to a Fox News segment when he left the alcohol-fueled voicemail, according to newly filed court documents.

Jan Peter Meister, a convicted sex offender with a long rap sheet, was indicted on Oct. 23, 2019 for leaving the voicemail with Schiff’s Washington, D.C. office. After a search of Meister’s residence, prosecutors also charged him with illegal possession of firearms, including a loaded .380 caliber handgun, a 9mm handgun and an American Tactical Rifle, along with 700 rounds of ammunition.

A motion filed late last week by Meister’s attorneys revealed a portion of his interview with police during which Meister apologized for making the call and said that he may have been reacting to commentary on Fox News.

“Meister responded that he watches Fox News and likely was upset at something that he saw on the news. He stated that he strongly dislikes the Democrats, and feels they are to blame for the country's political issues,” according to the police summary of the interview. “Meister stated that he likely Goggled [sic] the congressman’s office number to make the call.”

Meister, who has pleaded not guilty to both charges, is scheduled to stand trial on March 9. A spokesman for Schiff, the lead impeachment manager, declined to comment.

The filing was first highlighted by The Informant, a new publication focusing on violent extremism.

The episode is a harrowing example of the routine threats facing high-profile lawmakers and other officials in Washington, D.C., amid a deeply divisive impeachment inquiry that has thrust Schiff and other top Democrats into national prominence. Schiff, along with at least some of the other six House Democrats prosecuting the case against Trump, has been seen with permanent police details in recent months as he walks through the Capitol complex.

President Donald Trump has lately attacked Schiff perhaps more than any of his other political adversaries, often taking to Twitter to harangue the House Intelligence Committee chairman as “corrupt,” “shifty” and “criminal.” The president has also suggested several times that Schiff should be arrested for “treason,” a crime punishable by death. His attacks are often echoed on Fox, where Schiff is frequently featured as a villain during primetime opinion shows.

Lawmakers often emphasize that the intensity of the rhetoric in Washington is not an excuse for violence. But it has fueled other recent threats on lawmakers, including the 2017 attack that nearly killed House GOP Whip Steve Scalise of Louisiana.

Scalise was shot several times on a baseball field in Virginia where he and other GOP lawmakers were practicing for the annual congressional baseball game. The gunman had professed views that were hostile toward Republicans, and the episode led to a short-lived call among lawmakers to de-escalate Washington’s increasingly hostile rhetoric.

According to prosecutors, Meister left a threatening, expletive-laden voicemail message with Schiff’s Washington, D.C. office on Oct. 1.

“Yeah, go f--- your mother, you son of a b---- cause I’m gonna f---ing blow your brains out you f---ing piece of s--- mother, f-----, you’re a f----ing piece of s---,” Meister allegedly said.

When federal agents arrived at his residence to serve a warrant on Oct. 25, he allegedly cursed at them and said, unsolicited, “F--- Adam Schiff.” Additionally, one of the agents who arrested him “noted a strong odor of alcohol emanating” from Meister, according to a Justice Department filing.

Federal authorities pressed for Meister’s pretrial detention, noting that he faces a five-year sentence for threatening Schiff and a 10-year sentence for the gun charge. They said he should be considered a flight risk because of his minimal ties to the community. Prosecutors noted that Meister’s record includes convictions for a 1989 rape as well as another sex offense, a DUI and assault in 2000, and disorderly conduct in 2001.

Meister, who has been detained pending his trial, has argued that he never intended to make good on the threat to Schiff.

“Mr. Meister is charged with making a drunken phone call in which he threatened a United States Congressman. Although serious, the congressman lived in Washington, D.C. and Mr. Meister lives in a trailer in Tucson,” his attorneys argued in November seeking his release pending trial. “Mr. Meister has no ties to Washington or the ability to travel there and there is little evidence he could have carried out his alleged threat.”

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Dems mount preemptive strike on Trump’s defense

Garcia: Trump's request for investigation happened after 'Biden began beating him in the polls'

House Democrats are trying to shatter President Donald Trump’s defense before it begins.

The seven House impeachment managers seeking Trump’s removal from office know they are about to cede the floor to the president’s legal team — perhaps for three full days — as soon as Saturday. So the House managers spent all day Thursday trying to preempt and outflank them.

On a day initially billed as a dry recitation of constitutional theory, Democrats instead launched a multimedia barrage featuring the president’s own allies, advisers and even his favored TV network as they tried to undermine his anticipated defense.

They teed up old videos of Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Alan Dershowitz arguing that impeachment doesn’t require a criminal offense; they aired footage of FBI Director Christopher Wray and former homeland security adviser Tom Bossert rejecting the notion that Ukraine interfered in the 2016 election; and they systematically picked apart suggestions that Trump had legitimate reasons to ask Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden.

It was a clear strategic choice by House Democrats. Anticipating that Trump’s team would proclaim that the president had a genuine interest in fighting corruption in Ukraine — justifying his request that the country’s president announce an investigation of Biden — Democrats instead repeatedly used the words of Trump’s own advisers and allies to knock down the theory.

Rep. Sylvia Garcia (D-Texas) led that effort, seeking to debunk the claims about Biden through an exhaustive presentation that included videos of witnesses who appeared before House impeachment investigators. Each of those witnesses said Trump’s allegations against Biden were unfounded. She displayed Fox News polls showing Biden surpassing Trump in head-to-head matchups, arguing that Trump only cared about Biden when the former vice president announced his presidential campaign and presented a formidable challenge.

“President Trump asked for the investigation into Biden based on a made-up theory that no one agreed with — no one,” Garcia said.

Senate Democrats lauded what they called a “masterful presentation” by the House impeachment managers — ones that were led on Thursday by House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), the lead manager, and Garcia.

“They are pre-empting the president’s lawyers, who we know will make false arguments. And they are meeting those arguments before the president’s lawyers get their chance because they won’t be rebutted,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) told reporters.

“[Trump’s lawyers] were trucking in all these totally false and discredited theories, conspiracy and otherwise,” Schumer added. “But the House managers sort of drove a knife through the heart of those false arguments ahead of time.”

The House impeached Trump last month for allegedly pressuring Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate Biden, as well as a debunked theory that Ukraine — not Russia — hacked and ultimately hid a Democratic Party server. Democrats emphasized that the theory that Ukraine interfered with the 2016 election was actually a brainchild of Russian President Vladimir Putin, who they noted cheered the fact that Trump and his allies gave credence to the claim.

Trump’s lead personal attorney for the impeachment trial, Jay Sekulow, sought to downplay Democrats’ presentation.

“You’re hearing video clips of testimony — we’ve got lawyers that are going to be put forward when our side of the case goes that represent multiple schools of thought on what is and is not an impeachable offense,” Sekulow said, contending that Trump’s alleged conduct does not meet the constitutional threshold for impeachment.

Trump’s allies in the House and Senate said the Democratic arguments would do little to affect the trajectory of the trial, which has long seemed headed toward a party-line acquittal. They said the White House’s defense would remain intact despite the Democratic effort to undercut their case.

“I want the public to understand that the claims [the House impeachment managers] are making that there’s no ‘there’ there in the Bidens — nobody’s looked,” said Graham, a top Trump ally. “Somebody should, and I’ve looked and I’ve got a lot of questions.”

Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.) said he recognized Democrats’ effort to preempt Trump’s defense but added, “I don’t think they did a very good job.”

“They know they have a problem with Biden and they’re trying to explain it,” Scott said.

In fact, Republican senators and Trump's own legal teams suggested Democrats' focus on the Bidens could motivate them to spend more time during their own portion of the trial digging into the Bidens' relationships in Ukraine.

"What I don't understand is for the last five hours it's been a lot about Joe Biden and Burisma," said Sekulow. "They kind of opened the door for that response."

But Senate Democrats walked out of the chamber Thursday during breaks in the trial buoyed by the offensive push to head off the Trump defense.

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, another New York Democrats, said the House managers were “nipping [the White House legal team’s efforts] in the bud.”

“I think that's important too, because when we receive the president’s counsel’s presentation on Saturday, we will have these rebuttals already in our minds,” Gillibrand said. “So I think it was effective.”

Marianne LeVine and Jesse Naranjo contributed to this report.

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Democrats say White House improperly classifying piece of impeachment evidence

Senate Democrats said a letter from a national security aide to Vice President Mike Pence that was admitted as evidence in the impeachment trial late Wednesday should be made public before the proceedings against President Donald Trump end.

“It highly corroborates the case that Chairman Schiff has been making and exhibits no apparent reason that it should be classified,” Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) said Thursday. “I’d like to have somebody under oath from the administration [on] how it was made classified and what they say is classified, because I don’t think it’s defensible.”

House Democrats sought Pence’s approval to declassify the letter from Pence aide Jennifer Williams last month, claiming it was important evidence in their investigation of allegations that Trump pressured Ukraine to investigate his Democratic rivals. The information, submitted as supplemental testimony to the House Intelligence Committee, relates to Pence’s Sept. 18 phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

Williams testified to House investigators twice, telling them that Trump’s July 25 call with Zelensky was “inappropriate” and “political.” But after her public testimony in November, she delivered a letter to House impeachment investigators indicating she recalled new details about Pence’s Sept. 18 call with Zelensky that were relevant to the case.

Schiff asked the vice president to declassify it, claiming there was no “legitimate basis” to keep it secret. He said the decision to classify the information “cannot be justified on national security or any other legitimate grounds we can discern.”

Senate Democrats echoed that claim on Thursday. “I have no idea why they wanted to classify it,” said Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), emerging from the Senate’s secure facility where the letter has been made available to lawmakers.

“There is nothing I can see in that document that justifies its being classified,” said Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.).

Chief Justice John Roberts, who is presiding over the trial, indicated late Wednesday “a single, one-page classified document identified by the House managers” had been entered into evidence under the Senate’s standing rules. He noted it would “not be made part of the public record.”

Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.), one of the House impeachment managers, mentioned Williams’ supplemental testimony during her presentation to senators on Wednesday. She argued that the only reason for it to remain classified is to “cover up” the evidence.

It’s unclear how significant the new evidence is to the overall case Democrats have been presenting. Democrats have primarily called it “corroborative” but would not divulge its contents. Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.V.) downplayed its significance, saying it was “just corrections” to Williams’ previous testimony.

“That’s it,” he said.

Senators rotated in and out of the secure room for much of Thursday morning, spending several minutes reviewing the contents of Williams’ supplemental testimony. More than two dozen Democrats were spotted entering the facility, including Sens. Dick Durbin of Illinois and Patty Murray of Washington state, the No. 2 and 3 Senate Democrats, respective.

Three Republican senators were spotted walking into the secure facility before the impeachment trial resumed on Thursday: Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, Mike Lee of Utah and Kelly Loeffler of Georgia.

When Johnson was asked if the letter was significant, he shook his head. But on whether the information should be declassified, he said: “I will make a blanket statement that we classify way too much information.”

Republicans, including Johnson, have complained they had not heard anything “new” in Democrats’ presentation of the evidence in the impeachment trial — evidence they gathered and revealed publicly over the course of a three-month investigation late last year. But Williams’ letter is one piece of information that has been kept from public view because of the classification designation.

In December, Pence’s office defended the decision to keep the letter classified, saying Democrats’ demand to release it “serves no purpose.”

“At this point, the Intelligence Committee’s oversight authority is limited to those areas in which it may potentially legislate or appropriate,” Pence’s counsel Matthew Morgan wrote to Schiff on Dec. 11, noting that Schiff’s panel had already filed its impeachment report at the time of his request. “Your request, coming after the completion of your report, serves no legitimate legislative or impeachment inquiry purpose.”

Morgan also jabbed at Williams for discussing the call with lawmakers at all. “The contents of a classified call with a foreign head of state should never have been discussed in an unclassified committee hearing or an unclassified deposition,” he said in his response to Schiff.

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Dems unload ‘overwhelming’ impeachment case on the Senate — even as they press for more

And on the first day, Democrats unleashed the flood.

One by one, the seven House impeachment prosecutors seeking President Donald Trump’s removal from office reconstructed a case against the president so dense — at times, head-scratchingly complex — that it was hard for senators new to the material to keep up.

After a lofty introduction by the House’s lead manager, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), Democrats shed any pretense of offering a streamlined, made-for-TV version of events meant to captivate the Senate or the nation. For much of the day, they cast aside any attempt to make a narrowly tailored case to Republicans that they should support calls for additional witnesses.

Instead, they decided to hammer senators with everything they had: an all-day torrent of intricate information, peppered with screenshots of deposition transcripts, emails, text messages and about 50 video clips — nearly three times more than House Republicans used during the entirety of their arguments in the 1999 Clinton trial.

It was a presentation that seemed designed to demonstrate what Democrats have long professed: that the facts of the Ukraine scandal threatening Trump’s presidency are so overwhelming as to be almost infallible. As Republicans harangued Democrats for failing to “do their homework,” the House managers were intent to emphasize just how much “homework” they did.

“We have some very long days yet to come,” Schiff warned the Senate as he kicked off the House’s arguments on Wednesday. He added, “Over the coming days, we will present to you and to the American people the extensive evidence collected in the House's inquiry into the president’s abuse of power, overwhelming evidence ... despite his unprecedented obstruction into that misconduct.”

What followed was a painstaking chronology of Democrats’ case that Trump pressured Ukraine to investigate his political rivals and obstructed Congress' investigation of the alleged scheme.

The Democrats included lengthy reconstructions of the April ouster of the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch, who Trump's associates viewed as an obstacle in their quest to launch the investigations. They picked apart Trump’s decision in May to cancel Vice President Mike Pence’s trip to Ukraine, which Ukraine had sought as an important gesture of support.

The House lawmakers also dissected a two-week stretch in July during which administration officials agonized over Trump’s decision to withhold military aid from Ukraine amid his call for investigations. And they recounted at length the turmoil this hold on aid provoked in the diplomatic corps in August and September.

To one Senate Republican, the firehose of evidence was an education in itself, for him and his colleagues.

“Nine out of 10 senators will tell you they haven’t read a full transcript of the proceedings in the House,” Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) quipped. “And the 10th senator who says he has is lying.”

But the strategy to deluge the Senate also carries significant risks as the House managers tried to hammer home somewhat contradictory messages: their case is “overwhelming,” but at the same time it's incomplete without calling new witnesses and subpoenaing documents they say are necessary for a fuller understanding of Trump’s conduct.

It is a tightrope that Democrats have walked for more than a month, while Speaker Nancy Pelosi held the impeachment articles back from the Senate in an attempt to build pressure for new witness testimony and document production in the Senate. It is also one that Trump’s congressional allies have tried to highlight — contending that House Democrats simply want the Senate to reopen a rushed and incomplete investigation.

“The Senate is not an investigative body. We are not here to open up new lines of investigation, chase down things that the House didn’t do,” said Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.), a Trump ally. “The House had the opportunity to pursue these issues. They did not take that opportunity in most cases. And now they want the Senate to effectively do their work.”

Democrats saw the risks of their plan in real time: the limits of senators’ attention spans. While Rep. Jason Crow (D-Colo.) recounted some of the national security implications of the president’s alleged actions, he paused to point out that a slew of senators had left their seats and were milling about the back of the chamber. Maybe they should take a break, he suggested to Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts, as he presided over the trial.

The House's case might only get denser from here. When the trial resumes on Thursday, the House managers are expected to use their second of three days to outline the constitutional framework for impeachment and why they believe Trump’s alleged misconduct meets the threshold for removal from office.

"If impeachment and removal cannot hold him accountable," Schiff said Wednesday afternoon, "then he truly is above the law."

Sarah Ferris contributed to this report.

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Democrats launch opening arguments in bid to snag Trump trial witnesses

The Republican-controlled Senate on Wednesday will cede the floor to Rep. Adam Schiff for what Democrats see as their last, best shot to convince a handful of GOP senators to demand witnesses and documents in President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial.

The House’s opening arguments, which could stretch for up to three days, represent as much a pitch to the American public as to the small but powerful group of Republicans — including Sens. Susan Collins of Maine, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Mitt Romney of Utah — who could determine whether the Senate will hear from witnesses Democrats believe are central to their case.

It will take four of them to break from their GOP colleagues and join with Democrats to empower Schiff (D-Calif.) and his team of prosecutors to call witnesses in the case. It will be an uphill climb; all 53 Senate Republicans opposed initial attempts by Democrats to subpoena crucial witnesses on Tuesday night, with only a handful saying they would revisit the issue after both sides present their arguments.

Neither the House impeachment managers nor the White House counsel filed any motions before the 9 a.m. deadline on Wednesday morning, according to a Democratic aide. That means the House managers will start making their case when the trial comes into session at 1:00 p.m.

Schiff, the House Intelligence Committee chairman, and six other House impeachment managers already laid out large swaths of their argument on Tuesday during a protracted Senate floor fight over the rules of the proceedings. Democrats treated the all-day affair as the ostensible beginning of their case to remove Trump from office on charges of abusing his power and obstructing a congressional investigation.

Even during the procedural fights — which lasted until nearly 2:00 a.m. while Senate Democrats forced votes on subpoenas for witnesses and documents — tensions between the House managers and the president’s lawyers escalated as the night wore on. At one point, Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts, who presides over the trial, admonished both sides for the heated and increasingly personal rhetoric.

The Senate impeachment trial: Highlights from the first day

“Those addressing the Senate should remember where they are,” Roberts warned.

The House impeached Trump last month for allegedly pressuring Ukraine to investigate his Democratic rivals, a scheme they said was aided by an illegal decision to withhold military aid from Ukraine in order to drive up pressure on the country’s fledgling president, Volodymyr Zelensky.

Democrats have argued that Trump released the $391 million in critical military aid only after the House began investigating the matter, and that Trump immediately moved to stonewall the probe, including by denying key witnesses from testifying and ordering a blanket rejection of all requests and subpoenas for documents.

Trump’s legal team — which includes White House Counsel Pat Cipollone and the president’s lead personal attorney Jay Sekulow — repeatedly argued on Tuesday that Trump did nothing wrong, but they did not push back on the claims at the heart of Democrats’ impeachment case. Rather, they delivered a series of broadsides against the House’s procedures, calling the articles of impeachment defective and invalid because they failed to meet the constitutional standards for “high crimes and misdemeanors.”

But Schiff and his allies intend to press the case that Trump endangered national security — jeopardizing the U.S. relationship with Ukraine, which is in an active war against a Russian invasion — to boost his political prospects. Trump, in a July 25 call with Zelensky, urged the newly elected leader to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden, an ask that came weeks after Trump ordered the hold on military aid and had repeatedly staved off a White House visit that Zelensky had been seeking to showcase a united front with the West.

Democrats also plan to argue that Trump enlisted his allies, including personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, to advance the effort, in part by orchestrating a smear campaign against the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch, whom they saw as an obstacle to the alleged scheme. Yovanovitch was one of 17 witnesses who testified during the House’s impeachment inquiry, and one of a dozen who told their stories publicly.

Though Democrats contend that the evidence they gathered is “overwhelming” and unchallenged, they are urging the Senate to add to their record by calling central witnesses that Trump blocked from their own proceedings.

The list includes acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney, who was at Trump’s side for the decisions surrounding the hold on military aid to Ukraine and publicly declared that Trump conditioned the aid on a promise to launch his favored investigations — before later denying the suggestion.

It also includes former national security adviser John Bolton, who has indicated he would testify if the Senate subpoenas him. Several other witnesses placed Bolton in the room during crucial meetings between American diplomats and Ukrainians, and also described his frustration and fury over Giuliani’s efforts in Ukraine.

Democrats also sought testimony from Mulvaney aide Robert Blair and White House budget official Michael Duffey, who were involved in executing the hold on military aid.

Senate Republicans defeated all of the Democratic attempts on Wednesday to subpoena testimony from these four officials, displaying a united front behind Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. The Kentucky Republican has said the Senate should consider the question of witnesses and documents only after both sides present their case and senators have an opportunity to ask questions.

But if most Republicans get their way, no witnesses will be called and the Senate will move toward a vote to acquit the president, all before Trump’s State of the Union address on Feb. 4.

Burgess Everett contributed to this report.

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