Trump impeachment trial live updates: Senators to ask written questions to both sides


ABC News(WASHINGTON) — President Donald Trump’s Senate impeachment trial enters an unpredictable new phase Wednesday, when senators begin up to 16 hours of posing questions to House impeachment managers and the president’s legal team.After sitting at their desks in silence for long days listening to opening arguments from both sides, senators — still prohibited from speaking — will submit questions written on paper slips to Chief Justice John Roberts, who then will read them aloud to the chamber.The questions, alternating between Republicans and Democrats, will be under the name of the inquiring senator. Senators may not direct questions at their colleagues.The questioning, set to take place over Wednesday and Thursday, gives both sides one last opportunity to address the chamber before senators begin considering motions, including on the question of witnesses — an issue at the center of events on Capitol Hill following reports about the testimony former national security adviser John Bolton could offer the Senate if subpoenaed to appear.The ABC News team of correspondents and producers is covering every aspect of this story. Here is how the day is unfolding. Please refresh for updates.11:01 a.m. Murkowski meets with McConnellABC’s Trish Turner reports GOP Sen. Lisa Murkowski met for 20 minutes Wednesday morning with Senate Majority Leader McConnell.The pressure campaign on Murkowski and other Republican moderates continues.As she leaves, Murkowski tells reporters, “You know I’m not going to share my personal thoughts with you this morning.”Asked if she has a timetable for her decision on whether to vote for witnesses, she responds, “My timetable is kind of dictated, so I don’t think I’ve got a lot of options there.”10:55 a.m. Democrat Manchin says Hunter Biden should testifyThe dispute over whether the Senate should hear new witnesses is getting more complicated as senators discuss each party calling witnesses of their own.Republicans have floated the idea of calling former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, Hunter.Wednesday morning, Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia says Biden’s son Hunter should be called to testify.”You know, I think so,” Manchin says on MSNBC. “I really do.”“If it’s relevant, then it should be there,” Manchin adds.Trump’s defense team has pointed to Hunter Biden’s involvement with a Ukrainian energy company as evidence the President was right to ask officials there for help with an investigation. Despite the possible appearance of possible impropriety given his father’s diplomatic ties to Ukraine, no evidence has come to light that the Biden’s engaged in improper dealings.During the impeachment trial of President Bill Clinton, Chief Justice William Rehnquist asked that senators’ questions be answered in less than five minutes. Roberts, who has presided over the Trump trial, read Rehnquist’s directive on Tuesday, and said, “I think the late chief’s time limit was a good one and would ask both sides to abide by it.”Lawmakers have wide latitude in composing their questions. Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., will submit questions about impeachment manager and House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff and his staff’s interactions with the intelligence community whistleblower who filed the complaint that helped prompt the Ukraine inquiry, along others related to former Vice President Joe Biden, his son Hunter Biden and Ukraine.Democrats, for their part, are expected to press the Trump legal team on perceived weaknesses in their defense of the president and continue to make the case for witnesses in the trial before they force votes on motions for additional testimony and records.They could also raise questions about what White House lawyers knew of Bolton’s account of conversations with the president. The former Trump adviser submitted a manuscript of his forthcoming book to the White House for a classification review.According to The New York Times, Bolton wrote that Trump told him over the summer that he wanted to continue freezing military aid to Ukraine until the country’s government delivered on his push to investigate the Biden family.The allegations that Trump tied the aid to investigations, which the president has denied, would undermine the White House’s defense of the president in the impeachment trial.The White House has told Republican senators that the lawyers arguing on Trump’s behalf in the Senate, including White House counsel Pat Cipollone, had no knowledge of Bolton’s account.Both the managers and the president’s lawyers could also rely on friendly senators to submit questions that help them reinforce their arguments to lawmakers.The Senate could move on to motions and the question of whether to consider additional witnesses later this week.Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, speaking to Republican senators in a closed-door meeting Tuesday evening, said he did not yet have the votes to block a vote to consider witnesses.A senior White House official told ABC News that the president’s defense team still believes they will be able to defeat the measure to call witnesses.”It’s still a hard vote, but we are working hard. It’s a long time until Friday,” the official said.The Senate’s number two Republican, John Thune, said he thought the GOP conference was unified behind a plan that would allow Democrats to call a witness like Bolton in exchange for the GOP calling a number of witnesses of their own — although that could end up being more witnesses than the Trump team would want.Thune added that it was proving difficult to figure out how to manage what could become an unwieldy process.

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