Congress

View from the gallery: Hardly enough time to fidget
Rare Senate weekend session only lasts two hours

Tennessee Sen. Lamar Alexander arrives at the Capitol on Saturday for the continuation of the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

It’s a Saturday, but nearly all the senators were in their workday suits and ties. The Kentucky delegation was one exception, with both Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Rand Paul wearing khakis and blazers.

This was the fifth straight day in the Senate chamber of the third presidential impeachment trial in U.S. history, and the 100 senators appeared for just two hours during a brief and rare weekend session when President Donald Trump’s team started its opening presentation.

Impeachment trial’s Saturday session is a short one
In first day of Trump defense team presentation, an eye on the clock

White House counsel Pat Cipollone, left, and lawyer Jordan Sekulow arrive at the Capitol on Saturday before the continuation of the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

President Donald Trump’s lawyers briefly laid out his defense Saturday at the Senate impeachment trial, focusing their attacks on what they called a lack of evidence, the actions of lead House manager Adam B. Schiff and a flawed House investigation.

Trump’s legal team did not make arguments about former Vice President Joe Biden or his son Hunter Biden. Trump and some Republican senators have focused on that issue for the president’s defense that his Ukraine dealings were meant to uncover corruption, not ask the country’s president to influence the 2020 presidential elections in exchange for releasing military aid.

Impeachment news roundup: Jan. 25
Trump’s defense takes center stage

House impeachment managers Adam B. Schiff, right, Jerrold Nadler, left, and aides are seen in the Capitol Rotunda on Saturday walking evidence to the Senate floor before the continuation of the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

File updated 12:12 p.m.

The Senate convened for a rare Saturday session as a court of impeachment today, and it was President Donald Trump’s legal team’s turn to begin laying out its case.

View from the gallery: Senators suffer through sniffles and sleepiness at Trump trial
House managers wrap up their presentation before an increasingly restless Senate

South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham is surrounded by reporters Friday as he arrives for the Senate Republicans’ lunch before the start of the day’s impeachment trial proceedings. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

South Carolina Republican Lindsey Graham, one of the president’s fiercest defenders in the Senate, chuckled, bowed his head slightly and rubbed his left eyebrow.

Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer and California Sen. Dianne Feinstein laughed and met the eyes of their knowing Democratic colleagues.

House managers focus on Trump’s ‘defiance’ in closing of impeachment presentation
Trump’s defense team will make the president’s case Saturday

House impeachment managers Zoe Lofgren and Adam B. Schiff, center, walk through the Ohio Clock Corridor on Friday on their way to a news conference before the start of the day’s impeachment trial proceedings. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

House impeachment managers on Friday concluded their third and final day of arguments to remove President Donald Trump from office by focusing on the House investigation and appealing to authority and emotion.

Lead manager Adam B. Schiff, a former federal prosecutor, forcefully laid out the House’s case in his closing statement, arguing that Trump would “remain a threat to the Constitution” if he were allowed to remain in office. 

Schiff’s emotional closing appeals set expectations for his Friday finale
Former prosecutor tries to appeal to GOP senators’ sense of right and wrong

House impeachment managers Adam B. Schiff, D-Calif., left, and Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., are wrapping up their arguments in the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Rep. Adam B. Schiff’s prosecutorial tone changed considerably at the end of the first two days of President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial, a preview that his presentation finale Friday night will feature loftier rhetoric about showing courage and doing what’s right, even when it risks a career.

“Every night we say, ‘Adam save it for the end,’ and every night he outdoes the night before,” Ohio Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown said.

Analysis: The Pentagon has a credibility problem, and it’s only getting worse
The Defense Department’s waffling on casualties from Jan. 8 Iran strike latest in a growing trend

Secretary of Defense Mark Esper, left, and Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, arrive for a briefing in Capitol Visitor Center for a closed-door briefing about Syria on Oct. 17. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Americans breathed a collective sigh of relief when, the morning after Iran’s Jan. 8 ballistic missile attack on Al Asad air base in Iraq, Defense Department leaders said there were “no casualties.” 

That initial assessment hasn't held up, and neither have the department's varying statements on the matter since then.

At March for Life, Trump gets an enthusiastic reception
‘The unborn have never had a stronger defender in the White House,’ president says

Charissa DiCamillo, 18, of Glenmore, Pa., demonstrates on Constitution Avenue in Washington on Friday during the annual March for Life. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

President Donald Trump, seeking to court evangelical voters, addressed thousands of activists gathered Friday on the National Mall for the nation's largest annual anti-abortion rally.

Trump, who this week revealed his “Pro-Life Voices for Trump” coalition for his 2020 reelection campaign, has strong ties to the anti-abortion community and is the first president to speak onstage at the event. Activists see him as a key ally in delivering policy priorities aimed at limiting abortion that he promised in 2016.

US ready for potential coronavirus outbreak, CDC assures lawmakers
CDC officials said they currently have the resources needed to address the spread of the virus

Sen. Richard Durbin, D-Ill., departs from a news conference on Tuesday. He told reporters Friday that federal health officials had positive things to say about China’s response to the coronavirus outbreak. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)

Federal health officials told lawmakers Friday that they have the resources they need to address the spread of the virus originating from Wuhan, China, although senators acknowledged the potential need for supplemental funding down the road.

The briefing for roughly two dozen senators came as the case count for the new version of coronavirus in China was rapidly increasing, prompting authorities there to effectively quarantine tens of millions of people in Wuhan and surrounding cities. China’s National Health Commission reported 571 cases and 17 deaths as of Thursday, though news reports on Friday said there were now more than 800 cases and at least 26 deaths.

Executive privilege standoff could roil Trump impeachment trial timeline
‘Do we recess then, or what do we do?’

Sen. Elizabeth Warren said the Senate should not ‘pack our bags and go home.’ (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

A legal fight over executive privilege in the middle of the Senate’s impeachment trial of President Donald Trump could put it into suspended animation.

If senators ultimately decide to subpoena Trump administration documents or seek witness testimony, House Democratic managers might have to decide whether to now wage court battles that were avoided during the House phase of the impeachment process.

Democrats pick women from key 2020 states for State of the Union response
Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and Texas Rep. Veronica Escobar to follow Trump

Texas Rep. Veronica Escobar will give the Democrats’ Spanish-language response to President Donald Trump’s State of the Union address next month. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Democratic leaders announced Friday that Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and Texas Rep. Veronica Escobar, who both hail from critical 2020 states, will give the responses to President Donald Trump’s State of the Union address on Feb. 4.

Whitmer leads Michigan, a top presidential and congressional battleground that Trump won by less than half a percentage point in 2016. Escobar, who will give the Spanish-language response to the president’s address, represents a deep-blue district in Texas, where Democrats are hoping to make gains in the state’s diversifying suburbs. 

Democrats seek to put teeth into ‘impoundment’ law
Going to court is only current option to force release of funds

House Budget Chairman John Yarmuth wants to make it hurt if a president tries to block funding against lawmakers’ wishes. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

A fresh legal opinion challenging President Donald Trump’s hold on Ukraine military aid under a Nixon-era budget law may or may not move the needle with senators in the president’s impeachment trial.

But one thing is clear: Trump’s delay of $214 million in Pentagon funds is just the latest in a long line of findings by the Government Accountability Office going back decades that presidents of both parties have run afoul of the 1974 law. That statute was aimed at restricting “impoundments,” where the executive branch refuses to spend money appropriated by Congress.

Impeachment news roundup: Jan. 24
Democrats start their final eight hours to present their case, Republicans so far not convinced

House impeachment managers, from left, Reps. Sylvia R. Garcia, D-Texas, Jason Crow, D-Colo., Val B. Demings, D-Fla., and Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y., walk through the Ohio Clock Corridor Friday on their way to hold a news conference before the start of their third and final day to make their impeachment case against President Donald Trump. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

File updated 5:45 p.m.

President Donald Trump’s attorney, Jay Sekulow, previewed what Saturday’s defense presentation would look like, noting it would begin at 10 a.m. and include time to lay out an overarching view of the president’s rebuttal with the main arguments taking place early next week.

Impeachment managers attempt to preempt Trump’s defense
Trump, Lindsey Graham used to bolster case for removal

House impeachment manager Jerrold Nadler says the president’s defense team will not be able to refute the evidence provided for the abuse of power charge. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Regardless of whether Democratic impeachment managers get to call witnesses in the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump, they are already making their case by using the president’s own words — and even those of a prominent Republican senator — in dramatic fashion in the Senate chamber. 

The managers focused much of their arguments Thursday on the abuse of power charge the House used to condemn Trump, citing history and attempting to poke preemptive holes in the defense team’s upcoming arguments.

View from the gallery: Senators sit, spin and fidget during Trump trial
They found more ways to pass time during second day of opening presentations

Iowa Sen. Joni Ernst arrives for the Senate Republicans’ lunch in the Capitol before the start of Thursday’ impeachment trial session. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Sen. Bill Cassidy charted a course along the back corner of the Senate chamber Thursday during President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial. The Louisiana Republican walked through an area usually reserved for staff seating, hands in pockets, retracing a short path over and over again for more than 15 minutes.

When Georgia Republican David Perdue took to standing along his path, Cassidy squeezed by and just kept pacing.