January 30, 2020
Up until now, lead House Manager Adam Schiff has elicited some of the only audible responses to his answers — groans from Republican senators yesterday when Schiff noted Dershowitz was “the only scholar” making the argument that the president’s actions to get re-elected were “in the public interest.” Today he conjured up more reactions on the Senate floor when he answered a question by noting that today, in contrast to what has been going on in the chamber, the Justice Department is arguing in federal court that Congress can use impeachment to enforce subpoenas.
“You can’t make this stuff up,” Schiff said to audible laughter from senators.“While we’ve been debating whether a president can be impeached for essentially bogus claims of privilege for attempting to use the courts to cover up misconduct, the Justice Department, in resisting House subpoenas, is in court today,” he explained, continuing, “So the judge says if the Congress can’t enforce its subpoenas in court then what remedy is there? And the Justice Department lawyers’ response is impeachment. Impeachment!”
“I didn’t think they’d do this on the same day,” Schiff said.
Schiff today has fought back against the expansive view of executive power the president’s defense team has put forward. “What we have seen over the last couple days is a descent into constitutional madness,” Schiff told senators.
Senators remain on the Senate floor asking questions to House Managers and defense lawyers, which are read aloud by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. Thursday’s round of questioning wraps up the allotted 16 hours of question and answer time, and on Friday, senators will hold the key vote to decide whether to allow the submission of documents and testimony from witnesses. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is working to whip 51 senators in order to avoid that and quickly allow an up or down vote on the two articles of impeachment. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer has said he will try to delay the final vote.
McConnell and Schumer sit, literally, across the aisle in the Senate chamber and, though Schumer has been nodding along and reacting to questions asked, McConnell has largely remained in the exact same seated position for hours of testimony: sitting back from his desk, with his arms crossed across his stomach and his mouth set.
Highlights from the early hours of Thursday’s debate included one of the few interjections from the Chief Justice who refused to read aloud Sen. Rand Paul’s question that reportedly included the name of the alleged whistleblower whose complaint led to the impeachment inquiry. After that, Paul was followed by several reporters to a press conference where he read the question aloud.