White House is seeking to block Bolton book.
Democrats began their questioning on Wednesday by asking House managers about revelations from an upcoming book by John R. Bolton, the former national security adviser, giving the manager an open-ended opportunity to push for additional witnesses and documents. Representative Adam B. Schiff, the lead manager, quickly referred to the previous question from three Republican senators, who had asked White House lawyers about what to do if they conclude President Trump had multiple motivations for his actions.
“If you have any questions about the president’s motivations, it makes it all the more essential to call the man who spoke directly with the president,” Mr. Schiff said.
He said there was no question that Mr. Trump was motivated by personal political gain. “If you have any question about whether it was a factor, the factor, a quarter of the factor, all of the factor, there is a witness a subpoena away, who can answer that question.
Mr. Schiff used several video clips of Mr. Trump’s own lawyers during the trial to try to debunk their arguments and to make the case for additional witnesses and documents.
After briefly showing two of them, Chief Justice John G. Roberts, who is presiding over the trial, cut him off, saying that his time had expired.
Senator Mitt Romney of Utah, one of the Republicans who has been most outspoken about his desire to hear from John R. Bolton, outlined his questions for the president’s defense team as Wednesday’s session got underway.
Mr. Romney divided his six questions equally, asking attorneys for Mr. Trump what the president specifically tasked Rudolph W. Giuliani, his personal attorney, to do in Ukraine, and asking the managers if it was their position that “neither Hunter nor Joe Biden engaged in anything that you would describe as corrupt or otherwise inappropriate?”
Mr. Romney also intends to ask House managers if they have “any evidence that anyone was directed by Mr. Trump to tell the Ukrainians that security assistance was being held upon the condition of an investigation into the Bidens?”
His interest in hearing directly from Mr. Bolton, Mr. Trump’s former national security adviser, has made Mr. Romney one of the most closely-watched lawmakers throughout the trial. But Republican leaders have indicated that they are regaining confidence that they will able to block the inclusion of new witnesses and documents as early as Friday.
Senator Susan Collins, Republican of Maine, became the first senator outside of leadership to speak on the Senate floor during President Trump’s impeachment trial, when she rose to offer a question on behalf of three Republican centrists who have expressed interest in having witnesses: Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Mitt Romney of Utah and herself.
The selection of Ms. Collins, who is facing the toughest re-election campaign in her long Senate career, was revealing. It suggests that Senator Mitch McConnell, the Republican leader, wants Ms. Collins — who has said she is “very likely” to vote to call witnesses — to feel that she has had every opportunity to have her voice heard, and to feel comfortable with moving forward.
Her question, read aloud by Chief Justice John G. Roberts, was this: “If President Trump had more than one motive for alleged conduct, such as pursuit of political advantage, rooting out corruption,” then “how should the Senate consider more than one motive in its assessment” of whether Mr. Trump should be convicted of abusing his oath of office by pressuring the leader of Ukraine to investigate his political rivals.
A lawyer for Mr. Trump, Patrick Philbin, replied that the House set a very high standard for itself by alleging that there was “no possible public interest” in Mr. Trump’s pressure campaign in Ukraine.
“They recognize that once you get into a mixed-motive situation, if there is possibly some personal motive and some public interest motive, it can’t possibly be an offense,” Mr. Philbin said.
“All elected officials to some extent have in mind how their conduct, how their policy decisions will affect the next election,” he said. “There’s always some personal interest in the electoral outcome of policy decisions and there’s nothing wrong with that, that’s part of representative democracy.”
There was one notable senator who did not join in Ms. Collins’ question: Lamar Alexander, Republican of Tennessee, who has indicated that he is open to having witnesses and could provide the critical fourth Republican vote that Democrats need to do so. But it is looking increasingly unlikely that Mr. Alexander will break with his party on that question.
The White House sent a letter last week to the former national security adviser John R. Bolton warning him against publication of his upcoming book, which includes details about the pressure campaign on Ukraine that led to President Trump’s impeachment, two White House officials said.
The White House has been reviewing Mr. Bolton’s unpublished manuscript for the past month, part of a standard vetting process for current and former administration officials who write books.
The Times reported on Sunday that in the book, Mr. Bolton wrote that Mr. Trump directly tied the release of security aid he was withholding from Ukraine to their cooperation with investigations he wanted into his political rivals. That contradicts a central claim made by his lawyers in the president’s impeachment defense, that there is no evidence that Mr. Trump linked the two issues.
Mr. Trump has denied the conversation took place. The administration ordered Mr. Bolton not to cooperate in the impeachment inquiry, although he said earlier this month that he would testify if subpoenaed by the Senate.
An aide to Mr. Bolton and an official with the publisher, Simon and Schuster, did not respond to efforts to seek comment.
White House officials deny that they are trying to block the entire book from publication, insisting that they are only seeking to shield content they consider “classified.”
Mr. Trump’s legislative affairs team circulated the letter, which was signed by a National Security Council official, to lawmakers on Capitol Hill on Wednesday, making it clear that the White House was determined that at least parts of the manuscript never become public.
White House Responds
Momentum appears to be flagging for calling new witnesses in President Trump’s impeachment trial, but senators in both parties have signaled they will try to turn the questioning period into an opportunity turn the leaders of each legal team into fact witnesses.
Specifically, Democrats have said they want grill Pat A. Cipollone, the leader of Mr. Trump’s legal defense team and the White House counsel, about what he knew and when regarding the book manuscript by John R. Bolton, the former national security adviser.
Mr. Trump’s defense team has argued that there is no evidence that Mr. Trump withheld military aid to Ukraine as leverage to pressure the country’s president into investigating former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. But, as The New York Times first reported on Jan. 26, Mr. Bolton has written in an unpublished book that recounts Mr. Trump making such a link in a private conversation. Mr. Bolton submitted the manuscript to the White House on Dec. 30 for review.
Republicans are eager to question the leader of the House impeachment managers, Representative Adam B. Schiff, Democrat of California, about what he knew and when he knew it about the C.I.A. official who filed a whistle-blower complaint that first brought Mr. Trump’s pressure campaign on Ukraine to light.
As The New York Times first reported on Oct. 2, the whistle-blower originally approached a Democratic staffer on the House Intelligence Committee, which Mr. Schiff leads, about his concerns, but was told that he should instead file a whistle-blower complaint. The committee aide is believed to have shared some of what the officer conveyed to Mr. Schiff, although not his identity.
Mr. Schiff later raised loud alarms that the Trump administration was improperly withholding a whistle-blower complaint from Congress, before its subject was public knowledge. He later falsely suggested in a television interview that his committee had not had contact with the whistle-blower, telling MSNBC: “We have not spoken directly with the whistle-blower.”
It is not clear how Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., who is presiding over the trial, will handle attempts by senators to put specific members of the two legal teams on the spot. Chief Justice Roberts will act as the intermediary, reading the questions, and may also have a role to play in deciding whether questions are proper.
In the first hint of a possible crack in Democratic unity, Senator Doug Jones, Democrat of Alabama, suggested Wednesday that he might vote to acquit President Trump on the charge of obstruction of Congress, though he said Mr. Trump’s own behavior is strengthening the case.
“I’m still looking at that very closely, there are some things that trouble me about it,” Mr. Jones said, without elaborating. “But I will tell you this about the obstruction charge: the more I see the president of the United States attacking witnesses, the stronger that case gets.”
Mr. Jones is kind of an accidental senator; he won a special election in deep red Alabama after running against a flawed opponent, Roy Moore, the former chief justice of the state Supreme Court who was accused of sexual misconduct. Mr. Jones now faces an uphill battle for re-election.
His comments came after Senator Joe Manchin III, Democrat of West Virginia, rattled some Democrats by saying he saw Hunter Biden, the son of the former vice president, as a relevant witness.
Senator Chuck Schumer, the minority leader, reacting to Mr. Manchin’s comment, dismissed the idea that Democrats are not unified.
“We have had total unity,” Mr. Schumer said. “We are totally united and have been totally united.”
Representative Eliot Engel, Democrat of New York and the chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee, disclosed on Wednesday that John R. Bolton, President Trump’s former national security adviser, told him last year that his panel should look into the administration’s recall of the former ambassador to Ukraine, suggesting it might have been “improper.”
In a statement that came as the Senate weighed whether to call Mr. Bolton as a witness, Mr. Engel said the private conversation in September underscored the importance of having the former national security adviser testify in the impeachment trial about Mr. Trump’s pressure campaign on Ukraine.
“On that call, Ambassador Bolton suggested to me — unprompted — that the committee look into the recall of Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch,” Mr. Engel said in the statement. “He strongly implied that something improper had occurred around her removal as our top diplomat in Kyiv.”
The dismissal of Ms. Yovanovitch last spring was one element of the case House Democrats made that Mr. Trump abused his power in his dealings with Ukraine. Documents and testimony showed that Rudolph W. Giuliani, the president’s personal lawyer, and Lev Parnas, one of his associates were instrumental in Ms. Yovanovitch’s dismissal. A recently revealed recording showed that Mr. Parnas brought the matter up with Mr. Trump as early as April 2018.
Mr. Engel said he did not previously disclose the call because it was a private conversation. But he said he decided to make it public after Mr. Trump stated early Wednesday morning that Mr. Bolton said “nothing” about the pressure campaign.
“President Trump is wrong that John Bolton didn’t say anything about the Trump-Ukraine scandal at the time the president fired him,” Mr. Engel said. “He said something to me.”
Republican leaders signaled they were regaining confidence on Wednesday that they would be able to block new witnesses and documents and bring the trial to an acquittal verdict as soon as Friday, after revelations from John R. Bolton threatened to knock their plans off course.
Senator John Barrasso of Wyoming, the No. 3 Senate Republican, told reporters that if they were successful in holding off new witnesses, Republicans planned to move directly to a vote on the two articles of impeachment themselves.
“Yes, that’s the plan,” he told reporters in the Capitol.
It was unclear if there would be additional closing arguments, or if the Senate would vote up or down on the abuse of power and obstruction charges Friday evening.
“I’ve heard enough,” Mr. Barrasso said. “I’m ready to vote on final judgment. This has been fully partisan, fully political.”
Mr. Barrasso’s prediction came as Republican senators appeared to be falling into line to block witnesses a day after Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the majority leader, warned them privately that he did not currently have the votes to stop Democrats from calling them.
Senator Patrick J. Toomey of Pennsylvania, who earlier in the week expressed some support for a witness deal, said Wednesday that he was now unlikely to be a yes.
“I remain very very skeptical that there is any witness” that I would vote to hear from, Mr. Toomey told reporters in the Capitol.
Senator Cory Gardner of Colorado, who is seeking re-election this year in a politically competitive state, also told Colorado Politics that he had heard enough and would vote against hearing from more witnesses.
Senator Mitt Romney of Utah maintained that he would vote in favor of witnesses and documents, but said he was uncertain how many Republicans would join him.
“I’m sure there’ll be others,” he said. “How many there will be on my side of the aisle, I just don’t know.”
Senator Rick Scott, Republican of Florida, released a list of questions for both the House impeachment managers and President Trump’s legal defense team ahead of Wednesday’s proceedings, the beginning of the question-and-answer period for senators.
Mr. Scott, in a statement, outlined four questions for the seven House lawmakers, focusing predominately on the Bidens. The questions included “how much evidence is sufficient to develop probable cause to at least initiate an investigation of a prior elected official’s conduct, given what we know about former Vice President Joe Biden’s actions?”
For the president’s legal team, Mr. Scott appears to want to focus on process questions, including “how can an impeachment undertaken without a single vote of bipartisan support at any point be viewed as anything other than a purely partisan attempt to interfere with the 2020 election and the rights of the American people to vote for the president?”
It is unclear how many of those questions will be asked on the Senate floor.
As President Trump prepared to sign his revised North American trade pact, he made a point of singling out the more than two dozen Republican senators who are serving as jurors in his impeachment trial. All of the 71 lawmakers present were Republicans.
“Maybe I’m being just nice to them because I need their vote,” he said, alluding to the upcoming Senate vote on whether Mr. Trump should be removed from office for committing high crimes and misdemeanors.
As Mr. Trump introduced them, he lavished praise on the senators, often singling them out by name. “Your poll numbers are looking good, John,” he told Senator John Cornyn, the Texas Republican up for re-election in November. Senator James Lankford, Republican of Oklahoma, was a “terrific person.” And to Senator Kelly Loeffler, the Georgia Republican who now faces a challenger in Representative Doug Collins, Republican of Georgia, Mr. Trump said “they already like you a lot, that’s what the word is.”
For a several senators, the president made reference to their intense defense of Mr. Trump during the ongoing impeachment trial.
“‘Let me out of here, President, let me ask those questions,’” Mr. Trump said, imitating Senator Ted Cruz, Republican of Texas. “I bet he’s got some beauties.”
“We’re going to take care of the senators,” Mr. Trump added, as he called them up to the stage for the formal signing of the United-States-Mexico-Canada-Agreement. He passed out ceremonial pens to the senators after doing so.
One administration official did offer a nod to House Democrats and their work.
Robert Lighthizer, the United States trade representative who engaged in months of negotiations with House Democrats to get a final trade deal, said, “I have been in town long enough to know that listing members at a time like this makes more enemies than friends, so I’ll only mention I’m grateful,” to congressional leadership.
Lev Parnas, the Soviet-born businessman who worked with the president’s personal lawyer, Rudolph W. Giuliani, to pressure Ukraine’s government to investigate political rivals of President Trump, had hoped to watch the impeachment trial up close. But he could not get around the special security restrictions at the Capitol because Mr. Parnas, who is under house arrest, wears an electronic ankle monitor.
Still, his arrival created a tizzy at the office of Senator Chuck Schumer, the minority leader, when Mr. Parnas and his lawyers arrived to pick up their Senate gallery passes. Surrounded by a scrum of news reporters and cameras, Mr. Parnas declined to show off his monitor.
“That’s not the story,” he said.
What was the story, in his view?
“They need to call witnesses,” he said of senators.
Though his lawyers said their client would not be answering any questions, Mr. Parnas kept chatting as he wound his way through hallways, stairs and an elevator. The crowd was so big that a photographer walking in front of him fell down, prompting a Capitol Police officer to say walking backward was not allowed.
Mr. Parnas said he hoped to see Mr. Trump and Mr. Giuliani. Asked if he had a message for the president, Mr. Parnas would only say, “I think he knows.”
“Trumpworld is like a cult,” Mr. Parnas said, “and a lot of the senators are in the cult.”
President Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner, a senior adviser in the White House, on Wednesday dismissed an unreleased book by John Bolton, the former National Security Adviser, asserting that Mr. Trump did delay millions of dollars in security assistance to Ukraine until officials there agreed to help with investigations into Democrats.
“I find that everyone leaves, writes books about what a hero they were, how they knew better,” Mr. Kushner said during a rare interview with “Fox & Friends,” where he appeared to promote the administration’s new peace plan for the Middle East. “The reality is that the president’s the one who’s been running this White House, running this government and getting things done. And all the people who are doing the real work, they’re not writing books because they’re too busy working right now.”
Mr. Bolton’s upcoming book, “The Room Where It Happened,” has complicated efforts by Senator Mitch McConnell, the majority leader, to block witnesses in the Senate impeachment trial.
On Wednesday morning, Mr. Trump attacked Mr. Bolton on Twitter, calling his memoir a “nasty and untrue book.”
Mr. Kushner also said it would be “unfortunate” if the Senate had to hear from witnesses in the trial. But he insisted it would ultimately only help Mr. Trump’s case.
“What you will find is what was the whistle-blower doing? What were the Bidens up to? There was a lot of dirty things that have been happening for a long time,” Mr. Kushner said. “A witness phase will give the American people the opportunity to learn about that.”
Mr. Kushner, who has been overseeing Mr. Trump’s 2020 re-election campaign, has generally stayed quiet on the impeachment investigation. On Wednesday, he waved away the impeachment proceedings as “silliness” and said he preferred working on immigration reform and infrastructure.
Mr. Kushner also noted that over his three years in government, the White House has “cycled out a lot of bad people,” but he declined to name names.
President Trump on Wednesday signed his revised North American trade pact, a triumphant fulfillment of a critical campaign promise and proof of legislative accomplishment during an impeachment trial.
But Mr. Trump appeared instead to be focused on the trial in the Senate, tweeting nearly a dozen times ahead of the signing ceremony about the trial and the debate over calling witnesses ahead of the signing ceremony.
In another consequence of impeachment, no House Democrats appeared to be present at the signing ceremony, despite wrangling significant changes to the United-States-Mexico-Canada-Agreement over months of closed-door negotiations with administration officials.
“We’ll be well represented in the huge changes to the original U.S.M.C.A. draft that Democrats wrested out of the administration on labor, prescription drugs, environment and enforcement mechanisms,” said Henry Connelly, a spokesman for Ms. Pelosi.
In contrast, a number of Senate Republicans posted videos on social media promoting their appearances at the White House to witness Mr. Trump sign the agreement, hours before his trial resumes.
Lev Parnas, a former associate of Rudolph W. Giuliani who has offered to testify at the impeachment trial, arrived in Washington on Wednesday to show support for what his lawyer called “a fair trial.”
Mr. Parnas, who flew in from Florida and met his lawyer as well as a swarm of reporters at Washington Union Station near the Capitol, said he was in town to “look at the senators and have them look at me and see that we need to call witnesses. The truth needs to come out. I’m here.”
Mr. Parnas was involved in the campaign to pressure Ukraine and described himself as “one of the most important witnesses.”
The cameras then followed Mr. Parnas as he walked toward the Capitol.
“It’s funny, I’ve been to Washington,” Mr. Parnas said, an apparent reference to the many Republican donor events he has attended in the city and his involvement in meetings to plan the pressure campaign. And yet, he said, “This is my first time being out of the Trump hotel.”
As he neared the Capitol, a small crowd of supporters chanted, “Let Lev speak.”
Alongside his lawyers, Mr. Parnas stopped to snap selfies with some of the protesters on his way to the office of Senator Chuck Schumer, Democrat of New York and the minority leader, where he picked up passes for the impeachment trial.
Mr. Parnas, who was charged in October with federal campaign finance crimes, cannot attend the trial because he is wearing an ankle-monitoring device as a condition of his bail. His lawyer, Joseph A. Bondy, planned to attend.
“How do you get to the truth if you don’t have witnesses?” Mr. Bondy said.
Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, one of the few Republicans openly weighing whether to vote to call witnesses in the impeachment trial, met privately for about half an hour with Senator Mitch McConnell on Wednesday morning.
Though she has said in recent days she was “curious” to hear from John R. Bolton, Mr. Trump’s former national security adviser, Ms. Murkowski kept her cards tucked against her chest on Wednesday.
“I’m not going to share my personal thoughts with you this morning,” she said emerging for the meeting. She acknowledged only that she would have to make a decision by Friday, when the Senate is expected to vote on whether or not to even consider new witnesses and documents.
Mr. McConnell’s position is no mystery: He is working to line up his caucus in opposition to witnesses to bring the trial to a close in the coming days.
Without Ms. Murkowski, Democrats have little to no chance of winning over four Republicans, the number they need to call Mr. Bolton or other witnesses.
Activists have planned protests in and around the Capitol today to show support for including witnesses and additional evidence in the Senate impeachment trial.
Hundreds of protesters are expected to gather at the Hart Senate Office Building around noon before moving toward the Capitol, organizers say.
Multiple protests have been planned by separate organizers, but the groups involved are a primarily anti-Trump coalition of advocacy groups including Public Citizen, the Poor People’s Campaign and the Women’s March.
With the critical vote looming on Friday on whether to call new witnesses in President Trump’s impeachment trial, Senate Republicans are coalescing around the idea that it is better to risk looking like they ignored relevant evidence than to plunge the Senate into an open-ended inquiry and anger President Trump.
Republicans are worried that allowing testimony by John R. Bolton, the former national security adviser whose unpublished manuscript contradicts a central part of Mr. Trump’s impeachment defense, would only lead to a cascade of other witnesses, prolonging the trial and potentially yielding more damaging disclosures.
After a private party meeting on Tuesday, top Republicans were increasingly confident on Wednesday that they could hold off witnesses, according to people close to Senator Mitch McConnell, the majority leader, who insisted on anonymity to characterize private discussions. And some were saying publicly that part of their reasoning was that allowing any witnesses would open the floodgates and tie up the Senate indefinitely, though the eventual outcome — Mr. Trump’s acquittal — remains the same.
“We don’t need Mr. Bolton to come in and to extend this show longer, along with any other witnesses people might want, and occupy all of our time here in the Senate for the next few weeks, maybe even months,” Senator John Cornyn, a Texas Republican and close ally of Mr. McConnell, said Tuesday evening on Fox.
Josh Holmes, a former chief of staff and top outside adviser to Mr. McConnell, made it clear that Republicans view the idea of calling witnesses as a disaster in the making.
“More witnesses = Hindenburg,” Mr. Holmes wrote Wednesday on Twitter, showing a picture of the flaming airship. “None of it changes ultimate acquittal.”
The strategy reflects the calculation that most of the politically vulnerable Senate Republicans up for re-election have made. They would prefer to defend their vote against witnesses than explain their decision to broaden an investigation of Mr. Trump.
Senator Susan Collins, the centrist from Maine, is the only incumbent up for re-election now seen as a likely vote for more witnesses.
President Trump on Wednesday morning was set to sign his revised North American trade pact, a triumphant fulfillment of a critical campaign promise and proof of legislative accomplishment during an impeachment trial.
But Mr. Trump’s attention appeared focused instead on the trial in the Senate early Wednesday, tweeting nearly a dozen times ahead of the signing ceremony about the trial.
In another consequence of the ongoing impeachment inquiry, no House Democrats appeared to be present at the signing ceremony, despite wrangling significant changes to the United-States-Mexico-Canada-Agreement over months of closed door negotiations with administration officials.
“We’ll be well represented in the huge changes to the original USMCA draft that Democrats wrested out of the Administration on labor, prescription drugs, environment and enforcement mechanisms,” said Henry Connelly, a spokesman for Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
In contrast, a number of Senate Republicans posted videos on social media announcing that they would be at the White House to witness Mr. Trump sign the agreement. Within hours, they are set to be back in the Senate chamber, questioning both the House impeachment managers and the president’s defense team.
Last week, Afrika Kathuria stood in line for two hours to snag a seat inside the Senate visitors’ gallery. She wanted to be there as Representative Adam B. Schiff, the lead Democratic House manager, concluded his opening argument in the impeachment trial of President Trump.
“It was a powerful closing,” said Ms. Kathuria, a Democrat from Fairfax, Va. “It was very emotional for me.”
On Tuesday, she came back, this time with her husband and 12-year-old daughter — and passes they had scored through the office of Senator Mark Warner. “I’m an avid political junkie,” Ms. Kathuria said with a smile.
For the past week, people from near and far have been rotating in and out of the gallery above the Senate floor to catch a glimpse of the impeachment with their own eyes. Wearing casual attire — at least compared to the suits and heels of Capitol Hill regular — they clutch their passes and navigate the maze of hallways, taking guidance from Capitol Police officers to find their way around.
Tours of the Capitol have been restricted during the impeachment. Each senator gets a daily allotment of four passes for every day of the trial. The gallery has not always been full.
“I thought, ‘Well, you know, you’re only going to get a chance to see a trial like this once, so we better stop and see what’s going on,’” said State Senator Dan Zumbach of Iowa, who was in Washington for two days and got passes from Senator Joni Ernst. The president’s lawyers gave a persuasive argument, said Mr. Zumbach, a Republican.
“I don’t think one side liked what he did, and I think a lot of folks may not like his style,” he said of Mr. Trump, “but he didn’t do anything illegally.”
Chris Kunkel visited from Sand Coulee, Mont.
“It’s so much smaller,” he said of the Senate in real life. “TV makes everything look so much bigger, so much grander.”
He and two friends made it into the gallery only briefly on Tuesday before Mr. Trump’s lawyers wrapped up.
“We made it for the last two minutes,” Mr. Kunkel said. “But it’s historic.”
On their way out, Mr. Kunkel’s group boarded the Capitol subway. Senator Dianne Feinstein, Democrat of California, shared their car and made small talk.
“Have a good rest of your trip,” she told them.
The Senate’s Democrats have held together in remarkable unison since the impeachment trial of President Trump began. On Wednesday, a crack appeared.
Senator Joe Manchin, Democrat of West Virginia, said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” that he would be willing to vote with Republicans for testimony by Hunter Biden, the son of former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. Mr. Manchin’s party has been stridently opposed to doing so, arguing that Mr. Biden is not only not relevant to the charges against Mr. Trump but a distraction put forward by Republicans trying to muddy the waters around his wrongdoing.
“I think so; I really do,” Mr. Manchin said when asked if he would support testimony from Hunter Biden. “I don’t have a problem there because this is why we are where we are. I think he could clear himself, from what I know and what I’ve heard. But being afraid to put anybody that might have pertinent information is wrong, whether you are a Democrat or a Republican.”
Republicans have enough votes to call Hunter Biden themselves, if they want, so Mr. Manchin’s vote on the matter does not really matter. It raises questions, though, about whether the famously moderate West Virginian is merely trying to model the bipartisanship he wants Republicans to adopt to call other witnesses more pertinent to the case or if he is willing to buck his party on a final vote on conviction or acquittal.
There has been far more attention paid so far to Republicans who could break ranks, but Mr. Manchin is among a handful of Democrats who could as well. The others are Senator Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona and Doug Jones of Alabama. All three represent traditionally Republican states.
When President Trump’s trial resumes at 1 p.m. Wednesday, senators will finally be allowed to ask whatever they want of House prosecutors and White House lawyers. But only in writing.
They will submit tan-colored cards to Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., who will read the questions aloud. The cards they submit will include their questions, names, signatures and the side they want to answer the question. Under the rules, senators cannot direct questions at other senators, but a question can be submitted by more than one lawmaker.
The questions will alternate — one from the Republicans, then one from the Democrats and so on — for eight hours, or until there are no more. Senate leaders said they expect to get through about 10 to 12 per side before taking a break. A second session, if necessary, will take place on Thursday.
More on the Trial’s Question Phase
The questioning phase is a moment of opportunity — and peril — for both parties, as 100 senators question the House impeachment managers and President Trump’s legal defense team for up to 16 hours over two days.
Senator Josh Hawley, Republican of Missouri, wants to ask the leading House manager about the whistle-blower whose confidential complaint about Mr. Trump’s dealings with Ukraine touched off the impeachment inquiry, and about Hunter Biden, whom the president asked Ukraine’s president to investigate. Senator Angus King, independent of Maine, plans to question the defense lawyer Alan M. Dershowitz’s criteria for impeachment.
Senator Kevin Cramer, Republican of North Dakota, is seeking more information about the president’s personal lawyer, who played a central role in his pressure campaign on Ukraine. “I’m a little bit curious about Rudy Giuliani,” Mr. Cramer said.
The questions, which will begin Wednesday afternoon, could go late into the evening. The proceeding will allow senators, who have been sitting restlessly in the Senate chamber for more than a week listening to dueling presentations, the chance to participate. They will be taking part indirectly, though, as the questions are read aloud by Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., who is presiding over the trial.
The result is likely to be a lively if slow-moving Senate debate. The leaders of the two parties — working with the House managers and the White House lawyers — will seek to elicit damaging admissions, highlight favorable points and give their side a chance to rebut the claims made by their adversaries since the trial opened last week.
President Trump lashed out at his former national security adviser, John R. Bolton, on Wednesday, saying Mr. Bolton “begged” him for a job that would not require Senate confirmation, and was fired because “frankly, if I listened to him, we would be in World War Six by now.”
And then, Mr. Trump said, Mr. Bolton “goes out and IMMEDIATELY writes a nasty & untrue book. All Classified National Security. Who would do this?”
Mr. Bolton provided the National Security Council with a copy of his manuscript on Dec. 30, so that officials could give it a standard review to see if there is any classified material that must be removed or redacted. This is not the first time someone has left the White House and written tell-all narratives unflattering to Mr. Trump.
But Mr. Bolton’s accounts come at a time when Mr. Trump’s future in the White House hangs in the balance.
Mr. Trump even acknowledged this last week when he was asked whether Mr. Bolton should testify in the Senate trial.
“I don’t know if we left on the best of terms — I would say probably not, you know,” Mr. Trump said in Davos, Switzerland. “And so, you don’t like people testifying when they didn’t leave on good terms.”
A vote to consider allowing new witnesses and evidence in the impeachment trial is expected to be held as early as Friday, after senators finish questioning both sides in the case. The result of that vote may be the most consequential factor remaining in the trial.
Pressure has been growing on Republican senators this week to call new witnesses in light of revelations by John R. Bolton, President Trump’s former national security adviser, that contradict a key element of the president’s defense regarding his decision to freeze military aid to Ukraine. Mr. Bolton, who has said he would be willing to testify if subpoenaed, shared the account of his time at the White House in an unpublished book, changing the calculus of the trial.
On the sidelines, a number of Republicans have publicly and privately expressed concern about Mr. Bolton’s account, and indicated that they may now be open to Democrats’ push for new witnesses. Should four Republicans join Democrats to summon witnesses for the trial, it could enter a new phase that could continue well into February. If not, the Senate could hold a final vote and render its decision on whether to remove Mr. Trump by week’s end.
During a meeting on Tuesday with his Republican colleagues, Senator Mitch McConnell, the majority leader, was said to have brandished a “whip count” of yes, no and maybe votes, taking stock of the mood. Mr. McConnell told those present that, by his count, he did not yet have enough votes to block witnesses. With two more days to go before a possible vote, however, Mr. McConnell’s allies remained optimistic that he could rally enough support to forestall calling new witnesses like Mr. Bolton.
Just after midnight, President Trump asked a question on Twitter: “Why didn’t John Bolton complain about this ‘nonsense’ a long time ago, when he was very publicly terminated. He said, not that it matters, NOTHING!”
Mr. Trump was referring to one of his former national security advisers, John R. Bolton, who has drawn the spotlight in the president’s impeachment trial without providing any testimony. Last week, Mr. Trump said he would love for Mr. Bolton to testify in his Senate trial, but his hands were tied because of national security considerations. “He knows some of my thoughts,” Mr. Trump said of Mr. Bolton when speaking to reporters in Davos, Switzerland. “He knows what I think about leaders.”
The Republican’s strategy for a fast trial and swift acquittal has been rocked by disclosures from a manuscript in Mr. Bolton’s upcoming book. In the manuscript, Mr. Bolton recounts a conversation with the president in which Mr. Trump said he wanted to withhold military aid to Ukraine until the Ukrainians announced an investigation into the family of one of his political rivals, Joseph R. Biden Jr. This directly undercuts one of the president’s central defenses. Mr. Bolton also wrote that some of the president’s senior advisers raised concerns about Mr. Trump giving personal favors to autocratic leaders. Mr. Trump has denied the account.
Democrats have been calling for Mr. Bolton to testify at the Senate trial, but the majority of Republican senators are determined to keep him out. By the end of the day Tuesday, some Republicans were leaning toward wanting to hear from Mr. Bolton. Democrats need four Republican defectors to vote with them. The Senate is expected to hold a vote on witnesses on Friday.
After more than a week of listening passively to opening arguments, senators will get their first chance to break down the cases presented to them with direct questions. However, the rules of the trial demand that they be strategic about how those queries are framed.
Senators will submit written questions to be read aloud by Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., drafted in the hopes of poking holes in the arguments laid out by the House managers and by President Trump’s legal team. Both Democratic and Republican leaders are expected to submit tough questions meant to scrutinize key parts of the case for and against removing the president from office.
This phase of the trial has been important in the past: During President Bill Clinton’s impeachment trial in 1999, Republican House managers mishandled their responses in a way that some historians believe opened the door for Mr. Clinton’s eventual acquittal. As Chief Justice Roberts begins posing questions to each side, both the impeachment managers and Mr. Trump’s lawyers will try not to cede any ground while answering questions intended to throw them off balance.
What we’re expecting to see:
House managers and White House lawyers will take turns fielding questions from senators. The questions are submitted in writing to Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., who will read them aloud.
When we’re likely to see it:
The proceedings are set to begin at 1 p.m. Eastern, and the questioning phase could last up to eight hours on Wednesday. Questions could continue on Thursday, for a total of up to 16 hours over the two-day period.
How to follow it:
The New York Times’s congressional and White House teams will be following all of the developments and streaming the proceedings live on this page. Stay with us.
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