The impeachment trial of Donald Trump is officially underway in the Senate, and the president again gave his two cents of House inquiry manager Jerry Nadler, calling him a “sleazebag” before the House Democrats were set to lay out their case in Day 2 of the trial.
During a surprise news conference that marked the end of Trump’s visit to the World Economics Forum in Davos, Switzerland, the president again said the impeachment trial is “a hoax” that is “so bad for our country.”
Trump was questioned on his opinion of Nadler, a New York Democrat that heads the House Judiciary Committee, and Trump didn’t mince words, as per the usual.
“I’ve known him a long time,” Trump said. “He’s a sleazebag. Everyone knows that.”
In fact, Trump didn’t have kind words for any of the seven Democratic House managers that are prosecuting his trial. He said he would love to “sit right in the front row and stare at their corrupt faces” while the trial proceeds on the Senate floor, but his attorneys would probably have a problem with that.
Tensions were high during the first day of the trial Tuesday after 12 hours of debate led to a party line vote for a resolution proposed by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.
McConnell said his guidelines were like bipartisan rules used in former President Bill Clinton’s 1998 impeachment trial, but Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., was adamant that some of McConnell’s provisions would rush the trial and prevent certain evidence and witnesses from being used.
The resolutions allow each side to make their arguments over three days instead of the original two. The entire record of the House impeachment probe that took place in fall of 2019 will also be automatically admitted into evidence.
Trump gave his legal team high marks after more than 12 hours of arguments on procedural motions Tuesday in which Republicans blocked Democratic efforts to immediately call witnesses and subpoena documents. But Trump said he wanted to see his aides, including former national security adviser John Bolton and acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, testify in the Senate.
“Personally, I’d rather go the long route,” he said, referring to calling witnesses in the Senate trial, before saying that there were “national security” concerns against allowing their testimony. His administration is claiming “absolute immunity” for those aides, citing executive privilege.
“I’ll leave that to the Senate,” Trump said on the question of witnesses. “The Senate is going to have to answer that.”
A resolution passed early Wednesday by a party line vote allows the Senate to consider calling witnesses only after both sides in the impeachment trial present their cases.
Nadler addressed the Senate directly in the wee hours Wednesday morning after the long debate, which may have been what triggered Trump to rip into him later in the day.
“Will you permit us to present you with the entire record of the president’s misconduct? Or will you instead choose to be complicit in the president’s cover-up?” Nadler asked. “So far, I’m sad to say I see a lot of senators voting for a cover-up, voting to deny witnesses, an absolutely indefensible vote, obviously a treacherous vote.”
Trump’s lawyer Pat Cipollone responded by asking Nadler for a series of apologies.
“Mr. Nadler, you owe an apology to the president of the United States and his family, you owe an apology to the Senate, but most of all you owe an apology to the American people,” Cipollone demanded.
The whole exchange mustered a response from Chief Justice John Roberts, who is presiding over the trial. Roberts chided the two sides for their attacks on each other.
“I think it is appropriate at this point for me to admonish both the House managers and the president’s counsel in equal terms to remember that they are addressing the world’s greatest deliberative body,” Roberts said.
“One reason it has earned that title is because its members avoid speaking in a manner and using language that is not conducive to civil discourse.”
Trump praised his legal team after the 12-hour fight.
“I thought our team did a very good job,” Trump said, adding that he was especially proud of Cipollone’s “emotion” during the Senate hearing. “I was very proud of the job he did.”
Two-thirds of the Republican-controlled Senate need to vote to remove Trump from office, which isn’t likely to happen. For that reason, the markets are largely ignoring what is going on in the impeachment trial.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.