The historic impeachment trial of President Trump got underway Thursday with the swearing in of senators and the presentation of the two charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.

John G. Roberts Jr., chief justice of the United States, was sworn in to preside over the trial, which is focused on Trump’s conduct toward Ukraine. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has said the trial will proceed “in earnest” next week.

Fallout also continued Thursday from new allegations by Lev Parnas, a former associate of Trump’s personal lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani, that Trump knew of his efforts to dig up dirt in Ukraine that could benefit Trump politically. The impeachment charges center on the allegation that Trump withheld military aid and a White House meeting to pressure Ukraine to investigate his political rivals, including former vice president Joe Biden.

●White House hold on Ukraine aid violated federal law, congressional watchdog says.

●Ukraine opens probe into possible surveillance of former U.S. ambassador Marie Yovanovitch.

●Parnas used access to Trump’s world to help push shadow Ukraine effort, new documents show.

●Eyeing swift impeachment trial, Trump’s legal team aims to block witnesses and cast doubt on charges.

2:30 a.m.
Link copied

Giuliani associate says, ‘I don’t think Vice President Biden did anything wrong’

The man who worked to pressure Ukrainians to open an investigation into Biden, said Thursday he doesn’t believe Biden did anything wrong.

“After analyzing all the evidence and sitting back and, what’s it called, really understanding what’s going on, I don’t think Vice President Biden did anything wrong,” Parnas said during the second-part of his interview with MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow. “I think he was protecting our country and getting rid of probably a crooked attorney general.”

Parnas claims he worked as an intermediary between Giuliani and Ukrainian officials trying to get the Biden investigation going by offering several quid pro quos at the direction of Giuliani.

1:30 a.m.
Link copied

Parnas says after telling Trump about Yovanovitch, Trump said, ‘Fire her’

Parnas says he was present when Trump told an aide to fire then-U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch.

At a donor dinner in April 2018, Parnas claims he told the president that Yovanovitch was “badmouthing him — and that she said that he’s gonna get impeached — something like that. I don’t know if that’s word for word.”

Parnas says Trump looked at his aide and said, “Fire her. Get rid of her.”

Parnas’s account further corroborates reporting by The Post in November 2019 about the private dinner where Parnas alleges to have told the president about Yovanovitch.

1:15 a.m.
Link copied

Parnas says he and Bolton ‘could fill in all the dots’

Parnas was back on television Thursday night, this time with CNN’s Anderson Cooper, discussing his alleged work with Giuliani that he says was on behalf of Trump.

He reiterated much of what he’d revealed the night before with MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow, including his eagerness to testify in the impeachment probe.

Parnas alleges that many people in Trump’s inner circle were aware of the plan to pressure Ukraine to announce an investigation into Biden, including former national security adviser John Bolton.

“Bolton and I could fill in all the dots,” Parnas told Cooper, because he was executing the plan in Ukraine while Bolton — who opposed it — was seeing it from the inside.

Parnas was also asked about Trump’s contention that he does not know him.

“Every time he says that I’ll show him another picture,” Parnas said, referring to the photos his lawyer has been trickling out of him with the president.

12:00 a.m.
Link copied

Senate leaders release official photo of senators being sworn in

The Senate leaders of both parties took a bipartisan action Thursday evening: sharing a downloadable aerial image of the senators with their right hands raised taking the oath.

11:00 p.m.
Link copied

Who is Roman Nasirov, the man in a video with Trump and Parnas?

Parnas’s attorney posted a video of his client introducing a former Ukrainian politician to Trump at Mar-a-Lago in December 2016, an effort to disprove Trump’s claim earlier in the day that he did not know Parnas.

In the clip, Parnas is seen introducing Roman Nasirov, the head of Ukraine’s fiscal service at the time, to Trump in a gilded room at Trump’s Palm Beach resort.

Nasirov was head of Ukraine’s fiscal service under former Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko. Parnas met him through his associate Igor Fruman.

Nasirov, who also attended Trump’s inauguration, is fighting abuse of office charges in Ukraine related to a tax restructuring he granted while head of the fiscal service. He denies the charges and says they are politically motivated. He was arrested in March 2017 and removed from his post.

Parnas served as the main emissary in Ukraine for Giuliani as the former New York mayor conducted a shadow foreign policy toward Kyiv last year, pressuring Ukrainian officials to announce investigations that would be damaging to former vice president Joe Biden and the Democrats.

10:50 p.m.
Link copied

Collins sends strong signal she’d support calling witnesses

Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), whom Democrats are counting on to help them garner enough votes to force McConnell to call witnesses, sent the strongest signal yet that she’s likely to support hearing from witnesses.

Collins sought to clarify confusion over her previous comments on the issue. In a statement, she affirmed that she would not vote with Democrats next week to subpoena documents or witnesses, but would be amenable to doing so after hearing the arguments in the case.

“While I need to hear the case argued and the questions answered, I tend to believe having additional information would be helpful,” she said. “It is likely that I would support a motion to call witnesses at that point in the trial just as I did in 1999” — referring to the Clinton impeachment trial.

Collins also said she hasn’t “made a decision on any particular witnesses.”

“When we reach the appropriate point in the trial, I would like to hear from both sides about which witnesses, if any, they would like to call,” she said.

Democrats need four Republicans to vote with them to reach the 51-vote threshold needed when they vote on whether to call witnesses.

10:00 p.m.
Link copied

Pence calls Parnas’s claim ‘completely false’

Vice President Pence denied Parnas’s claim that he was aware that all outreach to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky was done in an effort to get Ukraine to investigate the Bidens, calling Parnas’s statement “completely false.”

“I don’t know the guy,” Pence said of Parnas in a conversation with reporters as he traveled to Orlando from an event in Tampa.

He also accused Democrats of waging a politically motivated impeachment effort.

“I heard it and saw it in the crowd today — everywhere I go, people see this partisan impeachment for what it is, an effort to overturn the results of the last election,” Pence said.

9:30 p.m.
Link copied

Trump tweets about ‘perfect phone call’ in all caps

Not long after senators were sworn in for his impeachment trial, Trump tweeted in all capital letters: “I JUST GOT IMPEACHED FOR MAKING A PERFECT PHONE CALL!”

The president is referring, of course, to the July 25 phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in which he asked about a probe of the Bidens. That conversation led to Trump’s impeachment.

8:40 p.m.
Link copied

Schumer leaves open possibility of negotiating with GOP on witnesses, calling Parnas to testify

Shortly after senators were sworn in, Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.), flanked by several of his Democratic colleagues, made brief remarks about the solemnity of the day but demurred on questions about specific witnesses.

Schumer said that he saw members from both sides “visibly gulp” when Roberts spoke during the swearing in.

“For all of us, the solemnity, gravity of the moment in our history hits you square in the back when you take that oath,” Schumer said. “Each of us, every one of us, Democrat and Republican, will face a choice about whether to begin this trial in the search of truth or in the service of the president’s desire to cover it up.”

Schumer, who has requested documents and four witnesses, said that he wouldn’t “rule out” calling Parnas to testify but that his priority is hearing from with firsthand knowledge of Trump’s conduct related to Ukraine.

Schumer also did not fully reject allowing Republicans to call Joe Biden in exchange for the witnesses the Democrats want, instead saying he wasn’t going to negotiate from the podium.

“We need these four witnesses. We need these three sets of documents,” Schumer said. “They haven’t made any offer about any witnesses or any documents, so we’re just fighting for this at minimum.”

The White House repeatedly blocked witnesses from testifying in the House investigation and refused to provide requested documents.

Schumer said he expected the Senate to vote Tuesday on whether to call the witnesses.

8:30 p.m.
Link copied

‘I don’t know him at all,’ Trump says of Parnas

Trump on Thursday denied knowing Parnas and dismissed a photo of himself with the Giuliani associate as one of “thousands” he has taken with supporters as president.

“I don’t know him at all,” Trump told reporters on the sidelines of an event in the Oval Office. “Don’t know what he’s about. Don’t know where he comes from.”

In response to continued questions from reporters, Trump added: “Perhaps he’s a fine man. Perhaps he’s not. I know nothing about him. … I don’t believe I’ve ever spoken to him. I meet thousands and thousands of people as president.”

Shortly afterward, Parnas’ lawyer, Joseph Bondy, responded to Trump’s claim with a video taken at Mar-a-Lago in 2017 that shows Trump and Parnas standing side-by-side, greeting people, Parnas’s hand on Trump’s back. With them is Roman Nasirov, former head of the Ukrainian Fiscal Service.

Bondy has been tweeting montages of photos of Parnas with Trump, Trump’s family and other Republicans set to music. This video plays over Janet Jackson’s “Together Again.”

Everywhere I go

Every smile I see

I know you are there

Smilin back at me

Trump also claimed he knew nothing about a letter in which Giuliani told Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky he was seeking a meeting with him with Trump’s “knowledge and consent.”

“Well, I don’t know anything about the letter,” Trump said. “But certainly, Rudy is one of the great crime-fighters in the history of our country.”

7:45 p.m.
Link copied

With pledge of impartiality, Roberts takes central role in Trump’s impeachment trial

With an oath of impartiality, Roberts on Thursday became only the third American sworn in to preside over a presidential impeachment trial.

How he fulfills that pledge will have obvious consequences for Trump. But it will also shape the public image of the nation’s 17th chief justice, and it holds ramifications for the Supreme Court and federal judiciary he leads. He portrays both as places where partisan politics have no purchase.

“And now he crosses First Street, where it’s all about partisan politics,” said Harvard law professor Richard Lazarus, referring to the street in Washington that separates the Supreme Court from Congress.

Read more here.

7:35 p.m.
Link copied

Senate adjourns until Tuesday

After all 99 senators present signed the oath book, Senate Sergeant at Arms Michael Stenger rose to read a proclamation.

“Hear ye, hear ye, hear ye,” he said. “All persons are commanded to keep silent on pain of imprisonment while the House of Representatives is exhibiting to the Senate of the United States articles of impeachment against Donald John Trump, president of the United States.”

McConnell read several unanimous consent requests related to the trial. The Senate then adjourned until Tuesday, Jan. 21 at 1 p.m., when the trial will begin in earnest.

7:10 p.m.
Link copied

Roberts takes the oath, swears in senators

Roberts entered the Senate chamber and was sworn in by Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa), the presiding senator.

“Senators, I attend the Senate in conformity of your notice for the purpose of joining with you for the trial of the president of the United States,” Roberts said as he took his place on the dais. “I am now prepared to take the oath.”

Grassley then instructed Roberts to place his left hand on a Bible and administered the oath.

“Do you solemnly swear that in all things appertaining to the trial of the impeachment of Donald John Trump, president of the United States, now pending, you will do impartial justice according to the Constitution and laws, so help you God?” Grassley asked.

“I do,” Roberts said.

“God bless you,” Grassley responded.

The chief justice then swore in all of the senators in unison. Twenty-five groups of four senators each will proceed to sign an “oath book” at the front of the chamber.

6:45 p.m.
Link copied

Only 99 senators will be present for swearing-in

Only 99 senators will be sworn in Thursday.

Sen. James M. Inhofe (R-Okla.) is in Oklahoma to be with a family member facing a medical issue, a spokeswoman said.

Inhofe plans to return to Washington on Tuesday, when he will be sworn in with no delay to the impeachment process, the spokeswoman said.