House impeachment managers, led by Rep. Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.), spent the second day and night of their opening arguments against President Trump by focusing on alleged abuse of power, one of the two articles of impeachment approved last month by the House.

The Senate reconvened Thursday afternoon for the historic trial — only the third of a sitting U.S. president — focused on Trump’s conduct toward Ukraine. The Democratic-led House has also charged Trump with obstruction of Congress. Trump’s defense is expected to begin its presentation Saturday.

The crux of the House case is the allegation that Trump withheld military aid and a White House meeting to pressure Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden, a political rival, as well as his son Hunter Biden, who served on the board of Burisman, an Ukrainian gas company while his father was vice president.

●Democrats scale back their language as Trump and GOP press ahead with attacks on the Senate impeachment trial.

●Former vice president Joe Biden says he refuses to be part of an impeachment witness deal.

●Gordon Sondland plugs away in Brussels while playing a central role in Trump’s impeachment trial.

3:30 a.m.
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Schiff thanks senators for ‘listening with an open mind,’ tells them they know Trump is ‘guilty’

By Colby Itkowitz

As day two of the Senate trial came to a close, Schiff began by thanking senators for “keeping an open mind about all of the issues we are presenting, an open mind for us and an open mind for the president’s counsel. That’s all that we can ask for.”

Schiff then asked the senators to heed the president’s request that they read the transcript.

“Now that you know a lot more of the facts of this scheme, it reveals a lot more about that conversation,” he said.

Schiff then went on to state, as if it’s a known fact, that Trump is guilty, but said his job is rather to convince the senators why Trump should be removed from office because of it.

“He’s guilty. You know. Is there really any doubt about this? I mean, do we really have any doubt about the facts here? Does anybody really question whether the president is capable of what he’s charged with? No one is really making the argument Donald Trump would never do such a thing because, of course, we know that he would.”

The reason Trump should be removed, Schiff argued, is because he ignored all the intelligence officials’ advice and listened to Rudolph W. Giuliani instead.

“Why would anyone in their right mind believe Rudy Giuliani over [FBI Director] Christopher Wray?” Schiff asked. “Because he wanted to and because what Rudy was offering him was something that would help him personally. And what Christopher Wray was offering him was merely the truth.”

2:15 a.m.
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Lofgren: Even McConnell didn’t know why Ukraine aid was held

By Colby Itkowitz

In her role detailing Trump’s hold on military aid to Ukraine, Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) set out to show that not only was there no reason to freeze the funds, but that no one in the administration or on Capitol Hill knew why the White House wasn’t releasing the money.

“There was no reason given. Even Senator McConnell has said, ‘I was not given an explanation for the hold,’ ” Lofgren said.

Lofgren then asked rhetorically, “Why did the president do this?”

“I think we know why the president ordered the hold,” she said. “He was so determined to turn up the pressure on Ukraine that he kept the hold for no legitimate purpose and without any congressional notification for long enough to violate the law.”

Lofgren noted that the House did not impeach Trump over the law he broke by withholding the aid, but that the action is part of “the broader scheme of his abuse of power.”

“It shows the great lengths the president was willing to go to in order to pressure Ukraine to do his political dirty work,” she said. “He didn’t care if he was breaking the law.”

12:45 a.m.
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Saturday impeachment session likely to start, end early

By Rachael Bade

Senate Majority Whip John Thune (R-S.D.) told reporters Thursday night that Saturday’s impeachment session is likely to begin and end early.

The South Dakota Republican said the leaders were working to get some sort of agreement to see if that impeachment trial session could begin as early as 8 a.m. and end by noon. He cautioned, however, that nothing was final.

The trial has started at 1 p.m. during the week to accommodate Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. hearing opening arguments at the Supreme Court.

12:15 a.m.
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GOP senators complain they’re bored and ready for Trump team’s turn

By Colby Itkowitz

A major talking point of Republican senators over the past two days is that the House managers’ presentations are dull and repetitive and haven’t yielded anything new.

“Seems like Groundhog’s Day,” Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) told reporters. “We’ve heard plenty from the House now . . . I am ready to hear from the president’s defense.”

Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.) made similar comments to reporters about how Democrats keep telling the same story.

“My frustration is the American people are getting half the story at this point. . . . I am looking forward in the days ahead, for the first time, to finally hearing both sides of the story,” he said.

But Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) said the problem is not that the evidence is boring, but that the Republicans don’t want to hear it.

“For them to say they’re bored, it has a lot to do with them not wanting to hear evidence, the kind of evidence that’s being presented. . . . They don’t want to hear that this president, they’re so busy supporting, did these things,” she said. “As I put it, the truth hurts.”

12:00 a.m.
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Sekulow, Republicans say Democrats ‘opened the door’ to go after Biden

By Colby Itkowitz and Mike DeBonis

Trump attorney Jay Sekulow told reporters that all the attention the House managers have paid to clearing former vice president Joe Biden’s name “opened the door” for the defense team to focus on him, his son and the company Hunter Biden worked for, Burisma Holdings, when it’s the defense team’s turn.

“They kind of opened the door for that response, so we’ll determine as a defense team the appropriate way to do it,” he said.

Even though Republicans said Democrats gave them an opening to go after Biden, the GOP has made Biden and Burisma the focus of their criticism from day one and likely would have done so in their defense anyway.

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) echoed Sekulow’s sentiment, saying the House Democrats “perhaps unintentionally threw Joe Biden under the bus” by attempting to preemptively rebut the defense’s attacks on Biden, which fueled the White House’s desire to double down on them.

“It means when President Trump’s lawyers stand up and present their defense that they are going to have the opportunity to present the very significant evidence that’s supported, and still supports, a serious investigation into corruption at Burisma and ultimately whether Joe Biden participated in that corruption,” Cruz told reporters during the dinner break. “That consequence now, as a result of this decision, Hunter Biden is not only relevant, he is now critical.”

Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) also hinted that the White House defense would go hard against the Bidens, focusing on the fact that Democrats didn’t allow Republicans to call Hunter Biden as a witness.

“Will the storyline by House managers about the Bidens and Burisma withstand scrutiny?” Graham tweeted.

Democrats spent considerable time Thursday making the case that Trump never cared about corruption in Ukraine, but instead wanted to undermine the former vice president, a formidable potential political opponent. Democrats point out there is no evidence of wrongdoing by the Bidens, and calling them as witnesses is irrelevant to the question of whether Trump abused power or obstructed justice.

11:30 p.m.
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Hakeem Jeffries says Ukraine policy directed by Trump

By Colby Itkowitz

Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) left senators with this thought before they recessed for a 30-minute dinner break: “Everyone was in the loop.”

Jeffries, as one of the House managers, laid out evidence and witness testimony that he said proves that demands for investigations into the Bidens and national Democrats had “come to totally dominate almost every aspect of U.S. foreign policy toward Ukraine . . . as directed by President Donald John Trump.”

He sought to show that the effort was not a “rogue operation, but one blessed by senior administration officials at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.”

He closed by quoting Gordon Sondland, the U.S. ambassador to the European Union, who testified that “everyone was in the loop.”

11:00 p.m.
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Marsha Blackburn criticized for calling Purple Heart recipient unpatriotic

By Colby Itkowitz

Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) went after Schiff on Twitter for “hailing Alexander Vindman as an American patriot” during his testimony.

“How patriotic is it to badmouth and ridicule our great nation in front of Russia, America’s greatest enemy?” Blackburn tweeted — a baseless accusation spread as part of a smear campaign against Vindman.

In a second tweet, she continued her degradation of Vindman, calling him vindictive over her allegation that he leaked the contents of the July 25 call to the intelligence agency whistleblower.

Vindman’s attorney, David Pressman, released a statement condemning Blackburn’s tweets.

“That a member of the Senate — at a moment when the Senate is undertaking its most solemn responsibility — would choose to take to Twitter to spread slander about a member of the military is a testament to cowardice,” Pressman said.

This isn’t the first time Blackburn has questioned Vindman’s loyalty to the United States. After he testified in the House impeachment probe in November, she derisively called him the whisleblower’s “handler.”

Vindman, who is Soviet-born and serves as director of European Affairs at the White House National Security Council, received a Purple Heart after he was injured from an IED during the Iraq War.

Blackburn, who was seen reading a book during the proceedings this morning, was roundly criticized on Twitter for going after Vindman.

Former U.S. ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul challenged Blackburn to provide evidence to back up her claim. “Otherwise, stop slandering a US soldier serving our great nation,” he tweeted.

Tim Miller, former spokesman for Jeb Bush’s 2016 presidential campaign and frequent Trump critic, tweeted:

“1. The president you’re running interference for ridiculed our military intelligence officers & groveled before Putin in front of the world.

2. Vindman has shrapnel in his body from an IED attack he suffered fighting for our country.

It’s reprehensible how low you have gone.”

10:45 p.m.
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Val Demings appeals to senators on behalf of American voters

By Colby Itkowitz

Rep. Val Demings (D-Fla.) challenged Republicans who say that Democrats are embarking on this impeachment to win the next election.

“You know better,” she said. “Because this trial is much bigger than any one election, and it’s much bigger than any one president.”

She went on to say that this impeachment is about ensuring that “every voter, whether a maid or a janitor, whether a nurse, a teacher or a truck driver, whether a doctor or a mechanic, that their vote matters.”

In closing, Demings hewed to a theme that has been consistent throughout the day’s arguments: that Trump put himself above the country.

“When it came down to choosing between the national interests of the country and his own personal interests — his reelection — President Trump chose himself,” she said.

9:40 p.m.
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Schiff says Trump felt ‘emboldened’ after paying no price for Russian interference

By Colby Itkowitz

Schiff argued that Trump sought Ukraine’s help in his reelection campaign because he didn’t have to pay a price for Russia’s interference in 2016.

“Unrepentant, undeterred, if anything, emboldened by escaping accountability from his invitation and willful use of Russian hacked materials in the last election, and unconstrained,” Schiff said. “This is a president who truly feels that under Article II he can do whatever he wants, and that includes coercing an ally to help him cheat in an election.”

The special-counsel investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election did not establish a conspiracy between the Kremlin and the Trump campaign.

In his closing, Schiff said Trump has “made it clear he didn’t care about corruption — he cared only about himself. Now it is up to us to do something about it.”

9:10 p.m.
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Sen. Blackburn acknowledges reading a book during trial

By Colby Itkowitz

Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) was spotted by reporters reading a book in her lap as the House managers presented their case.

Some observers were irked by the image of a senator reading a book instead of paying attention to the proceedings.

But Blackburn wasn’t shamed.

“First — I’m reading Resistance (At All Costs) by Kim Strassel. Read the chapter on obstruction. It provides good insights into today’s proceedings,” Blackburn tweeted. “Second — busy mamas are the best at multi-tasking. Try it.”

The full title of the book by the conservative Wall Street Journal columnist is “Resistance (At All Costs): How Trump Haters Are Breaking America.”

9:00 p.m.
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Johnson red-faced after mention of 2016 letter urging reforms of Ukraine prosecutor’s office

By Elise Viebeck

Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) was red-faced as a House manager made her case by invoking a 2016 letter he and other senators sent urging reforms of the Ukrainian prosecutor’s office.

Rep. Sylvia Garcia (D-Tex.) used the letter from Sens. Johnson, Rob Portman (R-Ohio) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) and other members of the Senate Ukraine Caucus to argue that Biden’s desire to see then-prosecutor Viktor Shokin removed reflected official U.S. policy and was not a sign of personal corruption.

As Garcia spoke, a visibly upset Johnson rose from his seat, approached Portman and whispered in his ear. Portman reacted impassively, but his comments did not appear to calm Johnson, who departed the floor for the Republican cloakroom moments later.

When he returned, a still-agitated Johnson spoke again to Portman, who still appeared unmoved, before taking his seat.

Johnson, a fierce ally of Trump, said in October that he did not recall signing the letter. After reviewing it, he released a statement suggesting that Congress was “subjected to the same misinformation campaign against the Ukrainian prosecutor general, perpetrated by representatives of the U.S. government.”

“The Senate Ukraine Caucus’ 2016 letter was encouraging the Ukrainian government to vigorously pursue an anti-corruption agenda generally,” Johnson stated.

On the Senate floor, Garcia had said: “Let’s be very, very clear: Vice President Biden called for the removal of this prosecutor at the official direction of U.S. policy, because the prosecutor was widely perceived as corrupt, and with the support of all our international allies. His actions were therefore supported by the executive branch, Congress and the international community.”

8:50 p.m.
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Schiff links conspiracy theory that Ukraine interfered in 2016 with Kremlin

By Colby Itkowitz

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.) said Trump floated a “very specific conspiracy theory” that it was Ukraine, not Russia, that hacked the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton’s campaign in 2016 despite there being no evidence of that.

“This theory was brought to you by the Kremlin,” Schiff said. “So we’re not talking about generic interference … what Donald Trump wanted investigated or announced, this completely bogus, Kremlin-pushed conspiracy theory.”

Schiff said there are some who say Trump was swayed by his personal lawyer, Rudolph W. Giuliani. Schiff dismissed that notion as ridiculous but added that even if it were true, that would be problematic as well.

“You can say a lot of things about President Trump, but he is not led by the nose by Rudy Giuliani,” Schiff said. “And if he is willing to listen to his personal lawyer over his own intelligence agencies, his own advisers, then you can imagine what a danger that president [is] to this country.”

Schiff recited a quote from Vladi­mir Putin in November in which the Russian president said, “Thank God nobody is accusing us anymore of interfering in U.S. elections. Now they’re accusing Ukraine.”

“Well, you gotta give Donald Trump credit for this. He has made a religious man out of Vladimir Putin,” Schiff said, garnering chuckles from the room.

8:40 p.m.
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Sekulow says Trump team will deliver ‘vigorous defense’

By Felicia Sonmez and Karoun Demirjian

Jay Sekulow, Trump’s outside counsel, told reporters during the break that the president’s team will deliver a “vigorous defense” in the coming days.

He also echoed the claim of other Republicans that Democrats have been redundant in their presentations.

“We’re hearing the same things over and over,” Sekulow said. “That’s the way they’re going to do their case. I will assure you this: We will be putting on a vigorous defense of both fact and rebutting what they’ve said. Our job here is to defend the president, the office of the presidency and the Constitution. We’re going to do that. I see nothing that has changed in the last, now, day and a half of their two and a half days that we’ve been going here.”

Sekulow also addressed the issue of timing, saying that Trump’s team is “not going to try to run the clock out; we’re going to do what we think — what our legal team thinks — is appropriate.”

8:20 p.m.
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Garcia says both Trump and Russia ‘stood to gain’ from Ukraine conspiracy theory

By Felicia Sonmez

Sylvia Garcia (D-Tex.), one of the House impeachment managers, ended her presentation by addressing the main question looming over all of Trump’s actions regarding Ukraine: What was his motivation?

“Even though President Trump knew that there was no factual basis for the theory that it was Ukraine that interfered in the 2016 rather than Russia and knew that Russia was perpetuating this theory, he still wanted President Zelensky to pursue the investigation. Why?” she asked.

“Because,” she continued, “while Putin and Russia clearly stood to gain by promoting this conspiracy theory, so did Donald Trump. He knew it would be politically helpful to his 2020 election.”

Garcia alluded to a December Washington Post report that cited administration officials as saying that many of Trump’s advisers feared Putin helped spur the idea in Trump’s mind that Ukraine had tried to stop him from winning the White House in 2016.

After the Texas Democrat concluded her remarks, the chamber paused for a brief recess.