President Trump’s legal team resumed its defense Monday in his Senate trial amid growing calls to hear testimony from former national security adviser John Bolton. The calls have been prompted by a report that Bolton’s book manuscript says Trump directly tied the holdup of nearly $400 million in military assistance to Ukraine to investigations of Joe Biden and his son.

The defense team, led by White House Counsel Pat Cipollone and Trump personal attorney Jay Sekulow, offered a preview of its case in an abbreviated session on Saturday in which it argued that Trump had valid reasons for withholding military aid from Ukraine and that House prosecutors overlooked facts more favorable to him.

The crux of House Democrats’ case is the allegation that Trump withheld military aid and a White House meeting to pressure Ukraine to investigate Biden and his son Hunter Biden, who served on the board of Burisma, a Ukrainian energy company, while his father was vice president. Trump’s attorneys are expected to argue that the president was justified in seeking the investigation because of a history of corruption involving the company.

●Key GOP senators say reports on Bolton book bolster case for witnesses in impeachment trial.

●Trump denies telling Bolton that Ukraine aid was tied to investigations as explosive book that claims otherwise leaks.

●Trump says he was concerned about corruption in Ukraine. The evidence indicates he was focused on Biden.

2:10 a.m.
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Warm greetings for Dershowitz from Republicans, Democratic counsel

By Paul Kane

As Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. gaveled out Monday’s session, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) darted down the aisle to be the first senator to reach out and shake the hand of Alan Dershowitz, the onetime Harvard Law professor with a history of representing famous clients.

Cruz, a Yale Law school graduate, furiously shook Dershowitz’s hand as other senators rushed in to compliment the man who provided the primetime defense of Trump.

“Professor,” called out Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah), a graduate of Harvard’s joint law-business school. Romney, who has emerged as Trump’s fiercest critic among GOP senators, nevertheless cracked several loud jokes with Dershowitz, breaking up a group of five senators into laughter.

Moments later Dershowitz felt a thwack on his back — from Norm Eisen, one of the top Democratic counsels on the House Judiciary Committee, a fierce advocate for Trump’s impeachment. Eisen, a 1991 graduate of Harvard Law, spent several minutes intermittently shaking Dershowitz’s hand, patting him on the back and cracking jokes with the lawyer and other GOP senators.

Slowly, the huddle ended and each side went their separate ways, till 1 p.m. Tuesday, when Roberts, a 1979 Harvard Law grad, gavels the trial back into session.

2:07 a.m.
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Biden vows to ‘heal this country’ if elected president

By Elise Viebeck

In Iowa, Biden responded to the White House presentations by calling for national healing.

“These guys are attacking me and my family,” he said, referring to Republicans. “And the press corps — they’re all good people, they keep asking me, ‘Oh, they just brought up your son and everything, they’re doing this and that and everything.’”

“I don’t hold grudges,” Biden said. “Presidents have to be fighters, but they have to be healers. We have to heal this country for sure.”

Earlier in the day, Biden told reporters that he has nothing to defend related to Ukraine or his son, Hunter.

“This is all a game,” he said, according to a video posted to Twitter by ABC campaign reporter Molly Nagle. “Even if they bring me up — no one has said I’ve done anything that was wrong, period. What is there to defend?”

Biden went on: “The reason [Trump] is being impeached is because he tried to get a government to smear me and they wouldn’t.”

2:04 a.m.
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Dershowitz addresses House impeachment managers directly

By Mike DeBonis

Trump defense counsel Alan Dershowitz, before closing his presentation Monday, took a step away from the podium to address the table of House impeachment managers directly — with an apology of sorts.

“I’m sorry, House managers, you just picked the wrong criteria,” he said. “You picked the most dangerous possible criteria to serve as a precedent for how we supervise and oversee future presidents. The idea of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress are so far from what the Framers had in mind that they so clearly violate the Constitution and would place Congress above the law.”

Lead manager Rep. Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.) met Dershowitz’s eyes and looked on politely. Other managers and aides sitting at the House table did not visibly react.

2:01 a.m.
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Removing Trump would ‘tear apart the country for generations,’ Cipollone says

By Elise Viebeck

Cipollone concluded Monday by arguing that senators should allow the 2020 election to take care of the matters currently being addressed by the Senate impeachment trial.

The White House counsel also repeated his case that the House should have waited to gather more evidence and that requests for the Senate to call witnesses are unfair to the institution.

“They are now criticizing you in strong, accusatory language if you don’t capitulate to their very unreasonable demands and sit in your seats for months,” he said.

Cipollone also argued that removing Trump from office would “tear apart the country for generations and change our constitutional system, forever.”

“This choice belongs to the American people,” he said.

1:41 a.m.
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‘Nothing in the Bolton revelations’ impeachable, Dershowitz argues

By Elise Viebeck

Harvard Law emeritus professor Alan Dershowitz specifically addressed the revelations from Bolton’s forthcoming book, arguing that even if Trump did pursue a quid pro quo involving Ukraine, it would not be an impeachable offense.

In remarks carried live on CNN and MSNBC, Dershowitz called “abuse of power” — the charge outlined in the first article of impeachment — a “vague, subjective and politically malleable phrase” that refers to something graver than Trump’s conduct toward Ukraine.

“I might disapprove of such a quid pro quo demand on policy grounds but it would not constitute an abuse of power,” Dershowitz said, calling such arrangements “the way foreign policy has been operated by presidents since the beginning of time.”

Dershowitz then turned to Bolton’s allegation, reportedly outlined in his book manuscript, that Trump directly tied the withholding of military aid to Ukraine to his desire for investigations into Joe and Hunter Biden. The New York Times first reported this detail on Sunday night.

“If a president, any president, were to have done what the Times reported about the context of the Bolton manuscript, that would not constitute an impeachable offense,” Dershowitz said. “Let me repeat: Nothing in the Bolton revelations, even if true, would rise to the level of an abuse of power or an impeachable offense. That is clear from history. That is clear from the language of the Constitution. You cannot turn conduct that is not impeachable into impeachable conduct simply by using words like ‘quid pro quo’ and ‘personal benefit.’ ”

12:55 a.m.
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Dershowitz takes the podium on Trump’s behalf

By Elise Viebeck

Dershowitz began his constitutional argument in defense of Trump just before 8 p.m. on Monday, adding impeachment to the list of nationally televised news events that have defined his career.

Dershowitz became one of the biggest legal celebrities of the 1990s when he advised the defense team in football star O.J. Simpson’s murder trial.

In the mid-2000s, he was part of Jeffrey Epstein’s legal team when the wealthy investor was under investigation on suspicion of child prostitution. The convicted sex offender was found dead in his jail cell last year in an apparent suicide.

Dershowitz’s friendship with Epstein has produced a war of lawsuits and countersuits, and the legal drama has at times overshadowed the 81-year-old’s legacy as one of America’s best-known courtroom stars.

As part of the defense team during Simpson’s trial, he was a constant presence in American living rooms. But by then, he was already a household name, immortalized on the big screen in the film “Reversal of Fortune,” which documented his successful appeal of socialite Claus von Bulow’s conviction for the attempted murder of his wealthy wife.

Read more about Dershowitz and other recent additions to Trump’s legal team here.

12:47 a.m.
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Seizing on Starr comment, Democratic senator says outrage goes both ways

By Mike DeBonis

Late on Friday night, Republican senators declared themselves outraged after Rep. Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.) suggested, based on an anonymous media report, that the White House had threatened to put their heads “on a pike” if they voted against Trump on impeachment.

On Monday, Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.) suggested Republicans could stand to watch their words, too, after Trump defense lawyer Kenneth W. Starr compared impeachment to war in his afternoon Senate argument.

“Like war, impeachment is hell,” Starr said, adding that “a presidential impeachment is tantamount to domestic war ... a war of words and a war of ideas. But it’s filled with acrimony and it divides the country like nothing else.”

Duckworth, an Iraq War veteran who lost her legs in a 2004 helicopter crash, said she was “very offended” by the comparison but said it would not color her judgment of the White House case.

“Let me tell you: Sitting in a nice room where pages bring you water is not the same as being at war,” she said. “But I’m not going to let my personal feelings of being offended by his lack of empathy for our troops — I’m not going to let that stop me from being an impartial juror.”

12:41 a.m.
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Meadows warns Senate Republicans of political repercussions if they vote to remove Trump

By Rachael Bade

One of Trump’s closest allies on Capitol Hill, Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), warned Senate Republicans of political repercussions Monday if they vote against the president in the impeachment trial.

In a CBS interview with four House Republicans helping Trump’s defense team, host Norah O’Donnell asked Meadows if he thought his colleagues would face blowback for breaking with Trump.

“Yeah, I do,” Meadows said. “I mean, listen, I don’t want to speak for my Senate colleagues. But there are always political repercussions for every vote you take. There is no vote that is higher-profile than this.”

The comments came as another Senate Republican, Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania, told his colleagues during a lunch on Monday that he may be open to calling witnesses. Democrats need four Republicans to vote with them to seek further testimony, and Toomey could become the fourth if Sens. Susan Collins (R-Maine), Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) and Mitt Romney (R-Utah) also vote yes.

The White House and Senate GOP leaders have tried to tamp down any movement in that direction, preferring to end the trial as soon as possible. But other Republicans, including Meadows, appear to be cranking up the pressure on their GOP colleagues in a more public way.

Meadows’s warning came just hours after newly appointed Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R-Ga.) accused Romney on Twitter of trying to “appease the left” with his push for witnesses in a trial.

It also follows an explosion of Senate GOP outrage after Schiff referred to an allegation that the White House conveyed to Republicans that their heads would be “on a pike” if they vote to remove Trump. Republicans have said they have never been threatened by the president, though Trump has lashed out at members of his own party in the past.

12:01 a.m.
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Republican senator wonders if Iowa caucusgoers will abandon Biden after Monday’s presentations

By Elise Viebeck

Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) wondered aloud if Monday’s presentations by Trump’s legal team will sway Iowa voters against Biden at next week’s Democratic caucuses.

The remark pointed to conservative Republicans’ dual hopes for the Senate impeachment trial — that it will both vindicate Trump and undermine the former vice president.

“Iowa caucuses are this next Monday evening,” Ernst told reporters during a dinner break on Capitol Hill. “And I’m really interested to see how this discussion today informs and influences the Iowa caucus voters, those Democratic caucusgoers. Will they be supporting Vice President Biden at this point?”

Ernst appeared to say that she was “not certain” they would.

11:20 p.m.
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Cruz dismisses Bolton revelations, saying they do not ‘impact the legal issue before this Senate’

By Elise Viebeck

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) dismissed the relevations from Bolton as irrelevant to the Senate trial during Monday evening’s dinner break.

Speaking to reporters at the Capitol, Cruz was asked if there was “any logical reason not to have Bolton testify.” The senator responded by saying the afternoon had been “devastating” to the House’s case and again raised unfounded allegations of corruption against the Bidens.

“I get that the press loves to obsess over the latest bombshell,” Cruz said when asked again about Bolton. “Listen, I don’t know what John Bolton’s book says or doesn’t say. I’ve seen the New York Times coverage, but at the end of the day, it doesn’t impact the legal issue before this Senate.”

Cruz said the “legal issue” is “whether a president has the authority to investigate corruption,” returning to Republicans’ talking point that Trump was merely seeking to fight corruption when he asked for investigations into the Bidens, not trying to undercut a potential 2020 rival.

11:03 p.m.
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Biden campaign responds to Bondi innuendo about Burisma

By Elise Viebeck

Biden’s campaign released a statement in response to a suggestion, presented without evidence, by Pam Bondi, the former Florida attorney general defending Trump, that Biden pushed for a Ukrainian prosecutor’s firing to benefit his son, who was serving on the board of Ukrainian gas company Burisma at the time.

“Here on Planet Earth, the conspiracy theory that Bondi repeated has been conclusively refuted,” Andrew Bates, the Biden campaign’s rapid-response director, said in a statement emailed to reporters.

“The New York Times calls it ‘debunked,’ The Wall Street Journal calls it ‘discredited,’ the AP calls it ‘incorrect,’ and The Washington Post Fact Checker calls it ‘a fountain of falsehoods.’ The diplomat that Trump himself appointed to lead his Ukraine policy has blasted it as ‘self serving’ and ‘not credible.’ Joe Biden was instrumental to a bipartisan and international anti-corruption victory. It’s no surprise that such a thing is anathema to President Trump.”

10:54 p.m.
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In remarks, Bondi omits reasons U.S. officials pushed for ouster of Ukrainian prosecutor

By Paul Sonne

Bondi strongly suggested that Biden pushed for the firing of Ukraine’s top prosecutor because Ukrainian authorities were probing the owner of the gas company that placed Hunter Biden on its board at the time.

Bondi left out that a broad coalition of U.S. and Western officials began pushing for the removal of the top prosecutor, Viktor Shokin, because his office was failing to uphold pledges by the new pro-Western government to reform the office and prosecute former high-level officials in the circle of ousted President Viktor Yanukovych.

Shokin’s office also had been enmeshed in a scandal that became known as the “diamond prosecutors” affair, in which top officials were allegedly caught with stashes of diamonds and hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash — a controversy that received widespread media attention in Ukraine.

The push for reform at the Ukrainian prosecutor general’s office — starting with the removal of Shokin — became U.S. policy at the time and a condition for further aid. It also received support from a number of members of Congress, including Republicans. Because Biden was the face of U.S. policy toward Ukraine, he pressed the demand with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko.

“It wasn’t me taking on Shokin. It was the United States government,” former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt told the Kyiv Post in July 2016. “The conditionality of getting rid of Shokin was an important step to at least opening the door to reform the prosecutor’s office.”

Pyatt told the Kyiv Post that the U.S. law enforcement agents assigned to help reform Shokin’s office “were basically locked out.” He added: “An inner corps in the prosecutor’s office was a) not interested in pursuing justice and b) not going to do anything that was going to compromise relationships with key political personalities.”

Pyatt said that two ex-prosecutors, David Sakvarelidze and Vitaly Kasko, who were brought in as reformers, were driven out by a “corrupt cabal around Shokin.”

“There are no illusions about what’s happened there, because we saw it from the inside,” Pyatt said.

Hunter Biden served on the board of Burisma, a Ukrainian gas company owned by former Ukrainian ecology minister Mykola Zlochevsky, from 2014 to 2019.

Shokin, who was fired in early 2016, has said he believes he was ousted by the former vice president because he was investigating Zlochevsky, who has denied wrongdoing.

There was little indication that the investigations of Zlochevsky during Shokin’s tenure were progressing to trial. Zlochevsky was among a group of former Yanukovych-era officials whom anti-corruption activists wanted to see the prosecutor’s office bring to justice — and they criticized the office’s failure to do so.

In a statement to The Post last year, Hunter Biden said, “At no time have I discussed with my father the company’s business or my board service.” At an appearance in Iowa, Joe Biden said, “I have never spoken to my son about his overseas business dealings.”

The former vice president has denied being motivated by anything other than U.S. policy in pushing for Shokin’s removal.

10:32 p.m.
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Meet Trump’s defense lawyers

By Amber Phillips

A group of White House and private lawyers is defending Trump during the Senate trial, trying to convince at least 34 of the 100 senators that the president should be acquitted on the charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. That would put Trump just shy of the 67 senators that the Constitution requires to convict him and remove him from office.

The team is led by White House Counsel Pat Cipollone, who advised the president in an outside role during the 2016 debates and, later, during special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s Russia investigation. Cipollone became White House counsel in December 2018, but is a corporate lawyer by trade. He worked for Attorney General William P. Barr when Barr held that job in the George H.W. Bush administration, and has a close relationship to Trump.

Read more about the lawyers here.

10:15 p.m.
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Trump’s legal team delves into Bidens, Burisma

By Karoun Demirjian

Trump’s legal team delivered on its promise to turn its attention to Hunter Biden and whether his role on the board of Ukrainian energy company Burisma gave the president good reason to ask Ukrainian officials to investigate.

Former Florida attorney general Pam Bondi laid out a detailed chronology of Hunter Biden’s five years on the board, and argued that it dovetailed with the official actions of his father, former vice president Joe Biden, in Ukraine, as well as the campaign to oust former prosecutor general Viktor Shokin over corruption allegations.

Bondi relied heavily on illustrating the concurrent timeline of events, noting how many days transpired between Shokin’s ouster and the elder Biden’s announcements that the United States would provide security assistance to Ukraine. She used several clips from mainstream newspapers and television stations about Hunter Biden’s Burisma connections to reinforce the idea that there was legitimate reason to scrutinize his hefty monthly paycheck, and played video clips from witnesses in the impeachment inquiry who testified that they found Hunter Biden’s role on the Burisma board troubling.

Though Bondi provided no concrete proof that Joe Biden’s actions vis-a-vis Ukraine were influenced by trying to advantage his son, that did not seem to be the ultimate goal of raising questions about the motivations behind the Bidens’ activities.

“All we are saying is that there was a basis to talk about this, to raise this issue,” Bondi said at the close of her presentation.