As President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial unfolds, Courthouse News will be gathering interviews with senators, members of Congress, attorneys and other newsmakers in the corridors of the Capitol for this regular feature.
WASHINGTON (CN) — Both inside and outside Capitol Hill, President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial picked up pace Friday. House Democrats wrapped up opening arguments as news broke of a recording tying the commander-in-chief to former Guiliani associates Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman.
The report left Republicans unsettled, as Trump has denied knowing both men since their arrest in October.
On Capitol Hill, senators sounded off on topics including the president’s expected defense, the realities of being a juror in a marathon impeachment trial and a breaking story about “take her out,” the command Trump allegedly said of the U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch in a conversation with the now-indicted Parnas and Fruman.
9:05 p.m. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., Senate Halls After Schiff’s Closing Argument
Lead House manager Adam Schiff appeared to lose GOP senators midway through his closing argument Friday night when he referenced reports that the White House had told Republicans that if they turn against Trump at trial they would end up with their “head on a pike.” Durbin disagreed.
“Well, that's one of the worst kept secrets in Washington is what this White House and this president will do to someone who crosses him, and he's made that clear from day one. I mean I've been told by those close to the president he’ll hit ya back twice as hard as you hit him. So, you know that that is no surprise.”
The Democrat Whip said he thought Schiff gave a masterful closing.
“As a lawyer, he [Schiff] understands he doesn't get the last word. So he went through this inventory of defenses that you would expect to hear and checked off all the boxes. So, I thought it was a powerful piece.”
7:01 pm Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., on the Second Floor of the Capitol Just off the Senate Chamber
Alexander, considered a possible swing vote in the debate over whether the Senate will hear from additional witnesses, offered a historical lesson to the House Democrats acting as prosecutors in Trump's impeachment trial.
“I was thinking about the advice that Senator Everett Dirksen once gave to his son-in-law, Senator [Howard] Baker, when he made an overly long maiden speech on the Senate floor. He said, ‘Howard, occasionally you might enjoy the luxury of an unexpressed thought.’ I thought that might be good advice for the House managers."
6:58 pm John Thune, R-South Dakota on the Second Floor of the Capitol Just off the Senate Chamber
Thune said his conversations with Senators Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski at Republican breakfasts prior to the daily Senate impeachment trial have bounced between light and substantive conversation. The Senate Republican whip said the strength of the president’s defense will be important, saying attorneys need to “come out of the gate strong.”