• September 29, 2020

Top Democrat Concedes ‘Probably No’ on Witnesses

Top Democrat Concedes ‘Probably No’ on Witnesses


After 93 questions over eight hours, the Senate has adjourned.

The trial resumes Thursday afternoon at 1 p.m. Eastern and senators will continue to lob queries at the Democratic impeachment managers and the president’s defense team. A vote on witnesses is expected on Friday.

Credit…Jeff Roberson/Associated Press

Senator Roy Blunt, Republican of Missouri stood up, as his colleagues had, to ask a question. But in rattling off the senators he was teaming up with for the question, he misspoke: Instead of naming Senator Martha McSally, a freshman Republican from Arizona, he named a fellow Missourian, Claire McCaskill, a Democratic senator ousted in 2018.

The slip-up was met with laughter and some oohs on the Senate floor.

“Terrifying moment,” Mr. Blunt remarked, as Ms. McSally laughed on the other side of the chamber.

Ms. McCaskill, for her part, responded on Twitter when she saw reports of the exchange.

“It’s simple. He misses me,” she wrote.

President Trump was perfectly within his rights to solicit information about his political rivals from Ukraine and his effort to do so may not be construed as an illegal attempt to interfere with the 2020 election, his lawyer argued Wednesday night — an assertion that stunned and outraged Democrats.

“Mere information is not something that would violate the campaign finance law,” said Patrick Philbin, a deputy White House counsel. He asserted that while the law bars candidates from accepting foreign contributions and bars foreign citizens from voting, it does not bar candidates from taking information from a foreign government.

The assertion goes to the heart of Democrats’ accusations against the president, who said in an interview with ABC News that he saw no problem with taking information from a foreign power.

Moreover, Mr. Philbin added, “credible information, credible information of wrongdoing by someone who is running for a public office is not campaign interference.” He added, “The idea that any information that happens to come from overseas is campaign interference is a mistake.”

Democrats hit back hard.

“I was stunned to hear that now it is apparently O.K. for the president to get information from foreign governments in an election. That’s news to me,” said Representative Zoe Lofgren, Democrat of California and one of the House impeachment managers. “The election campaign laws prohibit accepting anything of value — and a thing of value is information.”

Representative Adam B. Schiff, Democrat of California and the lead House impeachment manager, was even more pointed: “You can’t solicit foreign interference and the fact that you’re unsuccessful in getting it doesn’t exonerate you. A failed scheme doesn’t make you innocent; it just makes you unsuccessful — an unsuccessful crook.”

Credit…Erin Schaff/The New York Times

Senator Martha McSally of Arizona became the second Republican standing for election in a swing state to announce on Wednesday that she would vote against calling new witnesses and documents in President Trump’s impeachment trial.

“I have heard enough,” Ms. McSally wrote on Twitter. “It is time to vote.”

Hours earlier, Senator Cory Gardner, Republican of Colorado, said he had reached a similar conclusion. Their stances were a positive sign for Republican leaders hoping to end the trial this week without compelling new evidence, though several key moderate Republicans remain publicly undecided before the vote expected on Friday.

“A dangerous precedent will be set if we condone a rushed, partisan House impeachment with no due process that shuts down the Senate for weeks or months to do the House’s work,” Ms. McSally said.

In 2018, Ms. McSally lost a Senate race to Senator Kyrsten Sinema, a Democrat, but was then appointed to fill Arizona’s other Senate seat shortly afterward.

The trial broke for a 15-minute recess at 9:44 p.m. Eastern. When they return, senators are expected to ask questions for about another hour.

Senator Mitt Romney of Utah, the only Republican whose public remarks have suggested he is seriously considering whether to vote to convict President Trump, asked a question that gave insight into his thinking: “On what specific date did President Trump first order the hold on security assistance to Ukraine and did he explain the reason at that time?”

The question suggests that Mr. Romney — who is also the only Republican who has said outright that he will vote to hear from witnesses — wants to get to the bottom of why Mr. Trump withheld $391 million in security assistance from Ukraine, a central question of the case. Democrats charge that the president was demanding a political favor — an investigation of former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., his potential 2020 rival — in exchange for releasing the money.

But the answer from Patrick Philbin, deputy White House counsel, was less revealing than the question itself.

Mr. Philbin said there was no evidence in the record of a specific date, but there is testimony showing that officials at the Office of Management and Budget were aware of a hold on security aid as early as July 3. That is more than two weeks before Mr. Trump’s July 25 telephone call with President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine, in which Mr. Trump asked Mr. Zelensky to “do us a favor, though,” and investigate Mr. Biden.

Mr. Philbin went on to cite a Defense Department email exchange on June 24 in which the Pentagon’s chief of staff, seeking to answer a question from the president, asked what the aid was used for, whether it went to American companies and how much other members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization spent to support Ukraine. And he cited testimony from an Office of Management and Budget official who said the president was concerned about corruption.

Credit…Erin Schaff/The New York Times

Representative Adam B. Schiff of California, the lead Democratic House manager, invoked Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. several times on Wednesday night, saying Republicans should not worry about litigious trial delays over witnesses. Mr. Roberts, who is presiding over the trial, would prevent them, Mr. Schiff said, by making swift determinations over the relevance of witnesses and the appropriateness of their testimonies.

House managers would agree to be bound by those rulings and not appeal to reverse them, Mr. Schiff said.

“I trust the man behind me sitting way up,” he said from the lectern in front of Mr. Roberts. “I can’t see him right now, but I trust him to make decisions about witnesses.”

Credit…Erin Schaff/The New York Times

With four Democratic senators running for president, the 2020 presidential election was not far from the Senate chamber Wednesday night.

Senator Bernie Sanders, independent of Vermont, who is seeking the Democratic nomination, used his question to make the case that his would-be opponent in November — President Trump — has a somewhat questionable relationship with the truth.

“Given the media has documented President Trump’s thousands of lies while in office — more than 16,200 as of Jan. 20,” Mr. Sanders asked, “why should we be expected to believe that anything President Trump says has credibility?”

The Washington Post reported last week that Mr. Trump has made 16,200 false or misleading claims since he took office three years ago.

A low murmur went up in the Senate chamber as Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. read the question aloud. Representative Adam B. Schiff, the lead House impeachment manager, also seemed taken aback.

“Well,” Mr. Schiff said with a slight chuckle, “I’m not quite sure where to begin with that question.”

Representative Adam B. Schiff, Democrat of California and the lead House manager, made one more pitch on Wednesday for why senators should call witnesses in President Trump’s impeachment trial: “I’m no fan of John Bolton, although I like him a little more than I used to.”

He added, “Don’t take my word for it about John Bolton.”

But he might as well have been summarizing how Democrats have revised their feelings about Mr. Bolton, the former national security adviser they once derided, until the disclosure on Sunday that President Trump wanted to hold up vital security aid to Ukraine until it investigated his political rivals.

Credit…Erin Schaff/The New York Times

Teeing up an argument that the Senate would be paralyzed for weeks if their colleagues voted to hear from witnesses, Republican senators submitted question after question Wednesday evening asking the White House defense team to outline the effect such a vote would have on the chamber’s productivity.

Republicans like Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina have warned that if the Senate were to vote to hear from witnesses, it would open the floodgates. If John R. Bolton, the former national security adviser, were called to testify, they contend, so, too, would a litany of others, like Hunter Biden, the son of former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr.

But some lawmakers sought to give momentum to that argument, and the president’s lawyers were happy to oblige. Jay Sekulow, the White House counsel, said that if witnesses are called, “We would be here for a very, very long time. And that’s not good for the United States.”

Representative Adam B. Schiff of California, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, offered an incredulous rebuttal. The message from the White House, Mr. Schiff said, was, “We will make you pay for it with endless delay.”

“Don’t be thrown off by this claim,” he continued. “We’re not here to indulge in fantasy or distraction.”

Patrick Philbin, a deputy White House counsel, told senators Wednesday evening that he and other members of the White House legal team only learned of John R. Bolton’s account of his conversations about Ukraine with President Trump shortly before it was publicly reported.

“Lawyers in the White House counsel’s office learned about that allegation for the first time on Sunday afternoon when it was contacted by The New York Times,” he said in response to a question about when the president’s defense team was first informed of the account by Mr. Bolton, the former national security adviser.

The Times reported on Sunday that a coming book by Mr. Bolton asserts that the president told him directly that he would not release almost $400 million in military aid to Ukraine until the country assisted with investigations into former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr.

Mr. Bolton submitted a manuscript of the book to the National Security Council for prepublication review and Democrats are dubious that lawyers there did not communicate with their colleagues in the White House about the contents of the manuscript.

Earlier in the questioning, Mr. Philbin denied that anyone had warned White House lawyers that the book would be a political problem or that they had been allowed to review it.

Representative Adam B. Schiff, the lead House impeachment manager, accused the director of national intelligence and the National Security Agency of withholding intelligence that he said could be relevant to the impeachment trial of President Trump.

It was the second time in two weeks that Mr. Schiff has spoken openly about a behind-the-scenes conflict between the House Intelligence Committee, which he leads, and one of the nation’s largest intelligence agencies.

His statement came in response to a question from a senator from Virginia about whether there was evidence that Russia had disseminated conspiracy theories about the 2016 election inference that Mr. Trump and his lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani had repeated. (It was unclear whether the question was from Senator Mark Warner, who is the ranking member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, or Senator Tim Kaine.)

Mr. Schiff did not specifically mention Russia in his answer but said there were “three categories of relevant information” that the Senate needed to see. The first was additional testimony, still kept secret, from Jennifer Williams, a national security aide to Vice President Mike Pence. He urged senators, all of whom have security clearances, to read the classified testimony.

The second category dealt with intelligence, which he described only as “directly relevant to this trial,” that had been provided to his committee.

“There is a third category of intelligence, too, which raises a very different problem, and that is that the intelligence communities are for the first time refusing to provide to the intelligence committee,” Mr. Schiff said, referring to the nation’s 16 intelligence agencies, which report to the acting director of national intelligence, Joseph Maguire.

“That material has been gathered, we know it exists, but the N.S.A. has been advised not to provide it,” Mr. Schiff said.

Addressing the decision-making behind the move, Mr. Schiff said, “Now the director says that this is the director’s decision, but nonetheless there is a body of intelligence that is relevant to requests that we have made that is not being provided.” It was unclear whether he meant Mr. Maguire, a former head of the National Counterterrorism Center, or Gen. Paul M. Nakasone, the director of the National Security Agency.

But the standoff raised the possibility of a “deeply concerning and new phenomenon,” he said: Are the intelligence agencies — which his committee oversees — “now also withholding information at the urging of the administration?”

It is unclear whether the intelligence Mr. Schiff was referring to involved Ukraine, Russia or both. But there has been widespread speculation that it involves intercepts or other intelligence gathered from inside the Kremlin’s leadership, or inside Ukraine, that might suggest Mr. Trump was repeating Russian talking points.

The issue came up because in Mr. Trump’s July 25 telephone conversation with President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine, he sought an investigation into whether the server of the Democratic National Committee was being hidden inside Ukraine. That is part of a theory — widely discredited, even by Mr. Trump’s own Justice Department — that Ukraine, not Russia, was behind the theft of data from the committee’s computer systems in 2015 and 2016.

“The server, they say Ukraine has it,” Mr. Trump said, according to a reconstructed account of the conversation prepared by the National Security Council.

In fact, there were many servers, some in the cloud. But the primary server, about the size of a large laptop, has been on display in the basement of the Democratic National Committee, next to one of the file cabinets that the Watergate burglars broke into nearly a half-decade ago.

The National Security Agency has declined to comment about the dispute, or why the intelligence has not been provided to the committee. Nor has the Office of the Director of National Intelligence said much, other than issue a general statement that “the intelligence community is committed to providing Congress with the information and intelligence it needs to carry out its critical oversight role.”

Mr. Schiff and Mr. Maguire have tangled before, when Mr. Maguire held up reporting to the committee over the summer about a “whistle-blower report” that ultimately started the impeachment investigation. Ultimately, the report was turned over to the committee.

As in that case, Mr. Schiff is in a delicate spot: He cannot say what the intelligence contains, even if he knows. So instead, he is pressuring the intelligence agencies to turn it over, in a form that all senators can examine — if it is admissible in evidence.

Credit…Erin Schaff/The New York Times

Senator Rand Paul, Republican of Kentucky, has been prevented so far from asking a question about the origins of the impeachment inquiry because it would reveal the identity of the whistle-blower, according to a person familiar with the debate.

“It’s still an ongoing process; it may happen tomorrow,” Mr. Paul told reporters on Wednesday.

Senator John Thune of South Dakota, the No. 2 Republican, for his part, said, “We have members who have an interest in questions related to the whistle-blower.”

But he noted that he did not believe the whistle-blower would be named on the Senate floor. “I don’t think that happens, and I guess I would hope that it doesn’t,” he said.

It remains unclear how the issue will be resolved.

Credit…Art Lien for The New York Times

Four Democratic senators running for president — Senators Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Amy Klobuchar and Michael Bennet — have been dashing between the campaign trail and the impeachment trial in Washington. The frantic schedule appeared to be catching up with Mr. Sanders, who is leading recent polls in Iowa.

The courtroom artist Art Lien has been covering the trial for The New York Times. See all of Mr. Lien’s drawings here.

As he campaigns to reclaim his former Senate seat in Alabama, the former attorney general Jeff Sessions has been trying hard to repair his relationship with President Trump since he fired him in 2018. He appears to believe the saga of John R. Bolton could help.

Mr. Sessions posted a series of thoughts on Twitter on Wednesday as the trial was unfolding, contrasted himself with Mr. Bolton, the president’s former national security adviser. His message boiled down to this: I had every reason to gripe publicly, Mr. President, but I did not!

“With regard to the @AmbJohnBolton situation, let me just say this: I did not write a book or go on CNN or criticize @realDonaldTrump for 3 VERY IMPORTANT REASONS…” Mr. Sessions wrote.

First, discretion is “the honorable thing to do,” he said. Second, speaking out is “an act of disloyalty to the administration one serves.” And third, it “sets a very damaging and dangerous precedent” that could undermine the ability of the president to have “candid” conversations with his aides, Mr. Sessions said.

Mr. Sessions, notably, did not include among his reasons that he had no criticisms for Mr. Trump.

Mr. Sessions is involved in a competitive Republican primary race in Alabama. An endorsement from Mr. Trump, his former boss, could be decisive and the candidate has said he will ”work for” it.

The senators wrapped after more than two hours of uninterrupted questions, including the occasional cross-examination by Republicans of the Democratic House managers and by Democrats of President Trump’s lawyers.

At least a few of the questions handed over by senators appeared typed, rather than handwritten, though with some cross outs and additions in pen.

The questioning could go deep into the night.

Credit…Ruth Fremson/The New York Times

Senators Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska jointly raised one of the more interesting questions of the afternoon: At what point did President Trump decide that Ukraine needed to investigate former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and his son, Hunter Biden?

Patrick Philbin, a lawyer for Mr. Trump, did not answer directly. But he tried to suggest that the president’s interest was not prompted by Mr. Biden’s announcement in late April that he was running for president.

Mr. Trump’s personal lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani apparently briefed the president on Ukraine, he said. And “months before Vice President Biden announced his candidacy, Mr. Giuliani is looking into this issue and interviewing people and getting information.”

He also said that whatever Mr. Giuliani told Mr. Trump was protected by attorney-client privilege, which suggests that even Mr. Trump’s team might acknowledge he would be of limited use as a witness. That is notable because another defense lawyer, Jane Raskin, specifically criticized the House managers for never subpoenaing him to testify.

As the minority leader, Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, played down the likelihood of witnesses in the impeachment trial, a fresh wave of protesters appeared at the Capitol to press for witnesses and new evidence.

The few dozen demonstrators, organized by the advocacy group Refuse Fascism, chanted, “Trump, Pence, out now,” accompanied by the beat of a drum. About a dozen officers from the Capitol Police herded them off the pavement and onto the grounds of a park nearby.

“The idea that you have a jury, a Senate coordinating in lock step with the defendant, working to suppress evidence, to suppress witnesses — that’s not justice,” said Sunsara Taylor, a co-founder of the group. “That’s a sham. This is illegitimate.”

After about 30 minutes, the demonstrators began to march through the city. They plan to return every day until the trial concludes, Ms. Taylor said.

Credit…Erin Schaff/The New York Times

As the questioning began on Wednesday, yet another Republican, Senator Cory Gardner of Colorado, made it official: He would not vote for witnesses and documents. Mr. Gardner was never a leading candidate to buck his party, but as a Republican up for re-election this fall in a Democratic-leaning state, he refused for days to commit one way or another.

That changed on Wednesday, when he said the Senate need not consider anything beyond the testimony already gathered in the House’s impeachment inquiry.

“I do not believe we need to hear from an 18th witness,” Mr. Gardner said. “I have approached every aspect of this grave constitutional duty with the respect and attention required by law, and have reached this decision after carefully weighing the House managers and defense arguments and closely reviewing the evidence from the House, which included well over 100 hours of testimony from 17 witnesses.”

Asked why Republican senators addressed almost all of their questions to President Trump’s lawyers and Democratic senators to the House managers, Senator Mike Braun, Republican of Indiana, had a simple answer: “You want to control the dynamic,” he said.

“It’s highly unlikely that you’ll see either side asking questions of the other side,” added Senator Tim Scott, Republican of South Carolina. “The truth of the matter is, you don’t want to give someone an opportunity just to drone on forever without actually answering the question.”

It’s possible that could change as the up to 16 hours of questioning continues, said Senator Chuck Schumer, the minority leader.

“The reason we directed so much of our questions to the House managers is because they needed the chance to rebut the false arguments, the fallacious reasoning, the half-truths and even no truths that the three days of the president’s counsel made,” he said. “This was their first chance to do it.”

Senator Chuck Schumer, Democrat of New York and the minority leader, acknowledged on Wednesday that winning enough Republican votes to allow witnesses to testify was unlikely.

“We’ve always known it will be an uphill fight on witnesses and documents, because the president and Mitch McConnell put huge pressure on these folks,” Mr. Schumer said during a break in the impeachment trial.

His silver lining?

“We have won over the American people,” he said. “Our Republican colleagues — at least some of them — realize that if they are to reject witnesses and documents, they’re going against not just a small group or not just Democrats but against the whole grain of America. And they know that they may be held accountable to that.”

He maintained he held out hope that enough Republican senators would agree.

“Is it more likely than not?” he said. “Probably no. But is it a decent, good chance? Yes.”

Credit…Doug Mills/The New York Times

Pushing back on President Trump’s defense team’s expansive view of his presidential prerogatives, Representative Adam B. Schiff of California, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee and the lead impeachment manager, accused Mr. Trump of being “a president who identifies the state as being himself.”

His remarks came after Senator Kamala Harris, Democrat of California, asked a question citing Mr. Trump’s past comments declaring his own broad power, including the infamous vulgar comment he made before he was elected while filming a segment for “Access Hollywood”: that “when you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything.”

Alan Dershowitz, one of the president’s lawyers, had argued earlier in the afternoon that any action taken by the president to help his own re-election is, by definition, in the public interest.

Mr. Schiff used the question from Ms. Harris to forcefully push back.

“It is the kind of mentality that says, ‘Under Article Two, I can do whatever I want, that I’m allowed to fight all subpoenas,’” Mr. Schiff said.

But the courts have declared, Mr. Schiff said of the president, “You’re not a king.”

The ability to ask questions — albeit only in writing — brought a new dynamic to the floor. Senators passed notes and appeared to be drafting questions on the fly, based on previous questions and the responses from President Trump’s lawyers and the Democratic House managers.

In a sign that each side was rallying its own team, most Democrats asked friendly questions of House managers, and most Republicans asked friendly questions of the president’s team.

The lawyers shuffled papers, frequently whispered and held up handwritten note cards signaling each other when his or her speaking time was almost up. (Republicans started using them to alert Mr. Trump’s lawyers how much time they had left, and Democrats picked up the practice.)

Senators reacted openly, if quietly, to what was being said.

A question by Senator Chuck Schumer, the minority leader, asking the House managers to “please respond to the answer that was just given by the president’s counsel” prompted some laughter from the Democratic side of the aisle.

When Alan Dershowitz, one of Mr. Trump’s lawyers, argued that every public official believes his or her election is in the public interest, Senators Kevin Cramer of North Dakota, Ron Johnson of Wisconsin and Martha McSally of Arizona, all Republicans, exchanged looks and chuckled.

And when Representative Adam B. Schiff of California, the lead House manager, asked Republicans to consider how they would react if it had been former President Barack Obama asking for investigations into Senator Mitt Romney of Utah, his one-time rival, Mr. Romney, in the back of the room, half-smiled.

Credit…Alyssa Schukar for The New York Times

Alan Dershowitz, one of President Trump’s impeachment lawyers, pushed an extraordinarily expansive view of executive power during his trial on Wednesday, arguing that any action taken by the president to help his own re-election is, by definition, in the public interest.

“If the president does something that he thinks will help him get elected, in the public interest, that cannot be the kind of quid pro quo that results in impeachment,” said Mr. Dershowitz, a celebrity lawyer and constitutional law professor.

The assertion amounted to an argument that even if all of Democrats’ impeachment allegations are true — that Mr. Trump was, in fact, seeking election advantage when he demanded that Ukraine investigate his political opponents — it would still be appropriate.

“Every public official I know believes that his election is in the public interest,” he said. “Mostly, you’re right.”

Mr. Dershowitz’s comments were in response to a question from Senator Ted Cruz, Republican of Texas, about whether posing a “quid pro quo” — conditioning one thing on another — could ever be appropriate conduct for a president, particularly in the realm of foreign policy. It went to a central claim of Mr. Trump’s defense, that tying aid to Ukraine to investigations of his political rivals was not a corrupt effort to gain election advantage, but an appropriate exercise of his foreign policy prerogative to root out corruption and increase burden-sharing with other countries.

But the response went far further, suggesting that nothing a president did could ever be considered a corrupt abuse of power as long as he or she considered it in the national interest.

Representative Adam B. Schiff of California, the lead House impeachment manager, characterized Mr. Dershowitz’s argument as “very odd.”

“If you say you can’t hold a president accountable in an election year where they’re trying to cheat in that election, then you are giving them carte blanche,” Mr. Schiff said. “All quid pro quos are not the same. Some are legitimate and some are corrupt.”

In order to convict President Trump, the Senate must find him guilty “beyond a reasonable doubt,” a lawyer for Mr. Trump, Patrick Philbin, told the Senate.

He was responding to this question: “Is the standard for impeachment in the House a lower threshold to meet than the standard for conviction in the Senate?”

It was asked by Senator Marsha Blackburn, Republican of Tennessee, on behalf of herself and four other Republicans: Kelly Loeffler of Georgia, Mike Lee of Utah, Kevin Cramer of North Dakota and Martha McSally of Arizona.

The short answer is yes, Mr. Philbin said.

Mr. Philbin said the House used a standard of whether there was “clear and convincing evidence that there was some impeachable offense,” which he said was “definitely a lower standard than the standard has to be met here in a trial.”

The House managers “are held to a standard of proof beyond a reasonable doubt,” he said, adding, “Here they have failed in their burden of proof.”

But Frank O. Bowman III, a University of Missouri law professor and the author of a recent book on impeachment whose scholarly work on the topic was cited by Mr. Trump’s legal defense team in a brief, called Mr. Philbin’s claim “a complete fantasy” and “made up.”

He said that there is no written standard of proof in either the House or the Senate, and that in a previous impeachment the Senate decided that the standard was therefore whatever each individual senator decides it should be.

“That’s completely invented,” Mr. Bowman said. “There is no designated standard.”

Representative Zoe Lofgren, Democrat of California and one of the House managers, issued a similar argument later Wednesday, effectively saying that it was up to senators to decide.

“It has been opined that in the end it is up to each senator to make the judgment, and I think there is much truth to that,” said Ms. Lofgren, who is a veteran of all three modern impeachments. “Your oath holds you to a finding of impartial justice and I trust that each one of you is holding that oath very dear.”

Credit…Erin Schaff/The New York Times

Responding to a question from Senator Mike Lee, Republican of Utah, the president’s defense team sought to frame the Democratic impeachment managers’ case as one “based on a policy difference” between President Trump and the career diplomats who sounded the alarm on his pressure campaign on Ukraine.

“If his staffers disagree with him, that does not mean that he is doing something wrong,” said Patrick Philbin, an attorney for Mr. Trump. Arguing that the president alone has the power to set a nation’s foreign policy, Mr. Philbin rebutted the notion that the commander-in-chief could defy the policies set by his own agencies.

“The president cannot defy the agencies within the executive branch that are subordinate to him,” Mr. Philbin said. “It is only they who can defy the president’s determinations of policy.”

White House lawyers have a system to help their speakers stay within the five minutes suggested per answer, imposed by Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. Staff sitting at their table have small white cue cards showing how much time is left.

They hold them up when 2 minutes, 1 minute, 30 seconds and 10 seconds are left.

The Democratic House members do not appear to have such a system — which may explain why Representative Adam B. Schiff, the lead manager, was cut off by the chief justice when his first answer ran long.

House managers used a question from Senator Dianne Feinstein, Democrat of California, to reiterate the heart of their case: accusing President Trump’s lawyers of incorrectly stating that there is no evidence that Mr. Trump linked security assistance to investigations.

“There is in fact overwhelming evidence that the president withheld the military aid directly to get a personal political benefit to help his individual political campaign,” answered Jason Crow of Colorado, one of the managers.

Mr. Crow mentioned comments from Mick Mulvaney, the acting White House chief of staff and testimony from Gordon Sondland, the United States ambassador to the European Union, and several other officials.

But he added at the end: “If you have any lingering questions about direct evidence, any thoughts about anything we just talked about anything I just relayed, or that we’ve talked about the last week, there is a way to shed additional light on it.

You can subpoena Ambassador Bolton, and ask him that question directly.”

Democrats began their questioning on Wednesday by asking House managers about revelations from an upcoming book by John R. Bolton, the former national security adviser, giving the manager an open-ended opportunity to push for additional witnesses and documents. Representative Adam B. Schiff, the lead manager, quickly referred to the previous question from three Republican senators, who had asked White House lawyers about what to do if they conclude President Trump had multiple motivations for his actions.

“If you have any questions about the president’s motivations, it makes it all the more essential to call the man who spoke directly with the president,” Mr. Schiff said.

He said there was no question that Mr. Trump was motivated by personal political gain. “If you have any question about whether it was a factor, the factor, a quarter of the factor, all of the factor, there is a witness a subpoena away who can answer that question.”

Mr. Schiff used several video clips of Mr. Trump’s own lawyers during the trial to try to debunk their arguments and to make the case for additional witnesses and documents.

After briefly showing two of them, Chief Justice John G. Roberts, who is presiding over the trial, cut him off, saying that his time had expired.

Credit…Erin Schaff/The New York Times

Senator Mitt Romney of Utah, one of the Republicans who has been most outspoken about his desire to hear from John R. Bolton, outlined his questions for the president’s defense team as Wednesday’s session got underway.

Mr. Romney divided his six questions equally, asking attorneys for Mr. Trump what the president specifically tasked Rudolph W. Giuliani, his personal attorney, to do in Ukraine, and asking the managers if it was their position that “neither Hunter nor Joe Biden engaged in anything that you would describe as corrupt or otherwise inappropriate?”

Mr. Romney also intends to ask House managers if they have “any evidence that anyone was directed by Mr. Trump to tell the Ukrainians that security assistance was being held upon the condition of an investigation into the Bidens?”

His interest in hearing directly from Mr. Bolton, Mr. Trump’s former national security adviser, has made Mr. Romney one of the most closely-watched lawmakers throughout the trial. But Republican leaders have indicated that they are regaining confidence that they will able to block the inclusion of new witnesses and documents as early as Friday.

Credit…Alyssa Schukar for The New York Times

Senator Susan Collins, Republican of Maine, became the first senator outside of leadership to speak on the Senate floor during President Trump’s impeachment trial, when she rose to offer a question on behalf of three Republican centrists who have expressed interest in having witnesses: Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Mitt Romney of Utah and herself.

The selection of Ms. Collins, who is facing the toughest re-election campaign in her long Senate career, was revealing. It suggests that Senator Mitch McConnell, the Republican leader, wants Ms. Collins — who has said she is “very likely” to vote to call witnesses — to feel that she has had every opportunity to have her voice heard, and to feel comfortable with moving forward.

Her question, read aloud by Chief Justice John G. Roberts, was this: “If President Trump had more than one motive for alleged conduct, such as pursuit of political advantage, rooting out corruption,” then “how should the Senate consider more than one motive in its assessment” of whether Mr. Trump should be convicted of abusing his oath of office by pressuring the leader of Ukraine to investigate his political rivals.

A lawyer for Mr. Trump, Patrick Philbin, replied that the House set a very high standard for itself by alleging that there was “no possible public interest” in Mr. Trump’s pressure campaign in Ukraine.

“They recognize that once you get into a mixed-motive situation, if there is possibly some personal motive and some public interest motive, it can’t possibly be an offense,” Mr. Philbin said.

“All elected officials to some extent have in mind how their conduct, how their policy decisions will affect the next election,” he said. “There’s always some personal interest in the electoral outcome of policy decisions and there’s nothing wrong with that, that’s part of representative democracy.”

There was one notable senator who did not join in Ms. Collins’ question: Lamar Alexander, Republican of Tennessee, who has indicated that he is open to having witnesses and could provide the critical fourth Republican vote that Democrats need to do so. But it is looking increasingly unlikely that Mr. Alexander will break with his party on that question.

The White House sent a letter last week to the former national security adviser John R. Bolton warning him against publication of his upcoming book, which includes details about the pressure campaign on Ukraine that led to President Trump’s impeachment, two White House officials said.

The White House has been reviewing Mr. Bolton’s unpublished manuscript for the past month, part of a standard vetting process for current and former administration officials who write books.

The Times reported on Sunday that in the book, Mr. Bolton wrote that Mr. Trump directly tied the release of security aid he was withholding from Ukraine to their cooperation with investigations he wanted into his political rivals. That contradicts a central claim made by his lawyers in the president’s impeachment defense, that there is no evidence that Mr. Trump linked the two issues.

Mr. Trump has denied the conversation took place. The administration ordered Mr. Bolton not to cooperate in the impeachment inquiry, although he said earlier this month that he would testify if subpoenaed by the Senate.

An aide to Mr. Bolton and an official with the publisher, Simon and Schuster, did not respond to efforts to seek comment.

White House officials deny that they are trying to block the entire book from publication, insisting that they are only seeking to shield content they consider “classified.”

Mr. Trump’s legislative affairs team circulated the letter, which was signed by a National Security Council official, to lawmakers on Capitol Hill on Wednesday, making it clear that the White House was determined that at least parts of the manuscript never become public.

Momentum appears to be flagging for calling new witnesses in President Trump’s impeachment trial, but senators in both parties have signaled they will try to turn the questioning period into an opportunity turn the leaders of each legal team into fact witnesses.

Specifically, Democrats have said they want grill Pat A. Cipollone, the leader of Mr. Trump’s legal defense team and the White House counsel, about what he knew and when regarding the book manuscript by John R. Bolton, the former national security adviser.

Mr. Trump’s defense team has argued that there is no evidence that Mr. Trump withheld military aid to Ukraine as leverage to pressure the country’s president into investigating former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. But, as The New York Times first reported on Jan. 26, Mr. Bolton has written in an unpublished book that recounts Mr. Trump making such a link in a private conversation. Mr. Bolton submitted the manuscript to the White House on Dec. 30 for review.

Republicans are eager to question the leader of the House impeachment managers, Representative Adam B. Schiff, Democrat of California, about what he knew and when he knew it about the C.I.A. official who filed a whistle-blower complaint that first brought Mr. Trump’s pressure campaign on Ukraine to light.

As The New York Times first reported on Oct. 2, the whistle-blower originally approached a Democratic staffer on the House Intelligence Committee, which Mr. Schiff leads, about his concerns, but was told that he should instead file a whistle-blower complaint. The committee aide is believed to have shared some of what the officer conveyed to Mr. Schiff, although not his identity.

Mr. Schiff later raised loud alarms that the Trump administration was improperly withholding a whistle-blower complaint from Congress, before its subject was public knowledge. He later falsely suggested in a television interview that his committee had not had contact with the whistle-blower, telling MSNBC: “We have not spoken directly with the whistle-blower.”

It is not clear how Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., who is presiding over the trial, will handle attempts by senators to put specific members of the two legal teams on the spot. Chief Justice Roberts will act as the intermediary, reading the questions, and may also have a role to play in deciding whether questions are proper.

Credit…Erin Schaff/The New York Times

In the first hint of a possible crack in Democratic unity, Senator Doug Jones, Democrat of Alabama, suggested Wednesday that he might vote to acquit President Trump on the charge of obstruction of Congress, though he said Mr. Trump’s own behavior is strengthening the case.

“I’m still looking at that very closely, there are some things that trouble me about it,” Mr. Jones said, without elaborating. “But I will tell you this about the obstruction charge: the more I see the president of the United States attacking witnesses, the stronger that case gets.”

Mr. Jones is kind of an accidental senator; he won a special election in deep red Alabama after running against a flawed opponent, Roy Moore, the former chief justice of the state Supreme Court who was accused of sexual misconduct. Mr. Jones now faces an uphill battle for re-election.

His comments came after Senator Joe Manchin III, Democrat of West Virginia, rattled some Democrats by saying he saw Hunter Biden, the son of the former vice president, as a relevant witness.

Senator Chuck Schumer, the minority leader, reacting to Mr. Manchin’s comment, dismissed the idea that Democrats are not unified.

“We have had total unity,” Mr. Schumer said. “We are totally united and have been totally united.”

Representative Eliot Engel, Democrat of New York and the chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee, disclosed on Wednesday that John R. Bolton, President Trump’s former national security adviser, told him last year that his panel should look into the administration’s recall of the former ambassador to Ukraine, suggesting it might have been “improper.”

In a statement that came as the Senate weighed whether to call Mr. Bolton as a witness, Mr. Engel said the private conversation in September underscored the importance of having the former national security adviser testify in the impeachment trial about Mr. Trump’s pressure campaign on Ukraine.

“On that call, Ambassador Bolton suggested to me — unprompted — that the committee look into the recall of Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch,” Mr. Engel said in the statement. “He strongly implied that something improper had occurred around her removal as our top diplomat in Kyiv.”

The dismissal of Ms. Yovanovitch last spring was one element of the case House Democrats made that Mr. Trump abused his power in his dealings with Ukraine. Documents and testimony showed that Rudolph W. Giuliani, the president’s personal lawyer, and Lev Parnas, one of his associates were instrumental in Ms. Yovanovitch’s dismissal. A recently revealed recording showed that Mr. Parnas brought the matter up with Mr. Trump as early as April 2018.

Mr. Engel said he did not previously disclose the call because it was a private conversation. But he said he decided to make it public after Mr. Trump stated early Wednesday morning that Mr. Bolton said “nothing” about the pressure campaign.

“President Trump is wrong that John Bolton didn’t say anything about the Trump-Ukraine scandal at the time the president fired him,” Mr. Engel said. “He said something to me.”

Credit…Anna Moneymaker/The New York Times

Republican leaders signaled they were regaining confidence on Wednesday that they would be able to block new witnesses and documents and bring the trial to an acquittal verdict as soon as Friday, after revelations from John R. Bolton threatened to knock their plans off course.

Senator John Barrasso of Wyoming, the No. 3 Senate Republican, told reporters that if they were successful in holding off new witnesses, Republicans planned to move directly to a vote on the two articles of impeachment themselves.

“Yes, that’s the plan,” he told reporters in the Capitol.

It was unclear if there would be additional closing arguments, or if the Senate would vote up or down on the abuse of power and obstruction charges Friday evening.

“I’ve heard enough,” Mr. Barrasso said. “I’m ready to vote on final judgment. This has been fully partisan, fully political.”

Mr. Barrasso’s prediction came as Republican senators appeared to be falling into line to block witnesses a day after Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the majority leader, warned them privately that he did not currently have the votes to stop Democrats from calling them.

Senator Patrick J. Toomey of Pennsylvania, who earlier in the week expressed some support for a witness deal, said Wednesday that he was now unlikely to be a yes.

“I remain very very skeptical that there is any witness” that I would vote to hear from, Mr. Toomey told reporters in the Capitol.

Senator Cory Gardner of Colorado, who is seeking re-election this year in a politically competitive state, also told Colorado Politics that he had heard enough and would vote against hearing from more witnesses.

Senator Mitt Romney of Utah maintained that he would vote in favor of witnesses and documents, but said he was uncertain how many Republicans would join him.

“I’m sure there’ll be others,” he said. “How many there will be on my side of the aisle, I just don’t know.”

Senator Rick Scott, Republican of Florida, released a list of questions for both the House impeachment managers and President Trump’s legal defense team ahead of Wednesday’s proceedings, the beginning of the question-and-answer period for senators.

Mr. Scott, in a statement, outlined four questions for the seven House lawmakers, focusing predominately on the Bidens. The questions included “how much evidence is sufficient to develop probable cause to at least initiate an investigation of a prior elected official’s conduct, given what we know about former Vice President Joe Biden’s actions?”

For the president’s legal team, Mr. Scott appears to want to focus on process questions, including “how can an impeachment undertaken without a single vote of bipartisan support at any point be viewed as anything other than a purely partisan attempt to interfere with the 2020 election and the rights of the American people to vote for the president?”

It is unclear how many of those questions will be asked on the Senate floor.

Credit…Anna Moneymaker/The New York Times

As President Trump prepared to sign his revised North American trade pact, he made a point of singling out the more than two dozen Republican senators who are serving as jurors in his impeachment trial. All of the 71 lawmakers present were Republicans.

“Maybe I’m being just nice to them because I need their vote,” he said, alluding to the upcoming Senate vote on whether Mr. Trump should be removed from office for committing high crimes and misdemeanors.

As Mr. Trump introduced them, he lavished praise on the senators, often singling them out by name. “Your poll numbers are looking good, John,” he told Senator John Cornyn, the Texas Republican up for re-election in November. Senator James Lankford, Republican of Oklahoma, was a “terrific person.” And to Senator Kelly Loeffler, the Georgia Republican who now faces a challenger in Representative Doug Collins, Republican of Georgia, Mr. Trump said “they already like you a lot, that’s what the word is.”

For a several senators, the president made reference to their intense defense of Mr. Trump during the ongoing impeachment trial.

“‘Let me out of here, President, let me ask those questions,’” Mr. Trump said, imitating Senator Ted Cruz, Republican of Texas. “I bet he’s got some beauties.”

“We’re going to take care of the senators,” Mr. Trump added, as he called them up to the stage for the formal signing of the United-States-Mexico-Canada-Agreement. He passed out ceremonial pens to the senators after doing so.

One administration official did offer a nod to House Democrats and their work.

Robert Lighthizer, the United States trade representative who engaged in months of negotiations with House Democrats to get a final trade deal, said, “I have been in town long enough to know that listing members at a time like this makes more enemies than friends, so I’ll only mention I’m grateful,” to congressional leadership.

Lev Parnas, the Soviet-born businessman who worked with the president’s personal lawyer, Rudolph W. Giuliani, to pressure Ukraine’s government to investigate political rivals of President Trump, had hoped to watch the impeachment trial up close. But he could not get around the special security restrictions at the Capitol because Mr. Parnas, who is under house arrest, wears an electronic ankle monitor.

Still, his arrival created a tizzy at the office of Senator Chuck Schumer, the minority leader, when Mr. Parnas and his lawyers arrived to pick up their Senate gallery passes. Surrounded by a scrum of news reporters and cameras, Mr. Parnas declined to show off his monitor.

“That’s not the story,” he said.

What was the story, in his view?

“They need to call witnesses,” he said of senators.

Though his lawyers said their client would not be answering any questions, Mr. Parnas kept chatting as he wound his way through hallways, stairs and an elevator. The crowd was so big that a photographer walking in front of him fell down, prompting a Capitol Police officer to say walking backward was not allowed.

Mr. Parnas said he hoped to see Mr. Trump and Mr. Giuliani. Asked if he had a message for the president, Mr. Parnas would only say, “I think he knows.”

“Trumpworld is like a cult,” Mr. Parnas said, “and a lot of the senators are in the cult.”

President Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner, a senior adviser in the White House, on Wednesday dismissed an unreleased book by John Bolton, the former National Security Adviser, asserting that Mr. Trump did delay millions of dollars in security assistance to Ukraine until officials there agreed to help with investigations into Democrats.

“I find that everyone leaves, writes books about what a hero they were, how they knew better,” Mr. Kushner said during a rare interview with “Fox & Friends,” where he appeared to promote the administration’s new peace plan for the Middle East. “The reality is that the president’s the one who’s been running this White House, running this government and getting things done. And all the people who are doing the real work, they’re not writing books because they’re too busy working right now.”

Mr. Bolton’s upcoming book, “The Room Where It Happened,” has complicated efforts by Senator Mitch McConnell, the majority leader, to block witnesses in the Senate impeachment trial.

On Wednesday morning, Mr. Trump attacked Mr. Bolton on Twitter, calling his memoir a “nasty and untrue book.”

Mr. Kushner also said it would be “unfortunate” if the Senate had to hear from witnesses in the trial. But he insisted it would ultimately only help Mr. Trump’s case.

“What you will find is what was the whistle-blower doing? What were the Bidens up to? There was a lot of dirty things that have been happening for a long time,” Mr. Kushner said. “A witness phase will give the American people the opportunity to learn about that.”

Mr. Kushner, who has been overseeing Mr. Trump’s 2020 re-election campaign, has generally stayed quiet on the impeachment investigation. On Wednesday, he waved away the impeachment proceedings as “silliness” and said he preferred working on immigration reform and infrastructure.

Mr. Kushner also noted that over his three years in government, the White House has “cycled out a lot of bad people,” but he declined to name names.

President Trump on Wednesday signed his revised North American trade pact, a triumphant fulfillment of a critical campaign promise and proof of legislative accomplishment during an impeachment trial.

But Mr. Trump appeared instead to be focused on the trial in the Senate, tweeting nearly a dozen times ahead of the signing ceremony about the trial and the debate over calling witnesses ahead of the signing ceremony.

In another consequence of impeachment, no House Democrats appeared to be present at the signing ceremony, despite wrangling significant changes to the United-States-Mexico-Canada-Agreement over months of closed-door negotiations with administration officials.

“We’ll be well represented in the huge changes to the original U.S.M.C.A. draft that Democrats wrested out of the administration on labor, prescription drugs, environment and enforcement mechanisms,” said Henry Connelly, a spokesman for Ms. Pelosi.

In contrast, a number of Senate Republicans posted videos on social media promoting their appearances at the White House to witness Mr. Trump sign the agreement, hours before his trial resumes.

Credit…Erin Schaff/The New York Times

Lev Parnas, a former associate of Rudolph W. Giuliani who has offered to testify at the impeachment trial, arrived in Washington on Wednesday to show support for what his lawyer called “a fair trial.”

Mr. Parnas, who flew in from Florida and met his lawyer as well as a swarm of reporters at Washington Union Station near the Capitol, said he was in town to “look at the senators and have them look at me and see that we need to call witnesses. The truth needs to come out. I’m here.”

Mr. Parnas was involved in the campaign to pressure Ukraine and described himself as “one of the most important witnesses.”

The cameras then followed Mr. Parnas as he walked toward the Capitol.

“It’s funny, I’ve been to Washington,” Mr. Parnas said, an apparent reference to the many Republican donor events he has attended in the city and his involvement in meetings to plan the pressure campaign. And yet, he said, “This is my first time being out of the Trump hotel.”

As he neared the Capitol, a small crowd of supporters chanted, “Let Lev speak.”

Alongside his lawyers, Mr. Parnas stopped to snap selfies with some of the protesters on his way to the office of Senator Chuck Schumer, Democrat of New York and the minority leader, where he picked up passes for the impeachment trial.

Mr. Parnas, who was charged in October with federal campaign finance crimes, cannot attend the trial because he is wearing an ankle-monitoring device as a condition of his bail. His lawyer, Joseph A. Bondy, planned to attend.

“How do you get to the truth if you don’t have witnesses?” Mr. Bondy said.

Credit…Anna Moneymaker/The New York Times

Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, one of the few Republicans openly weighing whether to vote to call witnesses in the impeachment trial, met privately for about half an hour with Senator Mitch McConnell on Wednesday morning.

Though she has said in recent days she was “curious” to hear from John R. Bolton, Mr. Trump’s former national security adviser, Ms. Murkowski kept her cards tucked against her chest on Wednesday.

“I’m not going to share my personal thoughts with you this morning,” she said emerging for the meeting. She acknowledged only that she would have to make a decision by Friday, when the Senate is expected to vote on whether or not to even consider new witnesses and documents.

Mr. McConnell’s position is no mystery: He is working to line up his caucus in opposition to witnesses to bring the trial to a close in the coming days.

Without Ms. Murkowski, Democrats have little to no chance of winning over four Republicans, the number they need to call Mr. Bolton or other witnesses.

Credit…Alyssa Schukar for The New York Times

Activists have planned protests in and around the Capitol today to show support for including witnesses and additional evidence in the Senate impeachment trial.

Hundreds of protesters are expected to gather at the Hart Senate Office Building around noon before moving toward the Capitol, organizers say.

Multiple protests have been planned by separate organizers, but the groups involved are a primarily anti-Trump coalition of advocacy groups including Public Citizen, the Poor People’s Campaign and the Women’s March.

Credit…Luis M. Alvarez/Associated Press

With the critical vote looming on Friday on whether to call new witnesses in President Trump’s impeachment trial, Senate Republicans are coalescing around the idea that it is better to risk looking like they ignored relevant evidence than to plunge the Senate into an open-ended inquiry and anger President Trump.

Republicans are worried that allowing testimony by John R. Bolton, the former national security adviser whose unpublished manuscript contradicts a central part of Mr. Trump’s impeachment defense, would only lead to a cascade of other witnesses, prolonging the trial and potentially yielding more damaging disclosures.

After a private party meeting on Tuesday, top Republicans were increasingly confident on Wednesday that they could hold off witnesses, according to people close to Senator Mitch McConnell, the majority leader, who insisted on anonymity to characterize private discussions. And some were saying publicly that part of their reasoning was that allowing any witnesses would open the floodgates and tie up the Senate indefinitely, though the eventual outcome — Mr. Trump’s acquittal — remains the same.

“We don’t need Mr. Bolton to come in and to extend this show longer, along with any other witnesses people might want, and occupy all of our time here in the Senate for the next few weeks, maybe even months,” Senator John Cornyn, a Texas Republican and close ally of Mr. McConnell, said Tuesday evening on Fox.

Josh Holmes, a former chief of staff and top outside adviser to Mr. McConnell, made it clear that Republicans view the idea of calling witnesses as a disaster in the making.

“More witnesses = Hindenburg,” Mr. Holmes wrote Wednesday on Twitter, showing a picture of the flaming airship. “None of it changes ultimate acquittal.”

The strategy reflects the calculation that most of the politically vulnerable Senate Republicans up for re-election have made. They would prefer to defend their vote against witnesses than explain their decision to broaden an investigation of Mr. Trump.

Senator Susan Collins, the centrist from Maine, is the only incumbent up for re-election now seen as a likely vote for more witnesses.

President Trump on Wednesday morning was set to sign his revised North American trade pact, a triumphant fulfillment of a critical campaign promise and proof of legislative accomplishment during an impeachment trial.

But Mr. Trump’s attention appeared focused instead on the trial in the Senate early Wednesday, tweeting nearly a dozen times ahead of the signing ceremony about the trial.

In another consequence of the ongoing impeachment inquiry, no House Democrats appeared to be present at the signing ceremony, despite wrangling significant changes to the United-States-Mexico-Canada-Agreement over months of closed door negotiations with administration officials.

“We’ll be well represented in the huge changes to the original USMCA draft that Democrats wrested out of the Administration on labor, prescription drugs, environment and enforcement mechanisms,” said Henry Connelly, a spokesman for Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

In contrast, a number of Senate Republicans posted videos on social media announcing that they would be at the White House to witness Mr. Trump sign the agreement. Within hours, they are set to be back in the Senate chamber, questioning both the House impeachment managers and the president’s defense team.

Last week, Afrika Kathuria stood in line for two hours to snag a seat inside the Senate visitors’ gallery. She wanted to be there as Representative Adam B. Schiff, the lead Democratic House manager, concluded his opening argument in the impeachment trial of President Trump.

“It was a powerful closing,” said Ms. Kathuria, a Democrat from Fairfax, Va. “It was very emotional for me.”

On Tuesday, she came back, this time with her husband and 12-year-old daughter — and passes they had scored through the office of Senator Mark Warner. “I’m an avid political junkie,” Ms. Kathuria said with a smile.

For the past week, people from near and far have been rotating in and out of the gallery above the Senate floor to catch a glimpse of the impeachment with their own eyes. Wearing casual attire — at least compared to the suits and heels of Capitol Hill regular — they clutch their passes and navigate the maze of hallways, taking guidance from Capitol Police officers to find their way around.

Tours of the Capitol have been restricted during the impeachment. Each senator gets a daily allotment of four passes for every day of the trial. The gallery has not always been full.

“I thought, ‘Well, you know, you’re only going to get a chance to see a trial like this once, so we better stop and see what’s going on,’” said State Senator Dan Zumbach of Iowa, who was in Washington for two days and got passes from Senator Joni Ernst. The president’s lawyers gave a persuasive argument, said Mr. Zumbach, a Republican.

“I don’t think one side liked what he did, and I think a lot of folks may not like his style,” he said of Mr. Trump, “but he didn’t do anything illegally.”

Chris Kunkel visited from Sand Coulee, Mont.

“It’s so much smaller,” he said of the Senate in real life. “TV makes everything look so much bigger, so much grander.”

He and two friends made it into the gallery only briefly on Tuesday before Mr. Trump’s lawyers wrapped up.

“We made it for the last two minutes,” Mr. Kunkel said. “But it’s historic.”

On their way out, Mr. Kunkel’s group boarded the Capitol subway. Senator Dianne Feinstein, Democrat of California, shared their car and made small talk.

“Have a good rest of your trip,” she told them.

Credit…Pete Marovich for The New York Times

The Senate’s Democrats have held together in remarkable unison since the impeachment trial of President Trump began. On Wednesday, a crack appeared.

Senator Joe Manchin, Democrat of West Virginia, said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” that he would be willing to vote with Republicans for testimony by Hunter Biden, the son of former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. Mr. Manchin’s party has been stridently opposed to doing so, arguing that Mr. Biden is not only not relevant to the charges against Mr. Trump but a distraction put forward by Republicans trying to muddy the waters around his wrongdoing.

“I think so; I really do,” Mr. Manchin said when asked if he would support testimony from Hunter Biden. “I don’t have a problem there because this is why we are where we are. I think he could clear himself, from what I know and what I’ve heard. But being afraid to put anybody that might have pertinent information is wrong, whether you are a Democrat or a Republican.”

Republicans have enough votes to call Hunter Biden themselves, if they want, so Mr. Manchin’s vote on the matter does not really matter. It raises questions, though, about whether the famously moderate West Virginian is merely trying to model the bipartisanship he wants Republicans to adopt to call other witnesses more pertinent to the case or if he is willing to buck his party on a final vote on conviction or acquittal.

There has been far more attention paid so far to Republicans who could break ranks, but Mr. Manchin is among a handful of Democrats who could as well. The others are Senator Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona and Doug Jones of Alabama. All three represent traditionally Republican states.

Credit…Michael Shear/The New York Times

When President Trump’s trial resumes at 1 p.m. Wednesday, senators will finally be allowed to ask whatever they want of House prosecutors and White House lawyers. But only in writing.

They will submit tan-colored cards to Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., who will read the questions aloud. The cards they submit will include their questions, names, signatures and the side they want to answer the question. Under the rules, senators cannot direct questions at other senators, but a question can be submitted by more than one lawmaker.

The questions will alternate — one from the Republicans, then one from the Democrats and so on — for eight hours, or until there are no more. Senate leaders said they expect to get through about 10 to 12 per side before taking a break. A second session, if necessary, will take place on Thursday.

More on the Trial’s Question Phase

The questioning phase is a moment of opportunity — and peril — for both parties, as 100 senators question the House impeachment managers and President Trump’s legal defense team for up to 16 hours over two days.

Senator Josh Hawley, Republican of Missouri, wants to ask the leading House manager about the whistle-blower whose confidential complaint about Mr. Trump’s dealings with Ukraine touched off the impeachment inquiry, and about Hunter Biden, whom the president asked Ukraine’s president to investigate. Senator Angus King, independent of Maine, plans to question the defense lawyer Alan M. Dershowitz’s criteria for impeachment.

Senator Kevin Cramer, Republican of North Dakota, is seeking more information about the president’s personal lawyer, who played a central role in his pressure campaign on Ukraine. “I’m a little bit curious about Rudy Giuliani,” Mr. Cramer said.

The questions, which will begin Wednesday afternoon, could go late into the evening. The proceeding will allow senators, who have been sitting restlessly in the Senate chamber for more than a week listening to dueling presentations, the chance to participate. They will be taking part indirectly, though, as the questions are read aloud by Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., who is presiding over the trial.

The result is likely to be a lively if slow-moving Senate debate. The leaders of the two parties — working with the House managers and the White House lawyers — will seek to elicit damaging admissions, highlight favorable points and give their side a chance to rebut the claims made by their adversaries since the trial opened last week.

President Trump lashed out at his former national security adviser, John R. Bolton, on Wednesday, saying Mr. Bolton “begged” him for a job that would not require Senate confirmation, and was fired because “frankly, if I listened to him, we would be in World War Six by now.”

And then, Mr. Trump said, Mr. Bolton “goes out and IMMEDIATELY writes a nasty & untrue book. All Classified National Security. Who would do this?”

Mr. Bolton provided the National Security Council with a copy of his manuscript on Dec. 30, so that officials could give it a standard review to see if there is any classified material that must be removed or redacted. This is not the first time someone has left the White House and written tell-all narratives unflattering to Mr. Trump.

But Mr. Bolton’s accounts come at a time when Mr. Trump’s future in the White House hangs in the balance.

Mr. Trump even acknowledged this last week when he was asked whether Mr. Bolton should testify in the Senate trial.

“I don’t know if we left on the best of terms — I would say probably not, you know,” Mr. Trump said in Davos, Switzerland. “And so, you don’t like people testifying when they didn’t leave on good terms.”

Credit…Anna Moneymaker/The New York Times

A vote to consider allowing new witnesses and evidence in the impeachment trial is expected to be held as early as Friday, after senators finish questioning both sides in the case. The result of that vote may be the most consequential factor remaining in the trial.

Pressure has been growing on Republican senators this week to call new witnesses in light of revelations by John R. Bolton, President Trump’s former national security adviser, that contradict a key element of the president’s defense regarding his decision to freeze military aid to Ukraine. Mr. Bolton, who has said he would be willing to testify if subpoenaed, shared the account of his time at the White House in an unpublished book, changing the calculus of the trial.

On the sidelines, a number of Republicans have publicly and privately expressed concern about Mr. Bolton’s account, and indicated that they may now be open to Democrats’ push for new witnesses. Should four Republicans join Democrats to summon witnesses for the trial, it could enter a new phase that could continue well into February. If not, the Senate could hold a final vote and render its decision on whether to remove Mr. Trump by week’s end.

During a meeting on Tuesday with his Republican colleagues, Senator Mitch McConnell, the majority leader, was said to have brandished a “whip count” of yes, no and maybe votes, taking stock of the mood. Mr. McConnell told those present that, by his count, he did not yet have enough votes to block witnesses. With two more days to go before a possible vote, however, Mr. McConnell’s allies remained optimistic that he could rally enough support to forestall calling new witnesses like Mr. Bolton.

Credit…T.J. Kirkpatrick for The New York Times

Just after midnight, President Trump asked a question on Twitter: “Why didn’t John Bolton complain about this ‘nonsense’ a long time ago, when he was very publicly terminated. He said, not that it matters, NOTHING!”

Mr. Trump was referring to one of his former national security advisers, John R. Bolton, who has drawn the spotlight in the president’s impeachment trial without providing any testimony. Last week, Mr. Trump said he would love for Mr. Bolton to testify in his Senate trial, but his hands were tied because of national security considerations. “He knows some of my thoughts,” Mr. Trump said of Mr. Bolton when speaking to reporters in Davos, Switzerland. “He knows what I think about leaders.”

The Republican’s strategy for a fast trial and swift acquittal has been rocked by disclosures from a manuscript in Mr. Bolton’s upcoming book. In the manuscript, Mr. Bolton recounts a conversation with the president in which Mr. Trump said he wanted to withhold military aid to Ukraine until the Ukrainians announced an investigation into the family of one of his political rivals, Joseph R. Biden Jr. This directly undercuts one of the president’s central defenses. Mr. Bolton also wrote that some of the president’s senior advisers raised concerns about Mr. Trump giving personal favors to autocratic leaders. Mr. Trump has denied the account.

Democrats have been calling for Mr. Bolton to testify at the Senate trial, but the majority of Republican senators are determined to keep him out. By the end of the day Tuesday, some Republicans were leaning toward wanting to hear from Mr. Bolton. Democrats need four Republican defectors to vote with them. The Senate is expected to hold a vote on witnesses on Friday.

After more than a week of listening passively to opening arguments, senators will get their first chance to break down the cases presented to them with direct questions. However, the rules of the trial demand that they be strategic about how those queries are framed.

Senators will submit written questions to be read aloud by Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., drafted in the hopes of poking holes in the arguments laid out by the House managers and by President Trump’s legal team. Both Democratic and Republican leaders are expected to submit tough questions meant to scrutinize key parts of the case for and against removing the president from office.

This phase of the trial has been important in the past: During President Bill Clinton’s impeachment trial in 1999, Republican House managers mishandled their responses in a way that some historians believe opened the door for Mr. Clinton’s eventual acquittal. As Chief Justice Roberts begins posing questions to each side, both the impeachment managers and Mr. Trump’s lawyers will try not to cede any ground while answering questions intended to throw them off balance.

What we’re expecting to see:
House managers and White House lawyers will take turns fielding questions from senators. The questions are submitted in writing to Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., who will read them aloud.

When we’re likely to see it:
The proceedings are set to begin at 1 p.m. Eastern, and the questioning phase could last up to eight hours on Wednesday. Questions could continue on Thursday, for a total of up to 16 hours over the two-day period.

How to follow it:
The New York Times’s congressional and White House teams will be following all of the developments and streaming the proceedings live on this page. Stay with us.





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