"> House Democrats prosecuting President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial are preparing for a second day of arguments. Democrats alleging a “corrupt scheme” by Trump involving Ukraine are trying to win over not just fidgety senators but an American public deeply divided by Trump’s actions.
Prosecutors are relying on the same loops of videotaped testimony after Trump’s allies in the Republican-controlled Senate blocked new witnesses.
The repetition as well as the long hours in back-to-back days of proceedings have left some senators yawning, stretching and pacing.
On Wednesday, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif, and his team of House managers appealed to skeptical Republican senators to join them in voting to oust Trump from office to “protect our democracy.”
But it seems not all the senators were listening. In fact, some weren’t even in the room. Michael McAuliff, a reporter for the New York Daily News, tweeted that he counted at least 23 empty seats about two hours into Wednesday’s session, with the vast majority of them on the Republican side. He said while some senators were just stretching their legs, most had left the Senate chamber.
By the end of the day, the empty seats became more apparent, according to The Associated Press. Some senators left the chamber to appear on television. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., reportedly felt ill and left early.
Trump’s defense team is eager for its turn, likely to begin on Saturday.
Each side has 24 hours over three days to make its case. Thursday will be the second day for the House.
The president is blasting the proceedings, threatening jokingly to face off with the Democrats by coming to “sit right in the front row and stare at their corrupt faces.”
Trump was impeached by the House last month for allegedly abusing his office by asking Ukraine to investigate political rival Joe Biden while withholding crucial military aid. And he was impeached for blocking the House from seeing documents or hearing from witnesses with direct knowledge.
Republicans have argued the impeachment was politically motivated and say what Trump did does not rise to the level of impeachment.
It’s still not clear if senators will vote to hear from new witnesses including former national security adviser John Bolton. What is clear is that Americans want to hear from more witnesses with direct knowledge.
A new Reuters/Ipsos poll finds 72 percent of Americans agree that the trial “should allow witnesses with firsthand knowledge of the impeachment charges to testify.” Reuters reports that includes 84% of Democrats and 69% of Republicans. An Associated Press/NORC poll had a similar response, with about 7-in-10 Americans calling for direct witnesses including majorities of Democrats and Republicans.
Seventy percent of Americans in the Reuters/Ipsos poll said senators should “act as impartial jurors,” including 80% of Democrats and 73% of Republicans. All senators swore an oath to do impartial justice. However, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell publicly stated weeks ago he would not be impartial.
Forty-four percent of Americans in the Reuters/Ipsos poll and 45% in the AP/NORC poll say Trump should be convicted and removed from office.
Schiff acknowledged Wednesday the case is dealing with two juries — the senators and the American public.
“The American people are watching. The American people are listening. And they do have an open mind,” Schiff said.