Jan 21, 2020 3:00 PM

Watch: President Trump impeachment trial day 2

Posted Jan 21, 2020 3:00 PM
Impeachment trial in the Senate Tuesday-image courtesy CSPAN
Impeachment trial in the Senate Tuesday-image courtesy CSPAN

WASHINGTON -- President Donald Trump's impeachment trial is set to unfold at the Capitol, a contentious proceeding to render judgment on his Ukraine actions as Americans form their own verdict at the start of an election year.

Click here to watch the trial that began at noon CST

As the Senate reconvenes with Chief Justice John Roberts presiding over the rare impeachment court, senators sworn to "impartial justice," the legacy of Trump's presidency and the system of checks and balances are at stake before a politically divided nation.

The Chief Justice swears in members of the United State Senate image courtesy CSPAN
The Chief Justice swears in members of the United State Senate image courtesy CSPAN

A first test will come midday when the session gavels open to vote on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's proposed rules for debate.

On the eve of the trial, the Republican leader offered a compressed calendar for opening statements, just two days for each side, as Trump's lawyers argued for swift rejection of the "flimsy" charges against the president and acquittal.

"All of this is a dangerous perversion of the Constitution that the Senate should swiftly and roundly condemn," the president's lawyers wrote in their first full filing Monday. "The articles should be rejected and the president should immediately be acquitted."

Democrats - as the House prosecutors practiced opening arguments well into the night on the Senate floor - vowed to object to a speedy trial as they pressed for fresh witnesses and documents.

Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer warned of a "cover-up" with McConnell's plan that could lead to back-to-back 12-hour days.

"It's clear Sen. McConnell is hell-bent on making it much more difficult to get witnesses and documents and intent on rushing the trial through," Schumer said. He called the proposed rules a "national disgrace."

The first several days of the trial are now almost certain to be tangled in procedural motions playing out on the Senate floor or, more likely, behind closed doors, since senators must refrain from speaking during the trial proceedings.

Kansas Senator Jerry Moran signs the oath book Thursday during the opening of the impeachment trial -image courtesy CSPAN
Kansas Senator Jerry Moran signs the oath book Thursday during the opening of the impeachment trial -image courtesy CSPAN

Senators are poised for only the third presidential impeachment trial in U.S. history, coming just weeks before the first primaries of the 2020 election, with four senators running for the Democratic nomination sidelined from campaigning.

Sen. Bernie Sanders, the Vermont independent, told supporters in Des Moines they're going to have to "carry the ball" for him while he takes his seat in Washington. The Iowa caucuses are in less than two weeks.

At the White House, with the president embarked on a trip to the global leaders conference in Davos, Switzerland, officials welcomed the Republican trial proposal.

"We are gratified that the draft resolution protects the President's rights to a fair trial, and look forward to presenting a vigorous defense on the facts and the process as quickly as possible, and seeking an acquittal as swiftly as possible," said White House legislative affairs director Eric Ueland.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi will also be away for the proceedings, leading a bipartisan congressional delegation to Poland and Israel to commemorate the 75 years since the liberation of Auschwitz at the end of World War II.

House Democrats impeached the president last month on two charges: abuse of power by withholding U.S. military aid to Ukraine as he pressed the country to investigate Democratic rival Joe Biden, and obstruction of Congress by refusing to cooperate with their investigation.

The Constitution gives the House the sole power to impeach a president and the Senate the final verdict by convening as the impeachment court for a trial.

The president late Monday named eight House Republicans, some of his fiercest defenders, to a special team tasked with rallying support beyond the Senate chamber in the court of public opinion.

McConnell is angling for a quick trial and acquittal, and with Republicans holding the Senate majority, the trial proposal is likely to be approved by senators in the president's party. The Republican leader had promised to set rules similar to the last trial, of President Bill Clinton in 1999, but his resolution diverged in key ways, which may leave some senators from both parties uneasy.

After the four days of opening arguments, senators will be allowed up to 16 hours for questions to the prosecution and defense, followed by four hours of debate. Only then will there be votes on whether or not to call other witnesses.

At the end of deliberations, the Senate would then vote on each impeachment article.

Republican Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah signaled in an email message to his constituents Monday night that he was on board with the the resolution put forth by McConnell, even as he said the allegations against Trump are "extremely serious - did the President abuse his office for personal political gain, and did he obstruct Congress' investigation by blocking subpoenas?"

Romney is among a small number of Republican senators who want to consider witness testimony and documents that weren't part of the House impeachment investigation, but the test of their votes will likely come later.

With security tightening at the Capitol, the House prosecutors led by Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff made their way Monday through crowds of tourists in the Rotunda to tour the Senate chamber. The White House legal team led by Pat Cipollone and Jay Sekulow soon followed.

The doors of the Senate chamber were closed to onlookers and the media during the walk-throughs. Four TV monitors were set up inside the Senate chamber to show testimony, exhibits and potentially tweets or other social media, according to a person familiar with the matter but unauthorized to discuss it by name.

In their own filing Monday, House prosecutors issued fresh demands for a fair trial. "President Trump asserts that his impeachment is a partisan 'hoax.' He is wrong," the prosecutors wrote.

The House Democrats said the president can't have it both ways - rejecting the facts of the House case but also stonewalling congressional subpoenas for witnesses and testimony. "Senators must honor their own oaths by holding a fair trial with all relevant evidence," they wrote.

The White House document released Monday says the two charges against the president don't amount to impeachable offenses. It asserts that the impeachment inquiry, centered on Trump's request that Ukraine's president open an investigation into Democratic rival Biden, was never about finding the truth.

House Democrats in their initial court filing over the weekend called Trump's conduct the "worst nightmare" of the framers of the Constitution.

"President Donald J. Trump used his official powers to pressure a foreign government to interfere in a United States election for his personal political gain," the House prosecutors wrote, "and then attempted to cover up his scheme by obstructing Congress's investigation into his misconduct."

But Trump's team contended Monday that even if Trump were to have abused his power in withholding the Ukraine military assistance, it would not be impeachable because it did not violate a specific criminal statute.

No president has ever been removed from office. With its 53-47 Republican majority, the Senate is not expected to mount the two-thirds voted needed for conviction. Even if it did, the White House team argues it would be an "'unconstitutional conviction'' because the articles of impeachment were too broad.

Administration officials have argued that similar imprecision applied to the perjury case in Clinton's impeachment trial.

The White House also suggests the House inquiry was lacking because it failed to investigate Biden or his son Hunter, who served on the board of a gas company in Ukraine while his father was vice president. There is no evidence of wrongdoing by either Biden.

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Jan 21, 2020 3:00 PM
Gunman in mass shooting at KC club had weapons charge dropped

Police on the scene of the shooting photo courtesy KCTV

KANSAS CITY (AP) — A gunman who opened fire outside of a Kansas City nightclub, killing a woman and injuring at least 15 other people before a guard killed him, had a past weapons charge dropped after lawmakers loosened the state's gun laws.

Jahron Swift, 29, had been in trouble with the law before he opened fire on people leaving or waiting to get into the 9ine Ultra Lounge in eastern Kansas City late Sunday, when the city was celebrating the win that put the Kansas City Chiefs in the Super Bowl.

Swift was sentenced to probation for an August 2015 traffic stop in which he was caught with cocaine and a .45-caliber semi-automatic handgun, court documents say. Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker said Tuesday that Swift was charged in August 2016 with a concealed weapon violation, which might have led to a probation violation that could have landed him a short stint behind bars or more probation. But the following month, Missouri's Republican-led Legislature overrode Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon's veto to pass sweeping gun legislation that allowed most adults to carry concealed weapons without needing a permit.

“I have really thought about what is comparable," Baker told The Associated Press. “The only comparable I can think of is prohibition. All those whiskey charges that were pending in 1932, prosecutors couldn't carry them anymore."

Baker, who opposed the changes to the state's gun laws, said prosecutors had to “dismiss a slew of cases," including Swift's. Baker said Swift also faced a robbery charge in 2013 that prosecutors couldn't get past the preliminary hearing stage because of problems getting victims to cooperate.

“We had the double whammy of non-cooperative victims and the law change later down the road," she said. “What I used to love about these gun charges is you had police as your witnesses. We do struggle with witnesses. Then the law change took those charges away from us.”

Police were trying to determine a motive for this weekend's attack, and it wasn't known if Swift knew any of the victims, including the 25-year-old Kansas City woman who was killed, Raeven Parks. Authorities haven't said how many of the injured had been shot, but three of them were in critical condition.

A cousin of Parks, Tamela Smith, told television station KSHB that Parks had been texting family and was leaving the club when she was shot.

“She was walking out, and just walked into the midst of it,” said Smith, who described her cousin as a “beautiful, beautiful woman.”

In a Facebook post, the club's owners described the shooting as a “shameless and senseless act of violence” and said they had “little in the way of answers."

The shooting led to quick calls by some to shutter the club permanently. Only about a week ago, there was a drive-by shooting in the parking long, and police had received complaints about the club in the past, said police Chief Richard Smith, who has no known relation to Tamela Smith.

Mayor Quinton Lucas said city officials would soon review whether the nightclub could be considered a nuisance, which might lead to its license being temporarily revoked, The Kansas City Star reported.

Just before Sunday's shooting, officers drove through the parking lot and saw nothing suspicious, the police chief said Monday. A disturbance occurred in the line to get into the club shortly before the shooting, but it wasn't clear if the suspect was involved in that confrontation, he said. The security guard, who is licensed to be a guard but is not an off-duty officer, heard the disturbance from inside the bar and went outside and confronted the shooter, Smith said. Police officers didn't fire any shots at the scene. The guard's name hasn't been released.

Police recovered multiple guns at the scene, all of which were believed to be the suspect’s.

Kansas City has one of the highest homicide rates in the U.S., and the rate rose last year despite it dropping in many other major cities.

“We've got a problem in Kansas City,” Lucas said Monday. “We've said a few times that it is an epidemic of gun violence. We're losing too many lives, we had too many shot each year. We will remain committed, both at City Hall and the police department, and every agency in Kansas City is making sure that we stop this problem.”

Chief Smith said the shooting happened despite having extra officers and increased security across the region because of the AFC Championship game, which attracted visitors from across the country.

KANSAS CITY— Law enforcement authorities continue to investigate the fatal Sunday night shooting outside a bar in Kansas City. 

The shooter outside 9ine Ultra Lounge was identified as 29-year-old Jahron Swift of Kansas City, Missouri, according to Chief of Police Richard Smith during a Monday news conference.  A private security guard shot and killed him.

The victim was identified as Raeven A. Parks, 25, Kansas City.

Police did not fire any shots. The only shots fired were from the security guard and the suspect, according to Smith.

In addition, 15 people were injured and transported to area hospitals, according to Smith. He did not have details on the extent of the injuries.

Police are also still working to determine the motive for the shooting, according to Smith.

The venue was hosting a celebration of the Kansas City Chiefs win to earn a trip to the Super Bowl.

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — An armed security guard may have shot and killed a man suspected of fatally shooting a woman and injuring 15 more people outside a bar in Kansas City, Missouri, police said Monday.

A motive for the attack shortly before midnight Sunday outside 9ine Ultra Lounge was not immediately clear.

Kansas City Police Capt. David Jackson told reporters that responding officers found “a chaotic scene.” A man and a woman were killed and police believe the shooter is the deceased man, Jackson said.

A spokesman said a gunman opened fire on a line of people waiting to enter the bar. The shooter was shot by an armed security guard, police said.

At least 15 went to hospitals with injuries related to the shooting, police said. It's unclear whether all the injured victims suffered gunshot wounds. At least three people are in critical condition, police said.

Also late Sunday, two people were shot to death and at least five were injured in an attack outside a bar in San Antonio, Texas. The suspected gunman was still on the loose Monday, police said.

A Facebook post on 9ine Ultra Lounge's page advertised Sunday night's “Sold Out Sundays” event, which appeared to be a celebration of the Kansas City Chiefs. The Chiefs — featured on the event's artwork — beat the Tennessee Titans on Sunday to advance to the Super Bowl.

“It just put such a tragic end to such a wonderful day in Kansas City,” Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker said at the scene, referencing the win. “It's just hard to stand here and talk about this kind of tragedy on really one of the best days Kansas City has had in a long time.”

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KANSAS CITY (AP) — Police in Kansas City say at least two people are dead and 15 people were reportedly injured in a shooting outside a bar.

The shooting took place shortly before midnight Sunday, Kansas City police said at the scene. Capt. David Jackson told news outlets at the scene that responding officers found “a chaotic scene” and had to call in help from around the city. A man and a woman were found dead.

Police believe the shooter is the deceased man, Jackson said in a statement. A spokesman said the shooter opened fire on a line of people waiting to enter a bar, but the motive for the shooting wasn't immediately clear. The shooter was shot by an armed security guard, police said.

During the investigation, police heard that people — at least 15 — were showing up to local hospitals with injuries from the shooting. At least three people were in critical condition, police said.

The scene was near U.S. Highway 40. News outlets at the scene identified the bar outside which the shooting took place as 9ine Ultra Lounge. A Facebook post on the club's page advertised Sunday night's “Sold Out Sundays” event, which appeared to be a celebration of the Kansas City Chiefs. The Chiefs — featured on the event's artwork — beat the Tennessee Titans on Sunday to advance to the Super Bowl.

“It just put such a tragic end to such a wonderful day in Kansas City,” Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker said at the scene, referencing the win. “It's just hard to stand here and talk about this kind of tragedy on really one of the best days Kansas City has had in a long time.”