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Drew Angerer/Getty Images(WILDWOOD, N.J.) -- Amid the ongoing impeachment trial in the Senate, President Donald Trump will leave Washington and head to the Democratic stronghold of New Jersey to rally for a congressman who refused to vote for impeachment as a Democrat and then switched parties.

Trump’s rally in Wildwood, N.J. Tuesday night takes place in newly-minted Republican Rep. Jeff Van Drew’s district, who, after switching parties, declared his “undying support” for the president.

And while the rally at Wildwoods Convention Center is in Democratic stronghold of New Jersey, Trump supporters have lined up around the block more than 24 hours before the president is scheduled to speak— a not so uncommon occurrence at the president’s campaign rallies.

The Wildwood rally serves multiple purposes for the president. Trump will look to tie Van Drew’s Democratic exodus to a larger argument against the party’s impeachment push. Van Drew, who will travel with the president on Air Force One to the event, bucked his own party by voting against impeachment in the House. On Tuesday night, the president will tout that move to his constituents.

Tuesday night will also be Trump's latest attempt to counter the ongoing impeachment trial with the packed rally offering the president a bastion of feverish and seemingly undying support from his faithful backers.

And while the Trump campaign won’t exactly say New Jersey is in play in 2020, a state that former Secretary of State and Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton won by nearly 15 points in 2016, the president’s team says the turnout for Trump’s first rally in the Garden State should worry Democrats.

“If I were a Democrat, I would look at the enthusiasm and crowd here and think what the hell is going on here?” Trump campaign communications director Tim Murtaugh told ABC News in an interview.

Trump will head to Iowa on Thursday for his second rally this week when he looks to counter Democrats ahead of the caucuses next week. The campaign plans to deploy over 80 surrogates across Iowa on caucus day, including Donald Trump Jr., Eric Trump, Lara Trump along with Cabinet-level officials like White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney.

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Mark Wilson/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told Republican senators Tuesday evening that he doesn't currently have the votes to block witnesses at President Donald Trump's Senate impeachment trial.

The Senate was set to vote as early as Friday on whether to consider having witnesses.

McConnell and the GOP senators met behind closed doors shortly after Trump's legal team ended their opening arguments, in which they tried to discredit reported new allegations from Trump's former national security adviser, John Bolton.

The New York Times reported that in a new book, Bolton claims that Trump told him he would keep withholding U.S. military aid to Ukraine until Ukraine agreed to help investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter.

The president's lawyer, Jay Sekulow, argued on Tuesday, "You cannot impeach a president based on an unsourced allegation."

He called the Bolton book manuscript "inadmissible."

The development landed like a bombshell amid Trump's trial, with Democrats insisting that Bolton now must be called as a witness and even some key moderate Republicans, including Sens. Mitt Romney of Utah and Susan Collins of Maine, expressed support for the idea, but have not yet sided firmly with the Democrats.

Even before the trial began, Democrats have been targeting four Republican senators -- Romney, Collins and Sens. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Lamar Alexander of Tennessee -- because that's how many are needed to join Democrats in calling for witnesses.

A senior White House official told ABC News that the president's defense team still believes they will be able to defeat the measure to call witnesses.

"We are exactly where we were going into the weekend," the official said. "There are four senators in play, two of have spoken publicly about where they stand (Romney, Collins) and two who have not (Murkowski, Alexander)."

"It's still a hard vote, but we are working hard. It's a long time until Friday," the official added.

Still, the Senate's number two Republican, John Thune, who is responsible for whipping the vote, acknowledged Tuesday to ABC News that there is genuine fear that the trial could turn into a chaotic mess.

"Nobody wants a wide-open, sort-of free-for-all where this thing gets bogged down for weeks on end," Thune said.

He said he thought the GOP conference was unified behind a plan that would see more witnesses called than the Trump team would want, in exchange for a witness like Bolton.

But Thune said it was proving difficult to figure out how to manage what could become an unwieldy process.

"My assumption is that the president's counsel is going to have a fairly long list that they'll want to call, if the Dems get to have the witnesses they want to call. So, I just think it's fraught with a lot of peril and could be a long, drawn-out process," said Thune.

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dmadig/iStock(WASHINGTON) -- It was another bustling week on Capitol Hill amid the Senate impeachment trial of President Donald Trump, but both the Senate and House chambers settled into moments of peaceful reflection over the past two days following the tragic death of NBA legend Kobe Bryant.

The 41-year-old basketball champion was among nine people who died in a helicopter crash in the wealthy Southern California residential neighborhood of Calabasas on Sunday. His 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, died alongside her father.

Representatives Maxine Waters and Harley Rouda delivered remarks before holding a moment of silence on the House floor in a tribute to Kobe Bryant, his daughter, Gianna, and the seven others who were killed in a devastating helicopter crash on Sunday. https://t.co/FOj481oXMy pic.twitter.com/UdOdk0lVgm

— ABC News (@ABC) January 28, 2020

Democratic Reps. Harley Rouda and Maxine Waters led the House California delegation in a moment of silence on Tuesday afternoon and expressed their condolences to the families and communities of the victims.

"We are all heartbroken by the loss of life as this week our neighbors lost parents, children, friends, coaches and heroes in a horrific accident," Rouda said and then read the names of the victims: Kobe and Gianna Bryant, baseball coach John Altobelli, his wife, Keri, and their daughter Alyssa; mother and daughter Sarah and Payton Chester; coach Christina Mauser, and pilot Ara Zobayan.

Waters represents California's 43rd district in the southern part of Los Angeles County, which includes part of Los Angeles, while Rouda represents California's 48th district, which is based in Orange County in southern California.

"Orange County is grieving, but we will find solace and purpose in the example they left behind; in the belief in something bigger than themselves," Rouda added. "I ask that in Orange County and across out nation, we think of the lives lost in neighborhood basketball courts, school gyms, NBA arenas and wherever the game is played."

Rouda's remarks were followed by a tribute by Waters, who reflected on about the legacy that Bryant left behind and what he meant to the city of Los Angeles.

"Celebrated as a king in Los Angeles, Kobe's death is deeply painful for our city and his millions of fans everywhere," Waters said. "For decades, he dazzled generations of fans and aspiring athletes, leaving a legacy as a prolific athlete, devoted husband, loving father and philanthropist that will never be forgotten."

On Monday — one day after Bryant's death — Senate chaplain Barry Black opened the Senate impeachment trial with a prayerful reflection on the tragedy that claimed nine lives.

Senate chaplain: "As millions mourn the deaths of Kobe and Gianna Bryant and those who died with them, we think about life's brevity, uncertainty and legacy.

"Remind us that we all have a limited time on earth to leave the world better than we found it." https://t.co/e0q9tP2fgn pic.twitter.com/Cw20ebjBuy

— ABC News Politics (@ABCPolitics) January 27, 2020

"As millions mourn the deaths of Kobe and Gianna Bryant and those who died with them, we think about life's brevity, uncertainty and legacy," he said in the silent chamber. "Remind us that we all have a limited time on earth to leave the world better than we found it."

As National Transportation Safety Board investigators are still working to determine what brought down the helicopter, aviation safety advocates are calling for tighter protocols and regulations for helicopters.

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Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead(WASHINGTON) -- As the Senate impeachment trial enters its second week, the White House is locked into a split-screen reality.

While the trial dwarfs all other political storylines in Washington, the administration has pushed forward with a series of events designed to showcase a president focused on his presidential agenda even as Capitol Hill remains consumed with the business of impeachment.

Still, the president has made no effort to conceal that he is paying close attention to the Senate impeachment trial and frequently tweets to insist upon his innocence and blast Democrats.

Last week, as the president attended the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, and met with other world leaders, administration officials lauded the president for his focus on the business of the American people.

Asked about the White House messaging strategy on Fox News last week, White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham said that the president's actions speak for themselves.

"This president keeps working, this president doesn't stop working," Grisham said in the interview. "I don't even think messaging is needed, you see it, he is out every day. ... So he keeps working, that's fine. They keep screaming impeachment, that's fine."

On Friday, an administration official shared with reporters a photograph of a TV screen of coverage among cable networks titled, "Priorities." It showed Fox News and Fox Business covering the president's appearance at the anti-abortion "March for Life" event while CNN and MSNBC were reporting on the Senate impeachment trial.

And as the trial is now in its second week, the president has rolled out his long-awaited and long-delayed Middle East plan and celebrate his keeping a campaign promise by signing the revamped U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement.

Monday kicked off with the hastily-arranged visit of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, as well as his chief political rival Benny Gantz, to coincide with the president's decision to release his peace plan.

The administration has previously delayed the rollout of the plan amid political uncertainties in Israel, but a source familiar with the process said the president decided within the last couple of weeks that now was the right moment to release it. The rationale for releasing the plan now, the official said, was based on the hope that the Israeli people would coalesce around the plan.

Over the last three years of drafting, the plan has been a closely guarded document crafted under the direction of the president's son-in-law, Jared Kusher, and has only been seen in its entirety by a handful of members of the administration.

Unveiling the plan at noon on Tuesday, the timing of the announcement seemed aimed at maximizing potential coverage before the impeachment trial gaveled back into session at 1 p.m. It also provided the White House with another example of television coverage split between the impeachment that the president has decried as a "hoax" and a major presidential announcement.

The rollout also comes just weeks before a critical legislative election in Israel, but the administration denies that the plan's release is any way intended to be a political gift to Netanyahu, with a senior official pointing to Gantz's invitation to the White House to counter the criticism.

On Wednesday, the president is set to celebrate one of his biggest policy achievements with the signing of the USMCA trade plan to replace the North American Free Trade Agreement, or NAFTA, the preceding trilateral trade agreement that Trump has long assailed as "the worst trade deal ever made." The new agreement has now been ratified by both the United States and Mexico, with Canada expected to follow suit in the coming weeks.

He's also set to hit the road on Thursday to tout the trade achievement with a trip to a manufacturing plant in Warren, Michigan.

The president has two campaign rallies planned this week that will provide him with opportunities to openly vent his frustrations before two audiences of adoring fans. His Thursday rally in Des Moines, Iowa, will insert himself directly into the conversation ahead of the first-in-the-nation caucuses.

While it's unclear if the impeachment trial will continue into next week, the president indicated last week that he is not inclined to delay his plans to deliver the State of the Union address on Feb. 4.

If Trump is faced with delivering the annual presidential address amid the backdrop of an ongoing impeachment trial, he would become the second president to embrace that particular split-screen moment. President Bill Clinton delivered his 1999 State of the Union address amid his own impeachment trial.

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Alex Wong/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- President Donald Trump on Tuesday commended Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who was accused by an NPR reporter last week of shouting expletives at her following an interview, saying he "did a good job on her."

Trump made the comment during an East Room event announcing his Middle East peace plan, after recognizing Pompeo for his contributions to the agreement.

"Wow, that's impressive," the president said of the standing ovation for the top U.S. diplomat. "That was very impressive Mike."

Trump added, "That reporter couldn't have done too good a job on you ... I think you did a good job on her, actually."

He went on to joke about speculation around Pompeo running for an open seat in the Senate representing Kansas, telling him to stay put.

"That is good, thank you, Mike," he said. "Are you running for Senate? I guess the answer is 'no' after that. They all want him to. Kansas, great state, they want him to. You're doing a great job, don't move."

On Saturday, Pompeo released a blistering statement that accused NPR's Mary Louise Kelly of lying, but did not dispute her account of his expletive-laden tirade against her in his office after she interviewed him.

He said the incident was "another example of how unhinged the media has become in its quest to hurt" Trump and his administration.

Pompeo removed another NPR reporter on Monday from an upcoming trip to Europe and Central Asia, just days after Pompeo berated Kelly -- who was born in Germany and has a masters in European Studies from Cambridge University in the U.K. -- in his office and demanded she find Ukraine on a map.

Removing NPR's Michele Kelemen from the trip was seen as further retaliation by the State Department Correspondents' Association, according to its president Shaun Tandon of Agence France-Presse.

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rarrarorro/iStock(WASHINGTON) -- Federal workers are asking a court to redefine the rules blocking them from speaking out amid the ongoing impeachment trial of President Donald Trump, arguing it is a restriction of their First Amendment rights.

American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE), the nation's largest federal workers union representing more than 600,000 employees, filed a motion on Friday in an effort to speed up an ongoing lawsuit against the Office of Special Counsel (OSC).

The motion asks OSC to rescind guidance it issued in 2018 as part of the Hatch Act, a law that bars government employees from political expression in the workplace that supports a political party or partisan group.

The guidance also restricts most federal employees from discussions related to impeachment or against the president.

"These restrictions not only harm the federal employees who are censored, but the public interest at large, as the restrictions restrict speech on topics over which federal employees have unique knowledge and expertise," the motion reads. "The restrictions strike at the heart of the First Amendment."

Ward Morrow, AFGE's assistant general counsel, says the organization decided to file the emergency motion to speed up the legal process, rather than wait for the lawsuit to advance through the court system.

"Currently impeachment is practically the only news story out there, so instead of waiting months and years for litigation to go through we decided to expedite it in the court now," Morrow said.

Morrow said impeachment-related content is all over the TV, even in federal offices, which makes it even more difficult for workers to avoid the subject.

"We need to do something right now because impeachment is in the news right now, and is having a substantial chilling effect on free speech at this moment," he said. "In six months, it may not be a topic of discussion. Time really is of the essence."

OSC has clarified that the guidance did not restrict the employees from discussing impeachment -- only from taking a side.

In a memo released on Friday, AFGE and American Oversight, the group representing AFGE members, expressed concern with the confusing nature of the OSC advisory. They said the rules outlined are convoluted and some employees have opted to not speak at all, out of fear of litigation.

"In the guidance, which equates the concept of 'impeachment' with 'removal from office,' OSC confusingly advises that federal employees are allowed to discuss whether the president should or should not be impeached, but they are not allowed to advocate for or against impeachment," the statement said. "A meaningless distinction that has made silence the only safe option for workers wishing to avoid potential punishment."

Regardless, Morrow said he feels impeachment should not be subject to the Hatch Act at all, since it is a legislative -- and not political -- situation.

"This isn’t political campaigning, it’s like any other legislative act," he said. "The Hatch Act is limited to partisan political activity, not legislative activity."

An OSC spokesperson declined to comment, citing pending litigation.

The OSC is not connected to former special counsel Robert Mueller.

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rarrarorro/iStock(WASHINGTON) -- Trump legal team wraps opening arguments at Senate impeachment trial

Schumer rejects GOP talk of letting senators see Bolton manuscript before deciding whether he should testify

In next phase, senators will submit written questions to both sides

President Donald Trump’s impeachment defense team on Tuesday heads into their final day of opening arguments as questions over whether senators will hear new witnesses at the trial remain up in the air.

Trump’s lawyers are expected to finish making their case on the Senate floor by late afternoon.

The next phase of the trial -- in which senators will submit questions to both sides for up to 16 hours -- is expected to begin Wednesday, according to White House sources and Senate aides. After that, a key point in the trial -- a Senate vote on whether to consider new witnesses and other evidence -- could come as early as Friday.

Republicans faced new pressure to add witnesses following newly reported revelations from the New York Times that former National Security Adviser John Bolton claims Trump told him he wanted help from Ukraine to investigate Democrats and would withhold their military aid to get cooperation.

But in a twist late Monday, Oklahoma Republican James Lankford suggested that senators could review the unpublished manuscript of Bolton’s forthcoming book. In a video posted to Facebook Monday, after Republicans spent the day largely dodging questions of whether to accept new witnesses, Lankford called Bolton’s information “pertinent” to the trial.

“If John Bolton’s got something to say, there’s plenty of microphones all over the country that he should step forward and start talking about it right now,” Lankford said.

Sen. Lindsey Graham, a staunch ally of President Trump, said he agrees that the draft manuscript of Bolton’s forthcoming book be made available to senators, but in a classified setting.

Here is how the day is unfolding. Please refresh for updates.

2:52 p.m. Cipollone: 'The Senate cannot allow this to happen'

White House counsel Pat Cippollone ends three days of arguments with a low-key but impassioned plea to senators.

"The Senate cannot allow this to happen. It is time for this to end here and now.,' he says. "So, we urge the Senate to reject these articles of impeachment for all the reasons we have given you."

Cipollone tells the senators to end the era of impeachment "for good."

'This should end now, as quickly as possible," he argues. "Reject these articles of impeachment for our country and for the American people."

Cipollone spoke after a brief recess.

As that recess began, Sen. Susan Collins turned to her GOP colleague and seat mate Sen. Lisa Murkowski and both huddled, intensely in their seats - talking just to one another, ABC's Trish Turner reports. from the chamber. Each is resting her head in hand - as if to shield what is being said from press and potentially GOP colleagues all around them.

They are two key senators on the question of witnesses. Most stopped taking notes during the Sekulow comments.

And ABC's Devin Dwyer reports that after Murkowski and Collins broke the Alaska senator stood in the aisle shoulder to shoulder with GOP Whip Sen John Thune for over 10 minutes, both clearly presenting countering views on the question of witnesses.

Thune, heavily chewing gum, looked sternly away while Murkowski seemed to thoughtfully lay out her thinking into his left ear. You could see her saying “witnesses” but exact statements not clear. Murkowski’s body language and facial expressions seemed to reflect the conflicted views she has made publicly in recent days.

I can overhear her saying “....imagine if it was someone else...” and “... I do understand the concerns...” and “.... there’s no way anyone wants that....” She occasionally shrugs her shoulders.

1:41 p.m. Sekulow warns; 'danger, danger danger' while dismissing Bolton allegation


Jay Sekulow, one of the president's lead lawyers, takes the Senate floor to sum up the team's arguments, and appears to reference the Bolton manuscript controversy, saying "The trial of the leader of the free world and the duly elected President of the United States is one of the most solemn of duties. It is not a game of leaks and unsourced manuscripts."

Trump attorney Jay Sekulow says "the trial of the leader of the free world and the duly elected President of the United States" is one of the most "solemn of duties" and "it is not a game of leaks and unsourced manuscripts. That's politics, unfortunately." https://t.co/sZhSdr72Qk pic.twitter.com/BQAsqiWi1t

— ABC News Politics (@ABCPolitics) January 28, 2020

"You cannot impeach a president based on an unsourced allegation," he says later, this time mentioning Bolton by name and the president's denial of his allegation that he heard him tie withholding Ukraine aid to Ukraine agreeing to an investigation of the Bidens.

Sekulow also says all the legal scholars the president's lawyers have presented have warned against lowering the bar for impeachment, saying it would set a bad precedent.

"Hamilton put impeachment in the hands of this body, the Senate, precisely and specifically to be above that fray. This is the greatest deliberative body on Earth. In our presentation so far, you have now heard from legal scholars from a variety of schools of thought, from a variety of political backgrounds, but they do have a common theme with a dire warning, danger. Danger. Danger," he says.

"To lower the bar of impeachment based on these articles of impeachment would impact the functioning of our constitutional republic and the framework of that Constitution for generations," he continues, attacking Democrats.

"The claim that foreign policy decisions can be deemed abuses of power based on subjective opinions about mixed or sole motives that the president was interested only in helping himself demonstrate the dangers of employing the vague, subjective and politically malleable phrase, abuse of power as a constitutionally permissible criteria for the removal of a president," he says, echoing the argument from Alan Dershowitz on Monday night. .

Sekulow connects that idea to The New York Times report of excerpts from Bolton's book that has increased calls for Bolton's testimony. But Sekulow says that even if those comments are true the president's behavior still isn't an impeachable offense.

Senators are paying attention, but only a few appear to be taking notes, ABC's Mary Bruce notes from the Senate gallery.

Sen. Susan Collins is still the most prolific note taker. And a new name stands out, Bill Cassidy of Louisiana. He is also paying close attention.

Romney is listening and looked slightly unamused during the more political portion of Sekulow's remarks.

Before things got underway, Sen. Liindsey Graham was seen speaking very briefly to Collins and Cassidy, separately.

Graham genuinely seems bored. He is snapping his gum, staring at the wall and constantly leaving the chamber for long stretches.

The most activity in the room is happening at the Trump legal team and managers' tables.

From my vantage point, I could see directly over Sekulow's shoulder as he tweaked and rewrote the top of his remarks. Notable, since the beginning of his comments included a not-so-subtle reference to Bolton's allegations, saying "It's not a game of leaks and unsourced manuscripts."

The managers did not make eye contact when Sekulow ripped into their handling of the House impeachment process. But Schiff is taking non-stop notes. And there was a lot of chatter among members of the team throughout the presentations.

1:13 p.m. Analysis: 'Blizzard of spin' on GOP senators

I think it’s fair to say no one here really yet knows the outcome of the question of whether or not to call witnesses, ABC's Trish Turner says in analysis.

There’s a blizzard of spin and pressure being brought to bear against GOP senators.

White House Legislative Affairs Director Eric Ueland has been making the rounds pressing GOP senators to oppose the vote on calling witnesses, according to 2 GOP senators requesting anonymity who were contacted by Ueland.

One senior administration official tells ABC the case is basically this:

“This could add weeks if not months to a potential trial process and lead to some very challenging outcomes for the Senate as an institution, the court itself, and obviously how it would handle executive privilege issues out in the executive branch and in Congress.

So, for example, is there supposed to be one set of rules for executive privilege and classified information for Senate presidential impeachment trials only and one set of rules for everything else? There are some real practical challenges that start to crop up pretty quickly.”

The source noted there are real-time implications and concerns about executive privilege assertions. You could see a situation, the source says, where “every question that rotates around executive privilege having to go to a court for adjudication – every one of those questions is a time process. This is a question by question affirmation of executive privilege which is held by the president, not by Ambassador Bolton.”

There’s also a challenge “about the availability of information.”

As for releasing the Bolton manuscript in a classified setting, the official said "Lots of people have talked about this, but there are lots of attendant complexities.”

Who owns the manuscript? The publisher? Is it Bolton’s? The marketer’s? The administration official said this might not be a White House or Senate question to be answered. This source said the White House has “little visibility” into this.

Some of the concern is abated by addressing this in a classified setting but to put it mildly, the administration wouldn’t trust that the information would stay classified.

The document could also still be subject to privilege assertions.

That’s why they handled it very carefully on the Senate floor, versus the speculation in the media.

There are “complex and somewhat novel legal issues suddenly front and senator courtesy of the article,” the official said.

Where is the Trump administration on the witness vote? “No predictions,” the official said.

1:08 p.m. White House lawyer echoes Dershowitz argument

Tuesday's trial session gets underway with White House deputy counsel Patrick Philbin saying he wants to elaborate on arguments made last night by former Harvard Law School professor Alan Dershowitz. He argued that a president cannot be impeached for "abuse of power" and "obstruction of Congress" because the language is too vague -- that the Constitution requires a crime or something like a crime.

Philbin also asks, "How do we tell what an illicit motive is? How do we get inside the president's head?" regarding what he says are Trump's lawful actions on their face.

12:31 p.m. GOP's Murkowski signals she's increasingly open to hearing Bolton


GOP moderate Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska is signaling that she is increasingly likely to support hearing from John Bolton. Asked if she wants to read his manuscript, she says, "I think that Bolton probably has something to offer us. So we’ll figure out how we’re going to learn more,” she said, before hopping into an elevator.

12:04 p.m. GOP's Lankford says seeing manuscript will help senators decides whether to call Bolton


GOP Sen. James Lankford, who late Monday floated the idea of reviewing Bolton’s manuscript, tells CNN the review is necessary before senators can decide whether to call him as a witness.

“This at least allows people to reach a decision based on facts that they can actually read in the manuscript,” Lankford says.

The National Security Council, which is based at the White House, has held Bolton’s manuscript since he submitted it for a standard review process last month, according to a Bolton representative and an NSC spokesperson.

11:16 a.m. Romney says hearing witnesses from both sides 'has some merit'


Sen. Mitt Romney, one of the key moderates Democrats hope will support new testimony, again appears open to new testimony. But he goes further on Tuesday, suggesting he’s just as open to hearing from other witnesses called by Trump’s defense team.

"I'd like to hear from John Bolton and I think the idea that's been expressed in the media about having each side be able to choose a witness or maybe more than one witness on a paired basis, it has some merit," Romney tells reporters.

Some Republicans and Democrats have reportedly considered calling former Vice President Joe Biden to the Senate floor in exchange for senior officials with closer connections to the President.

But Democratic senators have publicly rejected the idea, insisting the accusations that the Bidens engaged in Ukraine-related corruption are baseless distractions.

11:13 a.m. Schumer says Bolton must testify so senators can decide whether he or Trump is telling the truth


Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer makes another argument for witnesses before Trump's impeachment trial convenes at 1 p.m.

He notes that with the president's denial of John Bolton's allegation on Monday, the two are telling opposing stories and says, since Trump won't testify, senators need to hear from Bolton to decide who's telling the truth.

He says it's "on the shoulders of four Republican senators" to make sure Bolton, acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney and two other administration officials testify, referring to GOP Sens. Mitt Romney, Susan Collins, Lisa Murkowski and Lamar Alexander.

He also called the GOP talk of having senators read the Bolton manuscript in a secure setting is an "absurd proposal."

"Nothing is a substitute for a witness testifying under oath," Schumer says.

"We're not bargaining with them," Schumer says of Republican talk of having Hunter Biden testify in exchange for Bolton appearing.

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Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead(WASHINGTON) -- Attorney General William Barr announced Tuesday federal authorities will more aggressively pursue alleged acts of anti-Semitism moving forward as part of their commitment to prosecuting hate crimes cases.

Barr made the announcement during a meeting with Jewish leaders, adding that he's "extremely distressed" about recent acts of intimidation and violence against Jewish communities.

"It strikes at the very core of what this country is about," Barr said during a meeting in New York at the Boro Park Jewish Community Council. "I've always felt it is particularly pernicious because it does target people based not only their ethnicity but also on their religious practice."

Allen Fagin, executive vice president and chief professional officer of the Orthodox Union, also attended the event. He told ABC News in a phone interview that the group had a "very open and candid conversation" with Barr over the steps the federal government can take to combat anti-Semitism.

"When the federal government says we will prosecute as a hate crime ... conduct that might be seen as relatively low-level criminal activity, I think that also conveys a message that the enormous weight of federal authority and resources will be brought to bear on this issue," he said.

Fagin added that "time will tell" whether the specific proposals put forward by Barr will have a real impact on problems facing the Jewish community, but he applauded the attorney general for his public declaration.

"Just being there and declaring publicly that there would be zero tolerance for such conduct is enormously important," Fagin said.

As a part of his new effort, Barr disclosed new federal charges unsealed against Tiffany Harris, a woman accused of slapping three Orthodox Jewish women in Brooklyn in December. Harris had been released on bail when she allegedly attacked another women and she was released on bail again.

"We are charging her federally," Barr said, inserting the federal government into the highly charged debate in New York over the state’s new bail reform law.

The federal complaint said Harris knew she was walking through the "Jewish neighborhood," where she allegedly told police she recalled slapping the women, cursing at them and saying to them, "F*** you Jews."

The incident was one in a series of acts alleged to have been motivated by anti-Semitism that alarmed New York's Jewish community just before the New Year, including the Dec. 29 stabbing of five people at a Hanukkah celebration in Monsey.

In addressing what he described as a nationwide uptick in anti-Semitic acts, Barr sought to tie the issue to government actions that have attempted to restrict the curriculum of religious schools, stepping into another politically charged debate in New York. Orthodox Jews in Brooklyn have come under fire for maintaining yeshivas -- or schools that focus on traditional Jewish texts -- that do not properly teach secular courses.

Barr told the group of leaders he was concerned that a deterioration of values and a "spiritual hollowing out that's been occurring in the western world" was a broader concern of his in working to address acts of harassment and violence against religious groups.

"One worries whether barbarism is right below the surface," Barr said.

Barr announced another initiative, where he said a directive will be sent to U.S. attorney's offices across the country, calling for them to "initiate or reinvigorate" their outreach to Jewish communities.

He said the directive will also require them to provide points of contact for Jewish leaders to report hate crimes and law enforcement concerns.

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ABC(WASHINGTON) -- Former Vice President Biden is launching his final ad in Iowa with less than a week to go to the caucuses.

“Imagine," the campaign's eight individual ad in Iowa, is a 30 second ad narrated by Biden, and focuses on issues he hopes to make progress on in his administration.

“Imagine all the progress we can make in the next four years. Imagine a country where affordable healthcare is a right. A world where America leads on climate change. Imagine a president who stands up to the NRA and gets assault weapons out of our schools. What we imagine today you can make reality. But first we have to beat Donald Trump. Then there can be no limit to what we can do,” Biden says in the ad.

The campaign will also continue to run their ad, “Threat” which posits that “now is not the time to take a risk,” referring to the 2020 election.

The Biden campaign says they’re the running two TV spots in the top five Iowa markets and statewide on Hulu to make the case for why Joe Biden is best positioned to defeat Donald Trump and the progress he can make as president.

In addition to these broadcast ads, the campaign will also run an online ad featuring Jill Biden giving part of her stump speech, imagining a world where the headlines about the president don’t involve the latest tweet storm.

“Imagine waking up and the news isn’t about a late-night tweet storm, and when they show the president, you don’t turn the channel...Because it is someone who can bring this country together. That’s my husband, Joe Biden.” Dr. Biden says in the ad.

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ABC(NEW YORK) -- Breaking with many of his fellow 2020 contenders, former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg is announcing his support for Puerto Rico becoming the nation's 51st state.

It's in keeping with the strategy he's employed thus far in his late bid: targeting delegate-rich states and territories and skipping the first four early states altogether. Puerto Rico has 51 pledged Democratic delegates.

He announced his stance in an Orlando Sentinel op-ed on Monday, alongside his plan for Puerto Rico's economic development.

“For decades, Puerto Ricans and their interests have been ignored by Washington," Bloomberg wrote. "And there’s a simple reason why: They don’t have a vote in Congress. And so politicians don’t have to care how they feel... There’s a clear solution to this challenge that a majority of Puerto Ricans support. Most presidential candidates for president have been too afraid to back it. Not me. I’ll state it clearly: I support statehood for Puerto Rico. And as president, I will work to pass a bill making it a reality, subject to approval by the people of Puerto Rico -- who will make the ultimate decision.”

Bloomberg's 2020 competitors Andrew Yang and former Rep. John Delaney of Maryland have also clearly articulated their support of Puerto Rico being granted statehood. Others, like Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, have said that the island should be able to decide through a vote.

Warren visited the island almost exactly a year ago, following her exploratory committee's launch. She also put out a plan in May on debt relief for the island.

Sanders' campaign co-chair is also notably Carmen Yulín Cruz, the mayor of San Juan. Biden's position remains unclear.

"It’s a strong, ambitious and achievable plan -- and I believe Puerto Rico’s future should be an important part of the presidential debate," Bloomberg wrote. "But my fellow presidential candidates, who have been campaigning for a year, haven’t invested any substantial time or resources there, even though Puerto Rico will award more delegates in the Democratic primary than either Iowa or New Hampshire."

Sanders and Warren worked on recovery legislation together in 2017, which was backed by Mayor Cruz.

This plan from Bloomberg also comes on the heels of his visit to Florida, where Rep. Stephanie Murphy, who represents a district with a large Puerto Rican population, has also already introduced statehood legislation in the House. Murphy endorsed Bloomberg earlier this month.

With a couple of his rivals already with ties to the island, Bloomberg now proposes further measures.

"The time has come to sew Puerto Rico’s star into our national flag," Bloomberg writes. "As president, when voters there are ready to begin the stitching, I’ll bring Congress and the whole country together to get it done."

Along with his essay, Bloomberg's campaign released a plan aimed at the economic boons statehood would offer to Puerto Rico: Medicaid, earned income tax credits and child tax credits.

It would emphasize clean energy initiatives as well, rebuilding infrastructure and helping transition Puerto Rico to a more reliable, decentralized system.

Notably, he also calls for faster transfers of rebuilding and administering disaster response funding -- as Puerto Rico still struggles to deal with not just hurricane devastation -- but a recent string of earthquake aftershocks which have rocked the island.

Bloomberg also said in mid-January that he'd like to make D.C a state, saying he would work with Congress to make that happen.

"The time has come for D.C. to become a state -- with full voting rights," Bloomberg said. "And as president, I’ll work with Congress to make it happen."

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Alan Dershowitz speaks on the Senate floor on Jan. 27, 2020. (ABC News)(WASHINGTON) -- The impeachment trial spilled into its second week on Monday, as President Donald Trump's counsel presented more opening arguments on the Senate floor.

It was the first day back following The New York Times' bombshell report on Sunday that Trump's former national security adviser, John Bolton, had detailed in an unpublished manuscript a conversation where the president reportedly tied the release of Ukraine military aid to investigations into the Bidens.

ABC News has not independently reviewed the manuscript, but according to the Times, Bolton wrote that he had a conversation with Trump about the Ukraine aid and investigating his political rivals in August 2019.

The news put more pressure on the question of whether or not there will be witnesses during the impeachment trial.

Here are three things to know from Monday:

Impact of Bolton's reported conversation with Trump

Bolton's unpublished manuscript, which reportedly contradicts Trump's defense about the withholding of military aid, created a firestorm in Washington and put increased pressure on Republicans to make way for witnesses at the Senate trial.

Some Republicans on Monday indicated they'd support hearing from Bolton, like Utah Sen. Mitt Romney.

"It's pretty fair to say that John Bolton has a relevant testimony to provide to those of us who are sitting in impartial justice," Romney said.

Similarly, Sen. Susan Collins of Maine said in a statement: "The reports about John Bolton's book strengthen the case for witnesses and have prompted a number of conversations among my colleagues."

Although there appeared to be a shift toward the possibility of allowing witnesses among Republicans on Monday, South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham said if they were going to add Bolton, "then we're going to go to Hunter Biden, Joe Biden and all these people."

"If there's a need to add to the record, then my view is that we're going to completely add to the record, not selectively, and I'll let you know Thursday if I think there's a need," Graham said.

"If the Senate needs to secure testimony from John Bolton, then I will say so. If I think that's necessary for fairness, but I also have said for weeks that if we call one witness we're gone call witnesses requested by the president," he continued.

Jay Sekulow, the president's personal lawyer, said during opening statements that the defense team planned Monday to continue using the same "pattern" that they used when dealing with the case on Saturday, and did not mention Bolton.

"We deal with transcript evidence," Sekulow said. "We deal with publicly available information. We do not deal with speculation -- allegations that are not based on evidentiary standards at all."

Trump's lawyer, Alan Dershowitz, argued Monday evening that even if Bolton's revelations are proven true, they are not an impeachable offense.

"Nothing in the Bolton revelations, even if true, would rise to the level of an abuse of power or an impeachable offense that is clear from the history that is clear from the language of the Constitution," Dershowitz said. "You cannot turn conduct that is not impeachable into impeachable conduct simply by using words like quid pro quo and personal benefit."

Trump's team takes aim at Biden

Trump's defense team went after Joe Biden's son, Hunter, on Monday, going through the numerous questions that surround his time serving on the board of a Ukrainian gas company.

Pam Bondi spent a significant amount of time on the Senate floor addressing the rumors floating around regarding the Bidens, despite telling the Senate, "We would prefer not to be talking about this. We would prefer not to be discussing this, but the House Managers have placed this squarely at issue, so we must address it."

Bondi questioned Hunter Biden's qualifications to hold the position, and his salary while serving on the board.

She also discussed when Joe Biden disavowed the former Ukrainian prosecutor general during his time as vice president, alleging that Biden wanted the official out because he was investigating the company where Hunter Biden served on the board.

However, there was widespread criticism of the Ukrainian prosecutor general at the time, including from European governments, and Biden was implementing U.S. policy.

Trump and fellow Republicans have appeared to attempt to shift the narrative of impeachment away from the president and onto the Bidens since the impeachment inquiry was first launched last year.

Abuse of power

Dershowitz, the former Harvard Law School professor who is playing a role on Trump's defense team, argued that a sitting president cannot be impeached for abuse of power on Monday, saying, "Even if criminal conduct were not required, the framers of our Constitution would have implicitly rejected, and if it had been presented to them, explicitly rejected such vague terms as abuse of power and obstruction of Congress as among the enumerated and defining criteria for impeaching a president."

The concept of "abuse of power" was raised at several points during Monday's opening arguments, including a direct response to Democrats' arguments from last week.

Trump team lawyer Eric Hershmann said, "If Manager Jeffries' standard applies, then where were these same Democrats' calls for impeachment when uncontroverted 'smoking gun' evidence emerged that President Obama had violated their standard?"

"The American people understand this basic notion as equal justice under the law. It's as American as apple pie," he said.

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Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead(NEW YORK) -- More than half of Americans approve of President Donald Trump ordering the drone strike that killed Iran’s most powerful military commander earlier this month -- even as nearly half think his actions have increased the risks of war and terrorism alike, according to an ABC News/Washington Post poll.

The results show some conflicted responses to Trump’s actions. Fifty-three percent approve of the Jan. 3 drone strike against Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani. But fewer, 45%, approve of the way Trump is handling the situation with Iran overall.

See a PDF with the full results from the poll here.

Forty-eight percent, moreover, say Trump’s actions toward Iran have increased the risk of terrorism against Americans, while just 14% say he’s decreased this risk. Similarly, 46% think he’s increased the chance of war, vs. 16% who think he’s decreased it.

In further evidence of division, 47% say Trump has handled the situation with Iran “about right,” while 42% say he’s been too aggressive (and 5%, too cautious).

Another result shows a more negative than positive potential impact: Americans are 15 percentage points more apt to say his handling of the situation with Iran has made them more likely to oppose Trump for reelection than support him, 36% vs. 21%. Four in 10 in this poll, produced for ABC by Langer Research Associates, say it isn’t a factor in their vote.

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uschools/iStock(WASHINGTON) -- As White House lawyers spend their second day defending President Donald Trump at his Senate impeachment trial Monday, questions raised by a reported draft manuscript of a forthcoming book by former national security adviser John Bolton have given Democrats new hope in their call for new witnesses to testify.

In an unpublished version of Bolton’s book The Room Where It Happened reported by the New York Times on Sunday, Bolton said Trump told him he wanted to continue withholding nearly $400 million in security assistance to Ukraine until officials in Ukraine helped investigate Democrats, including former Vice President Joe Biden.

Republican Sen. Mitt Romney, one of four GOP moderates Democrats have targeted in hopes of getting their support for witnesses, said Monday it's "important" senators hear Bolton's account to make an "impartial judgment."

"It's pretty fair to say that John Bolton has a relevant testimony to provide to those of us who are sitting in impartial justice," Romney said.

GOP Sen. Susan Collins said the reports about Bolton's book "strengthen the case for witnesses."

Trump denied Bolton's allegation in tweets early Monday morning.

Here is how the day is unfolding:

9:02 p.m. Second day of defense team's opening arguments ends

Dershowitz's arguments were largely constitutional and, at times, very scholarly. At one point he read William Blackstone quotes from two very old, large, yellowing books, which were dogeared with pink sticky notes.

He acknowledged that his position on the matter has evolved over time and said that a crime is necessary for a president to be impeached.

Impeachable offenses, he said, are treason, bribery or those actions that are similar, but perhaps lack certain jurisdictional elements. Abuse of power and obstruction of Congress are not similar crimes, Dershowitz argues.

"This is the key point in this impeachment case, please understand what I'm arguing, is that purely noncriminal conduct, including abuse of power and obstruction of congress are outside the range of impeachable offenses," Dershowitz said.

"The framers did intend to limit the criteria for impeachment to criminal-like conduct akin into treason bribery," he added. "And they certainly did not intend to extend it to vague and open-ended and non criminal accusations such as abuse of power and obstruction of Congress."

At the close of arguments for the day, Cipollone encouraged senators to consider the "golden rule of impeachment.

"For the Democrats the Golden Rule could be do unto Republicans as you would have them do unto Democrats," Cipollone said. "And hopefully we will never be in another position in this country where we have another impeachment but vice versa for that rule."

The defense team's opening arguments will continue on Tuesday.

8:47 p.m. Dershowitz argues Bolton revelations do not rise to the level of an 'impeachable offense'

The Harvard professor emeritus raised the new revelations from Bolton's transcript, as reported on by the New York Times, in his presentation before senators.

He argued that the details in the new reporting, even if true, do not rise to the level of an impeachable offense.

"Nothing in the Bolton revelations, even if true, would rise to the level of an abuse of power or an impeachable offense that is clear from the history that is clear from the language of the Constitution," Dershowitz said. "You cannot turn conduct that is not impeachable into impeachable conduct simply by using words like quid pro quo and personal benefit."

7:46 p.m. Robert Ray argues charges 'cheapen' impeachment process

Robert Ray argued the charges against Trump "cheapen" the impeachment process by relying on what he called insufficient evidence and that Trump actions do not rise to the level that they warrant removal from office.

"The charge must be treason, bribery or other high crimes and misdemeanors. It must be one for which clear and unmistakable proof can be produced. Only if the evidence actually produced against the president is indeed irrefutable such that his own constituents, in this case the sixty-three million people like me, who voted for President Trump accept his guilt of the offense charged in order to overwhelmingly persuade a super majority of Americans and thus their senators of malfeasance warranting his removal from office," Ray said.

6:49 p.m. GOP senators praise Trump team going after Bidens

During the dinner break, some Senate Republicans tell reporters they’re impressed with this last hour of opening arguments made by the White House legal team, including Eric Herschmann, who continued the attack on Hunter Biden's work on the board of Burisma.

"Why do they want to pay him millions of dollars?" Herschmann asked. "Well, he did have one qualification, he was a son of the vice president of the United States. He was the son of the man in charge of the Ukrainian portfolio for the prior administration and we are to believe there is nothing to see here, that for anyone to investigate or inquire about this would be a sham."

"Let's take a step back and realize what actually transpired, because the House managers would have us believe this had nothing at all to do with our government, nothing at all to do with our country's interests, nothing at all to do with our vice president, nothing at all to do with the State Department," Herschmann said. "It's simply private citizen Hunter Biden doing his own private business, it was purely coincidental that it was in his father's portfolio in Ukraine in the exact sector, the energy sector, that his father said was corrupt."

"This afternoon was devastating for the House managers," Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas says. "We have heard just the beginning of the serious evidence of corruption, involving Burisma Ukrainian natural gas company that paid Hunter Biden, Joe Biden's son, a million dollars a year." (There is no evidence of wrongdoing by either of the Bidens.)

"So, I get the press loves to obsess over the latest bombshell," he says, referring to a report about John's Bolton's allegations.

"Listen, I don't know what John Bolton's book says or doesn't say, I've seen the New York Times coverage but at the end of the day, it doesn't impact the legal issue before the Senate. The legal issue before this Senate is whether it president has the authority to investigate corruption," Cruz says.

GOP Sen. John Barrasso of Wyoming takes a shot at the presidential hopefuls on the Democratic side, joking that they sat with eyes "wide open" in shock.

"Everyone was paying close attention for the discussion about the Bidens but the four people whose eyes were fully wide open were Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, Michael Bennett and Amy Klobuchar," Barrasso says.

Ernst, from Iowa, then chimes in with a laugh, and a taunt about Iowa caucuses next week.

"Iowa caucuses, folks. Iowa caucuses are this next Monday evening and I'm really interested to see how this discussion today informs and influences the Iowa caucus voters," she says.

5:05 p.m. Bondi uses Bidens to claim Trump's concern about Ukraine corruption justified

Hitting on the alleged conflict of interest theme, Bondi uses a video clip of House testimony from Deputy Assistant Secretary of State George Kent in November: "I raised my concern that Hunter Biden status as a board member to create the perception of a conflict of interest," Kent, who oversaw Ukraine policy, says.

Questioning Hunter Biden's qualifications to hold a board position, Bondi cites the generous monthly compensation he received as more grounds for suspicion.

Bondi turned to Vice President Joe Biden’s efforts to force the corrupt Ukrainian prosecutor general Victor Shokin out of office, in exchange for $1 billion in security assistance, alleging that Shokin was investigating the Ukrainian oligarch owner of Burisma at the time.

Bondi played a 2016 video clip of Vice President Biden appearing to brag about his ability to use the U.S. aid as leverage to get the Ukrainians to vote Shokin out: "I'm leaving in 6 hours, if the prosecutor's not fired you're not getting the money. Well, son of a bitch, he got fired and they put in place someone who was solid at the time," Biden says in the clip.

She then suggested that Joe Biden advocated for the Shokin's 2015 dismissal in an effort to protect his son, Hunter.

"What he didn't say on that video, according to the New York Times, this was the prosecutor investigating Burisma -- Shokin," Bondi says. "What he also didn't say on the video was that his son was being paid significant amounts by the oligarch owner of Burisma to sit on that board."

But there is a notable omission: Shokin faced widespread criticism from several high-profile international leaders (and anti-corruption advocates in Ukraine) who said Biden's recommendation was well-justified.

The IMF threatened to withhold aid to Kiev in early 2016 citing "Ukraine’s slow progress in improving governance and fighting corruption," according to Christine Lagard, the IMF’s managing director. And once Shokin was removed, the European Union's envoy to Ukraine, Jan Tombinski, lauded the decision as "an opportunity to make a fresh start."

She also doesn't mention that Kent repeatedly denied GOP suggestions that Biden did anything wrong. In fact, Biden was acting in accordance with U.S. policy and in agreement with concerns raised by European governments and anti-corruption advocates in Ukraine.

Bondi then, in the context of all these allegations against the Bidens, quotes Trump's request from the transcript of the call with Zelenskiy.

"The House managers talked about the Bidens and Burisma 400 times but they never gave you the full picture," Bondi argues. She attempts to make the request sound fair and reasonable under the circumstances.

After laying the narrative out, Bondi says there is enough to make the case that it was fair for Trump to ask Zelenskiy to look into the matter from an anti-corruption standpoint.

"You've heard from the House managers, they do not believe that there was any concern to raise here. That all of this was baseless," Bondi says. "And all we are saying is that there was a basis to talk about this, to raise this issue, and that is enough," she says.

4:45 p.m. Trump's defense team goes after Bidens at length

Pam Bondi, the former Florida attorney general and a member of Trump's defense team, brings the argument back to Hunter Biden and the questions from Republicans about whether his role with the Ukrainian natural gas company Burisma was a conflict of interest with his father's position in the Obama administration.

It's the first time Trump's defense team has brought up the Bidens at length.

Bondi argues that Democrats have made Biden part of the impeachment issue even though Democrats did so saying accusations of any wrongdoing are "baseless." So have the Bidens.

"We would prefer not to be discussing this. But the House managers have placed this squarely at issue, so we must address it," Bondi says before reviewing the timeline of Hunter Biden's involvement with the Ukrainian energy company Burisma and news media coverage and questions about the appearance of a conflict of interest when he served on the company's board.

"Now, the House managers might say without evidence that everything we just have said has been debunked, that the evidence points entirely and unequivocally in the other direction," she says. "That is a distraction you've heard from the House managers, they do not believe that there was any concern to raise, all of this was baseless and all we are saying is that there was a basis to talk about this, to raise this issue and that is enough."

Bondi has the chamber riveted, according to ABC News’ Devin Dwyer. As she started on the topic of Hunter Biden, Sen. Maria Cantrell mouths "bull****" as she turns to Sen. Jeanne Shaheen beside her.

There are expressions of dismay and concern on several faces of Democratic senators. Sen. Cory Booker openly scowls as he stands in the back of the chamber.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer stares dead on at Bondi with a look of skepticism. Sen. Chris Coons, a close ally of former Vice President Joe Biden, aggressively takes notes.

Many of the president’s Republican allies -- Sens. Graham, Barrasso, Braun, Thune -- are nodding along. Sens. Romney, Collins and Murkowski diligently take notes.

4:26 p.m. Inside the Senate chamber: Republicans listening intently

During Jane Raskin’s presentation focusing on Rudy Giuliani (in which she tried to downplay his role while attempting to distance the White House from Giuliani by telling senators his style may not appeal to them), senators seemed very engaged -- especially Republicans -- who intently listened and took notes.

GOP Sens. Susan Collins and Mitt Romney are especially engaged, and members of the Trump defense team are noticeably craning their necks during certain portions of the presentation to see how senators are reacting.

3:30 p.m. Raskin: Democrats using Giuliani as 'a colorful distraction'

"Rudy Giuliani is the House managers' colorful distraction," another member of the president's legal team, Jane Raskin, tells senators, in her first turn speaking during the Senate arguments.

"The House managers would have you believe that Mr. Giuliani is at the center of this controversy. They’ve anointed him the proxy villain of the tail the leader of a rogue operation their presentations were filled with ad hominem attacks and name-calling: 'cold-blooded political operative,' 'political bagman.' But I suggest to you that he's front and center in their narrative for one reason and one reason alone: to distract from the fact that the evidence does not support their claims," she says.

Raskin argues the Democrats' case is based on assumptions around Giuliani's role, including that his motivation was to benefit the president politically, and that the case for impeachment doesn't put his role in context as the president's personal attorney.

She says Giuliani has said multiple times that his interest in Ukraine is not related to the 2020 presidential election and predated the announcement of former Vice President Joe Biden's campaign, a big talking point in the Democrats' argument about the timeline of events.

Raskin argues Giuliani was a "minor player" and a "shiny object" designed to distract senators and that his work related to Ukraine would be used to defend Trump against allegations that were the focus of former special counsel Robert Mueller's Russia investigation -- that his campaign colluded with Russian operatives to interfere in the 2016 election.

Giuliani, like Trump, has pushed a discredited conspiracy theory that Ukraine, and not Russia, sought to interfere in the election, even though U.S. officials have said there is no information to support that claim.

"As he has stated repeatedly and publicly, he was doing what good defense attorneys do," Raskin says. "Following a lead from a well-known private investigator, he was gathering evidence regarding Ukrainian election interference to defend his client against the false allegations being investigated by special counsel Mueller."

Mueller's report found that while there was insufficient evidence to charge members of the Trump campaign with engaging in a criminal conspiracy with Russia to interfere in the 2016 election -- it did not find there was no evidence of contacts and cooperation or "no collusion" as Trump has claimed. It also found that Russian operatives sought to manipulate the election through misinformation and other types of interference.

"If Rudy Giuliani is everything they say he is, don't you think they would have subpoenaed and pursued his testimony? Ask yourselves, why didn't they?" Raskin says. "In fact it appears the House Committee wasn't particularly interested in presenting you with any direct evidence of what Mayor Giuliani did or why he did it. Instead, they ask you to rely on hearsay, speculation and assumption evidence that would be inadmissible in any court."

2:42 p.m. Purpura: White House was working to set up Ukraine meeting even without an investigation announcement

White House deputy counsel Michael Purpura rails against the Democrats' assertion that a meeting with President Trump was linked to the opening of an investigation, arguing that he was genuinely interested in combating corruption in Ukraine when he asked President Zelenskiy to announce investigations and withheld military aid.

He argues that, despite arguments the White House made the announcement of investigations into the Bidens a requirement before Trump would meet with Zelenskiy, the White House was working to schedule a meeting for weeks without any announcement.

Purpura says the two presidents met as early as their schedules allowed at the United Nations meeting in September, but that Democrats insist that was significantly different than a meeting at the White House.

"They claim the meeting couldn't be just an in-person meeting with President Trump. What it had to be was a meeting at the Oval Office and in the White House. That's nonsense," he says.

"Putting to one side the absurdity of the House managers trying to remove a duly elected president of the United States from office because he met a world leader in one location versus another, this theory has no basis in fact," he adds.

1:57 p.m. Starr calls this 'age of impeachment'

Ken Starr, the independent counsel who pushed for the impeachment of President Bill Clinton, says "the Senate is being called to sit as the high court of impeachment all too frequently. Indeed we're living in what I think can be aptly described as the age of impeachment."

"Like war, impeachment is hell. Or at least presidential impeachment is hell," he says. "Those of us who lived through the Clinton impeachment including members of this body, full well understand that a presidential impeachment is tantamount to domestic war but thankfully protected by our beloved first amendment a war of words and a war of ideas. But it's filled with acrimony and it divides the country like nothing else."

He then argues that the Constitution and the "common law" of impeachment requires a "violation of law" to be alleged.

"And so, the appropriate question, were crimes alleged in the articles in the common law of presidential impeachment in Nixon? Yes. In Clinton? Yes. Here? No. A factor to be considered as the judges in the high court. Come as you will individually to your judgment. Even in the political cauldron of the Andrew Johnson impeachment, article 11 charged a violation of the controversial tenure of office act, you're familiar with it, and that act warned expressly the Oval Office that its violation would constitute a high misdemeanor, employing the very language of cognizable crimes. This history represents and I believe may please the court, it embodies the common law of presidential impeachment," Starr says.

He repeats Republican arguments against the obstruction of justice charge against the president, saying House Democrats should have gone to court to compel documents and testimony blocked by the White House. He counters comments from Adam Schiff and other Democrats that the court process would have taken too long, adding to the risk the president's actions would influence the 2020 election.

Starr says there is a precedent for expedited proceedings in a case like impeachment.

"The House of Representatives could have sought that well-trodden path, it could have sought expedition, it could have sought expedition, the courthouse six blocks down the judges are there, they're all very able, they're hardworking people of integrity. Follow the path, follow the path of the law. Go to court," he says, adding that he believes all House subpoenas issued before the House voted to authorize the impeachment inquiry would be ruled invalid.

He argues that Congress should use its oversight powers to hold the president and administration accountable, despite the administration's refusal to cooperate with congressional investigations, release documents, or comply with subpoenas. The lack of cooperation from the White House has been a main argument in Democrats' charge that the president has obstructed justice in the impeachment inquiry.

"Again, sitting as a court, this body should signal to the nation the return to our traditions. Bipartisan impeachments. What's the alternative? Will the president be king? Do oversight. The tradition of oversight. An enormous check on presidential power throughout our history and it continues available today," Starr says.

"In Iran-contra, no impeachment was undertaken," Starr says, referring to the scandal under President Reagan in which Reagan agreed to send arms to Iran to use money from that sale to fund Nicaraguan rebels or "contras."

1:19 p.m. McConnell tells GOP colleagues to 'stay the course'

Sen. Mitch McConnell tells his GOP colleagues "stay the course" during their pre-trial lunch, Republican Sens. Mike Rounds and Kevin Cramer tell ABC News' Devin Dwyer.

Both men said McConnell offered repeated assurances that their game plan is sound and a vote on witnesses will happen at the appropriate time.

Cramer said it was a "keep your powder dry" pep talk.

"It’s more of a wrinkle" he added of the Bolton news.

"The whole message is still we made the right choice in the first place. We said we finished through phase one we've heard the attacks and now let’s hear the defense and then we'll ask our questions and then we make a decision on material witnesses," said Sen. Rounds.

Asked if he wants to hear Bolton, Sen. Lamar Alexander said: "I worked with my colleagues to make sure we have a chance after we've heard the arguments. After we've asked our questions to decide if we need additional evidence and I'll decide that at that time."

Meanwhile, President Trump's personal lawyer Jay Sekulow begins by previewing the arguments the president's defense will make today.

While he doesn't make a direct mention of the Bolton claim, he appears to refer to it. noting that his team will deal only with "publicly available information."

"What we have done on Saturday is the pattern that we're going to continue today as far as how we're going to deal with the case. We deal with transcript evidence," Jay Sekulow said. "We deal with publicly available information. We don't deal with speculation, allegations. That are not based on evidentiary standards at all".

He said the president always acted within his legal authority when he says Trump asked Ukrainian President Zelenskiy to investigate corruption in his country, even when that involved a U.S. citizen, and repeated Zelenskiy's statements that he did not feel pressured in his July 25 conversation with Trump.

1:06 p.m. Prayer for Kobe Bryant as trial resumes

Senate Chaplain Barry Black, in his opening prayer, references the deaths of NBA legend Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna in a helicopter crash over the weekend, saying it serves as a reminder of our limited time on Earth.

"As this impeachment process unfolds, give our senators the desire to make the most of our time on Earth," he says.

On a lighter note, the chaplain and Majority Leader Mitch McConnell also recognize Chief Justice John Roberts' 65th birthday as the proceedings get underway.

1:05 p.m. Sources: Trump legal team preparing legal fight to block witnesses

As the second day of opening arguments from Trump's legal team gets underway in the Senate, senior level White House sources tell ABC News the president’s lawyers are preparing for the possibility of witnesses in the impeachment trial.

Sources say the legal team is preparing an aggressive, drawn out legal fight to block the testimony of potential witnesses.

11:58 a.m. Trump says he hasn't seen Bolton manuscript, calls allegations 'false'

President Trump says this morning that the allegations in the Bolton manuscript are "false," and says he hasn't seen the manuscript.

Asked in the Oval Office, "What about the allegations in the Bolton manuscript?" Trump replies, "False," then scoffs and mouths "false" again.

He makes the comment before a meeting in the Oval Office with Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Earlier, before entering the Oval Office for that meeting, Trump told reporters outside the West Wing that he had not seen the manuscript.

11:46 a.m. Republican Graham suggests he could now be open to witnesses

GOP Sen. Lindsey Graham suggests he could now be open to witnesses provided it’s done in a "balanced way" -- possibly to include votes on Hunter and Joe Biden.

"If we’re going to add to the record, then we’re going to go to Hunter Biden, Joe Biden and all these people," Graham tells ABC News' Devin Dwyer Monday morning.

When asked whether this means he’s changed his position on calling the Bidens -- he says he has not -- that he still opposes calling them for the sake of calling them -- but says it might be reasonable to include them in votes if the Senate moves to votes on witnesses.

As to whether he has any reason to doubt Bolton, Graham says he’s withholding judgment until he sees more: "I’m not going to make a commitment about something I don’t know about." He says he might be interested in subpoenaing the manuscript.

At the same time, other Republicans dismiss the Bolton allegations.

There is "nothing new here," says Sen. John Barrasso, a member of the Senate GOP leadership from Wyoming.

"It really doesn't change anything, in terms of the process. We knew that the discussion of witnesses would be here soon ... What it's done is taken an already hot topic and added some fuel to the fire," says GOP Sen. Mike Braun of Indiana.

11:15 a.m. Schumer calls Bolton report 'stunning'

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer calls the Bolton revelations "stunning," saying they "go to the heart" of the case against the president.

"Ambassador Bolton essentially confirms the president committed the offense charged in the first article of impeachment." Schumer tells reporters.

The Senate's Democratic Leader repeats his accusation that the White House had engaged in a "cover-up" in order to subvert the impeachment investigation and Senate trial.

"Anyone who says the House case lacks eyewitnesses and then votes to prevent eye witnesses from testifying is talking out of both sides of their mouth," Schumer adds.

He asks, given the Bolton developments: "How can Senate Republicans not vote to call that witness?"

"This the test for the senators. They have taken an oath to be impartial. They have just learned there's a key witness going to the heart of the allegations. The question they have to answer is do they want to hear the truth?" lead House manager Adam Schiff told CNN Monday.

10:54 a.m. GOP's Collins says Bolton revelations 'strengthen case for witnesses'

GOP Sen. Susan Collins, another key Republican moderate, issues a statement on Twitter shortly after Sen. Mitt Romney speaks, saying, "The reports about John Bolton's book strengthen the case for witnesses and have prompted a numbers of conversations among my colleagues."

"From the beginning, I've said that in fairness to both parities the decision on whether or not to call witnesses be made after both the House managers and the President's attorneys have had the opportunity to present their cases," she says.

"I've always said that I was likely to vote to call witnesses, just as did in the 199 Clinton trial," she adds.

Earlier, Romney said he can’t speculate on what impact Bolton’s testimony would have on a final decision of whether to acquit the president but said that "it's relevant and therefore, I'd like to hear it."

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ABC(NEW YORK) -- Even as most 2020 contenders gear up for the Iowa caucuses, they’ve got a weather eye on the March horizon: Super Tuesday. While many look forward on the calendar, though, Mike Bloomberg is already all over the map.

Starting Monday, Bloomberg's campaign will be swelling its already aggressive ground game even further, telling ABC News exclusively that it will begin sending out its first mailers -- yes, physical paper letters -- to 2.5 million registered Democratic voters across every single Super Tuesday state. That’s a lot of postage.

The campaign's move pays unprecedented attention on parts of the country that normally get neglected during the Democratic primary process, especially this early on. And with Bloomberg making stops in Vermont and Maine on Monday afternoon, he will have visited every Super Tuesday state before most of his rivals have left Iowa.

The letters are part of Bloomberg's unorthodox, innovative strategy, which he's taken from the start in his late bid for the White House. He bypassed the four early states altogether and has focused on delegate-rich spots up for grabs in March, like Texas, California and Florida. Moreover, he’s specifically honing in on the swing states President Donald Trump picked up in 2016 that Democrats “should” have won, like Ohio or Michigan.

Bloomberg’s energetic efforts at outreach demonstrate an immense appetite for seeking voters where they live, and showing his commitment. His campaign’s first mailers further that courtship; they're an acknowledgement and respect for a constituency that may often feel overlooked by those who eventually come calling for their votes.

Bloomberg has poured unparalleled sums of his vast fortune into his campaign, already spending $270 million on advertising from coast to coast and in key battleground states. The timing on the letters Bloomberg will send out Monday also could not be more germane -- they come on the eve of the Iowa Caucuses. They will also arrive at people's homes just before the Super Bowl. Bloomberg has purchased a multi-million dollar 60-second spot to air in high-profile slots during the game, dueling with Trump's own ad buy.

Bloomberg has also pledged that even if he does not get the Democratic nomination, he and his assets will stay in the race to help boost whoever does win, which he has said is an “investment” in beating Trump.

First, though, Bloomberg hopes his investment -- wooing support with outreach like this letter -- will pay off for his campaign on the very turf that Trump hopes to keep come the 2020 election.

The letter is meant to “introduce Mike [Bloomberg] to America,” according to a campaign aide. In an ABC exclusive first look, the page speaks to Bloomberg’s accomplishments over the years, from his tenure as mayor to his philanthropic work. With a flourished signature at the bottom, Bloomberg expands this past forward as a pledge to voters.

“As a three-term mayor of the biggest and one of the most diverse cities in the country, I know how to get things done,” Bloomberg begins. “Believe me when I say from personal experience: There is no problem we cannot solve by working hard and working together.”

Bloomberg's call for unity comes with a broad promise to grow good jobs and wages to match; protect social security and Medicare; pass common-sense gun reform; and confront the climate crisis. Most of all, it’s a rallying cry as he prepares to confront Trump should he get nominated.

“The biggest fight of our lives lies ahead -- a fight to beat Trump and rebuild America,” Bloomberg wrote. “So let’s get it done.”

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Official White House Photo by Tia Dufour(NEW YORK) -- Economic prosperity is boosting Donald Trump's political prospects, helping the relatively unpopular president to a competitive position against his potential Democratic opponents in the fall election, the latest ABC News/Washington Post poll finds.

Key to Trump's opportunity is a rise in economic confidence. One year before he took office, 63% of Americans said they were worried about maintaining their standard of living. Today, 43% say so, a broad 20-point drop in personal economic uncertainty.

See a PDF with the full results of the poll here.

Trump, moreover, gets a share of credit; as reported Friday, 56% approve of his handling of the economy, up 10 points since early September to a career high.

The result is a tighter contest for the presidency in this poll, produced for ABC News by Langer Research Associates. Among all adults, Trump trailed top Democratic candidates by double digits in the fall; he's now cut those margins in half. Among registered voters, moreover, he's now running essentially even in head-to-head matchups.

Registered voters divide closely, 50-46%, between Joe Biden and Trump, for example, compared with a 56-39% Biden lead three months ago. Among all adults, including those not registered, Biden's ahead, but now just by 7 points, 51-44%.

The story's similar for the other Democrats tested against Trump in this survey -- Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Mike Bloomberg, Pete Buttigieg and Amy Klobuchar. They range from 45 to 49% support among registered voters, while Trump has 46 to 48%. Among all adults, these Democrats range from 46 to 52% support; Trump, 43-45%.

Bloomberg, Sanders and Biden have statistically significant leads against Trump among all adults. As noted, though, these are down from 17-point leads for Biden and Sanders alike last fall. (Bloomberg hadn't announced his candidacy at that time.)

Warren, Klobuchar and Buttigieg don't have significant leads vs. Trump among all adults; Warren and Buttigieg did in the fall. (Klobuchar wasn't tested.) And none of the Democratic candidates now has a significant lead among registered voters; in October, Biden, Sanders, Warren and Buttigieg all did.

Some of the latest results have been seen before; Trump also was even with Sanders, Warren and Buttigieg among registered voters last summer. But it's the first time Trump and Biden have been this close.

The economy's not the only factor. Among others, there's a vast gender gap: The Democratic candidates tested in this poll lead Trump by 23 to 30 percentage points among women, while Trump leads by 15 to 24 points among men. If it held on Election Day, it'd nearly double the previous record gender gap in exit polls dating to 1976, 24 points in 2016.

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