Members of the Trump defense team saw their two-hour presentation Saturday as a preview of coming attractions — a way to give senators a sense of the president’s defense while also suggesting there is much more to come when the impeachment trial resumes Monday. They were also acutely aware that, after 23 hours of the Democratic case against the president made over the course of three days, many senators were just tired. Even if the first day of presentation had not come on a low-rating Saturday, Republicans would have stayed away from forcing senators into another late night.
Lawmakers were “relieved after such a long week,” one GOP source said Saturday afternoon — relieved both to get a break and to see the Trump team at the podium offering a vigorous defense after three days of listening to the Democratic House impeachment managers make the case for removing President Trump.
And what relieved many GOP lawmakers was that the Trump defenders immediately dove into the facts of the Trump-Ukraine matter. Yes, some have strong objections about the process the House followed in impeaching the president. Indeed, some Democrats had charged that was all Trump defenders had to argue. But the opening of Saturday’s argument was about the substance of the case.
“Today’s approach was to address head-on the facts that [Democratic impeachment managers] presented by presenting a more fulsome view of those facts, a more in-depth view, because they were very much cherry-picked,” said a member of Trump’s defense team in a phone conversation Saturday.