The key takeaways from day three of the impeachment trial

Tom McCarthy in New York
Photograph: Mary F Calvert/Reuters

The third full day of Donald Trump’s impeachment trial in the US Senate has concluded. Here are six key takeaways:

Schiff: ‘right matters’

In a stirring oration to conclude the day, the lead prosecutor Adam Schiff told senators that in the United States, “right matters” and “you know that what he did was not right”.

“You know you can’t trust this president to do what’s right for this country,” said Schiff. “You can only trust this president to do what’s right for Donald Trump.”

Quoting the national security aide Alexander Vindman, who testified in November in public hearings before the intelligence committee and whose family were Soviet refugees, Schiff urged that Trump be removed from office.

“If right doesn’t matter, we’re lost,” Schiff said. “You know that what he did was not right. That’s what they do in the old country, that Colonel Vindman’s father came from, that my great-grandfather came from, that some of you may come from. But here right is supposed to matter.”

Democratic juggernaut rumbles on

Democrats presented a slide laying out a roadmap of the case they planned to make on Thursday – and for the next eight-plus hours they rumbled through.

“When we’re done, we believe that we will have made the case overwhelmingly of the president’s guilt,” Schiff said.

The Democrats began with a discussion of why “abuse of power” was a central concern of the constitutional framers, and then they methodically laid out evidence of how Trump had committed an abuse of power by using official acts to extract personal political favors from Ukraine.

Once again, there were dozens of video clips, reams of emails and text messages, and hours of narration tying it all together. But also once again, there were indications that the presentation did not completely land on the Republican side.

“It seems like Groundhog’s Day,” the Republican senator John Barrasso of Wyoming told reporters during a break. “It is the same thing, day after day after day. As if you could impeach by repetition.”

Republicans demand to hear from the defense

Expressing frustration with the length and what they said was the repetitiousness of the Democrats’ case, Republican senators told reporters during a break that it was time to hear the other side.

“My frustration is, the American people are getting half the story at this point,” said the Republican senator James Lankford of Oklahoma. “I am looking forward in the days ahead for the first time to finally hearing both sides of the story, all the way through.

Finally, we’ll get to the other side of the story, and I look forward to getting a chance to hear it.”

Trump’s defense previews its case

“We will refute their case, and we will present our case.” – lead defense attorney Jay Sekulow, responding to questions about his strategy

Democrats use Republicans’ own words against them

The House manager Jerry Nadler played archival clips of Senator Lindsey Graham and Alan Dershowitz, a member of Trump’s legal team, arguing during the impeachment of Bill Clinton that an impeachable “abuse of power” need not be based on an underlying criminal offense. That is the mainstream view of constitutional scholars, but not Trump’s current defense argument.

To argue that Trump’s obsession with supposed Ukrainian hacking in the 2016 election was “far-fetched and crazy”, in the words of the manager Silvia Garcia of Texas, the managers played video of Trump’s FBI director, Christopher Wray; Trump’s former homeland security adviser Tom Bossert; and Trump’s former top Russia expert Fiona Hill, debunking the conspiracy theory.

Republicans demand witnesses

An oft-repeated Republican talking point on Thursday was that the trial had made clear that Hunter Biden must be called. “I think it’s now clear we absolutely must call Hunter Biden and we probably need to call Joe Biden,” said Republican Josh Hawley of Missouri. “Based on the House managers’ presentation today, I think we probably are going to need to hear from the former vice-president if indeed we call witnesses.”

Graham echoed the sentiment.

“Will the storyline by House managers about the Bidens and Burisma withstand scrutiny?” he tweeted during a break in the proceedings.

“Stay tuned.”

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