Speed Reads

Trump impeachment trial

Senators break into laughter as Schiff points out ironic difference between Trump's legal defense and DOJ arguments

President Trump's impeachment defense team seems to be on a different page than lawyers in the Department of Justice.

Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) noted this disparity while answering questions from senators in Trump's Senate impeachment trial on Thursday. Schiff said that while Trump's legal team argued the House should have gone to court to force witnesses like former National Security Adviser John Bolton to testify via subpoena, Justice Department lawyers were — nearly simultaneously — arguing in a separate case that it's up to Congress to enforce subpoenas through measures like... impeachment.

"You can't make this stuff up," said Schiff. As CNN reports, a DOJ lawyer on Thursday said if the House needs to enforce a subpoena, one of its options is to use its impeachment powers. As a reminder, Trump was impeached on obstruction of Congress after ordering aides to defy subpoenas that would have brought them to the House floor as witnesses. During the court hearing (related to the Trump administration's efforts to change the census, not an impeachment-related hearing), DOJ lawyer James Burnham argued the House can't ask the courts to enforce subpoenas — precisely what Trump's impeachment lawyers are suggesting Democrats should have done. Trump's legal team says Democrats should have fought in court for further witnesses, while Trump administration lawyers say courts have no right to enforce congressional subpoenas.

There were reportedly "audible gasps and laughs" on the Senate floor after Schiff pointed out the comedic timing of the opposing arguments.