President Donald Trump is at the White House Thursday, back from his trip to the world stage in Switzerland with little to distract him from watching or otherwise monitoring his impeachment trial in the Senate, as Democrats enter the second of three days they have to make opening arguments.
Aside from brief statements to the media during breaks in the trial on Capitol Hill, the Trump's legal team will have to wait until Saturday to mount their full defense.
But despite the constraints on the president’s legal team as the Democrats continue to have the floor in the Senate uninterrupted – a slow pace that his lawyers have sought to explain to the president who favors an aggressive defense posture -- that hasn’t kept the president from unleashing a fiery defense of his own.
He has turned to his favored medium to unleash his counter-punching instincts -- sending out a string of tweets blasting the impeachment process.
On Wednesday, even as he split his day between Switzerland and the US, the president used his trans-Atlantic plane ride home to set a personal record of Twitter activity. He fired off more than 140 tweets and retweets – the most of any one day of his presidency – according to the tracking website Factba.se.
The president on Wednesday also held court with an impromptu press conference in Switzerland during which he blasted the impeachment as a "hoax," said he personally was in favor of hearing from witnesses in the trial -- in conflict with his own legal team’s position -- and even flirted with the idea of creating a bit of political theater by personally going to the Senate to sit in on the trial (an idea his lawyers have signaled they would advise against).
And by Thursday morning, the president was back it, blasting out a series of tweets in the early morning hours from the White House residence to blast the process and decry the House inquiry that led to his impeachment as the “Most unfair & corrupt hearing in Congressional history!”
White House Deputy press secretary Hogan Gidley told reporters Thursday morning that the president is “pleased” with the way things have gone so far and that the president’s defense team is looking forward to their chance to present before the Senate.
“The president has been very pleased with the way it's going for a myriad of reasons. One is because the evidence and the facts prove that he's done nothing wrong. We're looking forward to the chance when we get to lay out our case, the attorneys are excited about that and they're going to attack it on that front,” he said.
Gidley went on to blast the House inquiry, claiming “this president has been denied due process that any other American citizen would get in any other situation, you get a traffic ticket, you get treated more fairly than this president has been treated.”
As the Thursday session of the trial got underway, Trump tweeted that Democrats don't want a witness swap because such a trade "would be a BIG problem for them!"
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said Wednesday that such a deal -- former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, Hunter in exchange for Trump's former national security adviser, John Bolton -- was "off the table."
@realDonaldTrump The Democrats don’t want a Witness Trade because Shifty Schiff, the Biden’s, the fake Whistleblower(& his lawyer), the second Whistleblower (who vanished after I released the Transcripts), the so-called “informer”, & many other Democrat disasters, would be a BIG problem for them!" Trump tweeted.
When the Trump team’s turn to present in the Senate comes on Saturday, the president’s personal lawyer, Jay Sekulow, says they will “be putting on but an affirmative case in defense of the president, but we will also be pointing out some of the errors in the case that [the managers] presented.”
Sources tell ABC News they are expected to move at a faster clip to keep the momentum going, and under directions from the president, keep things from becoming boring.
Still, the details of their defense strategy are evolving, according to sources, and the lawyers have declined to reveal the details of their strategy and how many of the allotted 24 hours over three days they plan to use to present their case.
While the defense team ultimately did not present a motion to dismiss on Wednesday, the president’s lawyers says it remains an option on the table going forward. The president has been keen to keep a dismissal as an option, sources have said, despite the political reality that such a motion lacks adequate support.