Democratic congressmen who serve as prosecutors in the trial have laid out evidence over three days that they said proved Mr Trump had abused his power and obstructed Congress. They alleged that he pressured Ukraine to dig up political dirt on Joe Biden, a domestic rival, and that he sought to hide the evidence from Congress. President Trump and senior Republicans claim Mr Biden and his son Hunter were involved in a corrupt business scheme in Ukraine.
Proceedings began on Tuesday with a tussle between Democrats and Republicans over the rules of the trial. Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell proposed a tight two-day limit for opening arguments by both sides, before extending it to three after protests from Democrats.
Mr McConnell delayed until next week debate over motions from Democrats to allow new witnesses to be called and fresh evidence submitted. Democratic congressman Adam Schiff opened oral arguments to a packed Senate chamber on Wednesday.
Mr Schiff said the president’s actions were exactly what the founding fathers feared when they came up with impeachment – “a remedy as powerful as the evil it was meant to combat”, Mr Schiff said.
The impeachment managers walked the senators through testimony gathered during depositions and committee hearings last year, from government officials, that they say points to a scheme by Mr Trump and his advisers. The managers supported their oral arguments with audio and video tape, using the president’s own words in their effort to portray him as guilty.
They directly addressed the claims against the Bidens. Representative Hakeem Jefferies, an impeachment manager, eschewed the founding fathers, choosing instead to quote the late Brooklyn rapper Notorious BIG.
Republican lawmakers and Donald Trump’s legal team have signaled that Saturday’s impeachment proceedings would not go all day as they prepare to launch a full-throated defense of the president.
Trump’s lawyers are likely to argue multiple points in order to poke holes in Democrats’ basis for impeachment. The Trump team is expected to say that the president’s requests for Ukraine to investigate former vice-president Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden were legitimate.