Donald Trump’s lawyers have begun
defending him at his impeachment trial, accusing Democrats of seeking to
overturn the result of the 2016 election.
White House Counsel Pat Cipollone
said: “The president did absolutely
President Trump’s defense will last
three days and follows the Democrats’ prosecution case which ended on January
Donald Trump faces two charges
linked to his dealings with Ukraine.
The articles of impeachment accuse
the president of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.
President Trump is alleged to have
withheld military aid to pressure the Ukrainian President, Volodymyr Zelensky,
into starting a corruption investigation into Donald Trump’s political rival,
Democrat Joe Biden, and his son Hunter.
Democrats also accuse President
Trump of making a visit by Volodymyr Zelensky to the White House contingent on
The president is charged with obstructing
Congress by failing to co-operate with the House of Representatives impeachment
The trial in the Senate will decide
if Donald Trump should be removed from office. This is unlikely as the
Republicans control the Senate and any such move would need a two-thirds
Echoing a line heard from many
Republicans, Pat Cipollone said Democrats were “asking you not only to
overturn the results of the last election… they’re asking you to remove
President Trump from the ballot in the election that’s occurring in
approximately nine months.”
“They are asking you to do something very, very
consequential and, I would submit to you … very, very dangerous,” he said.
Much of the abuse of power charge centers on a phone call in July between
President Trump and President Zelenksy.
Donald Trump’s defense lawyer Mike Purpura insisted there was no quid pro
quo – as asserted by the Democrats.
He said: “Zelenksy felt no
pressure. President Zelensky says he felt no pressure. The House managers tell
you they know better.”
In a news conference after January 25 hearing, Adam Schiff, the Democrats’
lead prosecutor, raised the disputed issue of calling witnesses.
He said: “The one question they
did not address at all is why they don’t want to give the American people a
fair trial, why they want this to be the first impeachment case in history
without a single witness and without a single document being handed over.
“That ought to tell you
everything you need to know about the strength and weaknesses of this
The leader of the Democrats in the Senate, Chuck Schumer, told reporters that President Trump’s defense team had inadvertently “made a really compelling case for why the Senate should call witnesses and documents”.
Robert Ray succeeded Ken Starr as the independent counsel.
Monica Lewinsky tweeted on January 17 shortly after President Trump’s team
was announced: “This is definitely
an ‘are you kidding me?’ kinda day.”
In 2016, Ken Starr was forced out of his position as president of Baylor
University after an inquiry found the school had mishandled rape accusations
against its football players.
He later also resigned from his roles as chancellor and law professor at the
Alan Dershowitz is a retired Harvard University law
professor and constitutional law expert whose past celebrity clients have also
included boxer Mike Tyson.
He said in a statement that he had
also opposed Bill Clinton’s impeachment, and voted for Hillary Clinton in the
Donald Trump sought Alan
Dershowitz’s advice, too, during the 2017-2019 special counsel investigation
into alleged Russian meddling in the presidential election.
Alan Dershowitz and Ken Starr both
represented disgraced financier Jeffrey Epstein during his 2008 abuse trial.
On January 17, President Trump
shared Alan Dershowitz’s comments criticizing a Government Accountability
Office ruling that the White House had broken the law by withholding aid to
Former Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi has also been asked to join the
Pam Bondi, a longtime Trump ally, joined the White House communications team
last November to focus on “proactive impeachment messaging”.
Donald Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani, a central figure in the
Ukraine investigation, had also hoped to join the defense, but he did not make
Rudy Giuliani told CBS he might be called as a witness in the impeachment
trial and “understood this may happen if I uncovered the 2016 Ukrainian
The former NYC mayor was apparently
referring to a discredited theory that Ukraine intervened in the last White
One of Rudy Giuliani’s associates,
Ukrainian-American businessman Lev Parnas, has said he went to Ukraine to
pressure local officials on behalf of Donald Trump and Rudy Giuliani.
President Trump’s allies have
rubbished Lev Parnas’ claims, pointing out that he is facing unrelated campaign
Last month, Donald Trump was impeached
by the House on charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.
Democrats have accused the president of withholding military aid to Ukraine to pressure the country into investigating his political rival, former VP Joe Biden. President Trump denies the claims, and calls the impeachment proceedings a partisan “hoax”.
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