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”.
Democrats have announced the House will
vote on January 15 on sending articles of impeachment against President Donald
Trump to the Senate.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told
fellow Democrats she would also name the House managers who will prosecute the
case against President Trump in the Senate trial.
Nancy Pelosi has been withholding
the articles of impeachment in a row with Republicans over allowing witnesses.
Donald Trump was impeached by the
Democratic-led House last month.
The president is accused of abuse of
power and obstruction of Congress.
He denies trying to pressure Ukraine
to open an investigation into his would-be Democratic White House challenger
President Trump has been touting
unsubstantiated corruption claims about Joe Biden and his son, Hunter, who
accepted a lucrative board position with a Ukrainian energy company while his
father handled American-Ukraine relations as US vice-president.
The impeachment trial by the Senate
will be only the third ever of a US president.
Donald Trump’s fellow Republicans
control the chamber 53-47, and are all but certain to acquit him.
Once the resolution is approved, the
House managers will walk to the Senate and formally present the articles of
impeachment in the well of the chamber, escorted by the sergeant-at-arms. The
articles of impeachment will be read out.
On January 14, Senate leader Mitch
McConnell met Republican senators behind closed doors to map out the ground
He said the trial was likely to
begin in earnest on January 21.
The first couple of days will
involve housekeeping duties, possibly later this week.
Supreme Court Chief Justice John
Roberts will be sworn in to preside, and he will administer an oath to all 100
senators to deliver “impartial justice” as jurors.
Lawmakers may hear opening arguments
next week. The House managers will lay out their case against President Trump,
and his legal team will respond.
The trial is expected to last up to
five weeks, with the Senate taking only Sundays off.
President Trump suggested over the weekend that he might prefer simply
dismissing the charges rather than giving legitimacy to the “hoax”
case against him.
Moderate Republican senators Susan Collins of Maine and Mitt Romney of Utah
have made clear they would oppose any such motion.
On January 14, the White House said the president is “not afraid of a
fight” in his trial.
Deputy press secretary Hogan Gidley said President Trump was in fact eager
for witnesses to testify that “this man did nothing wrong”.
One of the biggest sticking points between House Democrats and Senate
Republicans has been whether testimony will be allowed during the trial.
Republican senators Lindsey Graham and Mike Rounds said on January 14 the
Senate’s trial plan will guarantee votes on whether to call witnesses and hear
It takes just 51 votes to approve rules or call witnesses, meaning four
Republican senators would have to side with Democrats to insist on testimony.
The White House is understood to have identified several possible defectors
in the Republican ranks, including Susan Collins and Mitt Romney.
The others are Senators Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Cory Gardner of Colorado
and Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, who is retiring this year.
Republicans say that if witnesses are allowed, they may try to subpoena Joe Biden and his son, and the unidentified government whistleblower whose complaint about President Trump sparked the whole impeachment inquiry.
House Judiciary Committee has approved two
impeachment articles against President Donald Trump, moving the process towards
a full House vote.
The articles are expected to be voted on by the Democrat-controlled House of
Representatives next week.
President Trump is the fourth US president in history to face impeachment.
Speaking to reporters at the White House, Donald Trump again dismissed the
process as a “sham” and a “hoax”.
Today’s hearing lasted just over ten minutes before the two articles of
impeachment – abuse of power and obstructing Congress – were passed by 23 votes
The vote was delayed after more than 14 hours of rancorous debate.
Republicans criticized that decision by Democratic Party Chairman Jerry Nadler,
accusing him of pushing back the vote to ensure more TV coverage.
In the abuse of power article, President Trump is accused of soliciting a
foreign country to help him politically by trying to force Ukraine to launch a
corruption investigation into his political rival Joe Biden, a leading
Democratic presidential contender.
The president is also accused of obstructing Congress by failing to
co-operate with the House investigation.
Leading Democrats agreed the articles of impeachment described over nine
pages. They say that President Trump “betrayed the nation” by acting
Jerry Nadler made a brief statement to reporters after the vote, calling it
a “solemn and sad day” and pledged that the House of Representatives
would “act expeditiously”.
However, Republican Congressman Matt Gaetz said: “For Democrats, impeachment is their drug.”
Speaking from the White House Oval Office alongside the president of
Paraguay, President Trump called the impeachment process “a witch
hunt”, “a sham” and “a hoax”.
Donald Trump said Democrats were “trivializing impeachment” adding that they are “making absolute fools out of themselves”.
House Judiciary Committee has unveiled charges
against President Donald Trump, a key move in impeaching him.
The first article revealed by committee chief Jerry Nadler accuses President
Trump of abuse of power and the second accuses him of obstructing Congress.
The Republican president is said to have withheld aid to Ukraine for
domestic political reasons.
Donald Trump has urged the Senate to try him “sooner than later”.
He insists he has done “nothing wrong” and has dismissed the
impeachment process as “madness”.
If the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives Judiciary Committee
votes to approve the articles later this week, they will then be submitted to
the lower chamber for a full vote.
If, in turn, the articles are approved by the House, an impeachment trial in
the Republican-held Senate will take place, possibly early in January.
The impeachment process was launched after an anonymous
whistleblower complained to Congress in September about a July phone call by
Donald Trump to the president of Ukraine.
President Trump is alleged to have
committed “high crimes and misdemeanors” (a phrase from the US
Constitution) on two counts outlined by Jerry Nadler:
The first allegation is that he exercised the powers of his public office to “obtain an improper personal benefit while ignoring or injuring the national interest”, by allegedly putting pressure on Ukraine to interfere in the 2020 presidential election;
The second allegation is that “when he was caught, when the House investigated and opened an impeachment inquiry, President Trump engaged in unprecedented categorical and indiscriminate defiance of the impeachment inquiry”, thereby obstructing Congress.
President Trump “sees himself
as above the law”, Jerry Nadler said.
“We must be clear, no-one, not even the president, is
above the law.”
In the July phone call to Ukraine’s
President Volodymyr Zelensky,
President Trump appeared to tie US military assistance for Ukraine to its
launching of investigations that could help him politically.
In return for those investigations, Democrats say President Trump offered
two bargaining chips – $400 million of military aid that had already been
allocated by Congress, and a White House meeting for President.
Democrats say this pressure on a vulnerable US ally constitutes an abuse of
The first investigation President Trump wanted from Ukraine was into former
VP Joe Biden, his main Democratic challenger, and his son Hunter. Hunter Biden
joined the board of a Ukrainian energy company when his father was President
Barack Obama’s deputy.
The second Trump demand was that Ukraine should try to corroborate a
conspiracy theory that Ukraine, not Russia, had interfered in the last US
presidential election. This theory has been widely debunked, and US
intelligence agencies are unanimous in saying Moscow was behind the hacking of
Democratic Party emails in 2016.
President Trump railed at the announcement of the charges, declaring again on Twitter that it was a “witch hunt”.
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