Trump's defense team asks Senate to speedily reject impeachment case
By Susana Samhan
US President Donald Trump. EFE-EPA/Jim Lo Scalzo/File
The US flag flies outside of the US Capitol in Washington on 14 January 2020. EFE/EPA/SAMUEL CORUM
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi holds a press conference to announce the House impeachment managers at the Capitol in Washington on 15 January 2020. EFE/EPA/MICHAEL REYNOLDS
President Donald Trump arrives at the White House in Washington on 19 January 2020. Trump returned to Washington after speaking at the American Farm Bureau Federation Annual Convention and Trade Show in Austin, Texas. EFE/EPA/SARAH SILBIGER
By Susana Samhan
Washington, Jan 20 (efe-epa).- Defense attorneys for President Donald Trump on Monday called on the Republican-controlled Senate to "speedily reject" the impeachment case against him, scheduled to begin on Tuesday, and called the Democrats' investigation of the president "rigged."
The president's lawyers had until noon on Monday to present in writing their arguments in defending Trump, after Democratic lawmakers who will be the "managers" of the impeachment case formally expressed their point of view in a similar document last Saturday.
Trump's lawyers said in their memo released by the White House on Monday that House Democrats during the impeachment inquiry last fall were trying "to corrupt the extraordinary power of impeachment for use as a political tool to overturn the result of the 2016 election and to interfere in the 2020 election."
"All of that is a dangerous perversion of the Constitution that the Senate should swiftly and roundly condemn," wrote lead attorney and White House counsel Pat Cipollone. "The Articles themselves - and the rigged process that brought them here - are a brazenly political act by House Democrats that must be rejected."
In a telephone press conference before the delivery and release of the document, sources working with Trump's defense team and requesting anonymity refused to clarify if the request for a "speedy" rejection of the two impeachment articles filed against him will include a motion to demand that the Senate simply dismiss the charges.
The source said that they were not going to discuss details about what the defense strategy will be when the trial commences, saying only that neither of the two articles is legitimate because they do not specify that the president broke the law.
In the 171-page document, the legal team focuses more on claiming that the impeachment articles - for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress - are invalid than in denying that Trump illegally pressured Ukraine to launch an investigation into former Vice President Joe Biden with an eye toward influencing the 2020 presidential election, in which the former VP is a top Democratic contender.
The attorneys called the charges shaky since they do not specify any crime, despite the fact that many legal scholars assert that a president does not have to break the law to commit an impeachable offense.
During their September-December impeachment investigation, House Democrats say they found ample evidence that Trump abused his power by pressuring Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to announce a bogus Biden corruption investigation while withholding some $400 million in military aid and that he obstructed Congress by refusing to release any documents related to - or allow any White House officials to testify on - the matter.
The two impeachment articles against Trump were approved along party lines in December by the House, but Speaker Nancy Pelosi withheld delivering them to the GOP-led Senate for weeks, during which time additional evidence of administration wrongdoing emerged.
On Saturday, the seven House managers who will prosecute the Democratic case against Trump in the Senate, filed a brief with the upper house saying that the president's actions constituted "the Framers' worst nightmare" and his behavior presents a "danger to our democratic processes."
The president's defense team includes Cipollone and Jay Sekulow, along with Ken Starr, Alan Dershowitz, Pam Bondi, Jane Raskin, Eric Herschmann and Robert Ray.
Trump is just the third US president to be impeached after Andrew Johnson in 1868 and Bill Clinton in 1998, both of whom were acquitted in the Senate. Richard Nixon resigned before he could be impeached in 1974.
The president will not be in Washington, at least for the start of the trial on Tuesday, because he is scheduled to travel to Davos, Switzerland, for the World Economic Forum.