Donald Trump’s lawyers defended the president against articles of impeachment Saturday morning arguing it’s the Democrats trying to interfere in elections by seeking to remove Trump from the 2020 ballot for doing “absolutely nothing wrong.”
White House Counsel Pat Cipollone said Democrats have no case and are doing damage to democracy by trying to undermine the will of American voters.
“For all their talk about election interference, they’re here to perpetrate the most massive interference in an election in American history,” Cipollone said in his opening remarks to the Senate. “And we can’t allow that to happen.”
Cipollone continued: “It would violate the sacred trust that the American people have placed in you and have placed in them. The American people decide elections. They have one coming up in nine months.”
Saturday was the first chance Trump’s lawyers had to refute the House’s case of impeachment and they came out making a forceful case that there are no grounds to remove Trump from office. Not only are Democrats asking the Senate to undo the results of the 2016 election but to tear up all ballots in the 2020 election with Trump’s name, Cipollone charged.
“They’re asking you to do something that no Senate has ever done and they’re asking you to do it with no evidence. And that’s wrong,” Cipollone said.
Billed as a teaser for next week’s argument, Trump’s legal team gave a 2-hour preview of their legal argument. All told, they’ll have three days and up to 24 hours to launch their defense – the same amount of time as House managers — but Cipollone told senators up front they would be “respectful” of their time and make their presentations shorter and less repetitive than Democrats.
House impeachment managers spent the prior three days arguing that Trump needs to be removed from office because he’s put his own self-interests before that of national security by pressuring Ukraine to investigate his political opponent, former Vice President Joe Biden, and withholding nearly $400 million in security assistance to a country at war with Russia.
In smoothly choreographed presentations that relied on videos from witnesses and slideshows, the seven House Democrats drilled home the narrative that Trump needs to be impeached for abusing his oath of office by soliciting foreign election inference solely to boost his 2020 reelection chances. Trump, they charge, then obstructed Congress from investigating when he got caught.
But Trump’s legal team sought Saturday sought to dismantle the argument on several fronts. First, Trump couldn’t have pressured Ukraine because President Volodymyr Zelensky didn’t know it was on hold until after his phone call with Trump, they said.
Trump attorney Jay Sekulow said the president’s actions can’t be viewed in a “vacuum” and reminded that Trump was “subjected” to the “Crossfire Hurricane” FBI probe before he was president and then Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s probe after he was in office. Trump had reason to not “blindly trust” the intelligence community and turned instead to his personal attorney Rudy Giuliani on Ukraine matters, he said.
Sekulow noted the administration has placed holds on aid to a number of countries, including Afghanistan, Lebanon, El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras. The U.S. withheld $300 million in military aid to Pakistan because it wasn’t meeting counter-terrorism obligation, he said.
“You didn’t hear about any of that from my Democratic colleagues, the House managers,” Sekulow charged.
You can read the rest of Marisa Schultz’s article at FoxNews.com