Trump Lawyers, House Democrats Make Final Arguments in Impeachment Trial

February 3, 2020 Updated: February 3, 2020
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House Democrats made their final arguments in President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial in the Senate on Monday, calling on senators to remove the president from office—while Trump’s lawyers said he should be acquitted.

The impeachment trial is slated to culminate with a likely acquittal vote being cast in favor of the president. The Senate announced the final vote will be held Wednesday at 4 p.m. ET.

On Monday, Democrats summarized and repeated their arguments alleging that Trump abused his power and obstructed Congress over a phone call he made with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. They also said Monday that their arguments should compel the subpoena of documents and witnesses, including former national security adviser John Bolton.

House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), the lead impeachment manager who likely has spoken the most during the impeachment trial, argued that a conviction of the president would mean senators took a stand against tyranny.

“When the history books are written about this tumultuous era, I want them to know I stood up to tyranny,” he said on the floor. Schiff continued, “It’s not too late for us to honor ours, to wield our power to defend our democracy.”

“Today, you have a duty to perform with fidelity, not without a sense of surrounding dangers, but also not without hope. I submit to you, on behalf of the House of Representatives, your duty demands that you convict,” Rep. Jason Crow (D-Colo.), an impeachment manager, also said on the Senate floor. “The House has presented to you overwhelming evidence that Trump has committed grave abuses of power,” Rep. Val Demings (D-Fla.) said on the floor.

Trump Team Responds

The trial will end this week with a vote on Wednesday. House impeachment managers and Trump’s legal team are scheduled to first make their closing arguments, which came after senators voted last Friday to not call in any witnesses in the trial.

Trump’s legal counsel presented arguments on the floor. Former Clinton impeachment prosecutor Ken Starr, Trump’s attorney, questioned whether if the House impeachment managers had tried to actually “carefully gather” or “assess the facts” in their impeachment inquiry last year.

Starr suggested that the House impeachment vote was carried out in a “hopelessly partisan” manner and implied that it was invalid in light of prior impeachment inquiries against former Presidents Bill Clinton, Richard Nixon—who resigned before an impeachment vote could be cast by the House—and Andrew Johnson. Those inquiries were held in a bipartisan manner while Trump’s was not, Starr said.

Epoch Times Photo
President Donald Trump’s lawyer Ken Starr speaks on the Senate floor on Feb. 3, 2019. (Senate TV)

“The president sets the foreign policy; the unelected staff implements the foreign policy,” Mike Pupurra, a White House deputy counsel, said on the floor, adding that a number of White House officials, including national security adviser Keith Kellogg, have said that Trump’s July 25 call with Zelensky—where Trump asked his counterpart about investigations—was fine. He also noted that Zelensky, his top adviser, and foreign minister also disputed Democrats’ claims of any quid pro quo pressure campaign.

“If the Ukrainians didn’t know about the pause, there was no leverage implied,” he said on the floor, referring to a claim that Zelensky and other officials didn’t know about a hold on military aid. Democrats have alleged Trump held the aid in exchange for politically advantageous investigations and said it amounted to an abuse of his power.

“The House violated every principle of due process and fundamental fairness in the way the [impeachment] hearings were conducted,” said Trump legal counsel Patrick Philbin. “It’s significant because: Denying the president the ability to be present through counsel, to cross-examine witnesses, and present evidence fundamentally skewed the proceedings in the House.”

This didn’t give Trump the ability “to have a fair proceeding and reflected the fact that the proceedings were not truly designed as a search for truth,” he argued.

As the final leg of the trial proceeded, Trump asked Monday on Twitter, “Why didn’t the House do its job?” likely referring to the rushed nature of the impeachment proceedings in the House.

“I hope Republicans & the American people realize that the totally partisan Impeachment Hoax is exactly that, a Hoax. Read the Transcripts, listen to what the President & Foreign Minister of Ukraine said (‘No Pressure’),” he wrote on Twitter.

It’s not clear if the acquittal vote will be bipartisan. Two Republicans might vote for at least one of the impeachment charges while some Democratic senators in states that Trump carried in 2016 have signaled they might vote to acquit.

Sens. Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Mitt Romney (R-Utah) both voted with Democrats in the failed bid to compel witnesses last week.

Meanwhile, Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Doug Jones (D-Ala.) have not said whether they would vote to convict Trump.

“A good job. I thought they did a good job. They gave us a lot to think about, and I think it gives us more reasons why the one thing that stuck in my mind is they said that there wasn’t a witness that they’ve had so far that had direct contact with the president,” Manchin said last month, referring to Trump’s legal team, according to the Washington Examiner. “So, I think that it reaffirms why I would love to hear from [Mick] Mulvaney and [John] Bolton.”

Jones, meanwhile, told CNN that he is still undecided.

“I’m getting there,” he told reporters. “I’m going through all my notes. I’m going through everything, and I really do want to hear the arguments and some conversations from colleagues.”

House Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), whose committee drafted the two articles of impeachment against Trump, wasn’t in the Senate on Monday. Last week, the Manhattan lawmaker said he needed to return to New York while his wife is sick.