Trump Impeachment Trial Day 7: Trump’s Defense Team Wraps up Opening Arguments

January 28, 2020 Updated: January 28, 2020
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President Donald Trump’s legal defense team made its final day of opening arguments against the impeachment of the president, following three days’ worth of arguments from House Democrats.

3:05 p.m.—Trial Over for the Day

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell stated there will be eight hours of questioning, alternating between Democrats and Trump’s team, on Wednesday and Thursday.

The trial will start again on Wednesday at 1 p.m. ET.

3 p.m.—’Danger, Danger, Danger’

President Donald Trump’s lawyer, in concluding their opening arguments in the Senate impeachment trial, said that if the bar for impeachment is set too low, future presidents won’t be able to exercise executive power, while addressing allegations allegedly contained in former national security adviser John Bolton’s book.

“Danger, danger, danger,” Jay Sekulow, Trump’s personal attorney, said in front of the Senate. “I want to focus today, on my section, on what you’re being asked to do. You are being asked to remove a duly-elected president of the United States and you’re being asked to do it in an election year,” Sekulow said. “In an election year,” he asserted.

What’s more, the current case against Trump, if successful, would permanently damage the executive branch’s power as future House majorities could dangle impeachment over future presidents’ heads.

“Future presidents—Democrats and Republicans—will be paralyzed the moment they are elected. Before they can even take the oath of office,” he said. “The bar for impeachment cannot be set this low.”

Impeachments cannot be done over policy disagreements or based on unsourced newspaper reports, Sekulow continued.

Sekulow said Trump’s July 25 phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky—a key component of the impeachment inquiry against the president—was more about foreign policy.

2 p.m.—Trump Lawyer: Senators Would Rather ‘Be Somewhere Else’

Jay Sekulow, Trump’s personal lawyer, noted that several senators would rather “be somewhere else” than in Washington, listening to impeachment trial proceedings.

Sekulow didn’t name the senators but he strongly suggested that Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), and Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) would rather be campaigning during the Democratic primary.

Jay Sekulow
Personal attorney to President Donald Trump, Jay Sekulow, speaks during the impeachment trial against Trump in the Senate at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, on Jan. 25, 2020. (Senate Television via AP)

“I get it,” he said, adding that his team’s arguments “will be brief” on Tuesday.

All 100 senators have to attend the trial six days per week for hours each day, getting only Sundays off. Sanders, who is leading in key caucus state Iowa, has lamented the fact that he can’t be on the ground and campaign.

The Iowa caucuses are on Feb. 3, and the New Hampshire caucuses are about eight days later.

1:45 p.m.—John Kelly Says He Believes Bolton

Former White House chief of staff John Kelly said he believes former Trump adviser John Bolton’s reported claims in his unpublished manuscript.

“If John Bolton says that in the book, I believe John Bolton,” Kelly said during an event in Florida, according to the Sarasota Herald-Tribune. “John’s an honest guy,” Kelly said. “He’s a man of integrity and great character, so we’ll see what happens.”

Epoch Times Photo
Former White House Chief of Staff John Kelly in Washington on Oct. 19, 2017. (Benjamin Chasteen/The Epoch Times)

The New York Times reported on the book Sunday, claiming Bolton said he was told by Trump about a linkage between military aid and investigations into political rivals. Trump and other White House officials have disputed claims in the NY Times report.

Trump, on Twitter, denied the claim.

“I NEVER told John Bolton that the aid to Ukraine was tied to investigations into Democrats, including the Bidens. In fact, he never complained about this at the time of his very public termination. If John Bolton said this, it was only to sell a book,” he wrote.

1:30 p.m.—Graham Believes There Are 51 Votes to Call Bidens

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said Tuesday that if the Senate opens the door to calling new witnesses, Republicans would vote to subpoena Joe and Hunter Biden.

“I’ll make a prediction: There will be 51 Republican votes to call Hunter Biden, Joe Biden, the whistleblower and the DNC staffer at a minimum,” Graham told reporters.

It comes as top Democratic senators said that the Bidens shouldn’t be called to testify in exchange for former national security adviser John Bolton’s testimony in the trial.

lindsey graham
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) holds a press conference on Capitol Hill in Washington on Oct. 24, 2019. (Charlotte Cuthbertson/The Epoch Times)

The Bidens play a central role in the impeachment saga, as President Trump had asked Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to “look into” their dealings in Ukraine. On Monday, his lawyer Pam Bondi told the Senate that there were numerous questions and “red flags” about Hunter Biden’s board position on Ukrainian firm Burisma Holdings, whose founder was and still is under investigation for corruption. Bondi said that it was well within Trump’s purview to ask his counterpart for an investigation into the Bidens.  Zelensky and Trump have denied House Democrats’ allegations that Trump withheld aid and exerted pressure on Kyiv to investigate the president’s political rivals.

1 p.m.—Senate Trial Starts

Tuesday’s Senate trial was gaveled in by Chief Justice John Roberts after the Pledge of Allegiance was recited. Trump’s legal team will make their defense of the president.

12:30 p.m.—Schumer Says GOP Shouldn’t Get Book

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said that GOP senators should not be able to obtain a manuscript from former national security adviser John Bolton.

Schumer told a press conference in the morning: “I heard a proposal that came from two Republicans this morning, Lankford and Graham, that we get the manuscript and read it in the SCIF in secret. What an absurd proposal. It’s a book. There’s no need for it to be read in SCIF unless you want to hide something.” The SCIF refers to the Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility in Congress.

12 p.m.—GOP Sens. Want Bolton Book Manuscript

Sens. James Lankford (R-Okla.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said the White House should hand over a copy of former national security adviser John Bolton’s upcoming book after The New York Times published alleged excerpts on Sunday night, claiming Bolton wrote that he was told by President Donald Trump about a freeze on aid to Ukraine.

“I am encouraging the White House, anybody that I can talk to, to say: that manuscript is pertinent and we should get access to that manuscript to see what they’re actually saying,” Lankford said in a Facebook video. “I think getting that information firsthand would be really important for us,” he added.

“My encouragement would be: if John Bolton’s got something to say, there’s plenty of microphones all over the country; he should step forward and start talking about it right now,” Lankford explained.

“I think what we have to do here is evaluate the manuscript. … I want to know what’s in the manuscript,” Graham told The Hill. “The White House said there was no direct evidence of communication. Maybe this suggests that one person said there might be. What I’ve said all along is, if you’re going to add to the record, we’re going to do it in a balanced way,” Graham explained. “If we add to the record, we’re going to call Hunter Biden, Joe Biden, and all these other people.”