Sat | Sep 26, 2020

Trump team, House managers trade sharp views on impeachment

Published:Sunday | January 19, 2020 | 9:52 AM
President Donald Trump waves before getting into his vehicle after arriving at Palm Beach International Airport in West Palm Beach, Florida, Friday, January 17, 2020. Trump and his family are spending the weekend at their Mar-a-Lago estate. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump’s legal team issued a fiery response Saturday ahead of opening arguments in his impeachment trial, while House Democrats laid out their case in forceful fashion, saying the president betrayed public trust with behaviour that was the “worst nightmare” of the founding fathers.

The duelling filings previewed arguments both sides intend to make once Trump’s impeachment trial begins in earnest Tuesday in the Senate.

Their challenge will be to make a case that appeals to the 100 senators who will render the verdict and for an American public bracing for a presidential election in 10 months.

“President Donald J. Trump used his official powers to pressure a foreign government to interfere in a United States election for his personal political gain,” the House prosecutors wrote, “and then attempted to cover up his scheme by obstructing Congress’s investigation into his misconduct.”

Trump’s legal team, responding to the Senate’s official summons for the trial, said the president “categorically and unequivocally” denies the charges of abuse and obstruction against him.

“This is a brazen and unlawful attempt to overturn the results of the 2016 election and interfere with the 2020 election, now just months away,” the president’s filing states.

At issue in the impeachment case are allegations that Trump asked Ukraine to announce an investigation of Democratic political rival Joe Biden at the same time the White House withheld hundreds of nearly $400 million in aid from the former Soviet republic as it faces a hostile Russia at its border.

The Government Accountability Office said last week the administration violated federal law by withholding the funds to Ukraine. The money was later released after Congress complained.

The House brief said, “President Trump’s misconduct presents a danger to our democratic processes, our national security, and our commitment to the rule of law. He must be removed from office.

Trump’s attorneys argue that the articles of impeachment are unconstitutional in and of themselves and invalid because they don’t allege a crime.

Under the Constitution impeachment is a political, not a criminal process, and the president can be removed from office if found guilty of whatever lawmakers consider “high crimes and misdemeanours.”

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