Defense team: Trump charged with nonimpeachable offenses
US President Donald Trump’s defense team has argued that the president “did absolutely nothing wrong,” accusing Democrats of seeking to remove him from office "with nonimpeachable offenses" because they cannot beat him at the ballot box.
According to Press TV, lawyers representing the president delivered a two-hour opening argument in the Senate impeachment trial on Saturday following three days of arguments by the House managers prosecuting Trump for high crimes and misdemeanors.
Trump is currently facing an impeachment trial over the charges of abusing power and obstruction of Congress. He is accused of pressuring Ukraine to investigate former Democratic Vice President Joe Biden, a political rival, and then impeding the inquiry into the matter.
His attorneys on Saturday sought to turn the Democrats’ charges back on them, criticizing the whole process as illegitimate.
“They’re asking you to tear up all of the ballots all across the country on your own initiative, take that decision away from the American people,” Pat A. Cipollone, the White House counsel, said of the House managers.
“They’re here to perpetrate the most massive interference in an election in American history,” Cipollone said, but added, “We can’t allow that to happen.”
They also asserted that Trump withheld military aid from Ukraine for valid reasons and that House prosecutors missed facts that are more favorable to the president’s case.
The lawyers also questioned why House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) did not appear before the House Judiciary Committee, accusing him of cherrypicking evidence.
“We believe when you hear the facts… you will find that the president did absolutely nothing wrong,” Cipollone said.
Meanwhile, another of Trump's defense attorneys, Alan Dershowitz, said he would focus his arguments on what he sees as "nonimpeachable offenses" brought forward by the House.
"They charged him with nonimpeachable offenses: namely obstruction of Congress and abuse of power," Dershowitz told NPR. "Those would have clearly been rejected by the framers as too broad, too open-ended and not sufficiently specific. So I'm going to focus my argument on the criteria used by the House."
Democrats in the House of Representatives launched an impeachment probe against Trump in September after an anonymous intelligence community whistleblower accused the president of pressing Ukraine's president to investigate the Bidens, as well as a debunked theory that Ukraine interfered in the 2016 US presidential election.
Trump temporarily withheld $391 million in US military aid to Ukraine, which Democrats say was leverage for his demands.
Republicans have largely rallied around the president throughout the week, and since they hold a majority in the Senate, it is unlikely that Trump would be removed from office.