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Trump defense ends arguments, urges end to impeachment trial

By
Don Jacobson & Danielle Haynes & Darryl Coote
Pat Cipollone, White House counsel, (R) and Jay Sekulow, President Donald Trump's personal lawyer, arrive on Capitol Hill on Tuesday. Photo by Alex Wroblewski/UPI
Pat Cipollone, White House counsel, (R) and Jay Sekulow, President Donald Trump's personal lawyer, arrive on Capitol Hill on Tuesday. Photo by Alex Wroblewski/UPI | License Photo

Jan. 28 (UPI) -- Attorneys defending President Donald Trump against two impeachment charges concluded their opening arguments Tuesday, calling for the Senate to end the trial with an acquittal.

White House counsel Pat Cipollone told senators they must do what's right "in your heart" and "defend our Constitution."

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"You know it should end," he said. "You know it should end.

Cipollone repeated arguments he made Saturday, saying that to remove Trump from office would be to "tear up every ballot across this country" for the 2020 presidential election.

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"What they [Democrats] are asking you to do is to throw out a successful president on the eve of an election with no basis and in violation of the Constitution," he said. "Why not trust the American people with this decision?"

Trump's team didn't use the full 24 hours to which they were entitled to make their arguments.

Led by Cipollone and attorney Jay Sekulow, the defense team said it wanted to make its case "quickly" and "efficiently," and criticized Democratic managers for taking all of its allotted time last week.

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RELATED Impeachment: Trump's legal team concludes opening day of arguments

Trump is charged with abuse of power and obstruction of Congress for his dealings with Ukraine last year. The charges say the president used Congress-approved military aid and a potential White House visit as leverage to pressure Kiev into announcing investigations of Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden, a former board member for Ukrainian gas company Burisma.

The second article says Trump interfered with the House impeachment investigation by refusing to cooperate and defying subpoenas to keep administration officials from testifying in the inquiry.

Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell said the impeachment trial will move into the questioning phase. Senators will each have a total of 16 hours -- 8 hours for each side -- to alternate questioning over the course of two days.

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At the conclusion of the defense's arguments Tuesday, House impeachment manager Adam Schiff called again for the Senate to allow witnesses and documents.

"Up until this point, all the senators have heard is argument. A fair trial involves witnesses, and it involves documents," he said.

Trump's legal team on Monday sought to discredit the Democrats' case by arguing the president never made Ukraine's military aid conditional on investigating the Bidens.



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Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz argued that the charges against Trump do not meet the criteria of "high crimes and misdemeanors" required for impeachment by the U.S. Constitution.

Senate Republicans have rebuffed Democrats' calls to include witnesses and introduce new evidence at the Senate trial, but a report Monday detailing the contents of a new book by former national security adviser John Bolton has the potential to change their minds.

The New York Times report said in the book Bolton establishes a clear connection between Trump's withholding Ukrainian aid and efforts to investigate the Bidens. In the forthcoming book, the report said, Bolton acknowledges he was directly told by Trump the aid was to be withheld in exchange for Kiev's promise to investigate the two men -- a claim Trump denied on Twitter Monday.

At least two GOP senators, Mitt Romney of Utah and Susan Collins of Maine, have said the report, if true, increases the likelihood Republicans will also want to hear from witnesses. A vote to include witnesses and evidence is expected at the trial sometime after the questioning stage.

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Monday, Trump's defense team dismissed the impact of the New York Times report.

"Nothing in the Bolton revelations, even if true, would rise to the level of an abuse of power or an impeachable offense," Dershowitz argued.

However, calls for witnesses may increase after the U.S. Department of Energy released more than 100 pages of documents Tuesday night connected to the impeachment proceedings.

In response to a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit filed by American Oversight, the department released 139 pages of records concerning a Trump administration delegation led by then Energy Secretary Rick Perry to Ukraine in May.

According to the documents, Perry, who refused to testify in the House's impeachment inquiry, along with key witnesses U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland and former Special Envoy to Ukraine Kurt Volker, pursued the Trump administration's Ukraine policy in Keiv.

Talking points contained in the trove of documents for Perry's meeting with President Volodymyr Zelensky states that the United States and the EU are ready to work with them, "but you must be committed to make the hard choices on corruption and good governance reforms."

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After questioning, the chamber will address various potential motions -- like the vote for witnesses or a move to dismiss the case. The White House, however, has already indicated it won't seek to dismiss.

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