President Donald Trump announced eight House Republicans set to be a part of his legal defense team ahead of a Senate impeachment trial.
“Throughout this process, these Members of Congress have provided guidance to the White House team, which was prohibited from participating in the proceedings concocted by Democrats in the House of Representatives,” read an announcement from the White House on Monday.
“The President looks forward to their continued participation and is confident that the Members will help expeditiously end this brazen political vendetta on behalf of the American people,” it adds.
The eight members are Doug Collins (R-Ga.), Mike Johnson (R-La.), Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), Debbie Lesko (R-Ariz.), Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), John Ratcliffe (R-Texas), Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.) and Lee Zeldin (R-N.Y.).
Trump was formally charged on Dec. 18 by the Democrat-majority House on two articles of impeachment (pdf)—abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.
No House Republicans voted in favor of the articles, and a small number of Democrats broke with their party to vote against one or both articles. Democratic presidential candidate Tulsi Gabbard voted present in protest of the House-led effort, which she called a “partisan endeavor.”
A brief that was submitted to the Senate before the trial shows that Trump’s lawyers are set to make the argument that both articles of impeachment against the president were constitutionally deficient, while potentially endangering the future office of the presidency and upsetting the government’s balance of power.
“House Democrats were determined from the outset to find some way—any way—to corrupt the extraordinary power of impeachment for use as a political tool to overturn the result of the 2016 election and to interfere in the 2020 election,” Trump’s lawyers wrote. “All of that is a dangerous perversion of the Constitution that the Senate should swiftly and roundly condemn.”
The Trump legal team’s filing comes after House Democrats submitted their brief that essentially summarized weeks of testimony from witnesses.
Democrats’ impeachment case accuses Trump of abusing his power by withholding military aid from Ukraine while he was pushing to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden, his son Hunter, and Ukraine-based energy company Burisma Holdings, where the younger Biden sat on the board. They have also alleged Trump obstructed Congress by not sufficiently cooperating with their inquiry.
The House impeachment managers, including Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) and Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), responded to the White House’s filing on Monday afternoon.
“President Trump has engaged in the trifecta of constitutional misconduct warranting removal,” the managers wrote in response. “He is the Framers’ worst nightmare come to life.”
Their filing argued: “President Trump did not engage in this corrupt conduct to uphold the Presidency or protect the right to vote. He did it to cheat in the next election and bury the evidence when he got caught.”
Republicans control the Senate with a 53-47 majority. A simple majority (51 votes) is required to dismiss the charges against Trump.
A two-thirds supermajority (67 votes) in the Senate is required to convict a president and remove the president from office. About 20 Republicans would have to break with their party and join the Democratic minority to achieve a supermajority.
Jack Phillips contributed to this report.