Lead impeachment prosecutor, Adam Schiff, has shared his first thoughts on the president’s defense. Trump’s lawyers made Schiff a prominent character in their narrative, sharing video clips of his previous statements while he watched and listened nearby.
In Schiff’s closing statement on Friday, the Democratic congressmen pre-empted much of the Trump legal team’s defense.
Trump defense concludes for the day
Back to Cipollone, who promises this will only last “a few more minutes.”
He puts on the screen three instances in which Trump invited Ukraine president Volodymyr Zelenskiy to Washington, by phone. There was also a letter invitation, he says.
“Impeachment shouldn’t be a shell game, they should give you the facts,” Cipollone said. “That’s all we have for today.”
In a speedy two hours, the first part of Trump’s defense wraps and the Senate is adjourned.
We will continue to have analysis and reaction in the live blog today. The trial continues Monday afternoon.
Patrick Philbin, deputy counsel to the president, is here to speak about the issues of obstruction and due process.
Philbin says the House did not follow procedure when it issued subpoenas and therefore the White House committed no wrongdoing by defying those subpoenas.
Meanwhile, reports are coming in from reporters in the Senate chamber, who are able to see the Senate’s reaction to the arguments. The Senate has limited the television broadcast to focus on the speakers, not the reaction in the room.
Sekulow lists multiple instances in which the Trump White House withheld foreign aid from countries which weren’t Ukraine.
Trump’s lawyer, Jay Sekulow, has taken over.
He brandishes a copy of the Mueller report, highlighting that investigators did not find any overarching conspiracy between Trump’s team and Russian operatives. The report did find 11 instances in which Trump or his campaign engaged in potential obstruction of justice and suggested Congress might prosecute these acts as crimes.
“This, for that,” Sekulow keeps repeating while waving a section of the 450-page report, in an effort to draw a parallel between that investigation and the impeachment inquiry.
Purpura is repeatedly highlighting video clips from the House impeachment trial, then asking why Democrats didn’t share them.
The clips he is sharing support the president’s case and were usually prompted by Republican House members, similar to how Democrats shared video clips that supported their case and were prompted by Democratic House members.
Trump defense outlines six “key facts”
Mike Purpura, deputy counsel to the president, outlined six key facts pertinent to the case. He said each of these facts alone is “enough to sink the Democrats case.”
- The transcript (which the White House said is not verbatim) shows that the president did not condition either security assistance or a meeting on anything.
- Ukrainians have said there was no quid pro quo.
- Ukraine did not know security assistance was paused until a month after the 25 July call.
- No Ukrainian investigation into Joe Biden took place.
- Ukraine received assistance without such an investigation.
- Trump has been a bigger supporter of Ukraine than his predecessor, Barack Obama.
Cipollone rounds out his opening statement: “They are here to perpetrate the most massive interference in an American election in US history.”
Up next, Mike Purpura, deputy counsel to the president.
He begins by showing video of lead impeachment manager Adam Schiff paraphrasing a White House transcript of the 25 July call between Trump and Ukraine president Volodymyr Zelenskiy.
Purpura says what Schiff is reading was fake, which is a well-trodden critique from the president’s defenders. Schiff paraphrased a White House summary of the call, which was not verbatim, and reporters who analyzed Schiff’s recounting of the transcript said he was accurate.
White House counsel Pat Cipollone says today’s argument should only take two to three hours and promises to be out by 1pm at the latest. He says the defense’s case will make two points.
The first appears to be that his argument will focus on the president not having done anything wrong.
“You heard the house manager speak for nearly 24 hours over three days,” Cipollone says. “We don’t anticipate using that much time. We don’t believe they have come anywhere close to meeting their burden for what they are asking you to do.”
“In fact,” Cipollone says, today he will focus on facts. And once the Senate hears those facts, he says: “You will find the president did absolutely nothing wrong.”
Cipollone moves on to the second point: “They are asking you not only to overturn the results of the last election, but as I’ve said before, they are asking you to remove president Trump from the ballot in an election that is occurring in approximately nine months.”
Cipollone then suggests ballots for the November election already exist, and will be torn up if the Senate votes for removal from office. Since each party hasn’t formally named its candidate in the 2020 election, this is a rhetorical flourish which shows the president’s legal team is ready to make politics a significant part of its defense.
Minutes later, Cipollone returns to the idea that Democrats are asking to “tear up the ballots” by calling for impeachment.
Trump’s defense team to deliver opening arguments
The Senate impeachment trial has begun its new phase, with the case moving to the president’s legal team.
Trump’s lawyers have said today they would outline their argument to defend the president, with plans to deliver the brunt of their case in longer sessions on Monday and Tuesday.
They are expected to argue that the president was justified in seeking the investigation because of a history of corruption involving the company and that he committed no crimes.
Who are the people tasked with preventing Trump from becoming the first impeached president to be removed from office? From Floridians to a key figure in the Bill Clinton impeachment trial, a profile of the attorneys representing the president:
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At the top of the hour, Donald Trump’s defense team will begin its case to argue the president did not commit impeachable offenses and should remain in office. Trump’s team said today would feature a three-hour “overview” of their defense, which will continue next week.
The defense arrives in the Senate after the impeachment managers made the case for Trump’s removal from office in nearly 24 hours, spread over three days. In a 90-minute closing statement on Friday, lead impeachment manager Adam Schiff launched a preemptive attack on Trump’s defense, which faces two impeachment charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.
Today will mark the first time the White House presents a substantive response to the impeachment charges, since Trump’s legal team rejected the House invitation to participate in its impeachment inquiry.
Stay tuned for updates from the trial. And relive the Democrats’ case to remove Trump from office, here: