Trump lawyers present defence for ‘dangerous’ impeachment

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A woman is seen with an umbrella that reads ‘Impeached’ outside the White House following the Fourth Annual Women’s March in Washington, January 18, 2020. — Reuters pic
Nevin Al Sukari - Sana'a - A woman is seen with an umbrella that reads ‘Impeached’ outside the White House following the Fourth Annual Women’s March in Washington, January 18, 2020. — Reuters pic

WASHINGTON, Jan 19 — President Donald Trump’s legal team yesterday presented its line of defence for his upcoming impeachment trial, a process they deemed unconstitutional and “dangerous.”

This was the first time that the team, which the White House officially announced on Friday, has presented its arguments, modelled on those put forward since December by Trump and his fellow Republicans.

In an initial written response to the president’s being charged, Trump’s lawyers said that the articles of impeachment — passed by the majority-Democrat House of Representatives — “are a dangerous attack on the right of the American people to freely choose their president,” a source close to the defence team told reporters.

“This is a brazen and unlawful attempt to overturn the results of the 2016 election and interfere with the 2020 election,” the source said.

Trump has been impeached on accusations that he abused his office to try and force Ukraine into digging up dirt on leading Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden by withholding US$400 million in military aid and a White House meeting with his Ukrainian counterpart President Volodymyr Zelensky.

He was also impeached for allegedly obstructing Congress.

“The articles of impeachment are constitutionally invalid on their face: they fail to allege any crime or violation of law whatsoever,” the source said.

According to another source, who also delivered the White House’s response, the articles violate the Constitution because they are “the product of invalid proceedings that flagrantly denied the president any due process rights.”

The impeachment process risks doing “lasting damage to our structure of government,” she said.

The two sources also said that Trump had met with Zelensky at the UN in September and that the military aid had been released, proving there was no quid pro quo with Kiev — although by that point, a whistleblower within the administration had already triggered the impeachment proceedings.

The House managers, or prosecutors in the impeachment trial, filed their official brief yesterday, in which they said that Trump’s conduct “is the Framers’ worst nightmare,” referring to the authors of the US Constitution.

“The case against the President of the United States is simple, the facts are indisputable, and the evidence is overwhelming,” the managers said in a joint statement after filing the brief.

“President Trump abused the power of his office to solicit foreign interference in our elections for his own personal political gain, thereby jeopardising our national security, the integrity of our elections, and our democracy.” — AFP

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