WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump’s defense team are set to make their final day of arguments in his impeachment trial. On Monday, the president’s team slammed the impeachment process as partisan and argued Trump was justified in asking the Ukrainian government to open investigations into his political adversaries.
House Democrats impeached Trump for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress in mid-December. They allege Trump withheld military aid and an Oval Office meeting with the Ukrainian president to get Ukraine to open investigations into former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden, and that the Trump administration stonewalled Congress’ investigation into Trump’s actions.
The impeachment trial resumes today at 1 p.m. EST. Refresh here for updates.
Trump’s team goes into day three
Trump’s defense team will offer their final arguments in this phase of the trial, concluding the three days maximum of presentation time allowed under the rules for the first phase of the impeachment trial.
Trump’s team has offered a vigorous defense of the president’s actions while also asserting Trump’s lack of wrongdoing.
Tuesday’s presentation will not be their last chance to convince senators, however. The rules for the impeachment trial allow for 16 answers of questions of both sides submitted by senators following the presentations by the impeachment managers and the defense.
What Trump’s team has said so far
Trump’s spent their part of their Monday presentation on arguing Trump was justified in asking for investigations into the Bidens and withholding aid to Ukraine, and concluded it with a presentation from Alan Dershowitz, a celebrity lawyer on Trump’s team.
Dershowitz argued the articles of impeachment were unconstitutional because they did not charge Trump with a federal crime.
Response to his arguments split along party lines.
“I liked Dershowitz,” said Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, told reporters as she left the Capitol on Monday night.
“The job is being done, and the case is being well-presented,” Rep. Mike Johnson, R-La., a member of the president’s defense team, told reporters following the trial.
So far, Trump’s team has not addressed most of the allegations from former national security adviser John Bolton’s upcoming book, which says Trump told Bolton military aid to Ukraine would be linked to the opening of investigations.
Democrats vigorously disagreed when Dershowitz claimed on Monday that Bolton’s testimony was unnecessary because the new revelations would not “rise to the level of an abuse of power or an impeachable offense.”
Sen. Mark Warner of Virginia, whose education at Harvard Law School overlapped with Dershowitz’s tenure as a professor, laughed at the declaration, shaking his head and taking off his glasses to rub his eyes.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., formerly a Harvard Law School professor, told reporters as she left the Capitol that Dershowitz’s presentation was “contrary to both law and fact.”
What happens next
Following the conclusion of presentations from the defense, the Senate will hold 16 hours of questions from senators, which will be read out by the Chief Justice.
“We’ll be able to combine questions, and it’ll be up to the Chief Justice to combine them in an orderly fashion, both sides having equal opportunity for asking questions,” said Sen. Mike Rounds, R-S.D.
What happens after the question phase is uncertain. At that point, the Senate will take votes on whether to allow additional witnesses and documents in the trial, and the outcome of that vote is up in the air.
Some Republican senators have signaled their willingness to hear from witnesses like Bolton Any vote to call witnesses would require four Republicans to vote with all Democrats because Republicans control the Senate 53-47.
Murkowski, a potential swing vote on witnesses, told reporters going into Republicans’ daily lunch meeting on Monday she was “curious” about Bolton’s testimony.
During their daily lunch meeting on Monday, several senators floated the idea of a witness trade, where Democrats would get to call a witness like Bolton in exchange for a witness Republicans have wanted like Hunter Biden.
Some Democrats, however, are hesitant to engage in witness-trading.
“I’m not going to be party to the same scheme that the President is being impeached for, and that’s what they’re trying to get us to do,” Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Ct., told reporters Monday, describing witness trading as part of a Republican scheme to “destroy the Bidens.”