Impeachment: Trump team aims to wrap arguments ‘efficiently and quickly’

Donald Trump. File photo: Flickr/Gage Skidmore

Jan. 27 (UPI) — President Donald Trump’s legal team will begin its second day Monday defending the president against two impeachment charges that Democrats say should be grounds for removing him from office.

Trump’s defense opened its case on Saturday, but used only a fraction of the time allotted to make its presentation. Both sides were allowed a combined 24 hours over a period of three days to argue their cases. Democrats used all of their allotted time last week, but Trump’s attorneys said they plan to sum up their defense “efficiently and quickly.”

Arguments in the Senate trial resumed at 1 p.m. EST Monday.

Saturday, the team led by White House counsel Pat Cipollone argued that Democratic managers had failed to make their case against Trump on a charge he abused his power last year by withholding vital military aid from Ukraine, in a bid to use it as leverage in exchange for a promise by Kiev to announce investigations of Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden and his son Hunter, a former board member for Ukrainian gas company Burisma. Trump is also charged with obstructing Congress by interfering in the House investigation that followed.

The White House team is expected Monday to expand on themes it touched on Saturday, including assertions that the impeachment case is nothing more than a Democratic attempt to reverse Trump’s election in 2016 and keep him from re-election in November.

Legal scholar Alan Dershowitz has been tapped to lead Monday’s session and argue that Democrats have not made a constitutional case for Trump’s removal. Trump attorney Jay Sekulow promised last week that defense arguments would also focus on the Bidens and their relationship with Burisma.

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Hunter Biden worked on the company’s board while his father, then U.S. vice president under Barack Obama, in 2016 pushed for the dismissal of a Ukrainian prosecutor because of concerns he was overlooking corruption. Trump supporters contend Joe Biden’s actions amounted to a conflict of interest.

Former U.S. envoy Kurt Volker, however, testified last fall during House impeachment hearings that Joe Biden was following official U.S. policy to fight corruption in Ukraine.

Trump’s team has said they want the trial concluded by the end of this week, if senators vote to turn down Democratic demands for witnesses and new evidence. Those demands will almost certainly grow after a New York Times report Sunday said former national security adviser John Bolton wrote in a forthcoming book that Trump resisted releasing nearly $400 million in Ukrainian aid unless the government promised to investigate the Bidens.

Trump’s defense team has argued the aid was only temporarily withheld over concerns about corruption in Ukraine and how the money would be spent. The aid was released to Kiev last September, two months after Trump pressed Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky for the investigations during a phone call.

Bolton has previously stated he would testify, if called.

“The Democrat controlled House never even asked John Bolton to testify. It is up to them, not up to the Senate!” Trump tweeted Monday, adding in another, “Read the transcripts [of the Zelensky call]!”

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