US President Donald Trump’s lawyers urged the US Senate on Tuesday while closing their impeachment defense by accusing the Democrats of placing him on trial for political reasons.
President Trump’s lead defense lawyer Pat Cipollone said, “What they are asking you to do is to throw out a successful president on the eve of an election with no basis and in violation of the constitution”.
“The American people are entitled to choose their president,” Cipollone further added.
“We urge the Senate to reject these articles of impeachment”.
Trump’s lawyers wound up their three-day defense of Trump, who is charged with abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, arguing that the allegations against him are too minor and too thinly-sourced to justify convicting and removing the US leader.
Last week, House impeachment manager Adam Schiff called dramatically for the Senate to remove Trump from office and said that the US leader cannot be trusted to put the country’s interests ahead of his own.
His impassioned words capped a long day in which Democrats detailed Trump’s illicit scheme to pressure Ukraine to help his 2020 reelection campaign.
Earlier this week, the second phase of Trump’s impeachment trial began in Senate house Republicans determined to acquit him- and quickly, if possible.
Democrats, who control the House of Representatives and led the investigation, accuse Trump of manipulating Ukraine by withholding nearly $400 million in military aid for its war against Russian-backed separatists and a White House meeting for Zelensky until the latter announced a Biden probe.
Schiff’s prosecution team detailed how Trump flagrantly undertook last year to force Kiev to help him tarnish his possible 2020 reelection rival, former vice president Joe Biden.
On December 18, President Trump was formally impeached in a historic vote in the House of Representatives.
Trump’s legal team presented its line of defence for his impeachment probe, a process they dismissed as unconstitutional and “dangerous”.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell proposed rules calling for each side to have 24 hours over two days to present their arguments which makes for long trial days stretching late into the night but is a significantly quicker pace than in Bill Clinton’s impeachment trial in 1999. The chamber will debate and vote on the proposed rules Tuesday.
Last week, Trump unexpectedly brought up the impeachment during a reception at the White House for the Louisiana State University football team four days after they were crowned national champions.
Earlier this week, both Trump and McConnell said that the White House could claim executive privilege to refuse the subpoenas, forcing a court challenge that could prolong the case well into February.
In September, the impeachment inquiry, which Nancy Pelosi initiated over a complaint by an anonymous whistleblower, is looking into White House’s alleged efforts to withhold military aid to have Ukraine investigate a Trump’s political rival, Joe Biden.
Democrats are hoping their arguments will at least persuade some Republicans, who hold a 53-47 majority in the Senate, to support their call to issue subpoenas next week for four top current and former Trump aides to testify, and for internal White House records about the Ukraine affair.
(With inputs from agency)