House Democrats in President Trump’s impeachment trial will try to make the case Friday that he improperly obstructed Congress’ probe of his interactions with Ukraine in their final day of arguments before the president’s lawyers take up his defense against the charges.
The seven Democratic managers, led by Rep. Adam Schiff, a former federal prosecutor and chair of the House Intelligence Committee, will try to make the case to the GOP-led Senate — and the American public — that Trump is guilty of obstructing Congress for withholding key witnesses and documents from lawmakers.
They will argue that Trump also unlawfully refused to cooperate with the House probe of the matter by directing officials to ignore Democratic requests to testify and for relevant documents.
White House counsel Pat Cipollone, who heads Trump’s legal team, has accused Democrats of using the impeachment process to try to “steal” the 2020 election and said the president had a constitutional right to keep aides from testifying.
The Democrat-led House on Dec. 18 impeached Trump on that charge and a separate charge of abuse of power for allegedly trying to coerce Ukraine’s government into digging up dirt on former veep Joe Biden.
The impeachment trial in the Senate, just the third in US history, will determine whether Trump is ousted from power less than 10 months before he faces re-election, although that outcome, requiring a two-thirds majority of the Senate, is highly unlikely given the partisan nature of the impeachment process and the Republican majority in the upper chamber.
Trump adamantly denies wrongdoing, while his Republican allies argue his conduct does not rise to the level of an impeachable offense even if he did what the Democrats have accused him of.
Once Democrats conclude their opening arguments, Trump’s legal team will have up to 24 hours over three days — Saturday, Monday and Tuesday — to mount a defense.
Trump on Friday retweeted dozens of supporters who repeated his criticism of the proceedings as unfair and politically motivated.
The former reality television star also complained his lawyers would have to begin arguments on Saturday, when, he said, nobody watches television.
“Looks like my lawyers will be forced to start on Saturday, which is called Death Valley in T.V.,” Trump tweeted.
As the trial neared the end of its first week, there was little sign that Senate Republicans were being persuaded by the Democrats’ case.
Democrats spent Thursday repetitively detailing their allegations that Trump only grew interested in corruption in Ukraine when it appeared that Biden could become a serious political threat.
With Post wires
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