WASHINGTON - Friday is the last day for the Democrats’ opening arguments in the Senate in the impeachment trial against U.S. President Donald Trump.
Trump’s conviction on the two articles of impeachment is highly unlikely in the Republican-heavy Senate, but that has not stopped Democrat politicians from delivering impassioned pleas to the senators for doing what the Democrats see as the right thing: Trump’s impeachment and conviction.
“If right doesn’t matter, we’re lost. If the truth doesn’t matter, we’re lost,” Democratic congressman and Intelligence committee head Adam Schiff said in his closing remarks to the Senate Thursday.
WATCH: Democrats Make Case Trump Abused Power of the Presidency
House impeachment manager Jerrold Nadler called Trump’s argument that he cannot be impeached for abuse of power “dangerous nonsense.”
Nadler, the head of the House Judiciary Committee, kicked off the second day of the Democrats’ case in the Trump impeachment trial in the Senate Thursday, where the 100 Senators will decide the president’s guilt or innocence.
“A president who sees no limit on his power manifestly threatens the republic,” Nadler said as he accused Trump of “abuse of power, betrayal of the nation, and corruption in elections into a single unforgivable scheme” — all of which Nadler says meets the constitutional standard for high crimes and misdemeanors and removal from office.
“It is wrong, it is illegal,” Nadler said, adding that the 44 U.S. presidents who preceded Trump “would be shocked to the core.” Nadler contended that Trump’s abuse “puts President Nixon to shame,” the scandal-ridden 1970s-era president who resigned in disgrace before he could be impeached.
“President Trump has made clear in word and deed that he will persist in such conduct. He poses a continuing threat to our nation, to the integrity of our elections, to our democratic order. He must not remain in power one moment longer,” Nadler said.
Pressing Ukraine for a favor
Trump is accused of pressuring Ukraine to open a corruption investigation into former Vice President Joe Biden — a major Democratic challenger to Trump’s reelection bid. He also allegedly withheld military aid to Ukraine unless President Volodymyr Zelenskiy publicly announced a probe into Biden, his son Hunter’s job with a Ukrainian gas company, and a debunked theory that it was Ukraine, not Russia, that interfered in the 2016 U.S. election. No evidence against the Bidens ever surfaced.
Schiff said all Trump cared about was investigating Biden, especially after early polls showed the former vice president would soundly beat Trump in the election.
Florida’s Val Dennings said Republicans believe the only thing Democrats are worried about is winning the next election and keeping Trump from a second term. She said the case is truly about making sure the vote of every American matters.
Trump again ridiculed the Democrats’ impeachment case Thursday.
The Democrat House would not give us lawyers, or not one witness, but now demand that the Republican Senate produce the witnesses that the House never sought, or even asked for? They had their chance, but pretended to rush. Most unfair & corrupt hearing in Congressional history!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 23, 2020
Trump and his lawyers were invited to appear before the House Judiciary Committee during the impeachment inquiry, but declined.
The two articles of impeachment accuse Trump of abusing the office of the presidency and obstructing congressional efforts to investigate his Ukraine-related actions.
After the Democrats last day of opening arguments Friday, the president’s legal team is expected to begin its three days of laying out its case on Saturday.“
After having been treated unbelievably unfairly in the House, and then having to endure hour after hour of lies, fraud & deception by Shifty Schiff, Cryin’ Chuck Schumer & their crew, looks like my lawyers will be forced to start on Saturday, which is called Death Valley in T.V.,” Trump said early Friday in one of a series of tweets.
After having been treated unbelievably unfairly in the House, and then having to endure hour after hour of lies, fraud & deception by Shifty Schiff, Cryin’ Chuck Schumer & their crew, looks like my lawyers will be forced to start on Saturday, which is called Death Valley in T.V.— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 24, 2020
Jay Sekulow, one of Trump’s lawyers, said after Wednesday’s session that the fact the impeachment proceedings are even taking place is ridiculous.
“Are we having an impeachment over a phone call?” he asked reporters. “Or has this been a three-year attempt to take down a president that was duly elected by the American people? And we’re doing this with 10 months to go to a general election. Pretty dangerous for our republic, in my view.”
Trump has said throughout the process he did nothing wrong in his discussions with Zelenskiy, frequently describing their half-hour phone call as “perfect.”
Sekulow said, “We believe, without question, the president will be acquitted. There is not a doubt.”
That outcome is widely expected with members of Trump’s Republican Party holding a 53-47 majority in the Senate and impeachment rules requiring a two-thirds vote for conviction in order to remove him from office. Democrats would need to persuade 20 Republicans to vote for conviction, and no Republican has, so far, called for his removal from office.
Trump eventually released the military aid to Ukraine and Zelenskiy never opened an investigation into the Bidens — proof, Republicans say, that Trump did not engage in a quid pro quo with Ukraine — the Biden probes in exchange for the defense assistance.
But Schiff said Trump only released the funds because “he got caught,” when a still unidentified intelligence whistleblower filed a complaint that Trump in the July 25 telephone asked Zelenskiy to “do us a favor,” to start the politically investigation against Biden.
Trump is only the third U.S. president to be impeached and tried before the Senate. Andrew Johnson was impeached in 1868 because of a post-Civil War dispute over states that seceded from the union.
Bill Clinton was impeached in 1998 for lying to a grand jury over a sex scandal. Both Johnson and Clinton were acquitted and remained in office until the end of their terms.