U.S. President Donald Trump’s lawyers were preparing to deliver his first full-throated defence on Saturday in the Senate’s historic impeachment trial, after Democratic prosecutors spent three days making their case for his removal from office.
Capping 24 total hours of arguments, Democrats told the 100 Senators that Mr. Trump abused the power of the presidency in pressuring Ukraine to launch investigations that would help him politically, and then sought to block efforts by Congress to investigate.
Democrats said they had met that burden of proof, as lead House impeachment manager Adam Schiff warned that Mr. Trump would remain an “imminent threat” to American democracy if he stays in power. “This is Trump first, not America first,” Congressman Schiff told the chamber. “I ask you, I implore you,” he added, addressing Republicans who hold the power to allow witnesses to testify, against Mr. Trump’s wishes. “Give America a fair trial,” Mr. Schiff said. “She’s worth it.”
Mr. Trump has signalled he remains in tight control of his party, with many Senate Republicans expressing public support for the President despite a vigorous, comprehensive case outlining his misconduct. “I don’t believe anything they’ve said so far is impeachable,” Senator Rick Scott told reporters.
“I’m looking forward to the White House tomorrow starting to set the record straight, because this has just been partisan.”
Democrats argued that Mr. Trump’s refusal to allow top officials to testify and to supply subpoenaed documents to the Ukraine investigation supported the second charge against him, obstruction of Congress.
5 subpoenas blocked
Mr. Trump blocked the executive branch from responding to 71 specific requests for documents, including five subpoenas, related to his pressure on Kiev to help his 2020 re-election effort, Democratic impeachment manager Val Demings told Senators.
Mr. Trump also prevented 12 current and former administration officials, most of them subpoenaed, from testifying to the investigation, she said.
“President Trump’s obstruction of the impeachment inquiry was categorical, indiscriminate and historically unprecedented,” Ms. Demings said.
She said Congress could not afford to allow Mr. Trump to reject its powers in such a wholesale manner.
On Twitter, Trump dismissed the entire process. “The Radical Left, Do Nothing Democrats have gone crazy,” he tweeted. “They know it’s a con, but just can’t sell it! Public strongly against Impeachment.”