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Westlake Legal Group > House of Representatives

Republicans Block Subpoenas for New Evidence as Impeachment Trial Begins

Westlake Legal Group merlin_167515650_3288b414-7e82-43a4-82e5-792618f110cb-facebookJumbo Republicans Block Subpoenas for New Evidence as Impeachment Trial Begins United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry Senate Schumer, Charles E Republican Party Presidential Election of 2020 McConnell, Mitch impeachment House of Representatives Democratic Party Collins, Susan M

WASHINGTON — A divided Senate began the impeachment trial of President Trump on Tuesday in utter acrimony, as Republicans blocked Democrats’ efforts to subpoena documents related to the pressure campaign on Ukraine and moderate Republicans forced last-minute changes to rules that had been tailored to the president’s wishes.

In a series of party-line votes punctuated by hours of contentious debate by the House impeachment managers and the president’s legal team, Senate Republicans turned back repeated attempts by Democrats to subpoena documents from the White House, the State Department and the Pentagon that could shed light on the core charges against Mr. Trump. More votes were to come throughout the evening on Democratic efforts to subpoena current and former White House officials, although the outcome was expected to be the same.

The debate, which stretched into the night in a Senate chamber transformed for the occasion, with Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. presiding from the marble rostrum and senators sworn to silence looking on from their desks, was the substantive start of the third presidential impeachment trial in American history.

On its face, Tuesday’s debate was a technical one about the rules and procedures to govern the trial. But it set the stage for a broader political fight over Mr. Trump’s likely acquittal that will persist long after the proceeding is over, and will help shape the contours of the 2020 campaign.

Democrats were laying the groundwork to argue that the trial was a cover-up rigged on Mr. Trump’s behalf and to denounce Republicans — including the most vulnerable senators seeking re-election in politically competitive states — for acquiescing. Republicans, for their part, insisted that the Senate must move swiftly and decisively to remedy what they characterized as an illegitimate impeachment inquiry that amounted to a miscarriage of justice.

Standing in the well of the Senate, the Democratic House impeachment managers urged senators to reject proposed rules from the majority leader, Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, that would delay a debate over witnesses and documents until the middle of the trial, with no guarantee that they would ever be called.

“If the Senate votes to deprive itself of witnesses and documents, the opening statements will be the end of the trial,” said Representative Adam B. Schiff of California, the lead manager. He said Mr. McConnell’s proposal was tantamount to saying, “Let’s have the trial, and maybe we can just sweep this all under the rug.”

If adopted, the resolution would pave the way for the trial to move forward on Wednesday afternoon with oral arguments from the House managers presenting their case for removing Mr. Trump.

At the heart of the trial are charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress against the president approved last month by the Democratic-led House. They assert that Mr. Trump used the power of his office to pressure Ukraine to announce investigations into his political rivals while withholding as leverage nearly $400 million in military aid and a White House meeting for its president. The president then sought to conceal his actions from Congress, the charges say, by blocking witness testimony and documents.

Mr. Trump’s legal team argues that the charges are baseless and amount to criminalizing a president’s prerogative to make foreign policy decisions as he sees fit and then shield from Congress documents relating to his duties. They also claim — in a break with most constitutional scholars — that because the articles of impeachment do not outline a specific violation of a law, the impeachment was invalid.

But on Tuesday, the debate focused on whether his trial would be fair or not.

“This initial step will offer an early signal to our country: Can the Senate still serve our founding purpose?” Mr. McConnell said before it got underway.

Yet Mr. McConnell, too, received a sharp reminder on Tuesday about the limits of his power to control an inherently unpredictable proceeding with few precedents. Under pressure from Republican moderates, he was forced to make some last-minute changes to the set of rules he unveiled on Monday, which would have squeezed opening arguments by both sides into two 12-hour marathon days and refused to admit the findings of the House impeachment inquiry into evidence without a separate vote later in the trial.

The compressed timetable was in line with a White House request to quickly dispense with opening arguments so that Mr. Trump’s team could more speedily take to the floor before the weekend and begin presenting a defense of his actions. And Mr. McConnell’s proposal hewed to the broader argument made by the president and his legal team that the House inquiry was so fatally flawed that it lacked any legitimacy.

But Senators Susan Collins of Maine, Rob Portman of Ohio, and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, among others, objected privately to those provisions, which they believed departed too much from procedures adopted unanimously by the Senate for the 1999 trial of President Bill Clinton. At a closed-door luncheon with Republican senators in the Capitol just before the trial was to begin, the senators raised their objections, according to aides familiar with the conversation, and Mr. McConnell rushed to submit a revised copy of the resolution — with lines crossed out and changes scrawled in pen in the margins — when it was time for the debate.

When his resolution was read aloud on the Senate floor, two days had been extended to three and the House’s records would be automatically admitted into evidence, although Mr. McConnell inserted a new provision that would allow Mr. Trump’s team to move to throw out parts of the House case.

The last-minute reversal underscored the outsized influence of a small group of moderate Republicans in the narrowly divided Senate whose interests and demands could prove decisive to shaping the impeachment trial, beginning next week in a more formal debate over witnesses and documents.

Half a world away, Mr. Trump, in Davos, Switzerland, for the World Economic Forum, sought to use the global stage to project confidence about his standing at home. He swatted away questions from reporters about the impeachment trial, instead bragging about the strength of the American economy under his leadership.

But in the Senate chamber, his lawyers replayed for senators many of his most frequent and personal grievances, accusing Democrats in only slightly more lawyerly terms of conducting a political search-and-destroy mission that Mr. Trump’s rails about daily on Twitter.

“It’s long past time that we start this so we can put an end to this ridiculous charade and go have an election,” said Pat A. Cipollone, the White House counsel.

The historically rare debate was rendered even more unusual by Senate rules that prohibit senators from speaking on the chamber floor for the duration of the proceedings and instead empower the House managers and White House defense lawyers to debate the proposals. The effect was that on the trial’s first day, the Senate chamber split cleanly into partisan factions, with the managers siding with Senate Democrats and Mr. Trump’s lawyers taking the place of the Republicans.

Mr. Cipollone rose first, delivering a brief statement urging senators to support Mr. McConnell’s proposed rules, which he called “a fair way to proceed.”

“We believe that once you hear those initial presentations, the only conclusion will be that the president has done nothing wrong,” Mr. Cipollone said, “and that these articles of impeachment do not begin to approach the standard required by the Constitution.”

Democrats, who came armed with digital slides and video clips to drive home their arguments, spent hours detailing the factual record compiled by the House investigation and cataloging the witnesses and documents Mr. Trump had succeeded in withholding. Senators facing such a grave decision as removing a president, they argued, have a responsibility to try to push all the facts to light.

“With the backing of a subpoena authorized by the chief justice of the United States, you can end President Trump’s obstruction,” said Representative Zoe Lofgren of California, the first woman in history to speak on the Senate floor as a House impeachment manager. “If the Senate fails to take this step, you won’t even ask for the evidence. This trial and your verdict will be questioned.”

Just an hour or so before the trial began, the seven House managers submitted one final written rebuttal to arguments put forward against their charges by Mr. Trump’s lawyers. In 34 pages, they rejected the lawyers’ assertion that abuse of power was not an impeachable offense and that Mr. Trump had acted legally when he ordered administration officials not to appear for questioning in the House or provide documents for the impeachment inquiry.

Locked in silence for much of the day, senators were able to talk only before the proceeding began or during brief breaks. Speaking to reporters on Tuesday morning, Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the Democratic leader, denounced Mr. McConnell’s rules as deeply unfair and skewed toward Mr. Trump.

“It is completely partisan. It was kept secret until the eve of the trial,” he said. “The McConnell rules seem to have been designed by President Trump and for President Trump, simply executed by Leader McConnell and Senate Republicans.”

Inside the chamber, Mr. Schumer forced separate votes on demanding documents and planned more on compelling testimony from four current and former Trump administration officials who were blocked from speaking with the House: John R. Bolton, the former White House national security adviser; Mick Mulvaney, the acting White House chief of staff; Robert B. Blair, an adviser to Mr. Mulvaney; and Michael Duffey, a White House budget official.

Each time, Mr. McConnell moved to kill the proposal before it could be considered, and was sustained by unified Republican support.

“This is the fair road map for our trial,” Mr. McConnell declared. “We need it in place before we can move forward. So the Senate should prepare to remain in session today until we complete this resolution and adopt it.”

Even after Tuesday’s changes, Mr. McConnell’s proposal makes way for potentially the fastest presidential impeachment trial in American history, particularly if the Senate declines to call witnesses.

Only two other American presidents have stood trial in the Senate for high crimes and misdemeanors. Andrew Johnson was impeached in 1868, and his trial took the better part of three months, featuring testimony from dozens of witnesses and extended periods for discovery, before he was ultimately acquitted by just a single vote. Mr. Clinton was tried in 1999 on charges of perjury and obstruction of justice. That proceeding lasted five weeks, included testimony from just three witnesses and resulted in an overwhelming acquittal.

Without witnesses, Mr. Trump’s trial could conclude by the end of January. If senators ultimately do call witnesses, that timeline could stretch weeks longer.

Catie Edmondson and Emily Cochrane contributed reporting.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Partisan Rules Debate Rages as Senate Opens Trump Impeachment Trial

Westlake Legal Group merlin_167515650_3288b414-7e82-43a4-82e5-792618f110cb-facebookJumbo Partisan Rules Debate Rages as Senate Opens Trump Impeachment Trial United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry Senate Schumer, Charles E Republican Party Presidential Election of 2020 McConnell, Mitch impeachment House of Representatives Democratic Party Collins, Susan M

WASHINGTON — A divided Senate began the impeachment trial of President Trump on Tuesday in utter acrimony, as Republicans refused to commit to hearing from witnesses Democrats demanded and moderate Republicans forced last-minute changes to rules that had been tailored to the president’s wishes.

The debate, convened just after 1 p.m. in a Senate chamber transformed for the occasion, marked the substantive beginning of the third presidential impeachment trial in American history. It was the culmination of weeks of rhetorical sparring between the two parties over whether and when to call witnesses and new evidence that Mr. Trump blocked from House investigators.

Standing in the well of the Senate, the Democratic House impeachment managers pleaded with senators, who were sworn to silence, to reject proposed rules from the majority leader, Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, that would delay a debate over witnesses and documents until the middle of the trial, with no guarantee that they would ever be called.

The question of calling new evidence, said Representative Adam B. Schiff of California, the lead manager, was an “even more important question than how you vote on guilt or innocence.”

“If the Senate votes to deprive itself of witnesses and documents, the opening statements will be the end of the trial,” he said. “To say let’s just have the opening statements and then we’ll see means let’s have the trial, and maybe we can just sweep this all under the rug.”

Senate Democrats planned a series of amendments for later in the day to try to commit the chamber to subpoenaing four specific witnesses and tranches of documents. With Republicans in firm control of their 53-to-47 majority, each was expected to fail. But the issue of witnesses is expected to resurface later in the trial, after opening arguments and a question period, when the rules allow votes on whether and whom to subpoena.

At the heart of the trial are charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress against the president approved last month nearly along party lines by the Democratic-led House. They assert that Mr. Trump used the power of his office to enlist a foreign power for help in the 2020 election by pressuring Ukraine to announce investigations of his political rivals while withholding as leverage nearly $400 million in military aid and a White House meeting for its president, and then stonewalled congressional attempts to investigate.

Mr. Trump’s legal team argues that the charges are baseless and amount to criminalizing a president’s prerogative to make foreign policy decisions as he sees fit and to shield from Congress documents relating to the conduct of his duties. They also claim — in a break with most constitutional scholars — that because the articles of impeachment do not outline a specific violation of a law, Mr. Trump cannot be impeached.

But on Tuesday, the debate focused on whether his trial would be fair or not.

“This initial step will offer an early signal to our country: Can the Senate still serve our founding purpose?” Mr. McConnell said.

But under pressure from Republican moderates, Mr. McConnell made some last-minute changes to the set of rules he unveiled on Monday, which would have squeezed opening arguments by both sides into two 12-hour marathon days and refused to admit the findings of the House impeachment inquiry into evidence without a separate vote later in the trial.

Senators Susan Collins of Maine and Rob Portman of Ohio, among others, objected to those proposals, which were a departure from procedures adopted unanimously by the Senate for the 1999 trial of President Bill Clinton, on which Mr. McConnell had promised to model his rules. At a luncheon with Republican senators in the Capitol just before the trial was to begin, Ms. Collins and Mr. Portman raised their objections privately, according to aides familiar with the conversation, and Mr. McConnell submitted a revised copy of the resolution — with lines crossed out and changes scrawled in the margins — when it was time for the debate.

When his resolution was read aloud on the Senate floor, two days had been extended to three and the House’s records would be automatically admitted into evidence, although Mr. McConnell inserted a provision not included in the 1999 rules that would allow Mr. Trump’s team to move to throw out parts of the House case.

The historically rare debate was rendered even more unusual by Senate rules that prohibit senators from speaking on the chamber floor for the duration of the proceedings and empower the House managers and White House defense lawyers to argue aloud over the proposals instead. The effect was that on the trial’s first day, the Senate chamber split cleanly into partisan factions, with the managers siding with Senate Democrats and Mr. Trump’s lawyers taking the place of the Republicans.

Pat A. Cipollone, the White House counsel, rose first and addressed the senators, urging them to support Mr. McConnell’s proposed rules, which he called “a fair way to proceed” and getting in a jab at House Democrats’ delay in transmitting the articles of impeachment to the Senate.

“We believe that once you hear those initial presentations, the only conclusion will be that the president has done nothing wrong,” Mr. Cipollone said, “and that these articles of impeachment do not begin to approach the standard required by the Constitution.”

Locked in silence, senators were able to speak only before the proceeding began or during brief breaks. Speaking to reporters on Tuesday morning, Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the Democratic leader, pledged to force votes later in the day on about a half-dozen amendments that would, if adopted, direct the Senate to subpoena documents and witnesses that evaded House investigators.

“It is completely partisan. It was kept secret until the eve of the trial,” he said. “The McConnell rules seem to have been designed by President Trump and for President Trump, simply executed by Leader McConnell and Senate Republicans.”

Specifically, he planned to force votes on records housed at the White House, State Department and Defense Department, and to compel testimony from four current and former Trump administration officials who were blocked from speaking with the House: John R. Bolton, the former White House national security adviser; Mick Mulvaney, the acting White House chief of staff; Robert B. Blair, an adviser to Mr. Mulvaney; and Michael Duffey, a White House budget official.

Mr. McConnell promised to move to table each amendment so it could not be adopted, but the debate could take hours.

“This is the fair road map for our trial,” he said in a speech on the Senate floor not long after Mr. Schumer’s remarks. “We need it in place before we can move forward. So the Senate should prepare to remain in session today until we complete this resolution and adopt it.”

Even after Tuesday’s changes, Mr. McConnell’s proposal makes way for potentially the fastest presidential impeachment trial in American history, particularly if the Senate declines to call witnesses.

Only two other American presidents have stood trial in the Senate for high crimes and misdemeanors. Andrew Johnson was impeached in 1868, and his trial took the better part of three months, featuring testimony from dozens of witnesses and extended periods for discovery, before he was ultimately acquitted by just a single vote. Mr. Clinton was tried in 1999 on charges of perjury and obstruction of justice. That proceeding lasted five weeks, included testimony from just three witnesses and resulted in an overwhelming acquittal.

Without witnesses, Mr. Trump’s trial could conclude by the end of January. If senators ultimately do call witnesses, that timeline could stretch weeks longer.

Just an hour or so before the trial began, the seven House managers submitted one final written rebuttal to arguments put forward against their charges by Mr. Trump’s lawyers. In 34 detailed pages, they rejected the lawyers’ assertion that abuse of power was not an impeachable offense and that Mr. Trump had acted legally when he ordered administration officials not to appear for questioning in the House or provide documents for the impeachment inquiry.

Catie Edmondson and Emily Cochrane contributed reporting.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

McConnell Pushes to Speed Impeachment Trial as Trump Requests Swift Acquittal

Westlake Legal Group 20dc-impeach-promo-facebookJumbo-v3 McConnell Pushes to Speed Impeachment Trial as Trump Requests Swift Acquittal United States Politics and Government United States International Relations Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry Senate impeachment House of Representatives Ethics and Official Misconduct

WASHINGTON — Senator Mitch McConnell, the majority leader, unveiled ground rules on Monday for President Trump’s impeachment trial that would attempt to speed the proceeding along and refuse to admit the evidence against the president unearthed by the House without a separate vote.

Mr. McConnell, Republican of Kentucky, showed his hand hours after Mr. Trump’s legal team called on the Senate to “swiftly reject” the impeachment charges and acquit him, arguing that Democrats would “permanently weaken the presidency” if they succeeded in removing him from office over what the team characterized as policy and political differences.

In a 110-page brief submitted to the Senate the day before Mr. Trump’s trial begins in earnest, the president’s lawyers advanced their first sustained legal argument since the House opened its inquiry in the fall, contending that the two charges approved largely along party lines were constitutionally flawed and set a dangerous precedent.

Mr. Trump’s lawyers dismissed the validity of both articles of impeachment lodged against him — abuse of power and obstruction of Congress — because they do not state any specific violation of the law, advancing a constrained and widely rejected interpretation of the power to impeach a president. While the lawyers did not contest the basic facts of the case, they maintained that Democrats’ accusations in effect seek to punish Mr. Trump for foreign policy decisions and efforts to preserve executive prerogatives.

“They do not remotely approach the constitutional threshold for removing a president from office,” the brief said. “The diluted standard asserted here would permanently weaken the presidency and forever alter the balance among the branches of government in a manner that offends the constitutional design established by the founders.”

Mr. McConnell’s trial rules, which limited each side’s arguments to 24 hours over two days, gave the White House a helping hand at the outset and drew swift anger from Democrats. The rules left open the possibility that the Senate could not only decline to hear new evidence not uncovered in the House impeachment inquiry, but could also sidestep considering the House case against Mr. Trump altogether — although such a vote is considered unlikely.

“Under this resolution, Senator McConnell is saying he doesn’t want to hear any of the existing evidence, and he doesn’t want to hear any new evidence,” said Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the Democratic leader. “It’s a cover-up, and the American people will see it for exactly what it is.”

He said he would propose changes during what promises to be a rancorous debate over the rules on Tuesday in the Senate.

In their own detailed legal brief submitted on Saturday, the House impeachment managers outlined their case that Mr. Trump corruptly solicited foreign interference in the 2020 election for his own benefit by pressuring Ukraine to announce investigations into his political rivals while withholding nearly $400 million in security aid the country desperately needed as well as a coveted White House meeting for its president.

“President Trump did not engage in this corrupt conduct to uphold the presidency or protect the right to vote,” the seven House Democratic impeachment managers said Monday in a second filing that rebutted many of the president’s assertions. “He did it to cheat in the next election and bury the evidence when he got caught.”

“Mr. Trump’s answer to the charges offers an unconvincing and implausible defense against the factual allegations in Article I,” the managers wrote. “The ‘simple facts’ that it recites confirm President Trump’s guilt, not his innocence.”

The legal brief filed by Mr. Trump’s lawyers did not deny that the president asked Ukraine to announce the investigations into Democrats, including former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., nor that he withheld military aid that Congress had approved for Kyiv. But Mr. Trump’s lawyers said that he never tied the investigations to a White House meeting or to the security assistance.

They also argued that the president has the right to conduct relations with other countries as he sees fit and that he had valid reasons to raise those issues with Ukraine and withhold the security aid because he wanted to root out corruption there and get other countries to share the burden of providing military assistance.

The lawyers dismissed the notion that doing so was an abuse of power, as outlined in the first article of impeachment, calling that a “novel theory” and a “newly invented” offense that would allow Congress to second-guess presidents for legitimate policy choices.

“House Democrats’ concocted theory that the president can be impeached for taking permissible actions if he does them for what they believe to be the wrong reasons would also expand the impeachment power beyond constitutional bounds,” the brief said. “It is the president who defines foreign policy,” it added, and said that Mr. Trump had “legitimate concerns” in raising the issues involving Democrats with the Ukrainians.

The lawyers argued that the second article, accusing Mr. Trump of obstructing Congress by blocking testimony and refusing to turn over documents during the House impeachment inquiry, was “frivolous and dangerous” because it would invalidate a president’s right to confidential deliberations in violation of the separation of powers.

In making their case, the White House lawyers themselves embraced novel interpretations of the history of impeachment. Far from newly invented, the concept of abuse of power was envisioned by the framers from the start. Alexander Hamilton specifically described impeachment as a remedy for the “abuse or violation of some public trust.”

Moreover, the House Judiciary Committee adopted articles of impeachment accusing both Presidents Richard M. Nixon and Bill Clinton of abuse of power for, among other things, defying congressional demands for information.

Many constitutional scholars have long said that impeachable offenses do not have to be specific violations of a criminal code, but could be broader violations of a president’s oath of office or offenses against the republic. In the case of President Andrew Johnson, one of the articles against him alleged no violation of law but impeached him anyway for speeches bringing Congress into “disgrace, ridicule, hatred, contempt and reproach.”

While the White House brief argued that the articles against Mr. Trump did not allege an actual crime, a report released last week by the Government Accountability Office, an independent, nonpartisan government agency, found that the Trump administration violated the law by withholding the security aid allocated by Congress.

The president’s legal team took issue with the Government Accountability Office’s conclusion and said that, in any case, it was irrelevant because it was not included in the articles of impeachment themselves.

The White House brief stressed that Mr. Trump ultimately met with President Volodymyr Zelensky and released the aid even though the Ukrainians never announced the investigations the president had sought. But the money was delivered and the meeting was set only after a whistle-blower had filed a complaint alleging impropriety by the president and lawmakers had opened their own investigation into why the money had been blocked.

The dueling filings rolled in as both sides braced for a contentious trial on the Senate floor over whether to remove Mr. Trump, only the third such impeachment proceeding in the country’s history. The president visited the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial in Washington on Monday afternoon before he left for Davos, Switzerland, where he planned to meet with other world leaders at an economic conference as the Senate began weighing his fate.

In the Capitol, the House managers and the president’s defense team took turns privately touring the Senate chamber and surrounding offices, transformed over the weekend into a court of impeachment that will open on Tuesday with the debate on the rules for the trial. According to Mr. McConnell’s timetable, oral arguments by the House managers would begin on Wednesday, followed by a presentation by Mr. Trump’s team.

On Monday, House Democrats sought to dismantle the president’s case. In arguing that abuse of power is not an impeachable offense, they said, Mr. Trump’s lawyers were ignoring the intentions of the founders and in effect asserting that “the American people are powerless to remove a president for corruptly using his office to cheat in the next election.”

The managers also said the president’s attempt to justify his obstruction failed to account for the House’s broad prerogative to conduct their inquiry. The House investigation was “properly authorized,” they insisted, and they pointed out that Mr. Trump never actually invoked executive privilege, but merely raised the threat of doing so to discourage officials from testifying.

The nine-page filing was technically a response to a shorter pleading submitted by Mr. Trump’s team on Saturday.

The president weighed in himself, complaining that he had not been treated fairly and dismissing demands by Mr. Schumer for a trial that would include witnesses and testimony that the president has so far blocked.

“Cryin’ Chuck Schumer is now asking for ‘fairness’, when he and the Democrat House members worked together to make sure I got ZERO fairness in the House,” Mr. Trump wrote on Twitter. “So, what else is new?”

Mr. McConnell had said repeatedly that he was modeling his rules on the procedures for Mr. Clinton’s 1999 impeachment trial, but he made key changes that tilt the playing field in Mr. Trump’s favor. While the Clinton-era rules imposed no limits on the 24 hours of oral arguments allowed on both sides, Mr. McConnell condensed them into two marathon-session days, which would allow the Senate to blaze through them by Saturday.

Senators could then pose questions to the two sides next week before debating whether to allow the prosecution and defense to try to call witnesses or seek documents. A senior Republican leadership aide conceded on Monday that Mr. McConnell had deviated from the 1999 rules, which admitted the House impeachment record into evidence at the start of the trial, in requiring a separate Senate vote to do so this time around. The change was necessary, argued the aide, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to detail internal strategy, because the House had denied the president proper due process rights.

The House invited Mr. Trump to mount a defense before the House Judiciary Committee during its impeachment proceeding, including requesting witnesses and documents, but the president’s legal team declined, saying it would not dignify an inquiry it deemed illegitimate with a response.

Peter Baker and Nicholas Fandos reported from Washington, and Maggie Haberman from New York. Emily Cochrane contributed reporting from Washington.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

McConnell Unveils Rules for Trump Impeachment Trial

Westlake Legal Group 20dc-impeach-promo-facebookJumbo-v3 McConnell Unveils Rules for Trump Impeachment Trial United States Politics and Government United States International Relations Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry Senate impeachment House of Representatives Ethics and Official Misconduct

WASHINGTON — Senator Mitch McConnell, the majority leader, unveiled ground rules on Monday for President Trump’s impeachment trial that would attempt to speed the proceeding along and refuse to admit the evidence against the president unearthed by the House without a separate vote.

Mr. McConnell, Republican of Kentucky, showed his hand hours after Mr. Trump’s legal team called on the Senate to “swiftly reject” the impeachment charges and acquit him, arguing that Democrats would “permanently weaken the presidency” if they succeeded in removing him from office over what the team characterized as policy and political differences.

In a 110-page brief submitted to the Senate the day before Mr. Trump’s trial begins in earnest, the president’s lawyers advanced their first sustained legal argument since the House opened its inquiry in the fall, contending that the two charges approved largely along party lines were constitutionally flawed and set a dangerous precedent.

Mr. Trump’s lawyers dismissed the validity of both articles of impeachment lodged against him — abuse of power and obstruction of Congress — because they do not state any specific violation of the law, advancing a constrained and widely rejected interpretation of the power to impeach a president. While the lawyers did not contest the basic facts of the case, they maintained that Democrats’ accusations in effect seek to punish the president for foreign policy decisions and efforts to preserve executive prerogatives.

“They do not remotely approach the constitutional threshold for removing a president from office,” the brief said. “The diluted standard asserted here would permanently weaken the presidency and forever alter the balance among the branches of government in a manner that offends the constitutional design established by the founders.”

Mr. McConnell’s trial rules, which also limited each side’s arguments to 24 hours over two days, gave the White House a helping hand at the outset and drew a swift anger from Democrats. The rules left open the possibility that the Senate could not only decline to hear new evidence not uncovered in the House impeachment inquiry, but could also sidestep considering the House case against Mr. Trump altogether — although such a vote is considered unlikely.

“Under this resolution, Senator McConnell is saying he doesn’t want to hear any of the existing evidence, and he doesn’t want to hear any new evidence,” said Senator Chuck Schumer, Democrat of New York and the minority leader. “It’s a cover-up, and the American people will see it for exactly what it is.”

He promised to propose changes during what promises to be a rancorous debate in the Senate over the rules on Tuesday.

In their own detailed legal brief submitted on Saturday, the House impeachment managers outlined their case that Mr. Trump corruptly solicited foreign interference in the 2020 election for his own benefit by pressuring Ukraine to announce investigations into his political rivals while withholding nearly $400 million in security aid the country desperately needed as well as a coveted White House meeting for its president.

“President Trump did not engage in this corrupt conduct to uphold the presidency or protect the right to vote,” the seven House Democratic impeachment managers said Monday in a second filing that rebutted many of the president’s assertions. “He did it to cheat in the next election and bury the evidence when he got caught.”

“Mr. Trump’s answer to the charges offers an unconvincing and implausible defense against the factual allegations in Article I,” the managers wrote. “The ‘simple facts’ that it recites confirm President Trump’s guilt, not his innocence.”

The legal brief filed by Mr. Trump’s lawyers did not deny that Mr. Trump asked Ukraine to announce the investigations into Democrats, including former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., nor that he withheld military aid that Congress had approved for Kyiv. But his lawyers said that the president never tied the investigations to a White House meeting or the security assistance. And in any case, they argued that the president has the right to conduct relations with other countries as he sees fit and that he had valid reasons to raise those issues with Ukraine because he wanted to root out corruption there and get other countries to share the burden of providing military aid.

The lawyers dismissed the notion that doing so was an abuse of power, as outlined in the first article of impeachment, calling that a “novel theory” and a “newly invented” offense that would allow Congress to second-guess presidents for legitimate policy choices.

“House Democrats’ concocted theory that the president can be impeached for taking permissible actions if he does them for what they believe to be the wrong reasons would also expand the impeachment power beyond constitutional bounds,” the brief said. “It is the president who defines foreign policy,” it added, and said that Mr. Trump had “legitimate concerns” in raising the issues involving Democrats with the Ukrainians.

The lawyers argued that the second article, accusing Mr. Trump of obstructing Congress by blocking testimony and refusing to turn over documents during the House impeachment inquiry, was “frivolous and dangerous” because it would invalidate a president’s right to confidential deliberations in violation of the separation of powers.

In making their case, the White House lawyers themselves embraced novel interpretations of the history of impeachment. Far from newly invented, the concept of abuse of power was envisioned by the framers from the start. Alexander Hamilton specifically described impeachment as a remedy for the “abuse or violation of some public trust.”

The House Judiciary Committee adopted articles of impeachment accusing both Presidents Richard M. Nixon and Bill Clinton of abuse of power.

Many constitutional scholars have long said that impeachable offenses do not have to be specific violations of a criminal code, but could be broader violations of a president’s oath of office or offenses against the republic. In the case of President Andrew Johnson, one of the articles against him alleged no violation of law but impeached him anyway for speeches bringing Congress into “disgrace, ridicule, hatred, contempt and reproach.”

While the White House brief argued that the articles against Mr. Trump did not allege an actual crime, a report released last week by the Government Accountability Office, an independent, nonpartisan government agency, found that the Trump administration violated the law by withholding the security aid allocated by Congress.

The president’s legal team took issue with the Government Accountability Office’s conclusion and said that, in any case, it was irrelevant because it was not included in the articles of impeachment themselves. The White House brief stressed that Mr. Trump ultimately met with President Volodymyr Zelensky and released the aid even though the Ukrainians never announced the investigations the president had sought. But the money was delivered and the meeting set only after a whistle-blower had filed a complaint alleging impropriety by the president and lawmakers had opened their own investigation into why the money had been blocked.

The dueling filings rolled in as both sides braced for a contentious trial on the Senate floor over whether to remove Mr. Trump, only the third such impeachment proceeding in the country’s history. Mr. Trump visited the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial in Washington on Monday ahead of his departure scheduled later in the evening for Davos, Switzerland, where he planned to meet other world leaders at an economic conference as the Senate begins weighing his fate.

In the Capitol, the House managers and the president’s defense team took turns on Monday privately touring the Senate chamber and surrounding offices, transformed over the weekend into a court of impeachment that will open on Tuesday with the debate on the rules for the trial. According to Mr. McConnell’s timetable, oral arguments by the House managers would begin on Wednesday, followed by a presentation by Mr. Trump’s team.

The president’s lawyers used their brief to revive complaints about the House impeachment process, calling it “rigged.”

On Monday, House Democrats sought to dismantle the president’s case. In arguing that abuse of power is not an impeachable offense, they said, Mr. Trump’s lawyers were ignoring the intentions of the founders and in effect asserting that “the American people are powerless to remove a president for corruptly using his office to cheat in the next election.”

The managers also said the president’s attempt to justify his obstruction failed to account for the House’s broad prerogative to conduct their inquiry. The House investigation was “properly authorized,” they insisted, and they pointed out that Mr. Trump never actually invoked executive privilege, but merely raised the threat of doing so to discourage officials from testifying.

The nine-page filing was technically a response to a shorter pleading submitted by Mr. Trump’s team on Saturday.

The president weighed in himself, complaining that he had not been treated fairly and dismissing demands by Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the Democratic leader, for a trial that would include witnesses and testimony that the president has so far blocked.

“Cryin’ Chuck Schumer is now asking for ‘fairness’, when he and the Democrat House members worked together to make sure I got ZERO fairness in the House,” Mr. Trump wrote on Twitter. “So, what else is new?”

Mr. McConnell had said repeatedly that he was modeling his rules on the procedures for Mr. Clinton’s 1999 impeachment trial, but he made key changes that tilt the playing field in Mr. Trump’s favor. While the Clinton-era rules imposed no limits on the 24 hours of oral arguments allowed on both sides, Mr. McConnell condensed them into two marathon-session days, which would allow the Senate to blaze through them by Saturday.

Senators could then pose questions to the two sides next week before debating whether to allow the prosecution and defense to try to call witnesses or seek documents. A senior Republican leadership aide conceded on Monday that Mr. McConnell had deviated from the 1999 rules, which admitted the House impeachment record into evidence at the start of the trial, in requiring a separate Senate vote to do so this time around. The change was necessary, argued the aide, who spoke on condition of anonymity to detail internal strategy, because the House had denied the president proper due process rights.

The House invited Mr. Trump to mount a defense before the House Judiciary Committee during its impeachment proceeding, including requesting witnesses and documents, but the president’s legal team declined, saying it would not dignify an inquiry it deemed illegitimate with a response.

Peter Baker and Nicholas Fandos reported from Washington, and Maggie Haberman from New York. Emily Cochrane contributed reporting from Washington.

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Trump Legal Team to Ask Senate for Speedy Acquittal in Impeachment Trial

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WASHINGTON — President Trump’s legal team will call on the Senate on Monday to “swiftly reject” the impeachment charges and acquit him, maintaining that he committed no impeachable offense and has been the victim of an illegitimate partisan effort to take him down.

In a lengthy brief to be submitted to the Senate the day before his trial begins in earnest, the president’s lawyers plan to make the most sustained argument the White House has advanced since the House opened its impeachment inquiry last fall, contending that the two articles of impeachment approved largely along party lines were constitutionally flawed and set a dangerous precedent.

Mr. Trump’s lawyers plan to dismiss the largely party-line impeachment by the House as a “brazenly political act” following a “rigged process” that should be repudiated by the Senate, according to a person working with his legal team, who spoke on condition of anonymity ahead of the submission of the trial brief. They will argue that neither of the articles of impeachment against Mr. Trump are valid because they do not state a violation of the law and they would in effect try to punish the president for foreign policy decisions and efforts to preserve executive prerogatives.

The brief does not deny that Mr. Trump pressured Ukraine to announce investigations into Democrats, including former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., but argues that the president has the right to conduct relations with other countries as he sees fit and that he had valid reasons to raise those issues with Ukraine to fight corruption.

The lawyers plan to dismiss the notion that doing so was an abuse of power, as outlined in the first article of impeachment, calling that a “novel theory” and a “newly invented” offense that would allow Congress to second-guess presidents for legitimate policy decisions.

They will argue that the second article, accusing him of obstructing Congress by blocking testimony and refusing to turn over documents during the House impeachment inquiry, would violate separation of powers by invalidating a president’s right to confidential deliberations.

The House Democratic managers had their own noon deadline to produce a response to a shorter filing by Mr. Trump’s team on Saturday that responded to the impeachment charges against him. Democrats will argue that Mr. Trump’s behavior was not only adequately proven during the course of their inquiry but clearly meets the standard laid out by the framers of the Constitution for impeachable offenses.

The president weighed in himself from Florida, where he was spending the holiday weekend, complaining that he had not been treated fairly and dismissing demands by Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the minority leader, and other Democrats for a trial that would include witnesses and testimony that the president has so far blocked.

“Cryin’ Chuck Schumer is now asking for ‘fairness’, when he and the Democrat House members worked together to make sure I got ZERO fairness in the House,” Mr. Trump wrote on Twitter. “So, what else is new?”

He also dismissed Democratic demands that the Senate call John R. Bolton, his former national security adviser, as a witness during the trial.

“They didn’t want John Bolton and others in the House,” Mr. Trump wrote. “They were in too much of a rush. Now they want them all in the Senate. Not supposed to be that way!”

This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.

Peter Baker reported from Washington, and Maggie Haberman from New York. Nicholas Fandos contributed reporting from Washington.

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Trump’s Defense Team Calls Impeachment Charges ‘Brazen’ as Democrats Make Legal Case

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WASHINGTON — President Trump’s legal defense team strenuously denied on Saturday that he had committed impeachable acts, denouncing the charges against him as a “brazen and unlawful” attempt to cost him re-election as House Democrats laid out in meticulous detail their case that he should be removed from office.

In the first legal filings for the Senate impeachment trial that opens in earnest on Tuesday, the dueling arguments from the White House and the House impeachment managers previewed a politically charged fight over Mr. Trump’s fate, unfolding against the backdrop of the presidential election campaign.

They presented the legal strategies both sides are likely to employ during the third presidential impeachment trial in American history. They also vividly illustrated how the proceeding is almost certain to rekindle feuding over the 2016 election that has barely subsided during Mr. Trump’s tenure, and reverberate — whether he is convicted or acquitted — in an even more brutal electoral fight in November.

In a 46-page trial memorandum, and additional 60-page statement of facts, the House impeachment managers asserted that beginning in the spring, Mr. Trump undertook a corrupt campaign to enlist a foreign government to help him win the 2020 election. He did so, the Democrats argued, by pressuring Ukraine to publicly announce investigations of his political rivals, withholding as leverage vital military aid and a White House meeting for the country’s president.

The president then sought to conceal those actions from Congress, they said, posing “a serious danger to our constitutional checks and balances” by ordering administration officials not to testify or turn over documents requested by a House impeachment inquiry.

“President Trump’s conduct is the framers’ worst nightmare,” wrote the seven Democratic managers, led by Representative Adam B. Schiff of California.

In a six-page filing formally responding to the House impeachment charges submitted shortly after and filled with partisan barbs against House Democrats, Mr. Trump’s lawyers denounced the case as constitutionally and legally invalid, and driven purely by a desire to hurt Mr. Trump in the 2020 election.

“The articles of impeachment submitted by House Democrats are a dangerous attack on the right of the American people to freely choose their president,” they said in the response, which was Mr. Trump’s first legal submission in the impeachment proceeding, ahead of a fuller brief that is due on Monday. “This is a brazen and unlawful attempt to overturn the results of the 2016 election and interfere with the 2020 election, now just months away.”

The president’s lawyers did not deny any of the core facts underlying Democrats’ charges, conceding what considerable evidence and testimony in the House has shown: that he withheld $391 million in aid and a White House meeting from Ukraine and asked the country’s president to investigate former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and his son, Hunter Biden.

But they said Mr. Trump broke no laws and was acting entirely appropriately and within his powers when he did so, echoing his repeated protestations of his own innocence. They argued that he was not seeking political advantage, but working to root out corruption in Ukraine.

“President Trump categorically and unequivocally denies each and every allegation in both articles of impeachment,” wrote Pat A. Cipollone, the White House counsel, and Jay Sekulow, Mr. Trump’s personal lawyer.

The managers’ filing repeated many of the same arguments they laid out last fall in a report on the findings of their two-month impeachment inquiry. But it also indicated that they intended to make use of information that has come to light since the House’s impeachment vote in December.

They cited new documentary records handed over by Lev Parnas, an associate of the president’s personal lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani, about the pressure campaign on Ukraine, and a Government Accountability Office report released this week that found that Mr. Trump violated the law when he withheld the military aid.

And though the House ultimately declined to bring charges based on the special counsel’s Russia investigation, Saturday’s filing indicates the managers are also poised to reprise its findings as they argue that Mr. Trump’s behavior toward Ukraine fits a pattern that poses a continuing threat to American elections. They argued that, just as Mr. Trump welcomed interference on his behalf from Russia in the 2016 election and then sought to thwart a federal investigation into the matter, he solicited Ukrainian assistance in the 2020 contest and then obstructed Congress’s ability to investigate.

The nation’s founders, the House Democrats said in their brief, “designed impeachment as the remedy for such misconduct because a president who manipulates U.S. elections to his advantage can avoid being held accountable by the voters through those same elections.”

They called Mr. Trump’s attempt to get Ukraine to discredit his political adversaries “part of an ongoing pattern of misconduct for which the president is unrepentant.”

The president, who spent Saturday at his golf course in West Palm Beach, Fla., has made no secret of his disdain for the House’s charges and its inquiry. He has repeatedly professed his total innocence in general terms, and specifically insisted that a July phone call in which he pressed President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine to investigate Mr. Biden and other Democrats was “perfect.”

But when invited to take part in the proceedings or mount a defense before the House Judiciary Committee, he refused. The closest the president’s lawyers had come to weighing in on the case was an eight-page letter to House Democrats in October in which they unequivocally refused to furnish any documents or allow any witnesses to testify.

Like that letter, Mr. Trump’s answer to the Senate on Saturday was heavy with political messaging even as it asserted broad constitutional principles and general legal arguments to proclaim the president’s innocence.

In a statement later in the evening, the House managers criticized the claim by the president’s legal team that the pressure on Ukraine was just Mr. Trump’s way of fighting corruption.

“It is not,” the Democratic lawmakers wrote. “Rather it is corruption itself, naked, unapologetic and insidious.”

The defense filing was far shorter than the House managers’ memorandum, but White House lawyers have until noon on Monday to produce a more comprehensive legal brief laying out the case they will make on the floor of the Senate.

The House can then submit a written rebuttal by Tuesday. If all goes according to plan, the managers will begin live presentations in the Senate on Wednesday, and under an expedited schedule being contemplated by Senate Republicans, the president’s team could begin its presentation on Friday.

The defense filing on Saturday argued that Mr. Trump “has not in any way abused the powers of the presidency,” and that the July 25 call between Mr. Trump and the president of Ukraine was “perfectly legal, entirely appropriate, and taken in furtherance of our national interest.”

The arguments by Mr. Trump’s lawyers tracked closely with those presented throughout the House inquiry by Republicans in that chamber, like Representative Jim Jordan of Ohio and Mark Meadows of North Carolina, who did not dispute what had occurred so much as the idea that the president had been acting on some corrupt scheme.

The document appeared intended to appeal to Mr. Trump’s sensibilities. It accused Mr. Schiff of “creating a fraudulent version” of the July 25 call when he jokingly offered a hypothetical conversation during a congressional hearing, something that Mr. Trump has repeatedly mocked Mr. Schiff for doing.

As they have said for weeks, the president’s lawyers asserted that the articles of impeachment against Mr. Trump are “invalid on their face” because they do not accuse the president of breaking any law.

But the Democrats argued in their memorandum that impeachable actions “need not be indictable offenses,” a theory that has been espoused by many legal scholars. The framers of the Constitution, they argued, intended the remedy for “acts committed by public officials that inflict severe harm on the constitutional order.”

The president’s legal team also rejected the charge that Mr. Trump is guilty of obstruction of Congress. They argued that Mr. Trump’s attempts to prevent witnesses from testifying in what the president has called a “sham” impeachment inquiry is a legitimate exercise of executive privilege that is essential to guard the authority and prerogatives of the presidency.

The House concluded that Mr. Trump’s claims of “absolute immunity” or other privileges on behalf of 12 officials and his decision to block the delivery of documents amounted to flagrant obstruction. The president’s lawyers made clear that they disagreed, saying that “asserting valid constitutional privileges and immunities cannot be an impeachable offense.”

The president’s lawyers also accused Congress of denying Mr. Trump due process during the impeachment proceedings, including “the right to have counsel present, the right to cross-examine witnesses and the right to present evidence.”

While the president’s lawyers were not allowed to attend closed-door depositions of some witnesses, Republican allies of the president attended every interview and asked questions, according to transcripts of the sessions.

The president rejected Democratic offers to present evidence, question witnesses or otherwise mount a defense during hearings before the House Judiciary Committee.

Mr. Cipollone and Mr. Sekulow will lead the president’s defense at trial. The White House announced Friday that the team would also include Ken Starr, the former independent counsel whose investigation of President Bill Clinton led to his impeachment, Robert W. Ray, who succeeded Mr. Starr, and Alan Dershowitz, a celebrity defense lawyer.

Maggie Haberman contributed reporting from New York.

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Trump’s Defense Team Calls Impeachment Charges ‘Brazen’ as Democrats Make Legal Case

Westlake Legal Group merlin_167294235_063a1fbd-5e56-4cba-9778-8a189a9ea1c4-facebookJumbo Trump’s Defense Team Calls Impeachment Charges ‘Brazen’ as Democrats Make Legal Case United States Politics and Government Ukraine Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry Senate impeachment House of Representatives Foreign Aid Democratic Party Constitution (US)

WASHINGTON — President Trump’s legal defense team strenuously denied on Saturday that he had committed impeachable acts, denouncing the charges against him as a “brazen and unlawful” attempt to cost him re-election as House Democrats laid out in meticulous detail their case that he should be removed from office.

In the first legal filings for the Senate impeachment trial that opens in earnest on Tuesday, the dueling arguments from the White House and the House impeachment managers previewed a politically charged fight over Mr. Trump’s fate, unfolding against the backdrop of the presidential election campaign.

They presented the legal strategies both sides are likely to employ during the third presidential impeachment trial in American history. They also vividly illustrated how the proceeding is almost certain to rekindle feuding over the 2016 election that has barely subsided during Mr. Trump’s tenure, and reverberate — whether he is convicted or acquitted — in an even more brutal electoral fight in November.

In a 46-page trial memorandum, and additional 60-page statement of facts, the House impeachment managers asserted that beginning in the spring, Mr. Trump undertook a corrupt campaign to enlist a foreign government to help him win the 2020 election. He did so, the Democrats argued, by pressuring Ukraine to publicly announce investigations of his political rivals, withholding as leverage vital military aid and a White House meeting for the country’s president.

The president then sought to conceal those actions from Congress, they said, posing “a serious danger to our constitutional checks and balances” by ordering administration officials not to testify or turn over documents requested by a House impeachment inquiry.

“President Trump’s conduct is the framers’ worst nightmare,” wrote the seven Democratic managers, led by Representative Adam B. Schiff of California.

In a six-page filing formally responding to the House impeachment charges submitted shortly after and filled with partisan barbs against House Democrats, Mr. Trump’s lawyers denounced the case as constitutionally and legally invalid, and driven purely by a desire to hurt Mr. Trump in the 2020 election.

“The articles of impeachment submitted by House Democrats are a dangerous attack on the right of the American people to freely choose their president,” they said in the response, which was Mr. Trump’s first legal submission in the impeachment proceeding, ahead of a fuller brief that is due on Monday. “This is a brazen and unlawful attempt to overturn the results of the 2016 election and interfere with the 2020 election, now just months away.”

The president’s lawyers did not deny any of the core facts underlying Democrats’ charges, conceding what considerable evidence and testimony in the House has shown: that he withheld $391 million in aid and a White House meeting from Ukraine and asked the country’s president to investigate former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and his son, Hunter Biden.

But they said Mr. Trump broke no laws and was acting entirely appropriately and within his powers when he did so, echoing his repeated protestations of his own innocence. They argued that he was not seeking political advantage, but working to root out corruption in Ukraine.

“President Trump categorically and unequivocally denies each and every allegation in both articles of impeachment,” wrote Pat A. Cipollone, the White House counsel, and Jay Sekulow, Mr. Trump’s personal lawyer.

The managers’ filing repeated many of the same arguments they laid out last fall in a report on the findings of their two-month impeachment inquiry. But it also indicated that they intended to make use of information that has come to light since the House’s impeachment vote in December.

They cited new documentary records handed over by Lev Parnas, an associate of the president’s personal lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani, about the pressure campaign on Ukraine, and a Government Accountability Office report released this week that found that Mr. Trump violated the law when he withheld the military aid.

And though the House ultimately declined to bring charges based on the special counsel’s Russia investigation, Saturday’s filing indicates the managers are also poised to reprise its findings as they argue that Mr. Trump’s behavior toward Ukraine fits a pattern that poses a continuing threat to American elections. They argued that, just as Mr. Trump welcomed interference on his behalf from Russia in the 2016 election and then sought to thwart a federal investigation into the matter, he solicited Ukrainian assistance in the 2020 contest and then obstructed Congress’s ability to investigate.

The nation’s founders, the House Democrats said in their brief, “designed impeachment as the remedy for such misconduct because a president who manipulates U.S. elections to his advantage can avoid being held accountable by the voters through those same elections.”

They called Mr. Trump’s attempt to get Ukraine to discredit his political adversaries “part of an ongoing pattern of misconduct for which the president is unrepentant.”

The president, who spent Saturday at his golf course in West Palm Beach, Fla., has made no secret of his disdain for the House’s charges and its inquiry. He has repeatedly professed his total innocence in general terms, and specifically insisted that a July phone call in which he pressed President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine to investigate Mr. Biden and other Democrats was “perfect.”

But when invited to take part in the proceedings or mount a defense before the House Judiciary Committee, he refused. The closest the president’s lawyers had come to weighing in on the case was an eight-page letter to House Democrats in October in which they unequivocally refused to furnish any documents or allow any witnesses to testify.

Like that letter, Mr. Trump’s answer to the Senate on Saturday was heavy with political messaging even as it asserted broad constitutional principles and general legal arguments to proclaim the president’s innocence.

In a statement later in the evening, the House managers criticized the claim by the president’s legal team that the pressure on Ukraine was just Mr. Trump’s way of fighting corruption.

“It is not,” the Democratic lawmakers wrote. “Rather it is corruption itself, naked, unapologetic and insidious.”

The defense filing was far shorter than the House managers’ memorandum, but White House lawyers have until noon on Monday to produce a more comprehensive legal brief laying out the case they will make on the floor of the Senate.

The House can then submit a written rebuttal by Tuesday. If all goes according to plan, the managers will begin live presentations in the Senate on Wednesday, and under an expedited schedule being contemplated by Senate Republicans, the president’s team could begin its presentation on Friday.

The defense filing on Saturday argued that Mr. Trump “has not in any way abused the powers of the presidency,” and that the July 25 call between Mr. Trump and the president of Ukraine was “perfectly legal, entirely appropriate, and taken in furtherance of our national interest.”

The arguments by Mr. Trump’s lawyers tracked closely with those presented throughout the House inquiry by Republicans in that chamber, like Representative Jim Jordan of Ohio and Mark Meadows of North Carolina, who did not dispute what had occurred so much as the idea that the president had been acting on some corrupt scheme.

The document appeared intended to appeal to Mr. Trump’s sensibilities. It accused Mr. Schiff of “creating a fraudulent version” of the July 25 call when he jokingly offered a hypothetical conversation during a congressional hearing, something that Mr. Trump has repeatedly mocked Mr. Schiff for doing.

As they have said for weeks, the president’s lawyers asserted that the articles of impeachment against Mr. Trump are “invalid on their face” because they do not accuse the president of breaking any law.

But the Democrats argued in their memorandum that impeachable actions “need not be indictable offenses,” a theory that has been espoused by many legal scholars. The framers of the Constitution, they argued, intended the remedy for “acts committed by public officials that inflict severe harm on the constitutional order.”

The president’s legal team also rejected the charge that Mr. Trump is guilty of obstruction of Congress. They argued that Mr. Trump’s attempts to prevent witnesses from testifying in what the president has called a “sham” impeachment inquiry is a legitimate exercise of executive privilege that is essential to guard the authority and prerogatives of the presidency.

The House concluded that Mr. Trump’s claims of “absolute immunity” or other privileges on behalf of 12 officials and his decision to block the delivery of documents amounted to flagrant obstruction. The president’s lawyers made clear that they disagreed, saying that “asserting valid constitutional privileges and immunities cannot be an impeachable offense.”

The president’s lawyers also accused Congress of denying Mr. Trump due process during the impeachment proceedings, including “the right to have counsel present, the right to cross-examine witnesses and the right to present evidence.”

While the president’s lawyers were not allowed to attend closed-door depositions of some witnesses, Republican allies of the president attended every interview and asked questions, according to transcripts of the sessions.

The president rejected Democratic offers to present evidence, question witnesses or otherwise mount a defense during hearings before the House Judiciary Committee.

Mr. Cipollone and Mr. Sekulow will lead the president’s defense at trial. The White House announced Friday that the team would also include Ken Starr, the former independent counsel whose investigation of President Bill Clinton led to his impeachment, Robert W. Ray, who succeeded Mr. Starr, and Alan Dershowitz, a celebrity defense lawyer.

Maggie Haberman contributed reporting from New York.

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Trump Legal Team Denies Impeachment Charges in First Official Response

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WASHINGTON — President Trump’s legal defense team forcefully denied on Saturday that he abused his power by pressuring a foreign government to investigate his political rivals, calling the two impeachment charges against him a “brazen and unlawful” attempt to hurt his chances of re-election.

The defiant rejection of the accusations came in response to an official summons issued last week by the Senate, notifying Mr. Trump that he faces removal from office if he is convicted. In a six-page letter, Mr. Trump’s first formal response to the charges against him, his lawyers denounced the impeachment case brought by House Democrats as constitutionally and legally invalid, and driven by malice toward him.

“The articles of impeachment submitted by House Democrats are a dangerous attack on the right of the American people to freely choose their president,” the document says. “This is a brazen and unlawful attempt to overturn the results of the 2016 election and interfere with the 2020 election, now just months away.”

The president’s lawyers did not deny any of the core facts underlying Democrats’ charges, conceding what ample evidence has shown, that he withheld $391 million in aid from Ukraine and asked the country’s president to investigate former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and his son, Hunter. But they said Mr. Trump broke no laws and was acting entirely appropriately and within his powers when he did so, echoing the president’s repeated protestations of his own innocence. They argued that Mr. Trump was not seeking political advantage, but working to root out corruption in Ukraine.

“President Trump categorically and unequivocally denies each and every allegation in both articles of impeachment,” Pat A. Cipollone, the White House counsel, and Jay Sekulow, Mr. Trump’s personal lawyer, wrote.

Mr. Trump’s response came shortly after the House impeachment managers formally outlined their case for Mr. Trump’s removal from office, arguing in a lengthy legal filing that the Senate should convict him for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.

In the 46-page trial memorandum, the House impeachment managers asserted that beginning in the spring, Mr. Trump undertook a corrupt campaign to push Ukraine to publicly announce investigations of his political rivals, withholding as leverage nearly $400 million in military aid and a White House meeting. He then sought to conceal those actions from Congress, they said, refusing to cooperate with a House impeachment inquiry and ordering administration officials not to testify or turn over documents requested by investigators.

“President Trump’s conduct is the framers’ worst nightmare,” the managers wrote, framing their argument in constitutional terms.

The legal back-and-forth on Saturday offered a preview of the strategies both sides will employ starting next week, when the Senate opens oral arguments in only the third impeachment trial of a president in the nation’s history.

Addressing head-on the political dynamics of the Senate, where majority Republicans have denounced the impeachment inquiry, the House managers warned that voters and future generations would sit in judgment of their actions.

“History will judge each senator’s willingness to rise above partisan differences, view the facts honestly, and defend the Constitution,” they wrote. “The outcome of these proceedings will determine whether generations to come will enjoy a safe and secure democracy in which the president is not a king.”

The filing from the House Democrats repeated many of the same arguments they laid out last fall in a report on the findings of their impeachment inquiry. But the managers’ brief provided a glimpse of their strategy for the high-stakes legal and political fight ahead.

The heavily footnoted document, formatted in the style of a courtroom filing, was headlined “In re Impeachment of President Donald J. Trump,” and addressed to the Senate, “sitting as a court of impeachment.” The memorandum laid out the evidence and legal arguments the managers intend to present in oral arguments on the floor of the Senate, likely beginning on Wednesday. The filing also included an additional 60 pages of facts the managers deemed material to their case.

As they have said for weeks, the president’s lawyers asserted in Saturday’s short filing that the articles of impeachment against Mr. Trump are “invalid on their face” because they do not accuse the president of breaking the law.

In Saturday’s document, the president’s legal team also rejected the charge that Mr. Trump is guilty of obstruction of Congress. They argued that Mr. Trump’s attempts to prevent witnesses from testifying in what the president has called a “sham” impeachment inquiry is a legitimate exercise of executive privilege that is essential to guard the authority and prerogatives of the presidency.

And they once again attacked the process by which House Democrats impeached Mr. Trump, accusing them of denying the president his due process rights.

The president’s legal team faces a deadline of noon on Monday to produce a more comprehensive legal brief laying out the defense case they will make on the floor of the Senate.

Mr. Cipollone and Mr. Sekulow will lead the president’s defense at trial. The White House announced Friday that the team will also include Ken Starr, the former independent counsel whose investigation of President Bill Clinton led to his impeachment, Robert W. Ray, who succeeded Mr. Starr, and Alan Dershowitz, a celebrity defense lawyer.

Maggie Haberman contributed reporting.

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Dust Off the Impeachment Tables, a Senate Trial Is Underway

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WASHINGTON — Twenty-one years ago, Capitol Hill carpenters custom-designed and built a pair of curved tables that could fit in the cramped Senate chamber and serve as work space for the House managers and White House lawyers during the impeachment trial of President Bill Clinton.

Now, after sitting in storage for more than two decades, preserved as historical artifacts that might never be used again, the tables are being dusted off and moved to the Senate floor, part of a physical transformation inside the majestic chamber as it is converted from a place where legislation is debated to a one-of-a-kind courtroom where the fate of a president is decided.

“They made them after the impeachment articles were voted on,” James W. Ziglar, the former Senate sergeant-at-arms, said of the tables. Mr. Ziglar was in charge of the logistics for the Clinton impeachment trial in 1999.

Over the next few days, the oversize tables will again be wedged between the front row of the senators’ desks and the marble-and-polished-wood Senate rostrum, so they are ready next week for the start of oral arguments in President Trump’s impeachment trial.

It is just one of a host of subtle changes being made in the Capitol to accommodate the third presidential impeachment trial in United States history.

On Thursday, the senators voted unanimously to allow the sergeant-at-arms to “install appropriate equipment and furniture in the Senate chamber” — with the proviso that the furnishings “shall be placed in the chamber in a manner that provides the least practicable disruption to Senate proceedings.”

Because smartphones, tablets and other electronic gadgets are expressly forbidden when the trial is in session, senators will be required to leave them behind.

To accommodate them, Capitol carpenters have installed a cabinet of cubbyholes, complete with charging cables, in the cloakrooms just outside the Senate floor. As senators enter the chamber each day, they will be able to drop off iPhones or iPads in their assigned compartments, much the way kindergartners deposit their galoshes and backpacks at the start of the school day.

Additional cubbies have been stationed outside the Senate doors for visiting House members to drop off their electronics. Chairs and desks are being brought into the back of the chamber for staff, who will not be permitted to stand during the trial, as aides normally do when they congregate there during legislative debates.

While the senators may not use laptop computers in the chamber during the trial, the chief justice is permitted to have one, and the teams of House managers and White House lawyers can each have two.

Senators also authorized the installation of video monitors and other multimedia equipment, if requested by House managers or White House lawyers. (In 1999, both sides used large flat-screen monitors to play video clips during their arguments.)

And although there is still a raging debate about whether the Senate will hear from witnesses during the trial, the carpenters will be ready if it happens. Senators agreed to add “a witness table and chair if required.”

Outside the Senate chamber itself, brass stanchions with maroon velvet ropes are being set up liberally to control the crowds of journalists on hand to cover the historic event.

The addition of the new furniture is turning what is already a surprisingly small chamber into an even more cramped space for senators, the chief justice, a variety of aides and the two opposing impeachment teams. In some places, the president’s lawyers and the House managers will be seated mere inches from the senators who will serve as jurors.

It all appears so grand on television. But what can look cavernous on C-Span can feel quite crowded in person.

“You don’t realize how small the Senate is until it happens,” said Senator Patrick J. Leahy, Democrat of Vermont, recalling the many hours he spent sitting at his desk in the chamber during Mr. Clinton’s nearly monthlong impeachment trial. “If it seems small the first day, I guarantee you by two or three days, it is really small.”

Impeachment also reshuffles the grand spaces outside the Senate chamber, upending the lay of the land in a body where prime real estate is allocated according to seniority.

During the trial, the President’s Room, one of the Senate’s most ornate, will become an office for Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., the presiding officer. Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist worked out of the same room, just outside a set of doors to the Senate chamber that are inaccessible to the public and the news media, during Mr. Clinton’s trial.

“It allowed the chief to come and go with less moving through the chamber,” Mr. Ziglar said. “That provided security and for him to not be hassled by senators and others.”

“They all wanted to lobby him,” he added. “After senators had tried to corner him, I did have to go to explain to them: ‘Guys, you don’t lobby the chief justice.’”

The House impeachment managers will lay claim to coveted office space just off the Senate floor, taking over a room that belongs to the Committee on Rules and Administration, down a hallway with tile mosaics of Presidents Abraham Lincoln and James A. Garfield. The vice president’s office, normally in use on days when he is in the Senate for meetings or to preside over a debate and cast a tiebreaking vote, will be turned over instead to Mr. Trump’s defense team.

Inside the chamber at the custom tables, the House managers will sit at the table to the right of the chief justice, in front of the Democratic senators. The White House lawyers will sit to Mr. Roberts’s left, in front of the Republicans.

During Mr. Clinton’s trial, that tradition caused some consternation for Republican House managers, who complained about being seated so close to the president’s allies. White House lawyers likewise griped about having to defend Mr. Clinton while sitting next to Republican senators.

Some things will not change when the trial begins. Each senator will sit at his or her own polished-wood desk during opening statements and hours of arguments from both sides. Those desks will not move from their usual location arranged in a semicircle in the Senate chamber.

But the trial tables are only for special occasions. Mr. Ziglar recalled that the Capitol carpenters waited to build them until it was absolutely clear they would be needed — after the House voted to impeach Mr. Clinton.

“We had already planned for it,” he said, “but we didn’t execute until the impeachment articles were actually passed, because that’s being presumptuous, I suppose.”

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Dust Off the Impeachment Tables, a Senate Trial Is Underway

Westlake Legal Group 16dc-furniture2-facebookJumbo Dust Off the Impeachment Tables, a Senate Trial Is Underway United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry Senate Roberts, John G Jr Republican Party impeachment House of Representatives Democratic Party Clinton, Bill Capitol Building (Washington, DC)

WASHINGTON — Twenty-one years ago, Capitol Hill carpenters custom-designed and built a pair of curved tables that could fit in the cramped Senate chamber and serve as work space for the House managers and White House lawyers during the impeachment trial of President Bill Clinton.

Now, after sitting in storage for more than two decades, preserved as historical artifacts that might never be used again, the tables are being dusted off and moved to the Senate floor, part of a physical transformation inside the majestic chamber as it is converted from a place where legislation is debated to a one-of-a-kind courtroom where the fate of a president is decided.

“They made them after the impeachment articles were voted on,” James W. Ziglar, the former Senate sergeant-at-arms, said of the tables. Mr. Ziglar was in charge of the logistics for the Clinton impeachment trial in 1999.

Over the next few days, the oversize tables will again be wedged between the front row of the senators’ desks and the marble-and-polished-wood Senate rostrum, so they are ready next week for the start of oral arguments in President Trump’s impeachment trial.

It is just one of a host of subtle changes being made in the Capitol to accommodate the third presidential impeachment trial in United States history.

On Thursday, the senators voted unanimously to allow the sergeant-at-arms to “install appropriate equipment and furniture in the Senate chamber” — with the proviso that the furnishings “shall be placed in the chamber in a manner that provides the least practicable disruption to Senate proceedings.”

Because smartphones, tablets and other electronic gadgets are expressly forbidden when the trial is in session, senators will be required to leave them behind.

To accommodate them, Capitol carpenters have installed a cabinet of cubbyholes, complete with charging cables, in the cloakrooms just outside the Senate floor. As senators enter the chamber each day, they will be able to drop off iPhones or iPads in their assigned compartments, much the way kindergartners deposit their galoshes and backpacks at the start of the school day.

Additional cubbies have been stationed outside the Senate doors for visiting House members to drop off their electronics. Chairs and desks are being brought into the back of the chamber for staff, who will not be permitted to stand during the trial, as aides normally do when they congregate there during legislative debates.

While the senators may not use laptop computers in the chamber during the trial, the chief justice is permitted to have one, and the teams of House managers and White House lawyers can each have two.

Senators also authorized the installation of video monitors and other multimedia equipment, if requested by House managers or White House lawyers. (In 1999, both sides used large flat-screen monitors to play video clips during their arguments.)

And although there is still a raging debate about whether the Senate will hear from witnesses during the trial, the carpenters will be ready if it happens. Senators agreed to add “a witness table and chair if required.”

Outside the Senate chamber itself, brass stanchions with maroon velvet ropes are being set up liberally to control the crowds of journalists on hand to cover the historic event.

The addition of the new furniture is turning what is already a surprisingly small chamber into an even more cramped space for senators, the chief justice, a variety of aides and the two opposing impeachment teams. In some places, the president’s lawyers and the House managers will be seated mere inches from the senators who will serve as jurors.

It all appears so grand on television. But what can look cavernous on C-Span can feel quite crowded in person.

“You don’t realize how small the Senate is until it happens,” said Senator Patrick J. Leahy, Democrat of Vermont, recalling the many hours he spent sitting at his desk in the chamber during Mr. Clinton’s nearly monthlong impeachment trial. “If it seems small the first day, I guarantee you by two or three days, it is really small.”

Impeachment also reshuffles the grand spaces outside the Senate chamber, upending the lay of the land in a body where prime real estate is allocated according to seniority.

During the trial, the President’s Room, one of the Senate’s most ornate, will become an office for Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., the presiding officer. Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist worked out of the same room, just outside a set of doors to the Senate chamber that are inaccessible to the public and the news media, during Mr. Clinton’s trial.

“It allowed the chief to come and go with less moving through the chamber,” Mr. Ziglar said. “That provided security and for him to not be hassled by senators and others.”

“They all wanted to lobby him,” he added. “After senators had tried to corner him, I did have to go to explain to them: ‘Guys, you don’t lobby the chief justice.’”

The House impeachment managers will lay claim to coveted office space just off the Senate floor, taking over a room that belongs to the Committee on Rules and Administration, down a hallway with tile mosaics of Presidents Abraham Lincoln and James A. Garfield. The vice president’s office, normally in use on days when he is in the Senate for meetings or to preside over a debate and cast a tiebreaking vote, will be turned over instead to Mr. Trump’s defense team.

Inside the chamber at the custom tables, the House managers will sit at the table to the right of the chief justice, in front of the Democratic senators. The White House lawyers will sit to Mr. Roberts’s left, in front of the Republicans.

During Mr. Clinton’s trial, that tradition caused some consternation for Republican House managers, who complained about being seated so close to the president’s allies. White House lawyers likewise griped about having to defend Mr. Clinton while sitting next to Republican senators.

Some things will not change when the trial begins. Each senator will sit at his or her own polished-wood desk during opening statements and hours of arguments from both sides. Those desks will not move from their usual location arranged in a semicircle in the Senate chamber.

But the trial tables are only for special occasions. Mr. Ziglar recalled that the Capitol carpenters waited to build them until it was absolutely clear they would be needed — after the House voted to impeach Mr. Clinton.

“We had already planned for it,” he said, “but we didn’t execute until the impeachment articles were actually passed, because that’s being presumptuous, I suppose.”

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com