Impeachment: Trump legal team wraps up opening arguments

Posted at 10:09 AM, Jan 28, 2020

President Donald Trump's legal team wrapped up opening arguments Tuesday as counselers addressed directly the reports that former national security advisor John Bolton has written a manuscript claiming Trump directed him to withhold military aid to Ukraine.

Jay Sekulow addressed the reports on the Senate floor Tuesday, citing statements refuting Bolton's reported claims by Trump administration officials.

Seulow's comments come a day after Trump's legal team largely ignored the Bolton reports in their opening arguments on Monday.

"You cannot impeach the president on an unsourced allegation," Sekulow said. "...even if it were true, it Constitutionally doesn't rise to that level."

Sekulow also defended Trump's withholding of aid by explaining it as a policy position rather than a quid pro quo for a politically-motivated investigation.

Monday marked the final day of opening arguments of the Trump team. The defense had about 15 hours of testimony remaining, but it will not use all of its time and rest arguments later today.

Beginning Wednesday, the impeachment trial will move to the questioning period. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced Tuesday that qustioning would take place over two days. Questions must be submitted in writing and questioning on the floor is subject ot a time limit.

On Monday, attorney Alan Dershowitz closed arguments for Trump's team Monday with a lengthy speech about his belief that a formal crime needs to be broken in order to impeach the president. While the Constitution only mentions "high crimes and misdemeanors" as impeachable offenses, Dershowitz argued the framers meant that to mean explicitly detailed crimes.

The Senate is considering two articles of impeachment against Trump: one for "obstruction of Congress" and one for "abuse of power." Trump's lawyers claim the articles are too broad to convict the president and remove him from office.

Dershowitz's statements followed arguments from fellow counsel Ken Starr, who argued that the Democrats' case was tainted by partisanship. He argued that a conviction on a highly partisan impeachment would set a dangerous precedent.

Starr previously served as independent counsel in investigating the Whitewater scandal that plagued President Bill Clinton's administration and led to his impeachment.

Democrats' impeachment claims stem from the allegation that Trump withheld aid in exchange for political favors — in this case, an announcement that Ukraine was opening a corruption investigation into former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, Hunter, who sat on the board of a Ukranian energy company.

Following Tuesday's sesssion the trial will move to question before Senators vote on whether to subpoena more witnesses and evidence.