Trump lawyers present defense for 'dangerous' impeachment

Trump lawyers present defense for 'dangerous' impeachment

House managers arrive to deliver the articles of impeachment against Trump in Washington
House managers arrive to deliver the articles of impeachment against US President Donald Trump on Capitol Hill in Washington, US, Jan 16, 2020. (Photo: REUTERS/Joshua Roberts)

PALM BEACH, Florida: US President Donald Trump's legal team on Saturday (Jan 18) issued a resounding rejection of the House of Representatives' impeachment of him, proclaiming his innocence and calling the charges against Trump a "dangerous attack" on Americans.

It was the first time the team presented its arguments, modelled on those put forward since December by Trump and his fellow Republicans.

White House counsel Pat Cipollone will be lead lawyer, backed by Trump's personal attorney Jay Sekulow. They will be joined by Ken Starr, who was at the center of Bill Clinton's impeachment in the 1990s, and celebrity lawyer Alan Dershowitz.

In a six-page document, Trump's lawyers formally addressed the merits of the two articles of impeachment - abuse of power and obstruction of Congress - that the Democratic-led House approved late last year.

The two articles, aimed at ousting Trump from office, form the basis of a trial that will begin in earnest on Tuesday in the Republican-controlled Senate.

READ: Trump adds legal heavyweights Starr, Dershowitz to impeachment team

In an initial response to the president's being charged, written by Cipollone and Sekulow, the defense said that the articles of impeachment "are a dangerous attack on the right of the American people to freely choose their president".

"This is a brazen and unlawful attempt to overturn the results of the 2016 election and interfere with the 2020 election," the team said in a statement.

Trump is accused of abuse of office for pressuring Ukraine to investigate a political rival, former Vice President Joe Biden, and of obstructing Congress in its investigation into his conduct.

Trump has denied wrongdoing and has accused Democrats of a partisan-driven effort to undo his 2016 election victory.

"The articles of impeachment are constitutionally invalid on their face. They fail to allege any crime or violation of law whatsoever," the defense team said.

The Senate trial is unlikely to lead to Trump's ouster, as no Republican senators have voiced support for doing so.

In a call with reporters earlier Saturday, a source close to Trump's legal team said the articles violate the Constitution because they are "the product of invalid proceedings that flagrantly denied the president any due process rights."

The House managers, or prosecutors in the impeachment trial, filed their official brief on Saturday, in which they said that Trump's conduct "is the Framers' worst nightmare", referring to the authors of the US Constitution.

"The case against the President of the United States is simple, the facts are indisputable, and the evidence is overwhelming," the managers said in a joint statement after filing the brief.

"President Trump abused the power of his office to solicit foreign interference in our elections for his own personal political gain, thereby jeopardizing our national security, the integrity of our elections, and our democracy."

Source: Reuters/AFP/nh

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