Despicable Democrats, Impeachment

Democrats Seek to Pre-empt Trump’s Defense in Impeachment Trial

This is seriously their strategy. At this point I’m going to simply sit back and watch the Democrats sabotage whatever minuscule chance they may have had to take the Presidency away from Donald Trump at the voting booth. I can only hope they keep doing what they’re doing, saying what their saying. Especially from the credibility-free mouth of Adam Schiff. He keeps whining and continues on with this neverending tantrum over Trumps election victory. They don’t seem to realize how insane they are making themselves look by acting as though they were somehow entitled to place their candidate into the White House, over Donald Trump, because of some kind of built-in moral superiority they possess.

Democrats Seek to Pre-empt Trump’s Defense in Impeachment Trial

Sheryl Gay Stolberg | January 24, 7:58am | New York Times

Democrats march forward with Trump’s impeachment

Video by Reuters

WASHINGTON — House Democrats sought on Thursday to pre-emptively dismantle President Trump’s core defenses in his impeachment trial, invoking his own words to argue that his pressure campaign on Ukraine was an abuse of power that warranted his removal.

On the second day of arguments in the third presidential impeachment trial in American history, Democrats sought to make the case that Mr. Trump’s actions were an affront to the Constitution. And they worked to disprove his lawyers’ claims that he was acting only in the nation’s interests when he sought to enlist Ukraine to investigate political rivals.

In doing so, they took a calculated risk in talking at length about Mr. Trump’s targets — former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and his son Hunter Biden — and underscored the political backdrop of a trial that is unfolding only 10 months before the election and is likely to reverberate long after the verdict.

“You know you can’t trust this president to do what’s right for this country — you can trust he will do what’s right for Donald Trump,” said Representative Adam B. Schiff, the lead impeachment manager, said in an impassioned appeal as the clock ticked past 10 p.m. “This is why if you find him guilty, you must find that he should be removed. Because right matters. Right matters and the truth matters. Otherwise we are lost.”

The team of seven Democratic impeachment managers repeatedly attacked the idea that when the president withheld military aid from Ukraine and sought to secure a promise to investigate Joseph Biden, he was merely making a foreign policy decision to root out corruption in Ukraine.

Mr. Trump has consistently suggested, without any evidence, that Mr. Biden pushed to remove a Ukrainian prosecutor who was investigating Burisma, a Ukrainian energy company with a long history of corruption that employed Hunter Biden on its board. Representative Sylvia R. Garcia, Democrat of Texas, spent nearly an hour debunking the claim, and said that, in fact, the opposite was true.

The prosecutor, Viktor Shokin, was “widely perceived as corrupt,” she said, and Mr. Biden was acting in accordance with official American policy, as well as the policy of the European Union, the International Monetary Fund and other international organizations in calling for his removal.

Moreover, Mr. Shokin had already let the Burisma investigation “go dormant,” Ms. Garcia said, so his ouster “would only increase the chance that Burisma would be investigated for possible corruption.” She asserted that neither the elder Mr. Biden nor his son had done anything wrong, and that American officials — and Mr. Trump — knew it.

“Every single witness who was asked about the allegations again said that Biden had nothing to do with it and it was false; they testified that he acted properly,” Ms. Garcia said, adding, “There is simply no evidence, nothing, nada in the record to support this baseless allegation.”

It was, in effect, a defense of one of the Democrats’ leading 2020 presidential candidates and a potential challenger to the president. Mr. Schiff later volunteered that neither he nor his colleagues had a position on the Democratic presidential primary.

Mr. Schiff also brought Mr. Trump into the chamber — at least on video — to use the president’s own words against him, with a clip in which the president called both Bidens “corrupt” and called for Ukraine to start a “major investigation” into them.

“The president has confirmed what he wanted in his own words,” Mr. Schiff said. “He has made it clear he didn’t care about corruption, he cared only about himself. Now it is up to us to do something about it, to make sure that a president, that this president, cannot pursue an objective that places himself above our country.”

But in focusing on the Bidens, Democrats took a strategic risk. Some Republicans have already threatened to call the Bidens as witnesses, even suggesting that they would insist on hearing from them as a condition of agreeing to subpoena John R. Bolton, Mr. Trump’s former national security adviser.

Democrats have refused to consider the idea, and Mr. Biden has said he would not take part in any such swap. And on Thursday, Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina, said he would not “give in to that pressure” from some of his colleagues to do so.

But Mr. Trump’s legal team said the Bidens were now fair game in the trial.

“They have opened the door,” said Jay Sekulow. “It’s now relevant.”

a man and a woman standing in front of a tree: President Trump leaving the White House on Thursday for a Republican event at his golf resort in Doral, Fla.Previous SlideNext SlideFull screen1 OF 4 © Pete Marovich for The New York TimesPresident Trump leaving the White House on Thursday for a Republican event at his golf resort in Doral, Fla.Senator Josh Hawley, Republican of Missouri, said the Democrats’ arguments had made testimony from the Bidens vital.

“If we’re going to call witnesses,” he said, “it’s now clear we absolutely must call Hunter Biden, and we probably need to call Joe Biden.”

Mr. Trump seemed to be paying attention. At a Republican National Committee event on Thursday evening at the president’s club in Doral, Fla., he told 400 people that the proceedings were “impeachment lite” compared with the trial of President Bill Clinton in 1999 and the case against President Richard M. Nixon in the 1970s.

In laying out their case against Mr. Trump, the Democrats focused tightly on the first of two charges against him: that he abused his power by trying to compel a foreign power to help him win re-election in 2020 and withheld two official acts — the provision of $391 million in military aid and a White House meeting with Ukraine’s president — in an effort to advance his illicit scheme.

“President Trump exploited our ally, Ukraine, for his own political benefit to the detriment of American national security,” said Representative Hakeem Jeffries, Democrat of New York. “Is that conduct impeachable? The answer is categorically yes. The Senate must hold this president accountable for his abuse-of-power crimes against our Constitution.”

Representative Jerrold Nadler, Democrat of New York and the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee said: “Impeachment is not punishment for a crime. Impeachment exists to address threats to the political system.”

“Impeachment is the Constitution’s final answer to a president who mistakes himself for a king,” he added.

Democrats expect to wrap up their case on Friday with presentations aimed at proving the second charge: that Mr. Trump obstructed Congress by withholding documents and witnesses and otherwise working to conceal his behavior. On Saturday, Mr. Trump’s defense team is expected to lay out its case.

On Thursday, Mr. Nadler drew on quotes from Alexander Hamilton; from George Washington’s farewell address; and from a 1792 letter to Thomas Jefferson from John Adams that warned of “foreign intrigue and influence” in arguing that Mr. Trump warranted impeachment and removal from office — regardless of whether he committed a crime.

“No president has ever used his office to compel a foreign nation to help him cheat in our elections,” Mr. Nadler said, adding, “It puts even President Nixon to shame.”

Mr. Nadler also turned to Trump allies — including Alan M. Dershowitz, the Harvard Law professor who is assisting in the president’s defense, and Mr. Graham — to make his case, using video clips of their comments from the Clinton impeachment trial to undercut Mr. Trump’s defense.

In one clip, Mr. Graham, an impeachment manager during the Clinton trial, explained why a “high crime” — one of the criteria the Constitution sets forth for the impeachment and removal of a president — does not necessarily require breaking a law.

“When you start using your office and you’re acting in a way that hurts people, you’ve committed a high crime,” Mr. Graham said.

Even before Thursday’s session got underway, it was clear that Mr. Schiff, Mr. Nadler and the other managers had not changed the minds of many Republicans. Senate Democrats were privately expressing concern that they may not get the four Republican votes they would need to bring witnesses and documents into the trial.

Slide 1 of 49: Sen. Mike Braun, R-Ind., speaks to reporters during the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump on charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, Thursday, Jan. 23, 2020, on Capitol Hill in Washington.Previous SlideNext SlideFull screen1/49 SLIDES © Jose Luis Magana/AP PhotoSen. Mike Braun, R-Ind., speaks to reporters during the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump on charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress on Jan. 23 on Capitol Hill in Washington.

Slideshow by photo services

If they do not, the case could be over by the end of next week. Publicly, though, Democrats were putting on a good face.

“I am more hopeful than ever that four conscientious, brave Republicans will come forward and tell Mitch McConnell you can’t shut this down without witnesses, you can’t shut this down without documents,” said Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the Democratic leader, referring to his Republican counterpart.

The rules of the trial require senators to “keep silent, on pain of imprisonment,” and after two lengthy days of first voting on motions on Tuesday and hearing oral arguments on Wednesday, Republicans were growing weary.

Some complained that Democrats were simply reciting the same facts time and time again, more for the television viewing audience than for the audience in the chamber. Senator Richard M. Burr, Republican of North Carolina, handed out fidget spinner toys to his colleagues, ostensibly to ease the boredom — and to deliver a not-too-subtle dig at Democrats.

“They spent a lot of time, they’re well prepared — I just don’t think they have much to work with,” said Senator Roy Blunt, Republican of Missouri. “They’ve got about a one-hour presentation that they gave six hours on Tuesday and eight hours yesterday.”

But Senator Tim Kaine, Democrat of Virginia, said the Democrats had good reason to be repetitive: Many senators — not to mention the public — did not pay close attention to the House inquiry. One Republican, Senator John Kennedy of Louisiana, told reporters as much on Wednesday.

“Senators didn’t know the case,” he said. “They really didn’t. We didn’t stay glued to the television. We haven’t read the transcripts.”

Reporting was contributed by Michael D. Shear, Emily Cochrane, Nicholas Fandos, Peter Baker and Catie Edmondson from Washington, and Maggie Haberman from New York.Microsoft may earn an Affiliate Commission if you purchase something through recommended links in this article.

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