Trump Defense continues their second day of arguments in impeachment trial

Andrew Leal, Print Managing Editor

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White House lawyers began day two of their defense in the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump for charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress on Jan. 27 to opposition from Democrats who want to call a new witness to testify, former National Security Advisor John Bolton. 

 

Bolton’s draft manuscript of his unpublished book “The Room Where it Happened” is reported to detail a conversation he had with Trump concerning a continue to withhold roughly $400 million in aid to Ukraine to get their officials to investigate potential 2020 general election rival former Vice President Joe Biden. 

 

Trump tweeted on Jan. 26 after reports came out about the Bolton draft that, “I NEVER told John Bolton that the aid to Ukraine was tied to investigations into Democrats, including the Bidens. In fact, he never complained about this at the time of his very public termination. If John Bolton said this, it was only to sell a book.”

 

White House Deputy Counsel Mike Purpura denounced the accusations of a link between investigations and foreign aid to Ukraine adding that, “Most of the Democrats’ witnesses have never spoken to the president at all. Let alone about Ukraine security assistance.”

 

The Trump defense team have so far dismissed the charges of abuse of power and obstruction and instead have tried to shift the focus of trial to former Vice President Joe Biden’s son Hunter Biden and his involvement with Ukranian natural gas company Burisma. 

 

Pam Bondi, a member of the defense team, has spearheaded the focus on Hunter Biden with questions of whether his father, who served as vice president in the Obama administration, had a conflict of interest due to his son being apart of Burisma.

 

“We would prefer not to be discussing this. But the House managers have placed this squarely at issue, so we must address it,” Bondi said on the Senate floor.

 

According to Devin Dwyer of ABC News, as Bondi began her conversation on Hunter Biden, Sen. Maria Cantrell replied with the expletive, “bullshit,” to a fellow Senator who sat beside her. 

 

Bondi got looks of disbelief from Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and other Democrats took notes. 

 

Any new witness such as Bolton or Biden would be decided as quickly as Jan. 31 with a four hour debate, two for each side, followed by a full vote. The same process would apply to new documents or evidence to be submitted as well. Democrats need just four Republican Senators to vote along with them to get the witnesses and evidence submitted to the record. 

 

Only two senators so far, Mitt Romney of Utah and Susan Collins of Maine, have expressed an interest of openness to call on witnesses at the tail end of the trial. 

 

The Senate trial rules which were adopted Jan. 22 laid out the process the Senate would follow to try Trump on the charges given by the House early January. 

 

So far opening arguments from seven House members acting as managers of the case led by Congressman Adam Schiff of California filled the Senate chamber on Wednesday detailing charges against Trump. 

 

Schiff said that impeachment was, “A remedy as powerful as the evil it was meant to combat,” in his opening remarks. 

 

The first charge amounts to abuse of power based on claims that Trump threatened to withhold aid already earmarked for Ukraine to help with security in exchange for the investigation of a political rival and potential democrat presidential challenger Joe Biden. 

 

On Friday House managers argued their second charge that the president obstructed Congress when he allegedly refused to let specific figures in his administration testify in the House investigation into dealings with Ukraine in July 2019. 

 

The defense opened their arguments on Jan. 25 to make the case Trump acted in the national interest with his conversations to Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky. And defense accused Democrats with trying to remove Trump from the ballot with the impeachment trial not too long into the day. 

 

Chief Justice John Roberts has been presiding over the trial as the Constitution dictates he must do since Jan. 21, however, he gets as much power as the Senate will grant him.  

 

The trial will continue with one more day given to the defense on Tuesday and then move on to determine whether additional witnesses and evidence will be admitted.