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'The President did absolutely nothing wrong': Trump's lawyers tell impeachment trial

White House counsel have begun outlining their case against the charges laid against the president.

White House Counsel Pat Cipollone makes arguments against Trump's removal from office during the US president's impeachment trial today.
White House Counsel Pat Cipollone makes arguments against Trump's removal from office during the US president's impeachment trial today.
Image: PA Images

DONALD TRUMP’S LAWYERS have opened their impeachment trial defence by asserting the US president “did absolutely nothing wrong” when he asked Ukraine to investigate his political rival Joe Biden.

Pressing the Republican-led chamber to acquit Trump of charges that he abused his power and obstructed Congress, his lawyers accused Democratic prosecutors of omitting key evidence when they presented their case.

Trump’s legal team plan an aggressive, wide-ranging defence asserting an expansive view of presidential powers and portraying him as besieged by political opponents determined to undo the result of the 2016 election and ensure he will not be re-elected this November.

His lawyers also aim to put Biden on the defensive as he campaigns for the Democrat presidential nomination.

White House counsel Pat Cipollone told the trial today:

They’re asking you not only to overturn the results of the last election, but as I’ve said before, they’re asking you to remove President Trump from an election that’s occurring in approximately nine months.

“They’re asking you to tear up all the ballots across this country on their own initiative.”

The opening of the defence’s case comes after a three-day presentation by House Democrats.

As they wrapped up yesterday, they asserted Trump will persist in abusing his power and endangering American democracy unless Congress intervenes to remove him before the 2020 election.

They also implored Republicans to allow new testimony to be heard before senators render a final verdict.

Adam Schiff, the lead Democratic impeachment manager, urged: “Give America a fair trial. She’s worth it.”

Schiff closed Democrats’ case after methodical and impassioned arguments detailing charges that Trump abused his power by asking Ukraine for politically-motivated probes of political rivals, then obstructed the Congress investigation into the matter.

Trump’s lawyers contend he was within his rights as president when he asked Ukraine for the investigation.

Defence lawyers are expected to press the argument that Trump is a victim not only of Democratic outrage but also of overzealous agents and prosecutors.

In response to allegations that he invited foreign interference, they have already argued it was no different from the Hillary Clinton campaign’s use of a former British spy to gather opposition research on Trump in 2016.

Acquittal is likely, given that Republicans hold a 53-47 majority in the Senate, and a two-thirds vote would be required for conviction.

Trump’s team began their legal arguments today but only a short hearing was planned, and they will continue their case on Monday.

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Trump is being tried in the Senate after the House impeached him last month on charges he abused his office by asking Ukraine for the probes at the same time the administration withheld hundreds of millions of dollars in military aid.

The second article of impeachment against Trump accuses him of obstructing Congress by refusing to turn over documents or allow officials to testify in the House probe.

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