House Democrats to lay out obstruction case against Trump
House Democrats are set to wrap up their opening arguments in Donald Trump’s impeachment trial later on Friday, bringing a close to days of presentations on why the president should be removed from office for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.
The House impeachment managers have spent much of the week detailing the pressure campaign against Ukraine they say Mr Trump ran to solicit interference in the US 2020 election.
On Friday, they are due to delve into the obstruction part of their impeachment case. When Democrats began their investigation last year, Mr Trump ordered officials not to co-operate with the probe or appear for testimony.
Since Tuesday, senators have sat for long sessions stretching into the night hearing the case against Mr Trump, whose lawyers are scheduled to begin presenting his defence on Saturday.
The president complained on Friday morning about the sequencing — which is in the control of Republicans, who hold a majority in the Senate — saying fewer Americans would be watching when his defence kicked off at the weekend.
“After having been treated unbelievably unfairly in the House, and then having to endure hour after hour of lies, fraud & deception by Shifty Schiff, Cryin’ Chuck Schumer & their crew, looks like my lawyers will be forced to start on Saturday, which is called Death Valley in T.V.,” he tweeted.
With Republicans thus far rejecting efforts to call new witnesses, much of the trial has involved Democrats recounting evidence revealed during the investigation in the House, using clips from House hearings in which witnesses described Mr Trump’s efforts to pressure Ukraine into announcing an investigation into Joe Biden, the president’s possible rival in the 2020 election, and into claims that Ukrainians had interfered in the 2016 election.
The House Democrats leading the case have tackled Mr Trump’s claims of corruption against Mr Biden head on, arguing that the president has concocted the allegations for political advantage, and tried to undercut Mr Trump’s key defences.
“‘Read the transcript’, President Trump says,” Hakeem Jeffries, a Democrat from New York who is one of the House impeachment managers, said Thursday about the president’s exhortation that the public read the record of his July 25 call with the Ukrainian leader. That call was at the centre of a whistleblower complaint that led to the impeachment inquiry. “We have read the transcript and it is damning evidence of a corrupt quid pro quo.”
Late on Thursday, Adam Schiff, the House intelligence committee chairman who has led the Democrats’ impeachment efforts, sought to re-energise the sometimes staid proceedings with a direct appeal to the Senate.
“Do we really have any doubt about the facts here? Does anybody really question whether the president is capable of what he’s charged with?,” he said, closing with an attack on Mr Trump’s character.
“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,” he said.