Democratic prosecutors were expected to wrap up their case against President Donald Trump in his impeachment trial Friday, hoping to persuade some Republicans to break ranks and turn against the US leader.
Lead House impeachment prosecutor Adam Schiff closed the second of three days of arguments late Thursday with an impassioned plea to Senate jurors to convict and remove Trump, saying his Ukraine scheme demonstrated the president was a threat to national security.
“The American people deserve a president they can count on, to put their interest first,” Schiff, who is the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, said at only the third presidential impeachment trial in US history.
“You know, you can’t trust this president to do what is right for this country. You can trust he will do what’s right for Donald Trump.”
“This is why, if you find him guilty, you must find that he should be removed.”
“Because right matters. And truth matters. Otherwise we are lost.”
– ‘Hyper-partisan politics’ –
But so far there was no evidence that Democrats have been able to persuade any Republicans, who hold a 53-47 majority in the Senate, to embrace their case.
They are hoping some Republicans will either back calls to subpoena Trump aides and White House documents that could be more damning for the president — which requires a simple majority in the Senate — or even vote to expel him from office. That would require a super-majority of 67 senators.
On Thursday the impeachment managers, the prosecution, mustered scores of videos, internal documents and extensive witness testimony to lay out their case that the US leader abused his powers, the first of two articles of impeachment against him.
In front of a national television audience, Schiff’s prosecution team detailed how Trump flagrantly undertook last year to force Kiev to help him tarnish his possible 2020 reelection rival, former vice president Joe Biden.
“President Trump used the powers of his office to solicit a foreign nation to interfere in our elections for his own personal benefit,” House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler told the chamber.
“Since President George Washington took office in 1789, no president has abused his power in this way,” Nadler said.
On Friday they were to offer evidence for the second charge, obstruction of Congress, before closing their case.
That will open the way for three days of Trump’s defense. His lawyers will hold the floor of the Senate chamber for their rebuttal on Saturday, Monday and Tuesday.
Jordan Sekulow, a member of the president’s legal team and son of Trump’s personal lawyer Jay Sekulow, called democratic arguments “more of the same — hyper-partisan politics in some form of legalese.”
“We’re going to make the case for the president, why the president was totally within his constitutional rights,” he told Fox News.
“I don’t think they had a case to begin with. There is no question that the president is not going to be removed from office.”
Early Friday Trump himself again dismissed the trial as an “impeachment hoax” and complained he was “treated unbelievably unfairly in the House.”