President Trump’s legal team made short work of Democratic arguments during a short session on Saturday, the first time the defense was able to bring forth arguments.
Spending just over two hours, White House counsel Pat Cipollone, deputy counsel Mike Purpura, and others were quick to point out massive holes in the Democratic claims made against the president.
After addressing House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff—who was selected as an impeachment manager by House Speaker Pelosi to present the House’s arguments before the Senate—USA Today reports the lawyers then claimed Democrats were weaponizing the impeachment process to overturn the results of the 2016 election.
From the report:
Mike Purpura, deputy counsel to Trump, sought to undermine Schiff’s credibility by opening with a clip of Schiff reading the supposed transcript of Trump’s now-infamous July 25 phone call with Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky.
In the clip, Schiff appears to exaggerate the substance of the call and suggests Trump had directly asked his Ukrainian counterpart for “dirt” on a political opponent.
Schiff later said it was a “parody.” But Purpura used it to attack Schiff’s credibility and paint a broader picture of the House Democrats’ case as misleading.
“That’s fake. That’s not the real call,” he said. “That’s not the evidence here.”
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 26, 2020
“Any fair-minded person watching the Senate trial today would be able to see how unfairly I have been treated and that this is indeed the totally partisan Impeachment Hoax that EVERYBODY, including the Democrats, truly knows it is,” Trump said in another tweet.
Any fair minded person watching the Senate trial today would be able to see how unfairly I have been treated and that this is indeed the totally partisan Impeachment Hoax that EVERYBODY, including the Democrats, truly knows it is. This should never be allowed to happen again!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 25, 2020
The legal team saved most of their legal arguments for Monday, after recessing on Sunday.
At this time, they will likely address the closing statements that Schiff and others made about voting to remove Trump from office. Democrats argued on Friday that if the Senate does not remove Trump then he will likely win again in 2020.
The Associated Press adds:
The Trump team had teased the idea that it would draw attention on Biden and his son, Hunter, who served on the board of a Ukraine gas company Burisma, while his father was vice president. But neither Biden was a focus of Saturday arguments.
Instead, Republicans argued that there was no evidence that Trump made the security aid contingent on Ukraine announcing an investigation into the Bidens and that Ukraine didn’t even know that the money had been paused until shortly before it was released.
Trump had reason to be concerned about corruption in Ukraine and the aid was ultimately released, they said.
“Most of the Democratic witnesses have never spoken to the president at all, let alone about Ukraine security assistance,” said deputy White House Counsel Michael Purpura.
Pupura told the senators the July 25 call in which Trump asked Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy for the Biden investigation was consistent with the president’s concerns about corruption, though Trump never mentioned that word, according to the rough transcript released by the White House.
And, from USA Today:
Trump’s lawyers said there was no factual or legal basis for the two official impeachment charges that make up the House Democrats’ case: abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.
Democrats say Trump used his presidential power – freezing the Ukraine assistance and withholding a coveted White House meeting Zelenky was seeking – as leverage to get political favors from the Ukrainian leader. And they say he obstructed Congress by directing subpoenaed witnesses not to testify and refusing to turn over requested documents.
Trump’s attorneys argued that the president invited Zelensky to the White House on at least two occasions – during a congratulatory phone call after Zelensky won his election and in a follow-up letter. The president’s attorneys failed to mention on Saturday that Zelensky’s aides tried repeatedly, without success, to get Trump officials to nail down a specific date.
Watch the entire legal defense’s remarks below: