President Donald Trump’s legal team began his defense Saturday arguing that Trump had done nothing wrong in his dealings with Ukraine and that the actions of House Democrats are nothing short of trying to overturn a U.S. presidential election. The presentation, led by White House counsel Pat Cipollone and Trump’s personal lawyer Jay Sekulow, lasted only about two hours.
Here are the highlights.
House delivers 28,578-page trial record
Before the trial began Saturday, the House managers escorted a 28,578-page trial record to the Senate. “The record delivered today presents a mountain of evidence showing the President has committed the impeachable offenses that the House has charged — Abuse of Power and Obstruction of Congress — and he should be removed from office,” according to a statement from House impeachment managers.
They didn’t prove their case
Cipollone called out the House managers, saying they did not prove their case against the president.
“We don’t believe that they have come anywhere close to meeting their burden for what they’re asking you to do,” he said. Cipollone accused the Democrats of omitting portions of the evidence that indicated the military aid was withheld for a time because Trump was concerned that other countries were not sharing the burden of helping Ukraine in its war against Russia.
“They come here to the Senate, and they ask you to remove a president, tear up the ballots in all of your states, and they don’t bother to read the key evidence of the discussion of burden-sharing that’s in the call itself. Now, that’s emblematic of their entire presentation,” Cipollone said.
Cipollone ends his opening statement saying, “They are here to perpetuate the most massive interference in an American election in U.S. history.”
The Mueller report comes up
Sekulow produced a copy of the Mueller report, saying that the 450-page report cost $30 million and did not find an overarching conspiracy between Trump and Russian officials.
“This for that,” Sekulow says, comparing the effort and money involved in the Mueller investigation and the House impeachment inquiry.
Schiff’s version of the call
Mike Purpura, deputy counsel to the president, began his presentation by showing a video of lead House manager Rep. Adam Schiff, D-California, paraphrasing a White House transcript of the July 25 call between Trump and Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky. (Schiff’s version of the call begins at 4:10 into the video).
Trump defense outlines six "key facts"
Purpura outlined these six key facts pertinent to the case.
The transcript vindicates the president, showing he did not condition either security assistance or a meeting.
The Ukrainians denied a quid pro quo with Trump.
Ukrainian officials were unaware that security assistance was paused until August.
The Ukrainians did not investigate Joe or Hunter Biden.
Ukraine received military assistance even without the investigation.
Trump is a big supporter of Ukraine. President Barack Obama was not.
The process was not legitimate
The reason that the White House did not answer subpoenas issued by House committees was that those subpoenas were invalid, said Patrick Philbin, one of Trump’s attorneys.
Philbin explained that was because there was no vote of the full House to authorize the impeachment inquiry, thus giving the committee authority to issue subpoenas.
And one more
The president was watching: