House Democrats, White House lay out arguments before trial

U.S. & World

President Donald Trump waves before getting into his vehicle after arriving at Palm Beach International Airport in West Palm Beach, Fla., Friday, Jan. 17, 2020. Trump and his family are spending the weekend at their Mar-a-Lago estate. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

WASHINGTON (AP) — House Democrats say in a brief filed ahead of impeachment trial arguments that President Donald Trump “abandoned his oath to faithfully execute the laws and betrayed his public trust.”

They also called his conduct the “worst nightmare” of the country’s founding fathers.

The brief Saturday came shortly after the White House sent the Senate a fiery response to its impeachment summons, outlining the defenses it expects to use in the upcoming trial.

President Donald Trump’s legal team is sending the Senate a fiery response to its impeachment summons, outlining the defenses it expects to use in the upcoming trial.

Trump’s Saturday answer to the Senate’s formal impeachment summons calls the two articles of impeachment passed by the House last month “a dangerous attack on the right of the American people to freely choose their president.” The document offers a taste of the rhetoric expected to be deployed by the president’s defenders in the Senate.

“This is a brazen and unlawful attempt to overturn the results of the 2016 election and interfere with the 2020 election, now just months away,” the filing states.

Two people close to the president’s legal team outlined the filing in advance on the condition of anonymity.

Trump’s legal team, led by White House counsel Pat Cipollone and Trump personal lawyer Jay Sekulow, is challenging the impeachment on both procedural and constitutional grounds, claiming Trump has been mistreated by House Democrats and that he did nothing wrong.

Trump’s attorneys argue that the articles of impeachment are unconstitutional in and of themselves and invalid because they don’t allege a crime. Trump was impeached by the House on one count each of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. Under the Constitution impeachment is a political, not a criminal process, and the president can be removed from office is found guilty of whatever lawmakers consider “high crimes and misdemeanors.”

Trump’s answer to the summons is the first salvo in what will be several rounds of arguments before the trial is expected to formally begin on Tuesday.

The House is set to file its brief outlining its case for impeachment Saturday. Trump will file a more detailed legal brief on Monday, and the House will be able to respond to the Trump filing on Tuesday.

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