Trial clos­ing ar­gu­ments aim at vot­ers

Times-Herald (Vallejo) - - FRONT PAGE - By Lisa Mas­caro and Eric Tucker

WASHINGTON >> Clos­ing ar­gu­ments Mon­day in Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s im­peach­ment trial were aimed more to­ward his­tory than to sway the out­come, one fi­nal chance to in­flu­ence public opin­ion and set the record ahead of his ex­pected ac­quit­tal in the Repub­li­can-led Se­nate.

The House Demo­cratic pros­e­cu­tors drew on the Found­ing Fa­thers

and com­mon sense to urge sen­a­tors — and Amer­i­cans — to see that Trump’s ac­tions are not iso­lated but a pat­tern of be­hav­ior that, left unchecked, will al­low him to “cheat”’ in the 2020 elec­tion.

Demo­crat Rep. Adam Schiff im­plored those few Repub­li­cans who have ac­knowl­edged Trump’s wrong­do­ing to pre­vent a “run­away pres­i­dency” and stand up to say “enough.”

“For a man like Don­ald J. Trump, they gave you a rem­edy and meant for you to use it. They gave you an oath, and they meant for you to ob­serve it,” Schiff said. “We have proven Don­ald Trump guilty. Now do im­par­tial jus­tice and con­vict him.”

The pres­i­dent’s de­fense coun­tered the Democrats have been out to im­peach Trump since the start of his pres­i­dency, noth­ing short of an ef­fort to undo the 2016 elec­tion and to try to shape the next one, as early pri­mary vot­ing be­gins Mon­day in Iowa.

“Leave it to the vot­ers to choose,” said White House coun­sel Pat Cipol­lone.

He called for an end to the par­ti­san “era of im­peach­ment.”

All that’s left, as the Se­nate pre­pares to ac­quit Trump on charges that he abused power and ob­structed Congress, is for Amer­i­cans to de­cide now and in the Novem­ber elec­tion, as the third pres­i­den­tial im­peach­ment trial in the nation’s his­tory comes to a close.

Most sen­a­tors ac­knowl­edge the House Demo­cratic man­agers have es­sen­tially proven their case. Trump was im­peached in De­cem­ber

on two charges: that he abused his power like no other pres­i­dent in his­tory when he pushed Ukraine to in­ves­ti­gate ri­val Democrats, and he then ob­structed Congress

by in­struct­ing aides to defy House sub­poe­nas.

But key Repub­li­cans have de­cided the pres­i­dent’s ac­tions to­ward Ukraine do not rise to the level of im­peach­able

of­fense that war­rants the dra­matic po­lit­i­cal up­heaval of con­vic­tion and re­moval from of­fice. His ac­quit­tal in Wed­nes­day’s vote is all but as­sured.

Repub­li­can Sens. La­mar Alexan­der of Ten­nessee, Marco Ru­bio of Florida and Rob Port­man of Ohio are among those who ac­knowl­edged the in­ap­pro­pri­ate­ness of Trump’s ac­tions, but said they would not vote to hear more tes­ti­mony or to con­vict.

“What mes­sage does that send? “asked Rep. Ha­keem Jef­fries, D-N.Y., a House pros­e­cu­tor. He warned sen­a­tors that for Trump, the “past is pro­logue.” He urged the Se­nate to re­al­ize its fail­ure to con­vict will “al­low the pres­i­dent’s mis­con­duct to stand.”

The Se­nate pro­ceed­ings are set against a sweep­ing po­lit­i­cal back­stop, as vot­ers in Iowa on Mon­day are choos­ing pres­i­den­tial Demo­cratic pri­mary can­di­dates and Trump is poised to de­liver his State of the Union ad­dress Tues­day in his own vic­tory lap be­fore Congress.

The House Democrats un­veiled a strik­ing case cen­tered on Trump’s per­sonal at­tor­ney, Rudy Gi­u­liani, run­ning an al­ter­na­tive for­eign pol­icy that drew alarm at the high­est lev­els. As part of the “scheme,” Trump held up $391 mil­lion in U.S. aid from Ukraine, a frag­ile ally bat­tling Rus­sia, for his per­sonal po­lit­i­cal gain, they ar­gued. The money was even­tu­ally re­leased af­ter Congress in­ter­vened.


House im­peach­ment man­ager Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., speaks dur­ing clos­ing ar­gu­ments in Washington on Mon­day.


Se­nate Ma­jor­ity Leader Mitch McCon­nell of Ky., ar­rives on Capi­tol Hill on Mon­day in Washington.

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