Trial closing arguments aim at voters
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.