Trump's team ramps up defense despite Bolton's claim
As President Trump's defense team on Monday continued their opening arguments in his impeachment trial, they notably sidestepped a major new revelation - that Trump told former national security advisor John Bolton he wanted to freeze aid to Ukraine until Kiev announced investigations into Trump's political rival Joe Biden and his son Hunter.
That disclosure - made by Bolton in his forthcoming book and first reported by The New York Times - ramped up pressure on Senate Republicans leading into Monday's trial to allow witnesses such as Bolton to testify.
Instead, Trump's team on Monday opened by saying that party politics were behind the Democrats' call to remove Trump from office.
That should not be the basis of an impeachment." Trump attorney Jay Sekulow also refuted that Trump had abused his power or obstructed justice.
(SOUND BITE) (ENGLISH) TRUMP ATTORNEY JAY SEKULOW, SAYING: “It is our position, as the president’s counsel, that the president was at all times acting under his constitutional authority, under his legal authority, international interest, and pursuant to his oath of office.
Asking a foreign leader to get to the bottom of issues of corruption is not a violation of an oath.” (SOUND BITE) (ENGLISH) TRUMP ATTORNEY KEN STARR, SAYING: "But as befits the age of impeachment..." Fellow Trump attorney Ken Starr discussed the danger of living in what he called the "age of impeachment" - a curious point given that it was Starr's investigation of President Bill Clinton in 1998 that led to Clinton's impeachment trial.
Starr also argued that Trump had not committed a crime - in his opinion, a requirement for impeachment - something Democrats have repeatedly countered.
Starr also said House Democrats did not grant Trump due process of the law in their investigation of his July 25th phone call with Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky and in their probe of his ensuing alleged cover-up.
(SOUND BITE) (ENGLISH) TRUMP ATTORNEY KEN STARR, SAYING: "And here we have, tragically for the country and I believe tragically for the House of Representatives, in Article 2 of these impeachment articles, a runaway House." As for the details of Trump's call with Zelensky, defense attorney Michael Purpura dismissed prior testimony in the House by Ambassador Gordon Sondland and others who described Trump's deal with Ukraine as "quid pro quo." (SOUND BITE) (ENGLISH) TRUMP ATTORNEY MICHAEL PURPURA, SAYING: "The very heavy burden of proof rests with them.
They say their case is overwhelming and uncontested - it is not." Despite the Trump team's denial that there was any "quid pro quo" by the White House, Trump's team argued that the president's interest in the Bidens' activities was legitimate and worthy of investigation.
(SOUND BITE) (ENGLISH) TRUMP ATTORNEY ERIC HERSCHMANN, SAYING: "Attorney General Bondi went through for you some of what we know about Burisma in its millions of dollars in payments to Vice President Biden's son and his son's business partner.
There's no question that any rational person would like to understand what happened." Trump’s team will have one more day – on Tuesday – to defend the president.
Then Senators will have a chance, finally, to ask some questions.
After that, a critical vote on witnesses.
Democratic minority leader Chuck Schumer: (SOUND BITE) (ENGLISH) SENATE MINORITY LEADER CHUCK SCHUMER, SAYING: "You can sit and listen to all these arguments, but one question looms overhead: If the President did nothing wrong, why is he so afraid of having witnesses and having documents?" It will still take a two-thirds majority to vote Trump out of office, an unlikely outcome in the Republican-led Senate.