Donald Trump’s defense team begins their case for the president’s acquittal on Saturday after Democrats spent three days outlining their arguments for impeachment.
The president laid out their attack line in a tweet ahead of the trial – saying his lawyers will go after prominent Democrats Adam Schiff, Chuck Schumer, Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who has had no formal role in the making the impeachment case before the Senate.
‘Our case against lyin’, cheatin’, liddle’ Adam ‘Shifty’ Schiff, Cryin’ Chuck Schumer, Nervous Nancy Pelosi, their leader, dumb as a rock AOC, & the entire Radical Left, Do Nothing Democrat Party, starts today at 10:00 A.M. on @FoxNews, @OANN or Fake News @CNN or Fake News MSDNC!,’ Trump tweeted Saturday morning about 20 minutes before the trial began.
Trump’s team – led by White House Counsel Pat Cipollone and personal attorney Jay Sekulow – are expected to argue the president did nothing wrong when asking the Ukraine to investigate Joe and Hunter Biden, claiming he was worried about corruption in the country.
And they will also argue the president committed no crimes. Democrats have argued Trump was trying to use a foreign power to win re-election.
President Trump’s defense team begins their case for his acquittal on Saturday
Adam Schiff leads the House impeachment managers to the Senate to hear Trump’s defense team
The president spent Saturday morning tweets quotes from his supporters and defenders.
Trump’s defense team has offered previews of their argument in the days leading up to Saturday and are expected to amount a vigorous defense of the president that will portray Trump as the victim of Democrats trying to undo the 2016 election.
‘It’s really trying to remove the president from the ballot in 2020. They don’t trust the American people to make a decision,’ Sekulow told reporters in the Capitol on Thursday.
Their tactics are also expected to put Joe Biden on the defensive as he campaigns for the Democratic presidential nomination. The Iowa caucuses – the first nominating contest – are two weeks away.
Some Democrats fear Trump’s team will present previously undisclosed documents as part of its defense – after the White House refused to release such records to House impeachment investigation.
‘You know that’s exactly what they’re going to do,’ said Democratic Sen. Mazie Hirono told The Hill newspaper. ‘This whole trial is calculated to not provide any relevant evidence that the White House should have provided, not provide any witnesses that the White House prevented from being deposed. And the whole thing is to try and just push this through.’
‘I consider it a whitewash and a sham,’ she added.
Trump’s lawyers will try to flip the case back on Democrats, arguing it is them who accepted foreign help in 2016 via the infamous – and unproven – Steele dossier.
Based upon research from former British spy Christopher Steele, and paid for by lawyers who also did work for Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign, the dossier claimed the Russians had blackmail material on Trump.
Trump has denied this.
Trump’s lawyers will also point to a recent report criticizing the FBI for the way it obtained a surveillance warrant on former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page.
‘They put their case forward,’ Sekulow said of the Democrats. ‘It’s our time next.’
Saturday’s session will be a shorter one than the 12-plus hours senators have been holding this week.
The White House legal team has agreed to only use a portion of its allotted 24 hours so the Senate is in session from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
They will put on a full presentation on Monday.
‘I guess I would call it a trailer, coming attractions — that would be the best way to say it,’ Sekulow said.
White House Counsel Pat Cipollone and Trump personal attorney Jay Sekulow will take the lead on the president’s defense
Trump’s legal team is expected to go after Hunter and Joe Biden
They said this is to give senators a break – exhaustion has set in – and not because Trump complained about his team’s Saturday start time, saying it was ‘death valley’ on television. Viewership numbers tend to be lower on weekends.
The president blamed Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer and lead House impeachment manager Adam Schiff for the time slot but it was Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell who set the rules that govern the impeachment trial, including the timing for both sides to speak.
‘After having been treated unbelievably unfairly in the House, and then having to endure hour after hour of lies, fraud & deception by Shifty Schiff, Cryin’ Chuck Schumer & their crew, looks like my lawyers will be forced to start on Saturday, which is called Death Valley in T.V.,’ the president wrote on Twitter.
Democrats wrapped their case Friday evening and warned President Trump will continue to abuse his executive power unless Congress intervenes.
‘Give America a fair trial,’ said Adam Schiff, the Democrats’ lead impeachment manager, in his closing argument. ‘She’s worth it.’
THE TRUMP DREAM TEAM: WHO’S DEFENDING PRESIDENT IN SENATE
Lead counsel: Pat Cipollone, White House Counsel
Millionaire conservative Catholic father-of-10 who has little courtroom experience. ‘Strong, silent,’ type who has earned praise from Trump’s camp for resisting Congress’ investigations of the Ukraine scandal. Critics accused him of failing in his duty as a lawyer by writing ‘nonsense letters’ to reject Congressional oversight. His background is commercial litigation and as White House counsel is the leader of the Trump administration’s drive to put conservative judges in federal courts. Trump has already asked aides behind the scenes if he will perform well on television.
Jay Sekulow, president’s personal attorney
Millionaire one-time IRS prosecutor with his own talk radio show. Self-described Messianic Jew who was counsel to Jews for Jesus. Longtime legal adviser to Trump, but he is himself mentioned in the Ukraine affair, with Lev Parnas saying that he knew about Rudy Giuliani’s attempts to dig dirt on the Bidens but did not approve. Michael Cohen claimed that Sekulow and other members of Trump’s legal team put falsehoods in his statement to the House intel committee; Sekulow denies it. The New York Times reported that he voted for Hillary Clinton.
Alan Dershowitz, Harvard law professor
Shot to worldwide fame for his part in the ‘dream team’s’ successful defense of OJ Simpson but was already famous for his defense of Claus von Bulow, the British socialite accused of murdering his wife in Rhode Island. Ron Silver played Dershowitz in Reversal of Fortune. In 2008 he was a member of Jeffrey Epstein’s legal team which secured the lenient plea deal from federal prosecutors. But Dershowitz was a longtime friend of Epstein and was accused of having sex with two of Esptein’s victims. He denies it and is suing one of them, Virginia Roberts Giuffre, for libel, saying his sex life is ‘perfect.’ He admits he received a massage at Epstein’s home – but ‘kept my underwear on.’ Registered Democrat who spoke out against Trump’s election and again after the Charlottesville violence. Has become an outspoken defender of Trump against the Robert Mueller probe and the Ukraine investigation.
Ken Starr, former Whitewater independent counsel
Famous and reviled in equal measure for his Whitewater investigation into Bill and Hillary Clinton’s finances in Arkansas which eventually led him to evidence of Bill’s affair with Monica Lewinsky. He was a federal appeals judge and George H.W. Bush’s solicitor general before that role. He later became president and chancellor of Baylor University in Waco but was removed as president in May 2016 for mishandling the investigation into allegations of multiple sexual assaults by football players and other students, then quit voluntarily as chancellor. Is the second Jeffrey Epstein defender on the team; he was present in 2008 when the plea deal with prosecutor Alex Acosta was made which let Epstein off with just 13 months of work release prison.
Pam Bondi, White House attorney
Florida’s first female attorney general and also a long-time TV attorney who has been a Fox News guest host – including co-hosting The Five for three days in a row while still attorney general. Began her career as a prosecutor before moving into elected politics. Has been hit by a series of controversies, among them persuading then Florida governor Rick Scott to change the date of an execution because it clashed with her re-election launch, and has come under fire for her association with Scientology. She has defended it saying the group were helping her efforts against human trafficking; at the time the FBI was investigating it over human trafficking. Went all-in on Trump in 2016, leading ‘lock her up’ chants at the 2016 Republican National Convention. Joined the White House last November to aid the anti-impeachment effort.
Robert Ray, Ken Starr’s successor
Headed the Office of the Independent Counsel from 1999 until it closed for business in 2002, meaning it was he, not Ken Starr, who wrote the final words on the scandals of the Clinton years. Those included the report on Monica Lewinsky, the report on the savings and loan misconduct claims which came to be known as Whitewater, and the report on Travelgate, the White House travel office’s firing and file-gate, claims of improper access to the FBI’s background reports. Struck deal with Clinton to give up his law license. Went into private practice. Was charged with stalking a former lover in New York in 2006 four months after she ended their relationship. Now a frequent presence on Fox News.
Jane Raskin, private attorney
Part of a husband-and-wife Florida law team, she is a former prosecutor who specializes in defending in white collar crime cases. Their connection to Trump appears to have been through Ty Cobb, the former White House attorney. She and husband Martin advised Trump on his response to Mueller and appear to have been focused on avoiding an obstruction of justice accusation. That may be the reason to bring her in to the impeachment team; Democrats raised the specter of reviving Mueller’s report in their evidence to the impeachment trial.
Patrick Philbin and Michael Purpura, Deputy White House Counsels
Lowest-profile of the team, they work full-time for Cipollone in the White House. Philbin (left) was a George W. Bush appointee at the Department of Justice who helped come up with the system of trying Guantanamo Bay detainees in front of military commissions instead of in U.S. courts. He was one a group of officials, led by James Comey, who rushed to seriously-ill John Ashcroft’s bedside to stop the renewal of the warrant-less wiretap program. Unknown if Trump is aware of his links to Comey. Purpura (right) is also a Bush White House veteran who shaped its response to Congressional investigations at a time when there were calls for him to be impeached over going to war in Iraq. His name is on letters telling State Department employees not to testify. Has been named as a possible Trump nominee for federal court in Hawaii.