Trump’s lawyers urge 'swift' rejection of impeachment charges

US President's lawyers file brief urging the Senate to reject the impeachment charges against him.

Ben Ariel ,

Donald Trump
Donald Trump

US President Donald Trump’s lawyers on Monday filed a brief urging the Senate to "swiftly" reject the impeachment charges against him, casting the articles as "flimsy" and accusing House Democrats of a partisan effort to damage Trump ahead of the 2020 election.

The brief comes a day before Trump’s impeachment trial in the Senate is set to begin.

"The Articles of Impeachment now before the Senate are an affront to the Constitution and to our democratic institutions. The Articles themselves—and the rigged process that brought them here—are a brazenly political act by House Democrats that must be rejected," Trump's lawyers, led by White House counsel Pat Cipollone and Trump’s personal attorney, Jay Sekulow, wrote in a lengthy brief filed Monday afternoon and quoted by The Hill.

The 110-page filing accuses House Democrats of crafting two articles that do not allege impeachable offenses and using impeachment as "a political tool to overturn the result of the 2016 election and to interfere in the 2020 election."

The president’s attorneys also characterize the House process as “irredeemably flawed,” citing the lack of vote authorizing the impeachment inquiry at the outset and claiming Trump was not afforded due process.

"All of this is a dangerous perversion of the Constitution that the Senate should swiftly and roundly condemn," the legal brief states.

Trump’s attorneys assert that the articles of impeachment themselves – abuse of power and obstruction of Congress – are flawed because they do not allege a crime, arguing they do not meet the standard of “high crimes and misdemeanors” put forth in the Constitution.

They claim House Democrats are trying to remove Trump from office over “policy disagreements” regarding his dealings with Ukraine.

“House Democrats’ novel theory of ‘abuse of power’ improperly supplants the standard of ‘high Crimes and Misdemeanors’ with a made-up theory that would permanently weaken the Presidency by effectively permitting impeachments based merely on policy disagreements,” the filing reads.

The attorneys also argue that Trump was asserting the constitutional privileges of the executive branch by instructing top aides not to comply with congressional subpoenas for their testimony, calling the obstruction charge “frivolous and dangerous.”

Accepting the Democrats' argument, Trump’s lawyers write, “would do lasting damage to the separation of powers.”

Democrats allege Trump sought to pressure Ukraine to publicly announce investigations that could benefit his reelection campaign and used a White House meeting and security assistance to Kiev to do so.

The case revolves around a July 25 phone call during which Trump asked Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate a debunked theory that Ukraine, not Russia, interfered in the 2016 election as well as an unfounded claim about former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter’s business dealings in Ukraine.

The articles of impeachment, charging the President with abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, were delivered to the Senate on Wednesday, four weeks after the House of Representatives voted on them.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi withheld the formal sending of the articles for four weeks as Democrats pushed for Republicans to agree to calling witnesses and obtaining new documents for the trial.

The filing submitted Monday dismisses House Democrats’ case as relying on secondhand evidence and claims the rough transcript of the call released by the White House “shows that the President did nothing wrong.”

Trump’s lawyers issued their first formal response to the Senate on Saturday, in the form of a six-page letter in which they wrote that the impeachment articles are “constitutionally invalid”, accusing House Democrats of a “brazen and unlawful attempt” to overturn the results of the 2016 presidential election.

Cipollone and Sekulow are leading the president's team of lawyers. The White House announced Friday that several other high-profile figures would also play a role in the trial, including Harvard law professor emeritus Alan Dershowitz and Ken Starr, the former special counsel who investigated President Bill Clinton.