WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump did "absolutely nothing wrong," is the victim of a partisan plot to take him down and should be swiftly acquitted in a Senate trial, his legal team argued in a brief Monday.
The 110-page trial memo, prepared for submission to the Senate a day before the president's impeachment trial is set to begin in earnest, counters House Democrats' argument that Trump abused the power of his office for personal gain by working to pressure Ukraine to announce politically advantageous investigations and then, once he was caught, sought to obstruct Congress' investigation.
The two articles, which the House adopted in December, set a dangerous precedent, Trump's attorneys said in the memo, which the White House made public Monday.
They argued that House Democrats were intent during their impeachment inquiry, which lasted from September to mid-December, "to corrupt the extraordinary power of impeachment for use as a political tool to overturn the result of the 2016 election and to interfere in the 2020 election."
Therefore, the GOP-controlled Senate should reject the impeachment charges and acquit the president with all due haste, it said.
"All of that is a dangerous perversion of the Constitution that the Senate should swiftly and roundly condemn," the brief said. "The Articles themselves — and the rigged process that brought them here — are a brazenly political act by House Democrats that must be rejected."
The legal team is also expected to argue that neither of the two articles is legitimate because they don't say that the president broke the law.
"The Framers adopted a standard that requires a violation of established law to state an impeachable offense. By contrast, in their Articles of Impeachment, House Democrats have not even attempted to identify any law that was violated," they wrote.
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Many legal scholars say, however, that a president doesn't have to break the law to commit an impeachable offense. House Democrats have maintained that there is ample evidence that Trump abused his power by pressuring Ukraine to announce investigations into former Vice President Joe Biden and his son while withholding almost $400 million in aid and that he obstructed Congress by refusing to release documents related to his actions.
The White House brief comes after the seven House managers, representing House Democrats as prosecutors in the Senate, filed a brief to the Senate on Saturday arguing that Trump's behavior amounted to "the Framers' worst nightmare" and that his actions present a "danger to our democratic processes."
The president will be represented by White House counsel Pat Cipollone and Jay Sekulow, one of his personal attorneys. Other lawyers expected to take part are former independent counsel Ken Starr, who investigated President Bill Clinton; the famed defense lawyer Alan Dershowitz; former Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi; Jane Serene Raskin; Eric Herschmann; and Robert Ray.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., is expected to allot 24 hours per side for opening statements, but the time will be confined to two working days, two Republican sources familiar with the proposal said Monday.
Democrats have expressed frustration about being kept in the dark about the rules. A resolution outlining the trial's initial parameters has yet to be released.