Published: Sun, January 19, 2020
Global News | By Blake Casey

Alan Dershowitz and Ken Starr join Trump impeachment legal team

Alan Dershowitz and Ken Starr join Trump impeachment legal team

Starr investigated former president Bill Clinton and helped to pave the way for his 1998 impeachment. This trial is therefore not just a pivotal moment for Mr Trump and for the presidency. "He is participating in this impeachment trial to defend the integrity of the Constitution and to prevent the creation of a risky constitutional precedent".

It is the opening salvo in Trump's legal defense, after high profile attorneys Alan Dershowitz and Ken Starr signed on to argue on his behalf in the Senate impeachment trial.

Trump's legal team plans to argue the first article of impeachment, abuse of power, does "lasting damage to the separation of powers", and alleges there's no such violation of the law.

This came after an investigation that centred on his request that Ukraine investigate political rival Joe Biden, the President's possible Democratic opponent in the November 3 election.

AP quoted two unnamed sources familiar with the White House strategy as saying Trump's lawyers had advised the president against including Dershowitz on his team.

In an initial written response to the president's being charged, Trump's lawyers said that the articles of impeachment - passed by the majority-Democrat House of Representatives - "are a unsafe attack on the right of the American people to freely choose their president", a source close to the defense team told reporters.

At the heart of the case is Trump's effort to convince Ukraine to launch investigations into Democrats, while his administration is said to have withheld military aid.

"In a 111-page brief filed ahead of a 5 p.m. deadline, Democratic-led House of Representatives prosecutors - or "managers" - wrote that it is clear that the "'evidence overwhelmingly establishes" that Trump is guilty of both articles of impeachment against him.

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Trump's trial brief is due at noon (1700 GMT) on Monday, and the House's reply brief is due on Tuesday at noon (1700 GMT).

Trump's answer to the summons was the first salvo in what will be several rounds of arguments before the trial formally begins.

They also called for Trump's removal in order to safeguard the integrity of the 2020 USA general election, in which Trump is seeking re-election, as well as the United States system of government.

Ongoing controversies attached to Starr and Dershowitz, both of whom worked as lawyers for Epstein - who killed himself in a NY jail cell previous year, shortly after facing fresh charges of sex trafficking - could distract from the effort to exculpate Trump, who describes his conduct in the matter as "perfect". Parnas has turned on Trump and Giuliani in recent weeks.

It was not up to Trump to decide whether to release the military aid to Ukraine, which had been approved by Congress, the House managers argue.

The document release followed Thursday's announcement by the Government Accountability Office that the White House violated federal law by withholding congressionally approved security aid to Ukraine, which shares a border with a hostile Russian Federation.

The Democrats filed to the Senate their trial brief, a summary explaining why the House passed two articles of impeachment last month charging Trump with abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.

"President Trump categorically and unequivocally denies each and every allegation in both articles of impeachment", the defence team's document said.

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