Published: Fri, January 24, 2020
Life&Culture | By Sue Mclaughlin

Democrats face risks and limits in Trump's impeachment trial

Democrats face risks and limits in Trump's impeachment trial

House managers, led by Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff, present their case for removing Donald Trump from office for a second day Thursday in the president's Senate impeachment trial.

"President Trump solicited foreign interference in our democratic elections, abusing the power of his office to seek help from overseas to improve his re-election prospects at home", Mr Schiff said.

In a two-hour opening argument for the prosecution after days of procedural wrangling, Representative Adam Schiff said Trump had pushed Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and his son on unsubstantiated corruption charges previous year. "But Congress has no choice", he said.

The trial began in earnest on Tuesday with a marathon session of debate that ultimately culminated in a partisan vote in favour of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's resolution outlining the rules for the impeachment trial, while 11 amendments proposed by Democrats were voted down.

Democrats have been pushing for witnesses to be allowed to speak at the trial, but Republicans, who hold power in the Senate, have voted unanimously to prevent such testimony.

Speaking Wednesday from Davos, Switzerland, Trump called the Democrats leading his prosecution "sleazebags" and "very, very dishonest people", and dismissed the case built against him "a hoax".

In another tweet, he referenced a letter signed by 21 Republican state attorneys general, reported by local media, calling for the articles of impeachment to be rejected by senators. Democrats in the full House of Representatives then impeached Trump without the support of any Republican lawmakers.

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Each side has 24 hours over three days to present their case.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said the "atmosphere of the Senate took on an entirely different dimension" Wednesday as the impeachment managers laid out evidence from the House inquiry to support the charges against Trump. He repeated Republican criticism that Democrats are pursuing a politically-driven effort to oust Trump from office before the November presidential election.

"And once we've heard that overwhelming evidence", she said, raising her voice mockingly, "I don't know that we'll need to see additional witnesses, but let's hear about that overwhelming evidence".

"There are no firsthand witnesses", said Meadows.

"It may have been the first time that many of my Republican colleagues heard the full story, the complete narrative from start to finish, uninterrupted", Schumer told reports at a press conferences.

Two other presidents - Andrew Johnson in the mid-19th century and Bill Clinton two decades ago - both faced a Senate impeachment trial but were acquitted and remained in office. "Trials aren't trades for witnesses".

The ad was paid for by the Lincoln Project, whose website lists advisers including George Conway, a Trump critic married to senior White House aide Kellyanne Conway. "And (Thursday) we will apply the facts to the law as it pertains to the president's abuse of power".

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