Trump Impeachment Trial Live Updates: Defense Team to Lay Out Opening Arguments

As Representative Adam B. Schiff...

As Representative Adam B. Schiff of California, the lead House impeachment manager, wrapped up the Democrats’ 24-hour presentation of the case for removing President Trump, he took a few moments on Friday night to forecast the defense team’s counterarguments — and sought to shoot them down.

Mr. Schiff predicted that the president’s team would attack the impeachment process as unfair, charging that Mr. Trump was not given due process, the inquiry was unauthorized and the investigation was conducted in secrecy without a fair opportunity for Republicans to participate.

But Mr. Schiff, the chairman of the Intelligence Committee that steered the inquiry, noted that the House voted on ground rules[1] for the investigation. Republicans had been afforded the same opportunity to attend the proceedings and question witnesses as Democrats had, he added, and Mr. Trump was given a chance to participate as well — just as Presidents Bill Clinton and Richard M. Nixon had been before him — although he declined[2].

“When they say the process was unfair, what they really mean is don’t look at what the president did,” Mr. Schiff said.

He also sought to dismantle the theory Mr. Trump’s lawyers have signaled they will invoke — one rejected by most constitutional scholars[3] — that the president cannot be impeached if he is not charged with a specific crime.

That argument, Mr. Schiff said, was tantamount to a declaration by the president’s legal team that, “We can’t defend the indefensible, so we have to fall back on ‘Even if he abused his office, even if he did all the things he’s accused of, that’s perfectly fine. There’s nothing that can be done about it.’ ”

Mr. Schiff also suggested Mr. Trump’s team would accuse Democrats of impeaching him because “they hate the president.”

“Whether you like the president or you dislike the president is immaterial,” he countered. “If it meets the threshold of impeachable conduct, as we have proved, it doesn’t matter whether you like him. It doesn’t matter whether you dislike him. What matters is whether he is a danger to the country.”


  1. ^ voted on ground rules (
  2. ^ declined (
  3. ^ rejected by most constitutional scholars (

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