House Democrats on Friday are launching their third and final day of opening arguments that President Trump should be convicted and removed from office. The president’s lawyers will have a turn to lay out the case for acquittal this weekend.
The House passed two articles of impeachment against Trump in December: abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. Democratic impeachment managers plan to focus on obstruction on Friday, after looking at abuse of power on Thursday.
Democrats contend that President Trump attempted to pressure Ukraine into investigations that would help him in the 2020 election. They also say that Trump obstructed their investigation of the circumstances of that effort, including the temporary withholding of military aid to Ukraine.
In Thursday’s session, the House managers argued that Trump’s behavior was what the nation’s Founding Fathers hoped to guard against.
“That is why this president must be removed from office, especially before he continues his effort to corrupt our next election,” said Rep. Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y. “Simply stated, impeachment is the Constitution’s final answer to a president who mistakes himself for a king.”
In winding down Thursday’s session, Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., said there is overwhelming evidence that the president has done what he is charged with and said he posed a “danger to the country.”
“OK, he’s guilty. Does he really need to be removed?” Schiff rhetorically asked the chamber. Yes, he argued, because Trump would not reliably put the interests of the country before his own.
“You can’t trust this president to do what’s right for this country. He will do what’s right for Donald Trump,” Schiff said. “If you find him guilty, you must find that he should be removed.”
Trump’s legal team is set to begin its own opening arguments on Saturday. Like the House managers, Trump’s lawyers have 24 hours over three days to make their case, before a period of questioning by the senators.
The president and his supporters have maintained that Trump had real concerns about corruption in Ukraine, saying the call for probes was not driven by a desire to boost Trump’s own political prospects. They say it is Democrats who are seeking political gain by launching an inquiry in the first place.
Republicans have largely stood by Trump, and since they hold a majority in the Senate, Trump is likely to be acquitted of both charges.