White House Counsel Pat Cipollone urged senators Tuesday to “trust the American people” and acquit President Trump of impeachment offenses as the president’s lawyers wrapped up their trial arguments.
“You know what the right answer is in your heart,” Mr. Cipollone told senators. “The election is only months away. Why not trust the American people with this decision? The American people are entitled to choose their president. It is time for this to end, here and now.”
The president’s lawyers ended three days of legal arguments in the trial to determine whether Mr. Trump should be removed from office for abuse of power and obstructing Congress. The case now moves to two full days of questions from senators.
During his summation, Mr. Cipollone played video clips of several Democratic lawmakers arguing against President Bill Clinton’s impeachment in 1998.
Among them was Charles E. Schumer of New York, now the Senate minority leader, who warned at the time that impeachment “will be used as a routine tool to fight political battles.”
“My fear is that when a Republican wins the White House, Democrats will demand payback,” Mr. Schumer said back then.
Some senators in the chamber laughed at the irony of Mr. Schumer’s remarks from two decades ago.
Mr. Cipollone told Mr. Schumer, “You were right, but I’m sorry to say you were also prophetic.”
“What they are asking you to do is to throw out a successful president, on the eve of an election, with no basis, and in violation of the Constitution,” Mr. Cipollone said.
The White House counsel said convicting Mr. Trump and removing him from office “would dangerously change our country and weaken forever all of our democratic institutions.”
“We urge the Senate to reject these articles of impeachment for all of the reasons we have given you,” he said. “Overturning the last election and massively interfering with the upcoming one would cause serious and lasting damage to the people of the United States and to our great country. The Senate cannot allow this to happen.”
Still unresolved is whether the Senate will call witnesses. Democrats are pushing for several current and former White House officials to testify, including former National Security Adviser John R. Bolton, whose forthcoming book purportedly supports the allegations at the heart of Democrats’ impeachment case. He allegedly has written that Mr. Trump told him he was withholding military aid to Ukraine last summer until the Ukrainian president agreed to start a corruption probe of Democratic candidate Joseph R. Biden and his son, Hunter.
Most Republican senators say they don’t want witnesses, but a few GOP lawmakers still could break from their party on the issue. A vote on witnesses is likely on Friday.
On Wednesday and Thursday, senators will have a chance to ask questions of the president’s lawyers and the House Democratic impeachment managers. The parties will take turns submitting written questions, and Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. advised both sides to limit their answers to five minutes, following the guidelines from Mr. Clinton’s impeachment trial.
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