Trump lawyers urge senators to swiftly acquit Trump in impeachment trial

President TrumpDonald John TrumpMulvaney: 'We've overreacted a little bit' to coronavirus Former CBS News president: Most major cable news outlets 'unrelentingly liberal' in 'fear and loathing' of Trump An old man like me should be made more vulnerable to death by COVID-19 MORE’s lawyers on Monday filed a brief urging the Senate to "swiftly" reject the impeachment charges against him, casting the articles as "flimsy" and accusing House Democrats of a partisan effort to damage Trump ahead of the 2020 election. 

"The Articles of Impeachment now before the Senate are an affront to the Constitution and to our democratic institutions. The Articles themselves—and the rigged process that brought them here—are a brazenly political act by House Democrats that must be rejected," Trump's lawyers, led by White House counsel Pat Cipollone and Trump’s personal attorney, Jay SekulowJay Alan SekulowAppeals court rejects Trump effort to throw out emoluments case Supreme Court divided over fight for Trump's financial records   Meadows joins White House in crisis mode MORE, wrote in a lengthy brief filed Monday afternoon.

The 110-page filing accuses House Democrats of crafting two articles that do not allege impeachable offenses and using impeachment as "a political tool to overturn the result of the 2016 election and to interfere in the 2020 election." 

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The president’s attorneys also characterize the House process as “irredeemably flawed,” citing the lack of vote authorizing the impeachment inquiry at the outset and claiming Trump was not afforded due process.

"All of this is a dangerous perversion of the Constitution that the Senate should swiftly and roundly condemn," the legal brief states. 

Trump’s attorneys assert that the articles of impeachment themselves — abuse of power and obstruction of Congress — are flawed because they do not allege a crime, arguing they do not meet the standard of “high crimes and misdemeanors” put forth in the Constitution.

They claim House Democrats are trying to remove Trump from office over “policy disagreements” regarding his dealings with Ukraine.

“House Democrats’ novel theory of ‘abuse of power’ improperly supplants the standard of ‘high Crimes and Misdemeanors’ with a made-up theory that would permanently weaken the Presidency by effectively permitting impeachments based merely on policy disagreements,” the filing reads.

The president’s attorneys also argue that Trump was asserting the constitutional privileges of the executive branch by instructing top aides not to comply with congressional subpoenas for their testimony, calling the obstruction charge “frivolous and dangerous.”

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Accepting the Democrats' argument, Trump’s lawyers write, “would do lasting damage to the separation of powers.”

The brief marks Trump’s lawyers first robust response to the accusations against the president and offers a preview of arguments that they will employ during the Senate trial. It was filed two days after House Democrat impeachment managers unveiled their own brief laying out the “compelling case” against Trump and urging the Senate to vote to convict and remove him from office.

“President Trump’s ongoing pattern of misconduct demonstrates that he is an immediate threat to the Nation and the rule of law. It is imperative that the Senate convict and remove him from office now, and permanently bar him from holding federal office,” they wrote, labeling Trump’s conduct “the Framers' worst nightmare.”

Democrats allege Trump sought to pressure Ukraine to publicly announce investigations that could benefit his reelection campaign and used a White House meeting and security assistance to Kyiv to do so.

The case revolves around a July 25 phone call during which Trump asked Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate a debunked theory that Ukraine, not Russia, interfered in the 2016 election as well as an unfounded claim about former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Americans debate life under COVID-19 risks Biden set to make risky economic argument against Trump Hillicon Valley: Tech companies lead way on WFH forever | States and counties plead for cybersecurity assistance | Trump weighing anti-conservative bias panel MORE and his son Hunter’s business dealings in Ukraine.

Trump has insisted he did not pressure Ukraine and characterized the call as “perfect.”

The filing submitted Monday dismisses House Democrats’ case as relying on secondhand evidence and claims the rough transcript of the call released by the White House “shows that the President did nothing wrong.”

The attorneys do not deny that Trump sought investigations into 2016 election interference and the Bidens, but they argue that Trump had legitimate reason to raise the issues on the phone call with Zelensky.

The brief also seeks to cast doubt on testimony from U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon SondlandGordon SondlandTop Democrat slams Trump's new EU envoy: Not 'a political donor's part-time job' Trump names new EU envoy, filling post left vacant by impeachment witness Sondland Ocasio-Cortez: Republicans are prioritizing big chains in coronavirus relief  MORE that linked the Ukraine security assistance to the pursuit of the investigations, and describes Democrats’ case as reliant on “hearsay and speculation.”

It cites statements from Sondland and Sen. Ron JohnsonRonald (Ron) Harold JohnsonHouse chair threatens subpoenas if Pompeo doesn't provide Biden docs he gave Senate GOP Senate confirms Ratcliffe to be Trump's spy chief Schumer dubs GOP 'conspiracy caucus' amid Obama-era probes MORE (R-Wis.) about Trump’s own comments to support the assertion that the president never sought to trade the meeting or security assistance for the investigations.

Trump has said publicly that he ordered a hold on the $391 million in military assistance because he was concerned about corruption and European countries not contributing enough to Ukraine.

His acting chief of staff, Mick MulvaneyMick MulvaneyMulvaney: 'We've overreacted a little bit' to coronavirus The Memo: Trump agenda rolls on amid pandemic Trump taps Brooke Rollins as acting domestic policy chief MORE, said during a news conference last October that the administration suspended the aid in part because it wanted Ukraine to investigate the debunked theory Kyiv was involved in the 2016 Democratic National Committee server hack, remarks he later walked back.

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Trump’s lawyers issued their first formal response to the Senate on Saturday, in the form of a six-page letter.

The Democrat-controlled House voted in December to approve two articles of impeachment accusing Trump of abusing his power in his dealings with Ukraine and obstructing the congressional inquiry into his conduct. 

The trial in the GOP-controlled Senate is slated to begin in earnest on Tuesday, when senators will debate and vote on a resolution to set the rules for the proceedings.

The Senate is widely expected to acquit Trump given its Republican majority, however revelations since the House approved the articles have increased pressure on senators to consider witnesses in the trial – something Democrats have pushed for but the White House and many Republicans have resisted.

Lev Parnas, an indicted former associate of Trump attorney Rudy GiulianiRudy GiulianiSunday shows preview: States begin to reopen even as some areas in US see case counts increase Moussaoui says he now renounces terrorism, bin Laden Democrats launch probe into Trump's firing of State Department watchdog, Pompeo MORE, has made a series of explosive allegations against Trump and his inner circle related to the Ukraine affair in recent days, in addition to supplying House Democrats with new documentary evidence.

Last week, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) also accused the Trump administration of breaking the law on temporarily suspending the security assistance to Ukraine, which had been appropriated by Congress.

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Without mentioning those new revelations, Trump’s lawyers wrote Monday that the Senate “cannot expand the scope of a trial to consider mere assertions appearing in House reports that the House did not include in the articles of impeachment.”

A source working with the president’s legal team also dismissed the idea that the GAO report could be considered during the trial, while also disagreeing with the judgment issued by the nonpartisan watchdog.

“We’re going to trial on a specific set of charges,” the person said. “That’s not properly part of the accusation that has been brought to the Senate.”

Cipollone and Sekulow are leading the president's team of lawyers. The White House announced Friday that several other high-profile figures would also play a role in the trial, including Harvard law professor emeritus Alan DershowitzAlan Morton DershowitzMoussaoui says he now renounces terrorism, bin Laden The Hill's Coronavirus Report: Frist says Manhattan Project-like initiative necessary to fight virus; WH to release plan for easing lockdowns The Hill's Campaign Report: Biden faces tough task of uniting Democrats MORE and Ken Starr, the former special counsel who investigated President Bill ClintonWilliam (Bill) Jefferson ClintonNo 'dole' for America: How to recover from COVID-19 Biden set to make risky economic argument against Trump Blair questions Trump approach to coronavirus pandemic MORE.

--This report was last updated at 2:51 p.m.