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Trump lawyer argues Democrats have 'absolutely no case' in first impeachment trial remarks

White House counsel Pat Cipollone insisted in his first remarks during the Senate impeachment trial that senators would conclude that President TrumpDonald TrumpUS, South Korea reach agreement on cost-sharing for troops Graham: Trump can make GOP bigger, stronger, or he 'could destroy it' Biden nominates female generals whose promotions were reportedly delayed under Trump MORE “has done absolutely nothing wrong.”

“We believe that once you hear those initial presentations, the only conclusion will be that the president has done absolutely nothing wrong and that these articles of impeachment do not begin to approach the standard required by the Constitution,” Cipollone said in brief remarks at the outset of Tuesday’s proceedings.

He insisted the trial would show that House Democrats have “no case” for impeaching and removing Trump from office for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.

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The White House counsel also backed the resolution setting the rules for the trial offered by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellDemocrats near pressure point on nixing filibuster  We need a voting rights workaround Biden takes victory lap after Senate passes coronavirus relief package MORE (R-Wis.), calling it a “fair way to proceed with this trial.”

“It is modeled on the Clinton resolution,” Cipollone said, referring to the impeachment trial of former President Clinton. “It requires the House managers to stand up and make their opening statement and make their case.”

“It is long past time to start this proceeding, and we are here today to do it,” Cipollone added, knocking House Democrats for delaying the submission of the articles to the upper chamber after the lower chamber voted nearly along party lines to impeach Trump on Dec. 18.

Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiTrump White House associate tied to Proud Boys before riot via cell phone data Greene sounds off on GOP after Hill story 'Bloody Sunday' to be commemorated for first time without John Lewis MORE (D-Calif.) withheld the articles for several weeks while expressing concerns the trial in the GOP-controlled Senate would not be fair, seeking leverage for Democrats as they push for witnesses to be called and new evidence to be introduced.

Cipollone is leading the president’s legal team along with Trump’s personal attorney Jay SekulowJay Alan SekulowThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by TikTok - New video of riot unnerves many senators Trump legal switch hints at larger problems Trump, House GOP relationship suddenly deteriorates MORE.

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While a key force behind the scenes, the White House counsel has not been a major face of the Trump administration, and his remarks Tuesday served as his first public introduction to many Americans.

The Trump legal team has also brought on high-profile attorneys, including Harvard Law Professor Emeritus Alan DershowitzAlan Morton DershowitzA victory for the Constitution, not so much for Trump Sunday shows preview: Lawmakers weigh in on Trump impeachment trial; Biden administration eyes timeline for mass vaccinations The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by TikTok - Dems rest their case; verdict on Trump this weekend MORE and former independent counsel Ken Starr, who investigated Clinton, to have speaking roles in the trial.

Both Cipollone and Sekulow spoke on the Senate floor on Tuesday, seeking to challenge House Democrats’ allegations on procedural and constitutional grounds. 

They insisted that Trump was asserting his right to protect privileges of the executive branch by blocking current and former officials from testifying in connection with impeachment inquiry – which formed the basis of Democrats’ allegation that Trump obstructed the congressional inquiry.

At one point, Cipollone called it an “act of patriotism" by Trump "to defend the constitutional rights of the president.”

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Trump’s attorneys filed a brief Monday that urged the Senate to swiftly reject the charges against the president, describing them as deficient and accusing House Democrats of a “brazen political act.”

Trump’s attorneys also argued that he had legitimate reasons to raise a debunked theory about 2016 election interference and unfounded claims about former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenLawmakers, activists remember civil rights icons to mark 'Bloody Sunday' Fauci predicts high schoolers will receive coronavirus vaccinations this fall Biden nominates female generals whose promotions were reportedly delayed under Trump MORE during the July 25 phone call with Ukraine’s president that is at the heart of the impeachment proceedings. Democrats have accused the president of pressuring Ukraine to publicly announce investigations that could benefit his reelection campaign.

“President Trump’s brief confirms that his misconduct is indefensible,” the seven Democratic impeachment managers wrote in a 32-page memo in response Tuesday.

The Senate will debate McConnell’s resolution Tuesday, setting up opening arguments to begin Wednesday. The House impeachment managers will begin with their own arguments, followed by the president’s attorneys.

Cipollone on Tuesday accused House Democrat of a “partisan impeachment” that he likened to “stealing an election.”

“Talk about the framers' worst nightmare,” Cipollone said, harkening back to a phrase in the House managers’ brief laying out their “overwhelming” evidence against Trump.

“It's a partisan impeachment they've delivered to your doorstep in an election year,” he continued.