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 John TrumpIllinois governor says state has gotten 10 percent of medical equipments it's requested Biden leads Trump by 6 points in national poll Tesla offers ventilators free of cost to hospitals, Musk says 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 McConnellOvernight Health Care: White House projects grim death toll from coronavirus | Trump warns of 'painful' weeks ahead | US surpasses China in official virus deaths | CDC says 25 percent of cases never show symptoms 14 things to know for today about coronavirus Trump says he wouldn't have acted differently on coronavirus without impeachment 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 PelosiOvernight Health Care: White House projects grim death toll from coronavirus | Trump warns of 'painful' weeks ahead | US surpasses China in official virus deaths | CDC says 25 percent of cases never show symptoms 14 things to know for today about coronavirus Hillicon Valley: Trump, telecom executives talk coronavirus response | Pelosi pushes funding for mail-in voting | New York AG wants probe into firing of Amazon worker | Marriott hit by another massive breach 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 SekulowMeadows joins White House in crisis mode What the impeachment vote looked like from inside the chamber Senate votes to acquit Trump on articles of impeachment 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 DershowitzCBS All Access launches animated 'Tooning Out the News' series Trump's three-track clemency process just might work A disgraced Senate and president have no business confirming judges 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 BidenBiden leads Trump by 6 points in national poll The Memo: Political world grapples with long coronavirus shutdown The Hill's Campaign Report: North Carolina emerges as key battleground for Senate control 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.