Trump says his advice to impeachment defense team is ‘just be honest’
President Trump on Friday said he would advise his defense team in the Senate impeachment trial to “just be honest” ahead of its first day of arguments.
“What my people have to do is just be honest. Just tell the truth,” Trump told Fox News in an interview recorded at the March for Life.
He went on to bemoan the possibility of getting impeached without committing a criminal act, a defense his allies have deployed repeatedly in recent weeks.
“But they say it doesn’t have to be a crime,” Trump said, referring to Democrats. “Well, maybe it doesn’t have to be a crime, but can you imagine being impeached if you didn’t commit a crime?”
The president accused Democratic impeachment managers of “telling so many lies” and using “so much exaggeration” in their 24 hours of opening arguments, though he did not elaborate or cite specific examples.
Many Republicans and even some Democrats complained late Friday about House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) citing a CBS News report that the White House had warned GOP senators their heads would be “on a pike” if they voted against the president in the trial, with lawmakers insisting it was not true.
Trump’s call for his legal team to be truthful in its arguments is sure to raise some eyebrows given the president’s own propensity for making false or misleading statements; The Washington Post fact-checker determined that Trump made 16,241 false or misleading claims in his first three years in office.
The president’s defense team also faced criticism for making inaccurate claims during the debate over proposed amendments to the trial rules that would have subpoenaed witnesses and evidence.
In one instance, White House counsel Pat Cipollone said Democrats held hearings in the House impeachment inquiry that were closed to Republicans when in fact several GOP members and their staff counsel attended and asked questions.
The defense team, led by Cipollone and Trump attorney Jay Sekulow, will begin making opening arguments on Saturday during a truncated session. The attorneys will then resume with their presentation on Monday.