Schiff on beginning of Trump defense: 'They're trying to deflect'

Rep. Adam SchiffAdam Bennett SchiffGOP chairmen hit back at accusation they are spreading disinformation with Biden probe Schiff, Khanna call for free masks for all Americans in coronavirus aid package House Intelligence panel opens probe into DHS's involvement in response to protests MORE (D-Calif.) said President TrumpDonald John TrumpTeachers union launches 0K ad buy calling for education funding in relief bill FDA head pledges 'we will not cut corners' on coronavirus vaccine Let our values drive COVID-19 liability protection MORE’s defense team is trying to “deflect” from Democrats’ claims in the Senate impeachment trial that the president abused his power in his dealings with Ukraine and obstructed Congress’s subsequent probes. 

“After listening to the President’s lawyers opening arguments, I have three observations: They don’t contest the facts of Trump’s scheme. They’re trying to deflect, distract from, and distort the truth. And they are continuing to cover it up by blocking documents and witnesses,” tweeted Schiff, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee and Democrats’ top impeachment manager in the Senate. 

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Schiff’s comments come after Trump’s legal defense team started presenting its case in earnest Saturday. Trump’s attorneys accused Democrats of trying to overturn the 2016 election and hindering the president’s reelection efforts in an election year. 

“They’re asking you not only to overturn the results of the last election, but, as I’ve said before, they’re asking you to remove President Trump from the ballot in an election that’s occurring in approximately nine months,” White House counsel Pat Cipollone said. “I don’t think they spent one minute of their 24 hours talking to you about the consequences of that for our country.” 

Trump’s team also went after Schiff individually, slamming him for parodying a July conversation between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky that is at the heart of the impeachment proceedings.

Trump in his call with Zelensky asked the foreign leader to investigate a debunked theory about 2016 election interference as well as former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenTrump says he is 'seriously' considering a capital gains tax cut Why Joe Biden is in trouble Harris favored as Biden edges closer to VP pick MORE and his son. The call triggered a whistleblower complaint that ultimately led to Trump’s impeachment on two articles.

Democrats have maintained that Trump’s request was an abuse of power and that he obstructed subsequent congressional efforts to probe the president’s dealings with Kyiv. Republicans have mostly said the actions do not rise to the level of impeachment and that the president was merely concerned about corruption in Ukraine.