Pelosi says Trump lawyers have 'disgraced' themselves, suggests disbarment

Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiKamala Harris makes history — as a Westerner On The Money: McConnell says it's time to restart coronavirus talks | New report finds majority of Americans support merger moratorium | Corporate bankruptcies on pace for 10-year high McConnell: Time to restart coronavirus talks MORE (D-Calif.) on Thursday hammered the lawyers leading President TrumpDonald John TrumpDemocrat calls on White House to withdraw ambassador to Belarus nominee TikTok collected data from mobile devices to track Android users: report Peterson wins Minnesota House primary in crucial swing district MORE's impeachment defense, saying they've trampled on the Constitution while questioning how they've been allowed to keep their licenses.

"I don't know how they can retain their lawyer status, in the comments that they're making," Pelosi told reporters in the Capitol.

Pelosi was responding largely to comments made Wednesday evening by Alan DershowitzAlan Morton DershowitzGhislaine Maxwell attorneys ask for delay to unseal court documents due to 'critical new information' Unsealed Epstein documents detail alleged abuse by Ghislaine Maxwell Cellphones haven't stopped cops from lying — only courts can do that MORE, a celebrity lawyer on Trump's legal team, who asserted on the Senate floor that presidents cannot be impeached for actions designed to boost their reelections — if they believe that retaining a grip on the White House is in the best interest of the country. And "every public official I know," he added, considers that to be the case.

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"If a president does something which he believes will help him get elected in the public interest, that cannot be the kind of quid pro quo that results in impeachment," Dershowitz said.

The exception, said Dershowitz, an opinion contributor to The Hill, would be cases where the conduct violated a specific law. The Democrats' two impeachment articles, charging Trump with abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, fall outside the federal criminal code.

"The articles of impeachment violate the Constitution," Trump's leading lawyers, Jay SekulowJay Alan SekulowDavis: Supreme Court decision is bad news for Trump, good news for Vance Trump complains of 'political prosecution' after SCOTUS rulings on financial records Appeals court rejects Trump effort to throw out emoluments case MORE and Pat Cipollone, said at the outset of the Senate trial. "They are defective in their entirety."

Democrats have vehemently rejected the White House arguments, saying impeachment is an inherently political — not judicial — response designed to protect the country from elected officials who violate the public trust, crime or none. Their impeachment case hinges on allegations that Trump violated that trust in withholding U.S. military aid to Ukraine to press the country's leaders to find dirt on his political rivals.

Pelosi on Thursday accused Trump's Republican allies of trying "to dismantle the Constitution" in their defense of the president.

"Some of them are even lawyers," she said. "Imagine that you would say — ever, of any president, no matter who he or she is or whatever party — if the president thinks that his or her presidency ... is good for the country, then any action is justified — including encouraging a foreign government to have an impact on our elections."

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"[That] is exactly what our Founders were opposed to — and they feared," she added. "I don't think they made the case. I think they disgraced themselves terribly in terms of their violation of what our Constitution is about and what a president's behavior should be."

Pelosi's comments came several hours before the Senate launched the ninth day of the impeachment trial, featuring the second day when senators will be allowed to ask questions of Trump's defense team and the House Democrats prosecuting the case.

A central battle throughout the Senate process has revolved around questions of whether new witnesses and material evidence, which has emerged since the House voted to impeach Trump last month, will be allowed to appear.

Democrats have argued for the new information, noting that every other Senate impeachment trial in the nation's history has featured witnesses. Republicans are virtually united in their opposition to that plan, saying it was the job of the House, not the Senate, to conduct the underlying investigation.

One witness, in particular, is a focus of the fight: John BoltonJohn BoltonThe Hill's 12:30 Report - Speculation over Biden's running mate announcement Ex-Trump adviser, impeachment witness Fiona Hill gets book deal Hannity's first book in 10 years debuts at No. 1 on Amazon MORE, Trump's former national security adviser, has offered to testify before the Senate under subpoena. And his forthcoming book includes first-hand allegations of the president telling him directly that he was withholding aid to Ukraine to secure politically tinged investigations into his Democratic rivals — a direct contradiction of Trump's defense.

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The Senate is expected to vote on the question of whether to call witnesses on Friday. At least two Republicans — Sens. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsProgressive Jewish group endorses Biden Poll: Gideon leads Collins by 8 points in Maine Senate race The Hill's 12:30 Report - Speculation over Biden's running mate announcement MORE (Maine) and Mitt RomneyWillard (Mitt) Mitt RomneyDavis: The Hall of Shame for GOP senators who remain silent on Donald Trump Trump slams 'rogue' Sasse after criticism of executive actions From a Republican donor to Senate GOP: Remove marriage penalty or risk alienating voters MORE (Utah) — have indicated they're likely to support that strategy. Democrats, however, need four defectors to secure the new information.

A wildcard in that debate is John Roberts, the chief justice of the Supreme Court who's presiding over the Senate trial.

Pelosi on Thursday said a Senate vote to acquit Trump would be invalid without calling new witnesses. 

"He will not be acquitted. You cannot be acquitted if you don't have a trial; and you don't have a trial if you don't have witnesses and documentation," she said.

She also called on Roberts to step in and break a tie vote, in the event that three Republican senators vote for witnesses, creating a 50-50 tally.

"I would think that they would have confidence in the chief justice of the United States," she said. "That's interesting to me that they're afraid of breaking a tie with the chief justice of the United States."

Pelosi declined to say if the House committees that have investigated Trump's pressure campaign in Ukraine — the issue that led to Trump's impeachment last month — would move to subpoena Bolton if the Senate does not.

"This is in the Senate now," she said. "We'll see what happens after that."