If no witnesses are called, it is hoped the impeachment trial can move to its final stages, with Trump keen to see it finished before he gives his State of the Union address on 4 February.

By Ian Horswill

Posted on January 20, 2020

The third ever impeachment trial against a US President begins on Tuesday (US time).

Donald Trump, who has galvanised the US economy, faces allegations of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.

The US House of Representatives, controlled by the Democrats, impeached the Republican Party president last month. The Senate, controlled by the Republican Party, will decide whether to convict and remove him from office. No US President has been convicted and removed from office from an impeachment trial.

A two-thirds majority of 67 votes in the 100-seat Senate is required to convict and oust Trump. There are 45 Democrats and 53 Republicans and two Independents.

Several of the Democrats “managers” for the impeachment trial, including Adam Schiff, Jerry Nadler, Hakeem Jeffries and Jason Crow, appeared on TV news shows on Sunday (US time) to urge the Senate to allow new witnesses and evidence during the process as they seek to oust Trump from office. These Democrats repeatedly pushed the line that the only way to get a “fair trial” is through additional testimony and documents, Politico reported.

Trump is publicly, at least, showing little concern as he thinks he knows what is going to happen.

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Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell will offer an organising resolution for the trial that postpones the question of calling witnesses until the House has presented its case and the president’s legal team responds. Then, following a period in which senators are allowed to ask questions of both sides, the Senate will hold a vote on whether to call more witnesses.

If no witnesses are called, it is hoped the trial can move to its final stages, with Trump keen to see it finished before he gives his State of the Union address on 4 February.

Trump’s legal team has filed a six-page response to the Democrats’ allegations, outlining the defence they expect to use in the upcoming impeachment trial.

The Democrats motion concluded: “President Trump has betrayed the American people and the ideals on which the nation was founded. Unless he is removed from office, he will continue to endanger our national security, jeopardise the integrity of our elections, and undermine our core constitutional principles.”

Trump’s team, led by White House counsel Pat Cipollone and Trump’s personal lawyer Jay Sekulow, said they were challenging the impeachment on both procedural and constitutional grounds. Trump had done nothing wrong and had not been treated fairly.

The articles of impeachment submitted by House Democrats were, Trump’s lawyers said, a “dangerous attack on the right of the American people to freely choose their president.”

“This is a brazen and unlawful attempt to overturn the results of the 2016 election and interfere with the 2020 election, now just months away,” it added.

Trump and his legal team said the impeachment charges failed to allege “any crime or violation of law” and were “the result of a lawless process that violated basic due process and fundamental fairness”.

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