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Trump legal team concludes defense arguments at Senate

By Servet Gunerigok

WASHINGTON (AA) – U.S. President Donald Trump's lawyers concluded their arguments at the Senate impeachment trial Tuesday, wrapping up three days of defense statements against the House impeachment managers' case.

Deputy White House Counsel Patrick Philbin began the final day of opening arguments by saying that the articles of impeachment against the president are "anti-constitutional."

The abuse of power article is centered on Trump's decision to hold up millions of dollars in security assistance to Ukraine as well as a coveted Oval Office meeting sought by President Volodymyr Zelensky while he was pushing to have probes declared into former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden and his son, Hunter, over uncorroborated claims of corruption.

The second article, obstruction of Congress, is tied to Trump’s refusal to cooperate with the congressional investigation and his directive that top officials and government agencies do the same.

Philbin said Trump's due process rights were violated in the House impeachment hearings.

Democrats made "a stunning admission of the inadequate and broken process that the House Democrats ran," he added.

Trump's lawyer Jay Sekulow said there was no violation of the law and Constitution regarding the president's Ukraine dealings but a disagreement on a policy decision, suggesting elections to resolve policy differences.

"To have a removal of a duly elected president based on a policy disagreement…That is not what the framers intended. And if you lower the bar that way: danger, danger, danger," said Sekulow.

White House Counsel Pat Cipollone, for his part, said with presidential elections only months away, Americans are entitled to choose their president.

"Overturning the last election and massively interfering in the upcoming one would cause serious and lasting damage to the people of the United States. The Senate cannot allow this to happen.

"It is time for this to end, here and now," said Cipollone, urging the senators to reject the articles of impeachment.

Senators will have 16 hours to ask questions of both the House impeachment prosecutors and the president's legal team. A vote on whether the Senate will call witnesses is expected Friday.

Trump, a Republican, is on trial in the Republican-led Senate over whether he should be kicked out of office following his impeachment on Dec. 18 by the Democrat-led House of Representatives.

The House launched impeachment proceedings against Trump on Sept. 24 following claims by a whistle-blower that the commander-in-chief had sought to pressure Ukraine to interfere in the 2020 U.S. presidential elections.

In a July 25 phone call, Trump allegedly made $391 million in military aid to help Ukraine fight Russian-backed separatists and a coveted White House meeting for Zelensky contingent on a “quid pro quo” arrangement.

In return, Zelensky was supposed to open corruption probes into Biden and his son Hunter, who served on the board of Ukrainian gas company Burisma, as well as into alleged Ukrainian meddling in the 2016 U.S. election.

The elder Biden is a leading candidate in the race to win the Democratic nomination and challenge Trump in the Nov. 3 presidential election.

Trump has accused Democrats of time-wasting and says the inquiry amounts to a “witch hunt”.

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