Democrats seeking to remove United States President Donald Trump from office via impeachment wrapped up three days of opening arguments late on Friday, urging Republicans to allow witnesses and new evidence to be part of the Senate trial.
“Give America a fair trial,” said Adam Schiff, the House of Representatives lead manager, at the end of his closing arguments before the Senate.
“She is worth it,” he added.
Over three often-gruelling days of argument, the Democratic managers from the House of Representatives attempted to persuade members of the US Senate, who will ultimately decide Trump’s fate, that the president is an out-of-control autocrat willing to sacrifice his country’s national interest to further his own political ambitions.
Trump impeachment: US Senate approves trial rules
The Bottom Line: What to expect in Trump’s impeachment trial
What happened in the Senate impeachment trial of Bill Clinton?
Trump was impeached on December 18 for abuse of power related to his dealings with Ukraine and obstruction of Congress for refusing to participate in the House impeachment inquiry. He has denied any wrongdoing and repeatedly called the impeachment a “witch-hunt”.
As the trial enters a new phase on Saturday with Trump’s defence team taking the podium, here is a look at how the House managers’ opening arguments unfolded:
During the first hours of opening arguments on Tuesday, Schiff used video clips, along with screengrabs of text messages and emails, to construct a timeline of how Trump withheld nearly $400m in military aid to pressure Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy into announcing an investigation into former Vice President Joe Biden and the origins of foreign interference in the 2016 US presidential election.
Lead manager House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff speaking during the continuation of opening arguments on the third day of the Senate impeachment trial of US President Donald Trump [US Senate TV/Handout via Reuters]
Schiff urged the senators to allow for testimony from witnesses, among them former National Security Advisor John Bolton and acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney, and for new evidence to be introduced during the proceedings – a prospect that the Republican majority resisted the previous day. Schiff said it was incumbent upon lawmakers to learn the whole story because “the truth is going to come out”.
“More emails are going to come out,” Schiff said. “More witnesses are going to come forward. They’re going to have more relevant information to share. And the only question is, do you want to hear it now? Do you want to know the full truth?”
On the second day of their opening arguments, House managers honed in on the question of whether an actual crime has to be committed before a president can be impeached and on whether Biden’s actions in Ukraine justified the Trump administration’s demands for an investigation.
Anticipating what is almost certain to be a central tenet of the Trump defence, the Democrats teed up a number of videotaped comments from constitutional scholars and even Trump supporters – Attorney General William Barr and Trump defence team lawyer Alan Dershowitz among them – stating in the past that a statutory crime was not a prerequisite of impeachment.
“Impeachment is not a punishment for crimes,” New York Democrat Jerrold Nadler told the body. “Impeachment exists to address threats to the political system.”