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Politics Democrats Prepare to Make Case for Removing Trump From Office

19:20  22 january  2020
19:20  22 january  2020 Source:   online.wsj.com

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a group of people standing in front of a crowd posing for the camera© Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

WASHINGTON — House Democrats prepared to make their case for President Trump’s removal from office before the Senate, in the first day of opening arguments in the impeachment trial, the third such event in the nation’s history.

House Democrats plan to allege that Mr. Trump interfered in the coming 2020 presidential election by seeking investigations against his political rival. They plan to argue that senators are responsible for removing him, as his actions resulted in a threat to national security.

Starting at 1 p.m. Wednesday, they will have 24 hours over three days to make their case. Early Wednesday, the Senate passed a resolution in a 53-47 vote along party lines setting the structure for a trial. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.) tried to amend the resolution 11 times to subpoena witnesses and new documents, and make changes in the rules. All of the amendments failed on party-line votes in the Republican-controlled Senate, with only one of them drawing a single Republican vote.

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Earlier in the day, during a news conference at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Mr. Trump said he was sympathetic toward the idea of a longer trial, but said certain testimony would present problems. “I would rather go the long way. I would rather interview [former national-security adviser John] Bolton. I would rather interview a lot of people,” he said. “The problem with John is that it’s a national-security problem.”

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Mr. Trump also said he would like to have his acting chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, testify, along with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and former Energy Secretary Rick Perry, but that all three posed a national-security problem as well.

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According to the resolution, each side has three days to make opening arguments. A 16-hour question-and-answer period in which senators submit questions by writing to Chief Justice John Roberts comes next, followed by a pivotal vote on whether the Senate wants to request fresh testimony or new evidence.

Neither Mr. Trump’s defense team nor Democratic House managers filed any motions on Wednesday morning, aides said. The president at times indicated he wanted the trial to be dismissed, which the White House could do by bringing a motion to do so before arguments began. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) opposed that move, which would be a tough vote for some Republicans and wouldn’t be certain to pass.

The Democratic-led House approved two articles of impeachment against Mr. Trump last month. The first stems from Mr. Trump pressing Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden, a leading candidate for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, including by withholding almost $400 million in aid to help Kyiv combat Russian aggression. The second article accuses Mr. Trump of impeding Congress’s investigation by preventing witnesses from testifying, and defying subpoenas for documentary evidence.

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The president’s legal team denies the accusations and says the transcripts from his calls with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky show Mr. Trump did nothing wrong.

Aides for the Democratic House impeachment managers didn’t respond to queries about possible motions they may introduce. In the brief filed on Saturday, the managers outlined their case and said that Mr. Trump’s actions threatened U.S. national security and “jeopardized the integrity of our free and fair elections.”

The House impeachment managers will likely also say that Mr. Trump’s conduct is the worst nightmare of those who structured the Constitution, and are expected to tell senators that voting to remove the president from office is part of their constitutional duty.

The president’s legal team will be able to counter after the House impeachment team finishes. They have maintained the president did nothing wrong.

Write to Natalie Andrews at Natalie.Andrews@wsj.com

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