Impeachment trial highlights: Conspiracy theories and fidget spinners

Elias Hubbard
January 24, 2020

The House Democratic impeachment prosecutors have one more day to convince the Republican-controlled Senate that President Trump should be removed from office for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress - or at least that four Republicans should join the 47 Democrats to subpoena evidence and witnesses Trump blocked from House investigators.

"Right matters", he said, quoting Army officer Lieutenant Colonel Alex Vindman who had testified in the House. "None. He was doing it only for his own political benefit", US Representative Sylvia Garcia said on the Senate floor.

Trump's defence team is now arguing that the impeachment articles against him are invalid because they do not allege he committed a specific crime.

On the second day of their arguments for Trump's removal from office, Democratic House of Representatives members argued that Biden did nothing wrong and was only carrying out official US policy when he pressured Ukraine to fire its top prosecutor, Victor Shokin, because of corruption concerns.

The answer, she said, was that the former vice president had entered the Democratic presidential race and polls showed he would be Trump's strongest challenger in the 2020 election."It wasn't until Biden began beating him in polls that he called for the investigation", said Garcia, a Texas Democrat. "That's something the Trump team made up". He poses a continuing threat to our nation, to the integrity of our elections, to our democratic order.

To argue that Trump's obsession with supposed Ukrainian hacking in the 2016 election was "far-fetched and crazy", in the words of the manager Silvia Garcia of Texas, the managers played video of Trump's Federal Bureau of Investigation director, Christopher Wray; Trump's former homeland security adviser Tom Bossert; and Trump's former top Russian Federation expert Fiona Hill, debunking the conspiracy theory. No evidence against the Bidens ever surfaced. "He will do what's right for Donald Trump", Schiff said.

Florida's Val Dennings said Republicans believe the only thing Democrats are anxious about is winning the next election and keeping Trump from a second term.

During his remarks, Nadler said the evidence produced by the House impeachment inquiry overwhelmingly supports his removal.

Trump's lawyers had to sit in uncharacteristic silence.

As GOP senators tell reporters that they're looking forward to the side of the story Trump legal team puts forward, they have had few, if any holes, to poke themselves into the account laid out by the House.

Democrats spent most of their time speaking about Trump's alleged abuse of power. Trump's attorneys also openly refused to participate in the House Judiciary Committee's invitation to participate in congressional impeachment hearings. "Or has this been a three-year attempt to take down a president that was duly elected by the American people?"

Trump has said throughout the process he did nothing wrong in his discussions with Zelenskiy, frequently describing their half-hour phone call as "perfect".

"We still need to hear from the President's lawyers. There is not a doubt". This in-your-face reality is deeply troubling, and marks another "new normal" for presidencies if, as expected, Senate Republicans give Trump a pass here.

Clay Ramsay, a researcher at the center for worldwide and security studies at the University of Maryland, told Xinhua that Democrats' best argument is that Trump's threats to withhold aid to the Ukraine "broke the law. and (that) Trump did so to engineer a foreign government's help in the next election".

But Schiff said Trump only released the funds because "he got caught", when a still unidentified intelligence whistleblower filed a complaint that Trump in the July 25 telephone asked Zelenskiy to "do us a favor", to start the politically investigation against Biden. According to the Constitution, a commander-in-chief can be ousted over "high crimes and misdemeanors". Andrew Johnson was impeached in 1868 because of a post-Civil War dispute over states that seceded from the union.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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