Trump’s impeachment team said he did ‘nothing wrong’ as president distracts with AOC rant

Trump’s defense team, in a strategic move Saturday, saved what they substantially have to say about former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter for next week.

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Lawyers Begin Defense Of President Trump During Senate Impeachment Trial

WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 25: In this screengrab taken from a Senate Television webcast, White House Counsel Pat Cipollone speaks during impeachment proceedings against U.S. President Donald Trump in the Senate at the U.S. Capitol on January 25, 2020

Photo by Senate Television via Getty Images

WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump’s impeachment defense kicked off Saturday, with White House Counsel Pat Cipollone arguing the president “did absolutely nothing wrong” following three days of Democrats presenting their case on why he should be convicted and removed from office.

Trump’s defense team, in a strategic move, only used two hours of the 24 they get to present their defense, saving what they substantially have to say about former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter for next week, when the trial resumes on Monday with presumably a larger TV audience.

Trump earlier complained on Twitter that Saturday was a viewership “Death Valley,” so 23 minutes before the start, the president tried to rally people to watch in a tweet saying, “Our case against lyin’, cheatin’, liddle’ Adam “Shifty” Schiff, Cryin’ Chuck Schumer, Nervous Nancy Pelosi, their leader, dumb as a rock AOC, & the entire Radical Left, Do Nothing Democrat Party, starts today at 10:00 A.M. on @FoxNews, @OANN or Fake News , @CNN or Fake News MSDNC!”

Perhaps Trump meant MSNBC. The window that tweet opens to Trump’s mindset about how he wants his impeachment defense to proceed is remarkable. No matter your views on the outspoken freshman Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-NY, Trump’s impeachment has nothing to do with her.

More takeaways:

Cippolone also said Democrats want to “overturn the results of the last election,” using what Republicans have been contending to shrug off Trump’s impeachment for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. With the November election so close, they assert, just let the voters decide.

While that may sound reasonable, remember that at the heart of Trump’s impeachment are allegations that he improperly tried to rig his 2020 re-election by pressuring Ukraine to announce an investigation into Biden, a frontrunner for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination.

Trump’s legal team lamented that the senators have not heard testimony from the whistleblower whose tip led to Trump’s impeachment or House Intelligence Committee chair Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., the lead impeachment manager.

Trump lawyer Patrick Philbin said “we would love to talk directly to the whistleblower.”

Schiff presented the majority of the case against Trump. What Trump’s lawyers mean is they never got to cross examine Schiff during the earlier Judiciary Committee proceedings to try to determine the whistleblower’s identity and bolster their allegations that Schiff somehow acted improperly.

Schiff has said — and repeated on Saturday after the trial — that he does not know the identity of the whistleblower, and while at one time he was open to calling the whistleblower to testify, subsequent events led him to conclude exposure would jeopardize his or her life.

Then there is the denial by Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky that Trump pressured him to announce an investigation of Biden and his son, who sat on the board of a Ukraine energy company, an abundantly well paid position for which Hunter’s  best qualification seems to have been his last name.

Republicans — and Trump’s personal attorney Jay Sekulow on Saturday — have used this as a major selling point that there was no quid pro quo.

Schiff and the Democratic House managers — the prosecutors — argue that Zelensky is so dependent on U.S. military assistance that of course he wouldn’t antagonize Trump, who is in trouble in part because he withheld military aid approved by Congress.

Democrats are “claiming to be mind readers, Sekulow said. “They know what President Zelensky is thinking better than what President Zelensky does.”

What to you think? As trial lawyers say to jurors all the time — “don’t leave your common sense at the door.”

*Wounded Iraq war vet Sen. Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill., speaking to reporters after the session, stood up for Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, the National Security Council aide whose safety may now be at risk because he testified before the House Intelligence Committee.

Duckworth said, “Some of my colleagues have attacked him because he did what he thought was right. That’s not acceptable, that is un-American.”

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