Trump impeachment: Case for removing ‘fraudulent’ president at peak, Nadler says
President criticises Democrats for rejecting witness-for-witness swap as Secretary Pompeo calls for Senate trial to come to quick end
House Democrats continued making their case against Donald Trump by focusing on their claims he abused his legal powers, with one senior lawmaker saying the need for his removal is “at its peak.”
Several Democratic impeachment managers took turns heading their side’s second day of laying out their case as they tried to convince 20 Republican senators to vote with the chamber’s 47 Democrats to convict and remove the 45th commander in chief. They largely repeated evidence made public last year during televised hearings and voluminous reports that contend Mr Trump and some of his aides carried out a pressure campaign on Ukrainian leaders intended to help him win re-election.
One of the Democratic managers, California Rep Zoe Lofgren, told the senator jurors that the president himself “directed” the Ukraine push. He deserved to be impeached by the house and should be kicked out of the Oval Office by the Senate, she said, because he “harmed our national security” and “put our country at risk.”
What’s more, Ms Lofgren said Mr Trump did so “with corrupt intent.”
Ms Lofgren was the third House Democratic manager to speak on Thursday, following an hour-long speech from House Judiciary Committee chair Jerrold Nadler about the history of impeachments and how abuses of power have been used throughout US history.
Wearing a dark suit, bright white shirt and a necktie with red stripes, Mr Nadler often looked and sounded more like a law professor than a member of the House of Representatives.
At one point, he appeared to try making his presentation more digestible to anyone watching the live TV coverage. He spoke at length about “the ABCs of high crimes and misdemeanours,” which he defined as “abuse of power, betrayal of the nation through foreign entanglements, and corruption of elections”.
“The Framers believed that any one of these standing alone justified removal,” Mr Nadler said.
The meaty and detailed Democratic presentation was a continuation of their strategy to use all of their allotted time – 24 hours over three days – to lay out their case against Mr Trump. But it is not immediately clear that a country with an ever-shortening attention span is paying close attention to their marathon lectures.
Still, Mr Nadler made sure to drop a few lines that will likely be replayed during news reports.
“Abuse of power is clearly an impeachable offence under the constitution. I find it amazing the president rejects it,” he said at one point.
A few minutes later, Mr Nadler said of the president: “He must not remain in power one moment longer.”
He also accused Mr Trump of “violence to the constitution” that amount to “great and dangerous offences against the nation.”
“There is strong evidence he will do so again, and told us he will do so again,” Mr Nadler said, referring to the president on the White House’s South Lawn imploring Chinese officials to launch an investigation into Hunter Biden, the son of former vice president Joe Biden, into his business dealings there.
Pushing back on GOP senators’ claims that the president did nothing wrong or does not deserve to be removed, Mr Nadler offered this: “The case for removal is at its peak.”
It fell to Mr Trump’s fellow New Yorker to begin making Democrats’ case that Mr Trump abused the power of the office of the president by saying he “placed his own personal political interests first”.
Pivoting off Mr Trump’s “America first” governing philosophy, he said the president’s actions toward Ukraine were “Donald Trump first”. “The president’s conduct was wrong,” Mr Nadler said. “No president has ever used his offer to compel a foreign nation to cheat in ... an election.”
As the trial resumed, the president openly mocked House Democrats, saying they oppose trading one of their desired witnesses for a White House-preferred one.
“Shifty Schiff, the Biden’s, the fake Whistleblower (& his lawyer), the second Whistleblower (who vanished after I released the Transcripts), the so-called ‘informer’, & many other Democrat disasters, would be a BIG problem for them!” he tweeted, using his derisive nickname for the intelligence chairman and referring to an individual who reportedly spoke to the intelligence officer whose complaint prompted the impeachment process.
But Mr Trump passed on an opportunity to field reporters’ questions as he departed the White House for a Republican Party event in Florida, only waving to the White House press corps as he headed for Marine One.
Though the president said on Wednesday that allowing current and former White House and administration officials to testify would create a “national security problem”, the country’s chief diplomat on Thursday said he might.
“I’ve said all along that if legally required to testify, I’d do that,” secretary of state Mike Pompeo told a Miami radio station. “President Trump has always made clear to everyone on his team that we’ll always comply with every legal requirement.”
With any new testimony inside the ornate Senate chamber almost certainly out of the question – no GOP senator joined Democrats in voting for the minority’s early trial motions for just that – Mr Pompeo uttered an administration talking point that the proceeding should come to a quick conclusion.
“It’s sadly become awfully political. I hope the process will continue. I hope it’ll come to its logical conclusion quickly,” he said. “I want to make sure that America and the American people are focused on the things that really matter to delivering good outcomes – more prosperous opportunities, jobs, all the things that our administration has been working on.”