Jan 28, 2020

Trump impeachment trial recap, day 6: Defense continues case despite Bolton furor

Alan Dershowitz. Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images

President Trump's legal team continued its opening arguments on the sixth day of his Senate impeachment trial on Monday.

The big picture: Trump's defense team hit hard on historical precedents, the Bidens, Burisma and the House impeachment managers. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell ended the day grinning broadly during Alan Dershowitz's remarks that the articles are not crimes, receiving handshakes from several GOP senators after, in addition to Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W. Va.)

The state of play: Trump's team largely shied away from Sunday's dramatic 11th-hour curveball via a leak from former national security adviser John Bolton's book that contradicts what the White House has been telling the country on Ukraine.

  • Dershowitz, who spoke in the 8pm hour, was the only member of the team to namecheck Bolton.
  • "Nothing in the Bolton revelations, even if true, would rise to the level of an abuse of power or an impeachable offense," Dershowitz said.
  • GOP sources say the revelation could be enough to sway some Republican senators to call witnesses.

The highlights:

  • Trump lawyer Jay Sekulow argued that "not a single witness testified that the president himself said that there was any connection between any investigation and security assistance, a presidential meeting or anything else" on Ukraine.
  • Kenneth Starr warned against normalizing impeachment, stating that for much of early American history "the sword of presidential impeachment had been sheathed."
  • There could be no quid pro quo for a White House meeting for Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, Deputy White House counsel Mike Purpura said, because Trump invited his counterpart three separate times — despite the fact that no such meeting ever occurred, though the two did later meet at the UN General Assembly.
  • Trump lawyer Jane Raskin defended former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, arguing that his involvement is a "colorful distraction" pushed by House Democrats. The House subpoenaed documents from Giuliani but did not subpoena him to testify.
  • Former Florida attorney general Pam Bondi outlined the administration's rationale for investigating Hunter Biden, offering a timeline of his involvement in Ukraine and his role on the board of Burisma.

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