Updated Jan 18, 2020

Trump responds to articles of impeachment, calls process "a dangerous attack"

President Trump in the White House on Jan. 17. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

President Trump's defense team released their arguments on Saturday for the impeachment trial in the Senate starting next week — and House Democrats quickly labeled the president's response as fundamentally wrong.

What they're saying: Trump's full response to House Democrat's case for impeachment argues the articles "violate the Constitution" and are "defective in their entirety." His defense further characterized the impeachment process as "nothing more than a dangerous attack on the American people themselves and their right to vote."

  • Trump's legal team plans to argue the first article of impeachment, abuse of power, does "lasting damage to the separation of powers," and alleges there's no such violation of the law.
  • Trump's team also plans to argue that the president "was within his rights" to ignore requests from Congress for testimony and witnesses throughout the impeachment process, per CNN. House Democrats have indicted Trump for this action in their second article of impeachment — obstruction of Congress.

The other side: Trump's answer to articles of impeachment "is more like a fundraising email" than a statement addressing constitutional law, a Democratic aide working on the impeachment trial told reporters Saturday.

  • "This answer is not like any answer we've ever seen in an impeachment. The House and the Senate have done fifteen," the aide said. "If the following is not impeachable, nothing is impeachable."

The bottom line: A senior administration official predicted that the trial would take roughly two weeks and culminate in an acquittal by Feb. 4, when Trump is due to give his State of the Union address, Axios previously reported.

  • House Democrats working on the trial believe Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell will deviate from precedent set in the Clinton impeachment trial, one aide told reporters Saturday.

Read the president's full response to articles of impeachment:

Go deeper: Trump's Fox-friendly Senate trial team

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President Trump's Senate impeachment trial concluded Wednesday with a final vote (4pm ET) to acquit him on two articles brought by the House — abuse of power and obstruction of Congress — after senators continue their debate on the issue.

The big picture: Trump's acquittal was always expected, but Wednesday saw an 11th hour twist in the impeachment trial as Sen. Mitt Romney voted in favor of convicting the president on abuse of power — the only Republican senator to break ranks.

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Pelosi slams McConnell trial rules as "deliberately designed to hide the truth"

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House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) claimed in a statement Tuesday that the rules Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has proposed for President Trump's impeachment trial diverge from the Clinton precedent and show he has "chosen a cover-up" over a fair trial.

Context: McConnell made public an organizing resolution Monday laying out the terms for the trial, which include 24 hours over two days for each side to present their cases. It would block evidence discovered in the House impeachment investigation from being presented without a separate vote, and it would delay a vote on whether to subpoena witnesses and documents until later in the trial.

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White House: Impeachment articles are "an affront to the Constitution"

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The White House on Monday has asked the Senate to “swiftly reject” the articles of impeachment against President Trump, calling them "an affront to the Constitution and to our democratic institutions."

Why it matters: The 110-page legal brief is the first glimpse into the president's defense strategy. In it his lawyers argue that neither of the two articles is valid because they do not constitute a violation of the law and only punish the president for expressing his constitutional powers.

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