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21 Jan, 2020 23:30

Trump lawyers & intel committee head Schiff accuse each other of obstructing as Senate impeachment trial begins

Trump lawyers & intel committee head Schiff accuse each other of obstructing as Senate impeachment trial begins

House intel committee head Adam Schiff clashed with President Donald Trump’s attorneys as the Senate impeachment trial began, attempting to spin his party’s lackluster articles of impeachment as dire crimes and getting cut down.

Even while insisting the evidence presented during the House hearings was “more than enough” for the Senate to convict Trump, Schiff maintained that failing to include all the witnesses, documents, and other material the Democrats had tried (and failed) to shoehorn into those hearings “only rewards the president’s obstruction.

Trump’s “refusal to obey subpoenas” was allowing him to “hide all evidence harmful to his position,” Schiff insisted, claiming that “the innocent do not act this way.

Americans want a fair trial.

The California Democrat took the opportunity to pump up the charges against Trump for good measure, claiming the president “illegally withheld almost $400 million in taxpayer-funded military assistance to Ukraine… to compel Ukraine to help him cheat in the election.” Schiff wasn’t the first in his party to float the claim that holding up the funding was itself illegal – House Speaker Nancy Pelosi dropped that ‘bombshell’ last week, citing a new report from the Government Accountability Office.  However, as a few observant viewers pointed out, even the articles of impeachment ratified by the House had not claimed that Trump actually broke the law by delaying the release of aid to Kiev, instead restricting themselves to mealy-mouthed condemnations of his “abuse of power” and “obstruction of Congress.

Also on rt.com Pelosi wants new impeachment witnesses, says Trump broke the law in withholding Ukraine aid

Schiff wasn’t done inflating the charges, however. The impeachment articles were the “most serious ever charged against a president” in US history, he declared. Indeed, he implied, if the Senate didn’t choose to remove Trump, the very concepts of impeachment, a trial, accountability, “checks and balances” and democracy themselves would be rendered meaningless.

Trump’s attorneys hit back with a hard reality check. “Let’s remember how we all got here – [Democrats] made false allegations about a telephone call,” White House lawyer Pat Cipollone reminded the Senate before rattling off a list of ‘violations’ by Schiff and the Democrats against Trump’s due process rights – starting with Schiff applying for his post as intel committee head by bragging that he was “really good at impeachment” and running through the basement-bound ‘top secret’ hearings in which Trump was neither represented by counsel nor permitted to question witnesses or evidence.

In every other impeachment proceeding, the president has been given minimal due process. Nothing here,” Cipollone said.

We hear all this talk about an overwhelming case, that they’re not even prepared today to stand up and make an opening argument about. That’s because they have no case. Frankly, they have no charge. When you look at these articles of impeachment they’re not only ridiculous, but dangerous to our republic.

The House of Representatives delivered their Articles of Impeachment against Trump to the Senate last week after high-ranking Democrats tried to pressure Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell into adopting their preferred procedural rules for over a month. But it was Schiff who excoriated McConnell for waiting until Monday to deliver the GOP’s procedural rules for the trial due to start the following day and deviating from precedents set during the 1998 impeachment of Bill Clinton.

Trump lawyer Jay Sekulow eviscerated the Democrats’ opposition to the proceedings – and the entire impeachment case – as an unending stream of Alice-in-Wonderland-level nonsense. “Courts have no rule, privileges don’t apply; what happened in the past, we should just ignore,” he intoned mockingly.

Are we here because of a phone call or are we here because since this president was sworn into office there was a desire to see him removed?” Sekulow asked rhetorically, slamming “a pattern and practice of irregularities” reaching back to the beginning of the Russiagate debacle, when anti-Trump elements in the government first diverged from legal processes in their pathological drive to topple him.

Also on rt.com Impeachment circus begins in earnest, and will change nothing

If they can do it to the president, they can do it to any of you, and they can do it to any American citizen. And that’s wrong,” Cipollone concluded.

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