- President Donald Trump’s defense team repeatedly argued on Saturday that there was not enough evidence to accuse him because Congress had not heard from any witness who had “direct contact” with the president.
- But Democratic lawmakers held on to those statements, saying they underline the need to call more first-hand witnesses at Trump’s trial, a motion that Democrats are pushing hard.
- In addition, while Trump’s lawyers complain about not hearing the testimony of direct witnesses, the defense could easily solve that problem by recanting Trump’s general directive that prohibits all executive branch officials of six agencies cooperating with the investigation. of political judgment of the Congress.
- “The president’s lawyer did something he did not intend: they presented a really convincing case as to why the Senate should call witnesses and documents,” Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer said after opening arguments on Saturday.
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President Donald Trump’s defense team constantly delved into a key point when he began opening arguments in his political trial on Saturday: evidence against Trump is limited, at best, and cannot be charged because the public has not heard direct evidence of his misconduct from him or from someone close to him.
The comments came when Republicans and Democrats in the Senate fight over whether to call new witnesses at the president’s trial. Democrats argue that while they have more than enough to accuse Trump, they have not yet heard from senior executive officials closest to the president who could shed more light on their efforts to pressure Ukraine to interfere in the elections of 2020
Meanwhile, Republicans say that if the evidence against Trump is as overwhelming as House Democrats say, the Senate does not need to call new witnesses.
But on Saturday, Trump’s lawyers seemed to reinforce the case of the Democrats by repeatedly stating that they had not heard from a single witness who had “direct contact” with the president.
Although his statements were misleading (Gordon Sondland, the United States ambassador to the European Union, was in frequent contact with Trump and testified before Congress that the president participated in a quid pro quo with Ukraine), Democratic lawmakers said their statements underscored the need to hear from more first-hand witnesses.
It is also worth noting that, although the president’s lawyers complain about not hearing the testimony of witnesses who spoke directly with Trump, the defense team led by White House lawyer Pat Cipollone could easily solve that problem by recanting the Cipollone directive last year that banned all officials of the executive branch of six agencies that cooperated with the political trial investigation of the House of Representatives.
Multiple senior administration officials in the president’s internal circle, such as White House interim cabinet chief Mick Mulvaney, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and former national security adviser John Bolton, cited Cipollone’s mandate, which He did under the direction of the president, as the reason would not testify or provide relevant documents.
Bolton, who was at the center of a series of episodes investigated in the investigation, has said he will testify if the Senate decides to cite him.
“Now, the first point I would like to make is that the president’s lawyer did something that was not intended: they presented a really compelling case as to why the Senate should call witnesses and documents,” said the Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer
“They kept saying there are no eyewitness accounts, but there are people who have eyewitness accounts, the four witnesses and the four sets of documents we have asked for,” he said. “But there are people who do. Mick Mulvaney knows. In all likelihood, Mr. [Robert] Blair [an aide to Mulvaney], Mr. Bolton knows. Why shouldn’t we have witnesses and documents here? I thought.”
Senator Joe Manchin of Virginia, who is widely considered a swinging Democratic vote because it represents a deep red state, he told CNN He thought Trump’s team did a “good job” in “making me think about things.” He added: “One thing that stuck in my mind is that they said there is no witness they have had so far who has had direct contact with the president. I would love to hear from Mulvaney and Bolton.”
Senator Chris Murphy of Connecticut echoed that point and told MSNBC that Trump’s lawyers “repeatedly said that we have heard limited evidence from people who spoke directly with the president, who the president ordered to participate in this scheme”.
“Of course, the reason for this is because the White House doesn’t let us hear” from those people, he added. “So, if what is missing … is direct evidence of what the president told the people who work for him, there is a way to solve it. I hope we don’t have to filter the president’s audio by directing orders in this scheme corruption to prove our case. “
He was referring to an explosive report from ABC News this week that said the media had obtained a 2018 audio tape where Trump is heard ordering the dismissal of Marie Yovanovitch, who at that time was the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine.
The president demanded that she be expelled after her personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, collaborated with a controversial opinion columnist and some Ukrainian associates to plant negative stories about Yovanovitch in the press accusing her of anti-Trump bias.
One of those associates, Lev Parnas, recorded Trump’s tape and handed it to the House Intelligence Committee on Friday.
“Get rid of her!” Trump is heard saying on the recording. “Take it out tomorrow. I don’t care. Take it out tomorrow. Take it out. Okay? Do it.”