Trump’s lawyers confirm their impeachment playbook is to argue the charges are ‘constitutionally invalid’ and should be tossed

President Donald Trump at the American Farm Bureau Federation Annual Convention in Austin, Texas.

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President Donald Trump at the American Farm Bureau Federation Annual Convention in Austin, Texas.
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Reuters
  • In a fiery response ahead of his Senate trial, President Donald Trump’s legal team said the articles of impeachment against him were “deficient.”
  • Speaking ahead of a formal defense filing, sources working with Trump’s legal team told reporters at a briefing that the charges should be tossed out because they were “frivolous and dangerous” and “constitutionally invalid.”
  • Those arguments come amid a slew of documentary evidence, witness testimony, and even statements by the president, that support the impeachment charges.
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President Donald Trump’s legal team on Monday filed a response to charges accusing him of abusing his power and obstructing Congress, saying the articles of impeachment were “deficient” and should be thrown out.

Speaking ahead of the filing, sources working with Trump’s legal team said during a background briefing on Monday that the charges were “frivolous and dangerous” and failed to cite any legal violations.

The sources did not say whether they would ask for a motion to dismiss the charges but did say the case should be rejected, arguing that the articles of impeachment “are deficient on their face.”

The 110-page legal briefing was filed to the Senate on Monday and pushed back on House Democrats’ allegations that Trump abused his power.

At the center of the impeachment inquiry are Trump’s efforts to strong-arm Ukraine’s government into pursuing investigations that could politically benefit him while withholding vital military aid and a White House meeting that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky desperately sought.

The president’s pressure campaign also included forcing the abrupt ouster of Marie Yovanovitch as the US ambassador to Ukraine because she stood in the way of Trump and his personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani as they worked to get the Ukrainian government to dig up or manufacture political dirt against former Vice President Joe Biden, a 2020 Democratic presidential frontrunner.

Trump’s actions first came to light in an anonymous whistleblower’s complaint that a US intelligence official filed in August. The complaint detailed a July 25 phone call between Trump and Zelensky during which the US president repeatedly pressed his Ukrainian counterpart to work with Giuliani and Attorney General William Barr to investigate the Bidens as well as a bogus conspiracy theory suggesting Ukraine interfered in the 2016 election to help Democrats.

But a string of public testimony from career, nonpartisan government officials since then indicated that the phone call was just one data point in a months-long effort to bully Ukraine into caving to Trump’s demands.

The contents of the whistleblower complaint were corroborated by a White House memo summarizing the July 25 phone call, and Trump himself said several times – in public – that he wanted Ukraine to investigate the Bidens.

Moreover, Gordon Sondland, the US ambassador to the European Union, testified to Congress that “everyone,” including senior officials like the national security adviser John Bolton, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and the acting White House chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, was in the loop on what Trump was doing.

Additional reporting and documents since the House impeached Trump in December revealed that there was widespread concern across lower levels of the government, including in the State Department and the Pentagon, about the legality of the president’s actions.

Trump’s legal team filed another short document over the weekend calling the articles of impeachment “constitutionally invalid.”

The more comprehensive filing on Monday expanded on that claim. Trump will be represented at trial by the White House counsel, Pat Cipollone, and his personal lawyer Jay Sekulow. Other attorneys expected to take part include Ken Starr, Alan Dershowitz, Pam Bondi, Jane Serene Raskin, Eric Herschmann, and Robert Ray.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell plans to allot 24 hours a side to statements in the trial, which must be confined into two working days, according to NBC News.