US President Donald Trump’s legal team called the impeachment articles, passed by the House of Representatives, ‘constitutionally invalid’ in its first formal response. The legal team, led by the White House counsel Pat Cipollone, filed a six-page response to the summons notifying Trump of the impeachment trial which has now proceeded to the Senate.
In the document, the team accused Democrats of “brazen and unlawful attempt” to nullify the results of the 2016 presidential elections and interfere in the upcoming elections. The filing also claimed that the impeachment charges were the result of a lawless process that violated basic due process and fundamental fairness.
The House Prosecutors had earlier alleged, in the impeachment charges, that Trump used his official powers to pressure a foreign government to interfere in a United States election for his personal political gain. They wrote that the US President then attempted to cover up his scheme by obstructing Congress’s investigation into his misconduct.
Trump’s defence team got a minor setback when the federal watchdog, Government Accountability Office (GAO), confirmed that the President violated the law by withholding Congressionally-approved military aid to Ukraine.
“Faithful execution of the law does not permit the President to substitute his own policy priorities for those that Congress has enacted into law. OMB withheld funds for a policy reason, which is not permitted under the Impoundment Control Act (ICA),” the watchdog said in a statement on January 16.
Chief Justice John Roberts will preside the trial and all 100 senators will serve as jurors for the third impeachment trial in US history. Senate turned into an impeachment court following the second day of a ceremonial protocol to shift the proceedings from Democrat-controlled House. In the trial, Senate will serve as the jury and at least two-thirds of the Senate, i.e. 67 Senators, have to vote in favour of removal, which seems highly unlikely since it is controlled by Republicans.