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January 29, 2020

Trump impeachment trial: Republicans make their case


Directions: Read the summary, watch the video and answer the questions. You can turn on the “CC” (closed-captions) function and read along with the transcript here.

WATCH LIVE: The Senate impeachment trial of Donald Trump | January 29


President Donald Trump’s legal team wrapped up their defense in his Senate impeachment trial on Tuesday. They argued Democrats’ charges are too vague and do not rise to the level of impeachable offenses. Trump “did absolutely nothing wrong” and was acting in the best interest of the nation, they said, and the summary of his call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky shows no evidence of conditioning military aid on investigations.

House Democrats argued last week that Trump abused the office of the presidency by pressuring Ukraine to investigate his political rivals and then obstructed Congress when it investigated his conduct.

On Wednesday, U.S. senators will get the first opportunity to ask questions of President Donald Trump’s attorneys and House managers as they make their case for, and against, removing the president from office. Complicating the debate is reporting that a book by former National Security Advisor John Bolton claims Trump made the connection between an investigation and military aid.


Discussion questions:

  1. Focus question: What main arguments did Trump’s legal team make in defense of the president?
  2. What questions would you like to ask the Democratic House managers and the Trump’s legal team?
  3. Which side do you think is making the stronger case? Explain.
  4. Do you think there should be witnesses allowed as part of the Senate trial? Explain.
  5. Media literacy: What news outlets have been running uninterrupted, unedited coverage of the hearings? How could you find out? Do you think this is important? Explain.

Extension activity

President Trump’s legal team wrapped up its case for his acquittal Tuesday, arguing that convicting Trump would set a dangerous precedent for future impeachments driven by policy disagreement. But some senators from each party have signaled interest in hearing from potential witnesses, such as John Bolton. Watch video below and see transcript here.


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