Rep. Adam Schiff, the lead House manager in President Donald Trump’s Senate impeachment trial, made the case on Wednesday that the president should be convicted of two articles of impeachment–abuse of power and obstruction of Congress–and removed from office.
House Democrats who are acting as prosecutors in the trial, argue that Trump withheld U.S. military aid in an attempt to pressure Ukraine to investigate his political rivals and that Trump improperly blocked Congress’ efforts to investigate his misconduct.
“Efforts to withhold official acts for personal gain countermand the president’s sacred oath and therefore constitute impeachable behavior as it was conceived of by the founders,” Schiff said in a nearly two-and-a-half hour long speech on the Senate floor.
During his opening remarks, the California Democrat laid out the evidence, based on documents and witness testimony gathered by the U.S House of Representatives during its impeachment inquiry.
He invoked the framers of the Constitution on multiple occasions, saying they allowed for impeachment for serious offenses that included a president using his political power for his own gain.
“They feared that a president would subvert our democracy by abusing the awesome power of his office for his own personal or political gain,” Schiff said. “Guarding against a president who undertakes official acts with the corrupt motive of helping himself is at the heart of the impeachment power.”
Schiff’s statements kicked off the House managers’ arguments in the trial, which will be presented in 24 hours, over the course of three days. Trump’s legal team will then have the same amount of time to mount its defense.
The White House has maintained that the president did nothing improper. Trump lawyers have accused Democrats of pushing a “made-up narrative” in an attempt to remove him from office during a presidential election year.
Senators on Tuesday approved the rules for the impeachment trial, voting against Democrats’ efforts to call witnesses before the two sides laid out their case for, and against, the president. In his remarks, Schiff urged senators to subpoena new witnesses, including former National Security Adviser John Bolton, later in the trial.
The House of Representatives impeached the president in December. The Senate trial will determine whether Trump is convicted of those charges and removed from office, or acquitted.
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