WASHINGTON, United States (AFP) — Donald Trump’s lawyers prepared to deliver his first full-throated defense Saturday in the Senate’s historic impeachment trial, after Democratic prosecutors spent three days making their case for the US president’s removal from office.
Capping 24 total hours of arguments, Democrats told the 100 senators that Trump abused the power of the presidency in pressuring Ukraine to launch investigations that would help him politically, and then sought to block efforts by Congress to investigate.
Democrats said they had met that burden of proof, as lead House impeachment manager Adam Schiff warned that Trump would remain an “imminent threat” to American democracy if he stays in power.
“This is Trump first, not America first,” congressman Schiff told the chamber.
“I ask you, I implore you,” he added, addressing Republicans who hold the power to allow witnesses to testify, against Trump’s wishes.
“Give America a fair trial,” Schiff said. “She’s worth it.”
Trump has signaled he remains in tight control of his party, with many Senate Republicans expressing public support for the president despite a vigorous, comprehensive case outlining his misconduct.
“I don’t believe anything they’ve said so far is impeachable,” Senator Rick Scott told reporters.
“I’m looking forward to the White House tomorrow starting to set the record straight, because this has just been partisan.”
Trump’s team begin their defense at 10:00 a.m. (1500 GMT) Saturday, a timeslot which Trump, a former reality television star, referred to in a tweet as “Death Valley in TV.”
His side’s arguments will continue Monday and Tuesday, before the chamber turns to questioning and then votes on whether to hear from witnesses, something Democrats have sought from the start.