Lawyers for President Trump submitted his official response Saturday evening to the impeachment summons, and it sets the full-throated tone for a no-holds-barred defense of Trump against the “brazen and unlawful attempt to overturn the results of the 2016 election.”
The six-page statement, signed by Trump’s personal attorney Jay Sekulow and White House Counsel Pat Cipollone, seemed to make clear that if the Articles of Impeachment are not outright dismissed, the ensuing trial in the Senate will be a barn-burner.
“The articles of impeachment submitted by House Democrats are a dangerous attack on the right of the American people to freely choose their president,” Trump’s legal team argued in the formal response to the Senate.
“This is a brazen and unlawful attempt to overturn the results of the 2016 election and interfere with the 2020 election — now just months away,” they wrote.
Maggie Haberman tweeted out the full statement …
— Maggie Haberman (@maggieNYT) January 18, 2020
“The highly partisan and reckless obsession with impeaching the President began the day he was inaugurated and continues to this day,” the response continued.
“The articles of impeachment are constitutionally invalid on their face. They fail to allege any crime or violation of law whatsoever, let alone ‘high Crimes and Misdemeanors,’ as required by the Constitution. They are the result of a lawless process that violated basic due process and fundamental fairness.”
The filing went on to state: “President Trump categorically and unequivocally denies each and every allegation in both Articles of Impeachment.”
If there were any previous doubts about the compelling nature of what this Senate impeachment trial portends, they have been assuaged by the aggressive tenor of the attorneys’ statement.
The Trump lawyers wrote that the Democrats’ impeachment process in the House was “rigged … the product of invalid proceedings that flagrantly denied the president any due process rights.”
“Nothing in these Articles could permit even beginning to consider removing a duly elected president or warrant nullifying an election and subverting the will of the American people,” the filing states. “They must be rejected.”
The document asserted that the first article of impeachment – alleging a presidential abuse of power – fails to meet the standard of an impeachable offense. In fact, the statement argues that President Trump has “faithfully and effectively executed the duties of his office on behalf of the American people.” The attorneys stated that his actions related to his calls with Ukraine’s president “were constitutional, perfectly legal, completely appropriate, and taken in furtherance of our national interest.”
As for the second article of impeachment that alleges obstruction of Congress, the filing contends that Trump was asserting legitimate executive branch confidentiality interests by instructing top aides not to testify in the impeachment inquiry and not producing documents involved in congressional subpoenas.
Boiled down, the attorneys’ letter to the U.S. Senate proclaim the president’s complete innocence, that the Articles of Impeachment violate the Constitution, and that the charges have been illegally brought by House Democrats.
“In order to preserve our constitutional structure of government, to reject the poisonous partisanship that the Framers warned against, to ensure one-party political impeachment vendettas do not become the ‘new normal,’ and to vindicate the will of the American people, the Senate must reject both Articles of Impeachment,” the statement concluded.
The attorneys summarized: “In the end, this entire process is nothing more than a dangerous attack on the American people themselves and their fundamental right to vote.”
A separate legal brief is due to be issued by the Trump team by a Monday deadline.
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