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Trump's lawyers prepare a blistering defense

Eli Stokols, Los Angeles Times on

Published in News & Features

WASHINGTON -- Over the last two days, House Democrats have presented compelling evidence in the form of snappy video clips, punchy PowerPoint slides and impassioned oratory, building a case that convicting President Donald Trump and removing him from office is imperative to protect the Constitution and the country.

Next up, Trump's lawyers will get their say.

Beginning Saturday morning, the president's legal team will have 24 hours, split over three days, to argue his defense. And while it's not yet clear if they will use all their allotted time, the outlines of an expected blistering defense moved into sharper focus Friday.

If there is a theme, it may be from Trump's top liaison to lawmakers, Eric Ueland, who was overheard vowing "revenge" as he left the Senate chamber after one of the House presentations.

Alan Dershowitz, the veteran defense attorney who has joined Trump's defense team, won't appear until Monday. He is preparing his hourlong argument in Miami Beach, poring over old legal texts to find support for his position that abuse of power is "too vague" to constitute an impeachable offense.

"I've been sniffling from the dust," he said Friday in a phone interview.

 

In his view, Democrats have misinterpreted the writings of Alexander Hamilton, who House managers have cited numerous times to make their case that Trump's efforts to seek help from a foreign power -- in this case Ukraine -- in a U.S. election is the classic definition of an impeachable offense.

"His gravest concern was what happened here: a strictly partisan vote in the House. That's not the way he thought impeachment should go," Dershowitz said.

Republican lawmakers claimed to be enthusiastic Friday after House managers had spent a good part of Thursday trying to knock down unsubstantiated allegations that former Vice President Joe Biden engaged in corrupt activity in Ukraine to protect his son, Hunter, who sat on the board of a Ukrainian natural gas company.

Trump's efforts to get Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden, who is running for president, is key to the article of impeachment for abuse of power, and Democrats clearly sought to inoculate Biden -- and undermine the president's defense -- before Trump's lawyers get to make their case.

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