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House impeachment prosecutors will make final push in Trump's Senate trial

Chris Megerian and Molly O'Toole, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Political News

WASHINGTON -- House managers prepared to make their final impassioned arguments Friday for removing President Donald Trump from office, the last of three days -- and 24 hours total -- they were allotted to make their impeachment case.

The presentation is expected to focus on the House charge that Trump obstructed Congress by instructing his top aides and other administration officials to defy subpoenas during the House inquiry into the president's efforts to pressure Ukraine to investigate a Democratic rival.

"This presidential stonewalling of Congress is unprecedented in the 238-year history of our constitutional republic," Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., one of the impeachment managers, said in a preview of the Democrats' closing argument.

The issue goes to the heart of the separation of powers between the executive and legislative branches, and the outcome of the Senate trial -- only the third presidential impeachment trial in U.S. history -- could have a lasting impact on that balance.

Trump's legal team and his Republican allies have rejected the Democrats' charge of abuse of power, calling it "absurd" and saying the president has well-established authority to keep some material confidential.

The president's lawyers also said Trump "acted with extraordinary and unprecedented transparency" by releasing a White House summary of his July 25 call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, a conversation at the center of the impeachment saga.

 

During the call, Trump asked Zelenskiy to open two investigations, the first into a debunked Russian-promoted conspiracy theory that Ukraine and not Russia interfered in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, and the second into former Vice President Joe Biden, who is running for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination.

Biden's son served on the board of a Ukrainian gas company and Trump has argued without evidence that as vice president, Biden pushed for the firing of a Ukrainian prosecutor who was investigating the company to protect his son.

Democrats argue that Trump abused his power by withholding nearly $400 million in congressionally-authorized security aid to Ukraine, which is in a conflict with neighboring Russia, while he was pushing Zelenskiy to announce the two investigations.

Much of Democrats' presentation on Thursday argued that the allegations against Biden were baseless and irrelevant to Trump's misconduct. However, they're still expected to be a major part of the defense that Trump's legal team is scheduled to start laying out on Saturday.

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