White House lawyers pushed back against the House Dems’ impeachment case in Senate trial (Jan 21, 2020)

January 22, 2020


Jan 21, 2020 was a marathon, 12-hour first day. Democrats tried to make their case, while also prolonging the proceedings with amendments. White House Counsel Pat Cipollone said: “It’s getting late. I would ask you, respectfully, if we could simply start, maybe tomorrow we can start, and they can make their argument, and they can, I guess, make a case that they once called overwhelming. … Seriously, can we please start?”

the thorny issues of the rules took center stage in the Senate impeachment trial. From Patrick Philbin, deputy counsel to the President, “First thing they have done is to say, ‘Well, actually, we need more evidence. We’re not ready to present our case… We don’t have the evidence we need to support our case.’ This is stunning. It’s a stunning admission of the inadequate and broken process that the House Democrats ran… It’s stunning that they don’t have the evidence they need to present their case and that they don’t really have a case,” Philbin said.

Philbin argued that the outcome in the House was predetermined. “The process in the House was one-sided,” he said, recounting “secret hearings in the basement” and a second round of hearings in public “where, again, they locked the President out. They had a predetermined outcome there, ‘cause it was all one-sided. And for him to lecture this body now on what a fair process would be takes some gall,” Philbin said.

White House Counsel Pat Cipollone began by complaining about House Democrats’ process for interviewing witnesses in the impeachment inquiry. “The proceedings took place in the basement of the House of Representatives,” Cipollone said. “Not even [House Intelligence Committee chair Adam] Schiff’s Republican colleagues were allowed into Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility (SCIF).” Cipollone attacked Adam Schiff: “He manufactured a false version of that call. He read it to the American people, and he didn’t tell them it was a complete fake. Do you want to know about due process? I’ll tell you about due process. Never before in the history of our country has a president been confronted with this kind of impeachment proceeding in the House.”

Trump lawyer Jay Sekulow: ““That’s a trifecta, a trifecta that violates the Constitution of the United States.” Sekulow said courts have long recognized executive privilege to protect the confidentiality of communications with the president. Sekulow argued that the privilege also applied to communications between the president’s aides, as they formulate advice. Sekulow called it “a dangerous moment for America” if Trump couldn’t assert executive privilege and defend the claim in federal court. “The Constitution allows it, if necessary,” Sekulow said. “The Constitution demands it, if necessary.”
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On Jan 21, 2020, U.S. Senate rejected all 11 of Chuck Schumer’s amendments to allow for witnesses and documents in a marathon late-night session. In a long, heated session, Democrats forced votes 11 times on efforts to obtain documents from the White House and subpoena new witnesses, including former national security adviser John Bolton, in an effort to make the trial “fair.” But Republicans defeated his proposals and passed Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s resolution to start the trial without any promises for new evidence.

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