Washington — House Democrats are finishing their opening arguments in President Trump’s impeachment trial Friday, making their last, best effort to convince Republican senators that what the president has done merits his removal from office. The chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Adam Schiff, wrapped up the House managers’ case on the first article of impeachment, abuse of power, with an argument about character.
“You don’t realize how important character is in the highest office in the land, until you don’t have it,” he said. He asked them, “Do you think for a moment he would not investigate you?”
“It could be you,” he said.
Schiff reminded senators that the president had asked foreign countries to “investigate one of our fellow citizens.” It doesn’t matter that it’s Joe Biden, a man who is running for president, he said. “He’s still a U.S. citizen, and he deserves better than that.”
Schiff said the man who considers his July 25 call with the president of Ukraine to be “perfect” is not going to stop asking foreign countries to meddle in our elections. “There can be little doubt that President Trump will continue to invite interference in our elections again and again.” He is “unremorseful” and “willing to sacrifice our democracy for his own personal advantage.”
Schiff argued that beyond what the president has done, the threat that Mr. Trump would keep abusing his power “is not hypothetical” because “he is who he is. That will not change and nor will the danger associated with him.”
Whether this closing argument convinces the handful of Republicans that they need to hear more from the witnesses Democrats want to call remains an open question. After so many long days and hours of arguments and timelines that repeat the facts of the case they all likely know well by now, the senators have been growing restless.
House prosecutors are now turning to the second article of impeachment, which charges Mr. Trump with obstruction of Congress. Throughout their arguments, they’ve pointed to witnesses and documents they’d like to hear from and read but can’t because the Trump administration has blocked them.
The president’s team will begin its opening arguments Saturday. Saturday’s session is expected to take place from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., Senator John Thune told reporters today. This morning, the president, conscious of TV viewership trends, tweeted that this is “called Death Valley in T.V.”
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