Washington-Democratic lawmakers concluded their opening arguments in Republican President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial in the US Senate on Friday with a warning that he was a threat to democracy and would abuse his power again if he is not removed from office.
On the third and final day of opening statements, Democrats tried to cement their case that Trump abused his office by pressuring Kiev to investigate Joe Biden, a former vice president and 2020 Democratic presidential contender, and then obstructed Congress’ inquiry into the matter by barring witnesses and withholding documents.
“If it meets the standard of impeachable conduct, as we have proved, it doesn’t matter whether you like him. It doesn’t matter whether you dislike him,” said Representative Adam Schiff, who made the final presentation for the prosecution in what is the third such proceeding in U.S. history.
“What matters is whether he is a danger to the country, because he will do it again. And none of us can have confidence, based on his record, that he will not do it again, because he is telling us every day that he will,” Schiff said.
Trump denies any wrongdoing and describes the impeachment as a hoax.
The president’s legal team will open its defense arguments on Saturday, and will have up to 24 hours over three days to make its case. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Saturday’s session would begin at 10 a.m. ET (1500 GMT) and run for several hours.
The Democratic-led House of Representatives last month passed two articles of impeachment, setting the stage for a trial in the Republican-led Senate on whether to oust Trump before he seeks a second term in a November election.
Representative Hakeem Jeffries, another of the Democrats prosecuting the case, said Trump was “calling the shots” in soliciting Ukraine’s interference in the 2020 U.S. election and others in the White House assisted him in trying to hide evidence of the misconduct when it was exposed.
“President Trump tried to cheat, he got caught and then he worked hard to cover it up,” said Jeffries, who added there was a “toxic mess” in the White House that needed to be cleaned up on behalf of the American people.
Democrats have accused Trump of pressuring Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy in a July 25 phone call to investigate Biden and his son Hunter, who served on the board of Ukrainian energy company Burisma. They say Trump temporarily withheld $391 million in U.S. military aid to Ukraine as leverage for his demands.