Spotlight: U.S. House managers, Trump's lawyers clash in closing arguments, as Senate impeachment trial nears end

Source: Xinhua| 2020-02-04 07:54:16|Editor: mingmei
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WASHINGTON, Feb. 3 (Xinhua) -- U.S. House impeachment managers and President Donald Trump's defense team clashed Monday in their closing arguments of the Senate impeachment trial.

In a four-hour session equally divided for both sides, House manager Adam Schiff said "history will not be kind to Donald Trump," accusing him of betraying "the national interest and security to help with his reelection."

Hakeem Jeffries, another House manager, said in his remarks that they have proven their case against Trump with "a mountain of evidence."

White House counsel Pat Cipollone, for his part, defended the president's acts by alleging Democrats were aimed at overturning the results of the 2016 presidential election and interfering in the ongoing presidential race.

Cipollone, in addition, urged senators to reject the articles of impeachment against Trump.

The Senate adjourned after they wrapped up the closing arguments.

The chamber, where Republicans have a narrow majority over Democrats, will proceed to votes on the articles of impeachment Wednesday afternoon amid wide expectations that Trump will be acquitted.

Democratic Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia, speaking from the Senate floor in a legislative session on Monday, called on the Senate to censure Trump.

"Censure would allow this body to unite across party lines and as an equal branch of government to formally denounce the president's actions and hold him accountable," Manchin said.

However, Manchin and his Democratic colleagues Doug Jones of Alabama and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona have left open the possibility that they might vote to acquit Trump.

Harvard Law School professor Laurence Tribe tweeted on Monday that he believes "Manchin's censure move could serve only to give him and Jones cover to acquit, yielding a 55-45 acquittal margin and no majority to censure."

Monday's session came days after Senate voted mostly along party lines to reject the effort in seeking witnesses and documents for the proceeding, paving the way for a quick end.

The House, controlled by Democrats, impeached Trump in December last year for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, charges that the White House has refuted.

A whistleblower raised concern in an anonymous complaint last summer about the White House's interactions with Ukraine, triggering a Democrat-led impeachment inquiry against Trump.

The U.S. president was alleged to have pressed his Ukrainian counterpart, Volodymyr Zelensky, into launching investigations that could politically benefit him. Furthermore, the White House allegedly tried to cover it up.

In tweets on Monday, Trump called the impeachment a partisan "hoax," while lashing out at the whistleblower and Democrats.

"Where's the Whistleblower? Where's the second Whistleblower? Where's the Informer? Why did Corrupt politician Schiff MAKE UP my conversation with the Ukrainian President???" Trump wrote. "Why didn't the House do its job?"

According to the U.S. Constitution, the House shall have the "sole Power of Impeachment," while the Senate shall have the "sole Power to try all Impeachments."

Conviction can only happen in the Senate and requires at least two-thirds of its members, or 67 senators, to vote in favor of at least one article of impeachment after a trial. Currently, the Senate has 53 Republicans, 45 Democrats, and two independents who caucus with Democrats.

No sitting U.S. president has ever been removed from office by Congress through impeachment.