Trump’s legal defense team on Monday submitted an official defense brief, arguing that the president had faced a “rigged” impeachment process and has done “absolutely nothing wrong.”
The 110-page document echoed similar arguments long made by the president and his supporters, although it presented them with a more legal tone.
“House Democrats were determined from the outset to find some way—any way—to corrupt the extraordinary power of impeachment for use as a political tool to overturn the result of the 2016 election and to interfere in the 2020 election,” the president’s legal team wrote. “All of that is a dangerous perversion of the Constitution that the Senate should swiftly and roundly condemn.”
Trump’s lawyers called on the Senate to “swiftly reject” the case against the president, arguing that he’d faced a “rigged process” in the House inquiry. They described the impeachment as a “brazenly political act,” arguing that the articles approved by the House did not constitute impeachable offenses.
The White House dismissed the impeachment inquiry in the House of Representatives entirely, arguing that it was “illegitimate” and purely “partisan.” Trump’s administration ordered officials not to testify and refused to hand over significant evidence to House investigators. But now that the impeachment has moved to the Senate for a trial, the president has put forward a defense.
“This is a brazen and unlawful attempt to overturn the results of the 2016 election and interfere with the 2020 election – now just months away,” Trump’s lawyers wrote in an initial six-page defense memo on Saturday.
Speaking on Sunday to ABC’s This Week and CNN’s State of the Union, Alan Dershowitz, who will be part of Trump’s defense team, argued that the president should not be removed even if he did all the actions laid out in the articles of impeachment.
“Congress was wrong in impeaching for these two articles,” the retired Harvard law professor told This Week. “They are not articles of impeachment. The articles of impeachment are two non-criminal actions,” he said, arguing that the president must commit an explicit crime to be impeached.
However, some were quick to note that Dershowitz made precisely the opposite argument during the impeachment proceedings for former president Bill Clinton in a 1998 interview. He told Larry King Live in August of that year that an impeachable offense “doesn’t have to be a crime” if the president is “somebody who completely corrupts the office.”
Trump became the third president in U.S. history to be impeached by the House of Representatives in December. He was impeached on two counts, “Abuse of Power” and “Obstruction of Congress,” in a vote that passed along partisan lines.
The “Abuse of Power” indictment came as a result of the president’s efforts to pressure Ukraine to announce investigations into unfounded allegations that former Vice President Joe Biden acted corruptly toward Ukraine to benefit his son Hunter’s business dealings there, and into a debunked conspiracy theory that Democrats worked with Ukrainians to interfere in the 2016 presidential election. Democrats allege that Trump was attempting to damage his political rivals, particularly as Biden was the frontrunner for the Democratic presidential nomination.
As the White House refused to cooperate with the Democratic-led inquiry in the Ukraine scandal, the House also passed the second article of impeachment for “Obstruction of Congress.”
But Trump and his supporters have dismissed both articles, arguing that the president did nothing wrong and simply wanted Ukraine to investigate the alleged corruption.