Washington, 24 January 2020 (dpa/MIA) – House impeachment managers continued their hours-long arguments for removing President Donald Trump on Thursday, with no indication that they have moved any Republicans to their side.
Two-thirds of the 100-member chamber are required to agree to remove a president from office. The Senate is controlled by Trump’s Republican party, meaning the most likely outcome is acquittal.
House impeachment manager Jerry Nadler began on Thursday by laying out a constitutional argument that proving Trump committed a specific crime is not the only basis for him to be impeached.
Impeachment can also be used for presidents who “act as if they are above the law” Nadler argued, contradicting the White House’s claim that a criminal act is required.
Democrats say Trump’s removal is necessary to protect the country’s democracy, while Republicans have blasted the move as a partisan attempt to undermine the November presidential elections.
“We have an election in nine months where the American people can judge President Trump themselves,” Senator Bill Cassidy said Thursday on Fox News.
The impeachment managers are now two-thirds of the way through their arguments for removing Trump and are expected to conclude on Friday.
Democrats hope they can convince at least four Republican senators to switch sides in order to garner a majority to vote in favour of introducing new witnesses and other evidence to the trial.
The vote on witnesses is likely to take place next week, in line with trial rules.
While Democrats say the current evidence is already “overwhelming,” they also say key White House officials – including former national security advisor John Bolton – could provide valuable testimony on Trump’s actions involving Ukraine.
The Democrat-appointed impeachment managers argue that Trump abused his power by withholding a White House meeting and nearly 400 dollars in military aid in a bid to pressure Kiev into investigating his political rival, Joe Biden.
Trump then used his presidential powers to cover up his wrongdoing by blocking lawmakers’ access to key documents and witnesses, Democrats say.
“You know you can’t trust this president to do what’s right for this country. You can trust he will do what’s right for Donald Trump,” Adam Schiff, the lead impeachment manager, said Thursday.
“If you find him guilty, you must find that he should be removed. Because [what is] right matters and the truth matters, otherwise we are lost,” Schiff added.
Trump is the third president in US history to be impeached and face the prospect of removal.
Likely starting on Saturday, Trump’s defence lawyers will be given 24 hours spread out over three days to present their case.
“We are ready for the president’s team to put their defence on,” Republican Senator John Barrasso told reporters on Thursday. “We have heard plenty from the House now.”