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Opening arguments begin in Trump’s impeachment trial

Lead House manager, Adam Schiff, gave an opening statement on Wednesday invoking the framers of the Constitution as he argued for the conviction and removal of President Trump for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. Wednesday marked the first of three days in which House managers will lay out the case against Trump according to the rules passed on Tuesday.

In his opening statements, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, said “the facts of the case are not largely contested.” He then provided a basic timeline for the withholding of military aid to Ukraine and the offer of a White House visit in exchange for the announcement of investigations into his political rival, Joe Biden’s, son. He offered evidence that the withholding of was not only improper, it had the potential to further serve Russian interest in the region. Referencing Ambassador Taylor’s earlier testimony, Schiff said:

This isn’t charity, it’s about our defense as much as Ukraine’s…the American aid was a concrete demonstration of the United States’ commitment to resist aggression and to defend freedom. That’s what this country is supposed to be about. Resisting aggression. Defending freedom. Not exporting corrupt ideas.

All seven House managers made opening arguments, admitting evidence from the House investigations to support their case for conviction. They continued to make the case on their second day of arguments Thursday.

Representative Jerry Nadler focused on laying out the legal arguments from impeachment on the grounds of abuse of power. He rejected claims that Trump’s actions do not rise to the level of impeachable offenses, saying “the constitution is not a suicide pact. It does not leave us stuck with Presidents that abuse their powers in unforeseen ways that threaten our security and democracy”.

In another memorable moment, Representative of Zoe Lofgren of California presented evidence that the Government Accountable Office found that the President knowingly broke the law when he withheld the aid to Ukraine. Lofgren acknowledged that this violation of the law was not included in the articles of impeachment; however “it is important to understand the broader scheme of his abuse of power.” The evidence that he willfully violated the law in order to “get Ukraine to do his political dirty” shows “he didn’t care he was breaking the law.”

In his closing statements, Schiff asked, “Does he really need to be removed?” In support of removal, Schiff made the case that Trump is dangerous because he chose to believe Giuliani over his own intelligence, FBI, and national security officials. By choosing Giuliani, Trump put his own interests above the interests of the American people. Schiff asks “How much damage can he really do in the next several months until the election? A lot. A lot of damage.” He laid out the possibility that Russia would interfere in our elections or that China would help him in his campaign in exchange for a trade deal. Schiff closed Thursday’s hearing by emphasizing that the President cannot be trusted to do what is right for this country but he can be trusted to do what is right for Donald Trump.

The House has about eight hours remaining for their final day of arguments on Friday. The President’s counsel will then have 24 hours over the three days to offer their defense.