White House Responds To Senate Impeachment Trial Summons


J. Scott Applewhite, AP

The White House's legal team has called the House impeachment process "highly partisan and reckless," in a forceful response to the summons issued last week by Majority Leader Mitch McConnell ahead of President Trump's Senate impeachment trial, which begins Tuesday.

"The articles of impeachment submitted by House Democrats are a dangerous attack on the right of the American people to freely choose their President," the president's legal team, private attorney Jay Sekulow and White House counsel Pat Cipollone, wrote in a response Saturday. "This is a brazen and unlawful attempt to overturn the results of the 2016 election and interfere with the 2020 election."

Sources close to the president's legal team said the White House will also file a brief Monday.

The response is part of the exchange of legal briefs that was sparked when McConnell noticed Thursday the schedule for the legal paperwork that is required from the House impeachment managers and Trump's defense team. The impeachment managers' response was received Saturday.

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The actions come a month after the House approved two articles of impeachment against the president, charging him with abusing the powers of his office by attempting to pressure the government of Ukraine to investigate potential political opponent Joe Biden and his son's activities there and with obstructing Congress by refusing to cooperate in its investigation.

Trump denies any wrongdoing and has excoriated the process.

The president's legal team called the articles of impeachment "constitutionally invalid on their face."

"They fail to allege any crime or violation of law whatsoever, let alone 'high Crimes and Misdemeanors,' " they said.

Last week, the House of Representatives delivered the articles of impeachment against Trump to the Senate after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi named seven Democratic members of Congress as the managers who will argue the case for impeachment. They are: Reps. Adam Schiff, Jerry Nadler, Zoe Lofgren, Val Demings, Hakeem Jeffries, Sylvia Garcia and Jason Crow. Pelosi said Schiff will take the lead.

The rules that govern the Senate trial, how long it will last, how many hours a day it will go on for, and other details will be made public Tuesday when the Senate votes a rules resolution that will formally kick off the process.

Twenty Republican senators would need to break with the president and join with all Democrats to remove Trump from office. There is little to no indication at this point that is likely to happen — or come close.

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