President Donald Trump said he thinks his defense team should stick to telling the truth as they make arguments for the first time in days in the Senate impeachment trial.
“What my people have to do is just be honest, just tell the truth,” Trump told Fox News on Friday. “They’ve been testifying, the Democrats, they’ve been telling so many lies, so many fabrications, so much exaggeration. And this is not impeachable.”
The president insisted he hadn’t committed a crime, noting that even Democrats agree. But the opposition party is attempting to convince senators that what Trump did was still impeachable.
“I don’t even know how to determine this, but they say it’s not a crime, everybody says that,” Trump said.
“[Democrats] say, ‘But it doesn’t have to be a crime.’ Well, maybe it doesn’t have to be a crime, but can you imagine being impeached and you didn’t commit a crime?”
Trump also commented on the House impeachment managers and Senate Democrats arguing that Hunter Biden, the son of former Vice President Joe Biden, wasn’t linked at all to the impeachment proceedings.
“When you look at the Bidens and the Biden family, when somebody with actually, not a job, who just was taken out of the Navy—I mean, thrown out of the Navy, had nothing, all of a sudden the father becomes vice president … the son is making millions and millions of dollars,” Trump said. “It’s corruption.”
Trump was impeached by House Democrats on Dec. 18, 2019, for abuse of office and obstruction of Congress. The first charge stemmed from the president’s actions pertaining to Ukraine, primarily his phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and his placement of a hold on congressionally approved military aid to the country.
Trump asked Zelensky to “look into” corruption allegations against the Bidens, who both did work in Ukraine—Joe Biden, as vice president, leading efforts to reform the country, and Hunter Biden working for the Ukrainian company Burisma Holdings.
Trump noted that Joe Biden in 2018 talked about landing in Ukraine in 2016 and pressuring leaders to oust Viktor Shokin, a prosecutor who was probing Burisma.
“I said, you’re not getting the billion. I’m going to be leaving here in, I think it was about six hours. I looked at them and said: I’m leaving in six hours. If the prosecutor is not fired, you’re not getting the money. Well, son of a [expletive]. He got fired,” Biden said at a Council on Foreign Relations event.
“And they put in place someone who was solid at the time.”
The Bidens have denied wrongdoing.
“There’s a lot of talk about Biden’s son, that Biden stopped the prosecution and a lot of people want to find out about that so whatever you can do with the attorney general would be great,” Trump told Zelensky. “Biden went around bragging that he stopped the prosecution so if you can look into it…It sounds horrible to me.”
Zelensky said he was aware of what happened and would instruct his top prosecutor to look into it.
“The issue of the investigation of the case is actually making sure to restore the honesty,” he said.
Democrats say Trump attempted to interfere in the 2020 election because Joe Biden is running for the Democratic presidential nomination. They’ve also sought to link his request for an investigation to the hold on aid, though Ukrainian and American officials have said Ukraine wasn’t aware of the hold at the time of the phone call.
Trump’s legal team, headed by White House counsel Pat Cipollone and personal lawyer Jay Sekulow, were set to make arguments to the Senate starting at 10 a.m. EST today. Trump’s team said they’d wrap up in three hours.
The arguments were coming after the House impeachment managers, led by House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), made three days of arguments.
Sekulow told reporters on Friday night that concerns about foreign interference in an election fell flat when taking into account how Hillary Clinton, the Democrat’s 2016 nominee, paid for the dossier compiled by anti-Trump, ex-British spy Christopher Steele.
“So you can get on your horse and act haughty and proud about it, but you know what, let’s look at what the evidence says,” he said. “Here’s what the evidence says: There was foreign involvement. But let’s not forget where it originated from.”
“Where did that foreign intelligence come from? Where did that foreign information come from? It came from the Federal Bureau of Investigation,” Sekulow added.
“We’re going to rebut and refute, and we’re going to put on an affirmative case tomorrow,” he said, before saying Trump’s team also planned to focus on the Bidens and Burisma.
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Author: Zachary Stieber