US President Donald Trump gestures as he speaks during the Announcement of the Guidance on Constitutional Prayer in Public Schools, at the White House in Washington, DC, on January 16, 2020.
President Donald Trump’s legal team accused House Democrats of trying to overturn the results of the 2016 election in a filing that lays out the White House’s formal response to the two articles of impeachment passed last month.
Trump’s lawyers slammed impeachment as a “dangerous attack on the right of the American people to freely choose their president” ahead of the election this November.
“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,” the president’s legal team said in its filing Saturday.
The filing was a response to a formal summons issued by the Senate notifying Trump of his impending trial and the charges against him. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts, who will preside over the trial, administered an oath to senators on Thursday to do “impartial justice” with proceedings set to get underway Tuesday.
The House of Representatives, for its part, filed a brief Saturday outlining its case against Trump and called him an “ongoing threat to the nation.” The brief accuses Trump of abandoning his oath to faithfully execute the nation’s laws and betraying the public’s trust.
“President Trump’s misconduct presents a danger to our democratic processes, our national security, and our commitment to the rule of law,” the House filing states. “He must be removed from office.”
The House, after a three-month investigation, voted on Dec. 18 largely along party lines to impeach Trump on charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.
Trump is accused of abusing his power by soliciting the interference of a foreign nation in the 2020 presidential election. He allegedly did this by freezing foreign aid to Ukraine in order to pressure its government to open political investigations into former Vice President Joe Biden, a leading contender for the Democratic presidential nomination.
The president is also accused of obstructing Congress during its investigation by directing the White House to defy lawful subpoenas for witness testimony and documents. Witness testimony has become a major bone of partisan contention between the Democrat-led House, which has the power to impeach, and Republican-led Senate, which runs the trial.
Though Trump was impeached in December, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi waited weeks to transmit the two articles of impeachment to the Senate, as she sought to pressure Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., to call additional witnesses during Trump’s trial. McConnell made no concessions, but several Republican senators have indicated that they are open to supporting further testimony.
Trump is the third president in U.S. history to face an impeachment trial. His defense team at the trial will include Ken Starr, who led the Whitewater investigation in the 1990s that resulted in the impeachment of President Bill Clinton in 1998.