House managers, Trump lawyers appeal to the other side in closing arguments

Trump’s ultimate acquittal on Wednesday is a near certainty

Photojournalists take photos of Ken Starr, a member of President Donald Trump’s defense team, as he leaves the Capitol after the conclusion of the Senate impeachment trial proceedings Monday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
Photojournalists take photos of Ken Starr, a member of President Donald Trump’s defense team, as he leaves the Capitol after the conclusion of the Senate impeachment trial proceedings Monday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
Posted February 3, 2020 at 4:48pm

Attorneys for both sides in the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump on Monday wrapped up their arguments with pleas for bipartisanship ahead of the Wednesday vote to acquit the president.

After House Democrats rehashed their well-known arguments for convicting the president on charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, lead House manager Adam B. Schiff of California called on Senate Republicans to have the courage to remove Trump from office.

“History will not be kind to Donald Trump,” Schiff told the Senate. “If you find that the House has proved its case and still vote to acquit, your name will be tied to his with a cord of steel. But if you find the courage to stand up to him, to speak the awful truth to his rank falsehood, your place will be among the Davids who took on Goliath.”

Schiff argued that if Trump is not stopped by the Senate, he will cheat in the November election. Schiff then rattled off some of the president’s more contentious moments, such as when he mocked a disabled reporter and the late Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain.

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“Truth matters to you. Right matters to you. You are decent,” Schiff said, looking toward the Republican senators. “He is not who you are.”

With the 2020 presidential election nine months away, the White House defense team implored senators to “leave it to the voters” to decide who should be president.

As he has throughout the trial, Trump lawyer Pat Cipollone framed the effort to impeach and remove Trump as “an effort to overturn the results of one election and to try to interfere in the coming election that begins today in Iowa.”

The same argument was invoked last week by Sen. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee when he announced that he would stick with his party and opposing hearing from witnesses at the trial.

“You are being asked to do this when tonight citizens of Iowa are going to be caucusing,” Trump lawyer Jay Sekulow said. “The answer is elections, not impeachment.”

Trump’s defense team also made a call for a return to bipartisanship.

“There was a time not that long ago, even within this administration, where bipartisan agreements could be reached,” Sekulow said. “I simply ask this body to stand firm today. Protect the integrity of the United States Senate. Stand firm today and protect the office of the president. Stand firm today and protect the Constitution. Stand firm today and protect the will of the American people and respect their vote.”

Cipollone closed his arguments saying that the decision whether to remove Trump from office or to acquit is one that will test the faith of the American people.

“So at the end of the day, we put our faith in the Senate,” Cipollone said. “We put our faith in the Senate. Because we know you will put your faith in the American people. You will leave this choice to them, where it belongs.”

Following both sides’ arguments, the Senate adjourned as a court of impeachment and reconvened in normal legislative session.

The shift back to normal floor proceedings will allow senators to make floor speeches, which many plan to use to explain their positions ahead of Wednesday’s vote.

Trump will almost certainly remain in office as 20 Republican senators would have to vote with Democrats to reach the 67-vote threshold to remove the president.

Schiff acknowledged his efforts to remove Trump likely won’t succeed. But he said he hoped that at least one Republican would vote to convict Trump.

“Even a single vote by a single member can change the course of history,” Schiff said. “It is said that a single man or woman of courage makes a majority. Is there one among you who will say ‘enough?’”

As senators began a series of speeches outlining their own positions, Sen. Joe Manchin III, a West Virginia Democrat, attempted to split the difference between acquittal and conviction. 

“History will judge the Senate harshly,” he said, about how the Trump impeachment trail was handled, including the vote to not allow witnesses or documents. 

He called the House managers’ case against the president “strong,” and said they effectively showed “what the president did was wrong.” 

Saying he was “undecided on how I will vote,” Manchin urged the Senate to censure Trump for his actions and said he believes there is a bipartisan majority to condemn the president’s behavior.