Donald Trump’s legal team is shifting its defense of the president to an argument that even if he is guilty of everything charged in the articles of impeachment, neither he, and nor president for that matter, can be removed for either abuse of power or obstruction of Congress.
TV defense lawyer, Alan Dershowitz, got up before the Senate to also argue that even if the Bolton statements are true, it is not enough to impeach Trump. Bolton has written in a manuscript for his coming book that Trump told him directly that he was conditioning release of congressionally approved aid on Ukraine announcing investigations of the Bidens. Demands that Bolton testify have grown hour-by-hour since Bolton’s information exploded into the news Sunday night.
Dershowitz and Ken Starr, another Trump defense lawyer, insisted that a president cannot be impeached unless he committed a crime that is on the books. When the Constitution was written, of course, there were no crimes of any kind on the books, making it impossible that this is what the framers could have intended.
One can imagine almost countless scenarios in which the Dershowitz logic falls apart. Stretching the imagination for a moment: What would happen if a president said he wanted to take a break from his job and vacation for a year or so, on a tropical island? There is no law against that so under the Dershowitz logic the president could not be impeached even for entirely shirking his duties.
While the president’s legal defense team was mounting ridiculous “defenses,” demands grew that John Bolton, former chief of national security, be called to testify in the trial. He has said he is willing to testify before the Senate.
Several Republican senators are among those who are saying they want witnesses so that this can be a real trial. Independent Maine Sen. Angus King said that there were five to 10 Republican senators who would do so.
Bolton’s testimony regarding what Trump told him blows a hole in the central contention of Trump lawyers who have argued that the president never connected the suspension of aid to Ukraine to investigations of the Bidens.
At the very least, the Bolton revelations have seriously dampened, at least for now, Republican hopes for a quick end to the impeachment trial. The Bolton revelations essentially kill hours of arguments by GOP lawyers that no first hand witness has testified to direct knowledge that Trump’s holdup of aid was connected to investigations of his political opponents. While that contention by the Trump lawyers is itself not true the Bolton testimony would completely blow their argument out of the water.
The first article of impeachment accuses Trump with abusing his power by asking Ukraine’s president to announce a probe of the Bidens while he was withholding almost 400 million dollars in congressionally appropriated aid.
The second article charges Trump with obstruction of Congress.
Republicans are scheduled to complete their defense arguments today.
Trump’s lawyers said the entire impeachment process was illegitimate and unconstitutional. The purpose of that absurd argument was to build an off-ramp for GOP senators who, knowing Trump is guilty as charged in the impeachment articles, can still feel comfortable acquitting him.
Former Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi, who herself took illegal campaign contributions from Trump, attacked the Bidens during her defense presentation.
Hunter Biden served on the board of the Ukrainian gas company Burisma while then-Vice President Joe Biden was in charge of U.S. diplomacy in that country.
Bondi claimed Trump had totally legitimate reasons to be suspicious of those Hunter Biden dealings with Burisma.
The Trump team has tried to implicate the Bidens in corruption that has been almost as rampant in Ukraine as it is in the Trump administration itself.
On Hunter Biden, the essential things to note are as follows:
First, no one has provided any evidence of wrongdoing on his part.
Second, Hunter Biden, at the time his father was Vice President, should not have taken the deal of membership on the Burisma board. No reasonable person can really defend that action.
Third, it is important to note, however, that Hunter Biden is a U.S. citizen. It is improper to try to get foreign governments to investigate and try U.S. citizens. There are plenty of mechanisms to deal with Americans engaging in corruption overseas without turning Americans over to the justice systems of other countries. (Note that Trump has pushed for removal of laws that forbid Americans to bribe people overseas.)
Fourth, Republicans were in control of Congress when Hunter Biden was on the Burisma board. They were busy accusing the Obama administration of all kinds of corruption and investigating Hillary Clinton endlessly for what happened in Libya. If they had concern about corruption on Hunter Biden’s part they could have taken action then. They waited, however, to push for investigations against Hunter until Joe Biden, years later, became a threat to Trump’s re-election. This makes absurd, then, Bondi’s argument that Trump’s concern about Biden is a legitimate concern about corruption in Ukraine.
Fifth, if there really was something they had on Hunter Biden we could all be sure that with William Barr as attorney general, it would already be out in the open.