Republicans ready for start of Trump’s defense in impeachment trial

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Republican senators on Friday (January 24) said they were ready to hear US President Donald Trump‘s defense team refute the House arguments that Trump abused his power by pressuring Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden, a former US vice president and a 2020 Democratic presidential contender, and then obstructed Congress’ inquiry into the matter by barring witnesses and withholding documents.

Jay Sekulow, President Trump’s personal lawyer, said they would “rebut and refute” these claims and that they are “going to put on an affirmative case tomorrow,” as he reporters to reporters during a break on the third and final day of opening statements

The Democratic-led House of Representatives last month passed two articles of impeachment, setting the stage for a trial in the Republican-led Senate on whether to oust Trump before he seeks a second term in a November election. It is the third such proceeding in US history.

Trump’s allies have argued his conduct does not rise to the level of an impeachable offense. The US Constitution sets out the impeachment process for removing a president who commits “high crimes and misdemeanors.”

The president’s legal team will open its defense arguments on Saturday, and will have up to 24 hours over three days to make its case. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Saturday’s session would begin at 10 a.m. ET (1500 GMT) and run for several hours.