Lawyers for U.S. President Donald Trump told his Senate impeachment trial that Democrats’ efforts to remove the president from office would set a “very, very dangerous” precedent in an election year.
White House Counsel Pat Cipollone, the head of the defense team, told senators they would be denying voters their right to give their opinion on Trump at the Nov. 3 presidential election if they found him guilty and ousted him now.
In only the third presidential impeachment trial in U.S. history, Democrats argued earlier this week that Trump should be removed for encouraging Ukraine to interfere in the election by pressuring its leader to dig up dirt on former Vice President Joe Biden, a leading 2020 Democratic presidential contender.
The defense tried to turn that election interference line against the Democrats in its opening argument on Saturday by warning against removing a president less than 10 months before Americans vote on whether to give him a second term.
“For all their talk about election interference ... they’re here to perpetrate the most massive interference in an election in American history, and we can’t allow that to happen. It would violate our Constitution. It would violate our history. It would violate our obligations to the future,” he said in a session that ran two hours, far shorter that the Democratic arguments of the preceding days.
The Democratic-led House of Representatives impeached Trump last month on charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, setting the stage for the trial in the Republican-led Senate.