The Democratic opposition today called on the Senate to remove President Donald Trump for his “corrupt” pressure on Ukraine and his attempts to cover it up, warning that the president might seek further foreign interference in the November presidential elections.
On the second day of Trump’s impeachment trial, the seven Democratic congressmen from the lower house of Congress who have been turned into “prosecutors” for the impeachment process began their case against the president, which could last until Friday.
“You are going to hear very strong evidence of President Trump’s corrupt plan and his cover-up,” Adam Schiff, the head of the “prosecutors” who chairs the House Intelligence Committee, said at the beginning of the session.
WITH NO GUARANTEE OF “A FAIR VOTE IN NOVEMBER”
The chief “prosecutor” asked to “convict” Trump and remove him for his abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, the two charges the lower house has accused the president of in connection with his pressure on Ukraine to investigate one of his potential rivals in November, former Vice President Joe Biden.
“The president’s negligence cannot be assessed at the ballot box (in November), because we cannot guarantee that that vote will be fairly won,” and without foreign interference requested by Trump, Schiff said.
The congressman argued that by seeking Ukraine’s help in bolstering his re-election campaign and denying alleged Russian interference in the 2016 election, Trump demonstrated that he is willing to break election rules, and may accept further foreign interference to achieve a second term.
Another “prosecutor”, Latina Congresswoman Sylvia Garcia, reinforced that idea by reproducing on the Senate floor part of an interview that Trump gave to ABC last June, in which she said she would see “nothing wrong in listening” to a hypothetical information about her rivals that could be offered by countries like Russia or China.
Schiff accused Trump of “undermining the integrity of the elections” in the United States by making the delivery of nearly $400 million in aid to Ukraine and also the scheduling of a meeting with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenski conditional on his demand that Kiev investigate Biden.
“(Trump) denied military aid to a strategic ally that was at war with Russia, and did so in order to get foreign aid for his re-election, in other words, to cheat,” he said.
The White House denies that it withheld military aid to Ukraine in order to force Kiev to investigate Biden, but several witnesses in the House investigation have said that this was the reason for the delay in delivering the money, which only flowed to Kiev once the case reached the congressmen.
The Democratic opposition believes it cannot get to the bottom of the case until it hears from two key witnesses to Trump’s pressure on Ukraine: former national security adviser John Bolton and White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney.
That request prompted a long and heated debate on the first day of the impeachment, which ended with a row by trial “judge” and Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts to restore decorum in the Upper House.
Finally, the Republican majority in the Senate postponed until next week the debate on whether to call new witnesses, the only hope for the Democrats to attract any votes in a process that promises to end in Trump’s acquittal, since a large two-thirds majority would be needed to remove him.
“We hope senators will feel more pressure (to call witnesses and demand more documents) now that the country’s attention is more focused on this issue than ever,” Chuck Schumer, the Democratic minority leader in the Senate, said today.
Schumer ruled out, however, the possibility of “exchanging witnesses” with the Republicans, who have suggested the idea of allowing Bolton’s appearance if Biden also testifies: “That’s off the table,” the senator said.
Biden himself also rejected the possibility of participating in such a deal, saying it would fuel “political theater,” while Trump hinted that he would prefer Bolton not to appear.
“There is a national security problem with John (Bolton). He knows what I think about leaders. What if he reveals what I think about a leader and then I have to deal with it? It’s going to be very difficult. He knows a lot of things, and I don’t know if we ended up on very good terms,” Trump said at a press conference in Davos, Switzerland.