Presidential Defense Team Calls for Swift Acquittal

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January 20, 2020

Now that the U.S. Senate has taken up the trial of President Trump on charges of two articles of impeachment, the White House has named the lawyers who will defend the President during the trial. They are these:

  • Pat Cipollone is the current White House counsel. An advisor to the President as far back as 2016, he became White House counsel in December 2018. He has a background in corporate law. His previous governmental legal experience includes a stint working for Attorney General William Barr, when he served in that capacity for former President George Bush.
  • Pat Philbin is the deputy counsel to the President. He was associated deputy attorney general for former President George W. Bush and has been a partner in a Washington, D.C., law firm.
  • Mike Purpura is a deputy White House counsel. A former New York federal prosecutor, he also served as deputy White House counsel for former President George W. Bush.
  • Pam Bondi was a former federal prosecutor and was the Florida attorney general for eight years. She now works at the White House.
  • Alan Dershowtiz is a law professor at Harvard University. He is a well-known defense attorney whose celebrity clients have included Jeffrey Epstein, O.J. Simpson, and Harvey Weinstein.
  • Jay Sekulow is one of Trump's personal lawyers and has been for several years. He is the host of a weekly radio show and is a frequent television commentator.
  • Kenneth Starr was the independent counsel who led the investigation into former President Bill Clinton that led to the latter's impeachment in 1998. He is also a former president of Baylor University.
  • Robert Ray is a New York prosecutor and former independent counsel who took part in the Clinton investigation.

In their response to the two articles of impeachment filed against Trump by the House of Representatives, Trump's defense team called for an immediate acquittal.

Earlier, the House had named seven impeachment managers who will argue the case for impeachment during the Senate trial.

The House Intelligence Committee had conducted hearings to investigate claims that Trump had put pressure on the government of Ukraine–specifically President Volodymyr Zelensky–to announce that it was investigating Joe Biden, a former Vice-president and then a potential (since formally running for President) presidential candidate. The details of the pressure involved allegations of withholding aid until the Ukrainian government made a public announcement that it was investigating Biden and, specifically, his son Hunter's dealings in Ukraine. That was not the only investigation that Trump wanted Ukraine to announce, according to the impeachment articles. The other investigation was to be into the conduct of Ukrainian officials during the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign and whether those Ukrainian officials interfered with the U.S. election, which was won by Trump.

The second article of impeachment charged that the White House refused to comply with House subpoenas for information and/or testimony in connection with the impeachment investigation and, further, that the White House directed other agencies in the Executive Branch to do the same.

On Dec. 18, 2019, the House as a whole voted 230–197 to charge Trump with abuse of power and 229–198 to charge the President with obstruction of Congress.

The Chief Justice of the United States presides over an impeachment trial. If a two-thirds majority of the Senate votes to convict the individual facing impeachment, then the individual is convicted and removed from office. The Senate can further, by a simple majority, declare that the convicted individual can never again be eligible to hold public office.

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David White