With neither Party expected to change the outcome of the final impeachment vote on Wednesday, February 5th, US the Senate is all but certain to acquit the president, largely along party lines. The Republican Majority in the powerful US Senate has made up its mind that Trump cannot be removed from office although top Republican Senators acknowledge that what Trump did was wrong, shameful and impeachable.
In their final appeals in President Trump’s impeachment trial, House Democrats argued on Monday, Feb. 3rd that he had corrupted the presidency and would continue to put American interests at risk if the Senate failed to remove him from office. Trump’s defenders, denouncing the case against him, said he had done nothing wrong and should be judged by voters.
The US House impeachment managers sought to put the Senate on trial while the president’s defense team argued he had done nothing wrong. Making their closing arguments from the well of the Senate, the House managers and the president’s lawyers invoked history and the 2020 presidential campaign as Democrats and Republicans prepared to take the fight over Trump’s fate to the broader public arena.
The Democratic impeachment managers, led by Representative Adam B. Schiff of California, warned that Trump had tried to rig the 2020 election in his favor — by withholding military aid from Ukraine in an effort to pressure the country to investigate his political rivals — and had put a blot on the presidency that would stain those who failed to stand up to him. Calling the president “a man without character or ethical compass,” Mr. Schiff insisted that now was the time for members of his own party to choose between normalizing corruption or removing it. “Truth matters to you. Right matters to you,” Mr. Schiff said, making a case aimed at Republicans. “You are decent. He is not who you are.”
Casting the impeachment managers’ case as shoddily constructed, the president’s defense team issued a scathing indictment of the House Democrats’ argument, contending that removing Mr. Trump from office would subvert the will of the electorate and fundamentally alter the functioning of the separation of powers. Their final word sounded as much like a campaign pitch as a legal defense.
“This is an effort to overturn the results of one election and to try to interfere in the coming election that begins today in Iowa,” said Pat A. Cipollone, the White House counsel, speaking only hours before voting began in the caucuses there. “The only appropriate result here is to acquit the president and to leave it to the voters to choose their president.”
In an awkward confluence of events, Mr. Trump will have an unimpeded platform to make his own final case on Tuesday, when he is to deliver his annual State of the Union address from the floor of the very House that impeached him in December.
The abbreviated closing arguments constituted the substantive end of Mr. Trump’s impeachment trial, the third such proceeding in American history. In a mark of just how entrenched both sides were in their positions, senators skipped a period of deliberation and instead made their way to Senate floor one by one to announce their positions ahead of Wednesday’s final vote on the House’s abuse of power and obstruction of Congress charges. In 1999, the Senate spent three days weighing President Bill Clinton’s fate during his impeachment proceeding.
One moderate Democrat, Senator Joe Manchin III of West Virginia, broached the idea on Monday of censuring Mr. Trump after the trial concludes, a largely symbolic gesture that he said could attract bipartisan support. “His behavior cannot go unchecked by the Senate,” Mr. Manchin said, “and censure would allow a bipartisan statement condemning his unacceptable behavior in the strongest terms.”
But given the stark polarization in the chamber — where most Republicans are reluctant to criticize Mr. Trump and Democrats are almost uniformly in agreement that he should be removed for his behavior — there was no serious discussion of that option.
So far, the senators who have stated their decisions on acquittal or conviction have lined up along party lines, with Democrats echoing the House managers as they announced support for conviction and Republicans insisting the president’s removal was unsupportable on varied grounds.
The House managers insisted that they had compiled a mountain of evidence capped by new disclosures by John R. Bolton, the former national security adviser, that Mr. Trump had acted corruptly and with his own interest in mind when he conditioned nearly $400 million of military aid to Ukraine and a meeting at the White House on investigations into his political rivals.
Mr. Schiff portrayed it as part of an insidious pattern of conduct — dating to Mr. Trump’s embrace of Russian election interference on his behalf in 2016 — that continues to put the country at risk.
“The short, plain, sad, incontestable answer is no, you can’t, you can’t trust this president to do the right thing,” Mr. Schiff said. “Not for one minute, not for one election, not for the sake of our country. You just can’t. He will not change, and you know it.”
Trump then tried to shield himself and hide his wrongdoing from the public and Congress, the managers said, by mounting a defiant campaign of obstruction, blocking witness after witness from testifying while refusing to produce a single subpoenaed document. The dueling arguments were a prelude to the senators’ final vote, capping the five-month impeachment drama.