The Senate on Tuesday afternoon will commence just the third impeachment trial of a U.S. president, with Donald J. Trump and his ‘perfect’ call to Ukraine on trial before a jury of 100 senators – 53 of them from the party the president has dominated for three years.
The chamber’s procedures will be governed by a combination of precedent, improvisation, and raw political power – with Majority Leader Mitch McConnell withholding his proposed rules to govern debate until the final hours before the most senior Republican gavels in the start of the trial.
Neither side is predicting that Democrats can muster the two-thirds needed to remove a president from office. But neither are they diminishing the political stakes, with Trump’s fate, the 2020 elections, and control of Congress all arguably up for grabs.
The historic impeachment trial of President Donald Trump is set to begin Tuesday
Master of the Senate? Mitch McConnell’s plan was revealed Monday evening, with just hours to go until senators get to decide on the rules for the trial of Donald Trump
Anger: Chuck Schumer called Mitch McConnell’s plans for Donald Trump’s impeachment trial ‘a national disgrace’ as he headed from New York to Washington D.C.
A rhetorical battle that has been fought on Twitter and in Capitol hearing rooms for years has now been joined by a phalanx of lawyers – with the president’s legal team mocking the procedure as a ‘charade’ based on ‘flimsy evidence.’
A group of seven House impeachment managers – Congressmen who are a diverse bunch of lawyers and litigators who nevertheless have never dealt with a case of this magnitude – punched back with their own filing Monday, citing ‘overwhelming evidence’ of Trump’s guilt.
READ THE ARTICLES OF IMPEACHMENT AGAINST DONALD TRUMP
In 1,414 words, the articles of impeachment passed by the House of Representatives lay out two charges against President Donald Trump.
Article I: Abuse of Power
Using the powers of his high office, President Trump solicited the interference of a foreign government, Ukraine, in the 2020 United States Presidential election.
He did so through a scheme or course of conduct that included soliciting the Government of Ukraine to publicly announce investigations that would benefit his reelection, harm the election prospects of a political opponent, and influence the 2020 United States Presidential election to his advantage.
President Trump also sought to pressure the Government of Ukraine to take these steps by conditioning official United States Government acts of significant value to Ukraine on its public announcement of the investigations.
President Trump engaged in this scheme or course of conduct for corrupt purposes in pursuit of personal political benefit. In so doing, President Trump used the powers of the Presidency in a manner that compromised the national security of the United States and undermined the integrity of the United States democratic process.’
Article II: Obstruction of Congress
As part of this impeachment inquiry, the Committees undertaking the investigation served subpoenas seeking documents and testimony deemed vital to the inquiry from various Executive Branch agencies and offices, and current and former officials.
In response, without lawful cause or excuse, President Trump directed Executive Branch agencies, offices, and officials not to comply with those subpoenas. President Trump thus interposed the powers of the Presidency against the lawful subpoenas of the House of Representatives, and assumed to himself functions and judgments necessary to the exercise of the ‘sole Power of Impeachment’ vested by the Constitution in the House of Representatives.
In the history of the Republic, no President has ever ordered the complete defiance of an impeachment inquiry or sought to obstruct and impede so comprehensively the ability of the House of Representatives to investigate ‘high Crimes and Misdemeanors.”
This abuse of office served to cover up the President’s own repeated misconduct and to seize and control the power of impeachment — and thus to nullify a vital constitutional safeguard vested solely in the House of Representatives.
The public, too, is weighing in, on Monday in the form of a new CNN poll that found a 51 per cent majority now backs Trump’s removal from office. But Trump’s political base is holding, with 45 per cent saying the Senate should vote against removal – about the same percentage that backs Trump in most surveys of his approval.
But on a critical procedural question, the public has shifted against the president’s position: An overwhelming 69 per cent of Americans want a trial with witnesses. That includes a 48 per cent plurality of Republicans and 69 per cent of independents.
The number follows an intensive push for witnesses by congressional Democrats who found themselves stymied by White House obstruction during their House impeachment inquiry. They even included ‘Obstruction of Congress’ as the second of two articles of impeachment. The first is ‘abuse of power.’ Both were voted out of the house on a mostly party-line vote.
Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer is vowing to demand a vote on witnesses at the first available opportunity at the outset of the trial and stepped up that call Monday night, calling the planned rules ‘a national disgrace’ and ‘a cover-up, not a trial.’
McConnell appears to have his conference in line for now – but that does not mean he can prevent a potential rump group from breaking off later in the trial.
Senator Mitt Romney of Utah – who delivered a blistering critique of Trump before the November 2016 election – and perennial holdout Susan Collins of purple state Maine have each expressed support for witnesses in some capacity.
The focus on witnesses come as Democrats continue to bet the next explosive revelation that could somehow shift the arithmetic is right around the corner.
As is so often the case in the Senate, impeachment will kick off not with a substantive debate about the matter at hand, but a clash over the process itself.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell only hours before debate was set to begin put out his proposed rules. They would provide for a series of late night, with blocks of 24 hours set aside for each side to make its case, then another 16 hours for senators to ask written questions.
Schumer blasted the proposal as ‘nothing short of a national disgrace,’ and vowed to try to amend the procedure.
After a two-hour debate over process, Schumer gets to offer his own ideas as amendments – something he is vowing to do. He wants to call at least four witnesses and bring forth documents related to Ukraine. The Senate next is set to go into closed session for lawmakers to figure out a way forward.
That is a throw-back to 1999, when leaders of both parties orchestrated a closed meeting inside the old Senate chamber to figure out how to get to a trial. But in that case, even amid a fraught party clash, senators reached a 100-vote consensus on how to proceed.
The preceding few weeks have seen an astonishing amount of new material emerge, with no certainty yet that it will change any minds in the trial.
House Democrats handed over reams of documents, including voluminous material provided by indicted former Rudy Giuliani associate Lev Parnas, who has said he participated in efforts to get the government of Ukraine to investigate the Bidens.
Parnas turned over such items as a May 2019 letter from Giuliani to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky seeking a private meeting and saying he was acting with Trump’s ‘knowledge and consent.’
He also turned over photos of himself with Trump, Trump family members, and key Trump World figures. His lawyer says he wants to testify.
Each side will make arguments as best they can in initial one-hour increments. House managers include California Rep. Adam Schiff, who Trump lawyers singled out for denying the president ‘any semblance of fairness’ while overseeing House proceedings.
Schiff, in remarks before the House Intelligence committee, has accused the president of orchestrating a ‘shakedown’ of Ukraine for his own political benefit.
Battle lines: Adam Schiff and Jerry Nadler, the Democratic chairmen of the House Intelligence and Judiciary Committees will prosecute Donald Trump
Trying for dismissal: Jay Sekulow, the president’s private attorney, jointly leads his defense with Pat Cipollone, the White House Counsel
On the sidelines is presidential candidate Vice President Joe Biden, whose own work on Ukraine under President Obama has become part of the Trump defense. Republicans are threatening to call his surviving son, Hunter, as a witness, due to Hunter Biden’s lucrative position on the board of a Ukrainian energy company, Burisma, that was part of the push by Trump and his allies for a probe that might tarnish a rival.
But with a trial that could last week, the former VP will have ample time to travel Iowa and early primary states, while rival senators Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, and Amy Klobuchar will sit view the trial as jurors in the Senate.
Like fellow colleagues, they won’t be able to make speeches on the floor – just ask written questions.
Also out of the spotlight will be Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani. He was left off the president’s dozen-strong legal team, having spent months arguing the president’s case on television. But he will certainly be part of the record, whether or not former national security advisor John Bolton is allowed to testify. Bolton disparaged the ‘drug deal’ Giuliani was running in Ukraine, according to witness testimony.
Weighing in from across the Atlantic will be President Trump, who opted to fly to meeting at the annual economic conference in Davos. He spent part of Monday tweeting about what he calls the impeachment ‘hoax.’
Poll says 51% of Americans want Senate to REMOVE Donald Trump from office
Americans are split on whether the Senate should move to remove Donald Trump from office, with 51 per cent saying a poll released Monday that he should be convicted.
In the CNN/SSRS poll, 45 per cent of Americans said the Senate should not vote to convict and remove the president and 4 per cent of respondents said they had no opinion on the matter.
But 89 per cent of Democrats believe he should be convicted and removed from office while only 8 per cent of Republicans agree. Independent voters are split.
The poll comes the day before the Senate is set to begin the proceedings in the impeachment trial.
It also shows a slight shift from the same poll in December, which had 47 per cent of Americans said Trump should not be removed compared to the 45 per cent who want to see him ousted from the White House.
Of the 1,156 respondents, 58 per cent feel Trump did abuse his power of the presidency and 57 per cent say it’s true he obstructed the House from being able to properly investigate him.
Trump’s legal team asserted Monday that he did ‘absolutely nothing wrong,’ calling the impeachment case against him ‘flimsy’ and a ‘dangerous perversion of the Constitution.’ The lawyers decried the impeachment process as rigged and insisted that abuse of power was not a crime.
What isn’t year clear is when the key moments in Trump’s happen – and whether anyone will be awake when they occur. Under the rules proposed by McConnell, some of the action could be taking place after midnight, unless Republicans back down under accusations of setting up a ‘cover-up.’
The brief from Trump’s lawyers, filed before arguments expected this week in the Senate impeachment trial, offered the most detailed glimpse of the lines of defense they intend to use against Democratic efforts to convict the president and oust him from office over his dealings with Ukraine.
It is meant as a counter to a filing two days ago from House Democrats that summarized weeks of testimony from more than a dozen witnesses in laying out the impeachment case.
The 110-page filing from the White House shifted the tone toward a more legal response. It still hinged on Trump´s assertion he did nothing wrong and did not commit a crime – even though impeachment does not depend on a material violation of law but rather on the more vague definition of ‘other high crimes and misdemeanors’ as established in the Constitution.
‘It is a constitutional travesty,’ the lawyers wrote.
The document says the two articles of impeachment brought against the president – abuse of power and obstruction of Congress – don’t amount to impeachment offenses. It asserts that the impeachment inquiry, centered on Trump’s request that Ukraine’s president open an investigation into Democratic rival Joe Biden, was never about finding the truth.
‘Instead, House Democrats were determined from the outset to find some way – any way – to corrupt the extraordinary power of impeachment for use as a political tool to overturn the result of the 2016 election and to interfere in the 2020 election,’ Trump’s legal team wrote. ‘All of that is a dangerous perversion of the Constitution that the Senate should swiftly and roundly condemn.’
‘The Senate should speedily reject these deficient articles of impeachment and acquit the president,’ according to a summary.
Trump’s team continues to attack the ‘abuse of power’ articles voted through the House, which lawyer Alan Dershowitz has argued does not constitute a crime.
‘House Democrats’ newly-invented ‘abuse of power’ theory collapses at the threshold because it fails to allege any violation of law whatsoever,’ they write.
The prosecution team of House managers was expected to spend another day on Capitol Hill preparing for the trial, which will be under heavy security. Before the filing, House prosecutors arrived on Capitol Hill to tour the Senate chamber.
Earlier Monday, Trump claimed Democrats ‘didn’t want’ fired national security advisor John Bolton to testify. Counselor to the president Kellyanne Conway told Fox news the president ‘may exert executive privilege’ to prevent Bolton from testifying before the Senate. ‘The House should have called John Bolton if they were so anxious to hear from them,’ she said.
‘Very little, although the president may exert executive privilege.
The impeachment case accuses Trump of abusing power by withholding military aid from Ukraine at the same time that the president was seeking an investigation into Biden, and of obstructing Congress by instructing aides to not participate. But Trump’s team contended Monday that even if Trump were to have abused his power in withholding the Ukraine military assistance, it would not be impeachable, because it did not violate a specific criminal statute.
Opening arguments are expected within days following a debate Tuesday over rules, including about whether witnesses are to be called in the trial.
All about the Bidens: The trial grows out of Trump’s attempts to get Ukraine to investigate Hunter and Joe Biden over the former vice-president’s son’s role as the director of Burisma, a Ukrainian energy giant, despite having no expertise in energy or ability to speak Ukrainian
The trial begins after stunning new revelations from Rudy Giuliani associate Lev Parnas
Trump signaled his opposition to witnesses, tweeting Monday: ‘They didn’t want John Bolton and others in the House. They were in too much of a rush. Now they want them all in the Senate. Not supposed to be that way!’
That’s a reference to former national security adviser John Bolton, who was not subpoenaed by the House in its impeachment inquiry but has said he is willing to testify in the Senate if he is subpoenaed.
The White House brief argues that the articles of impeachment passed by the House are ‘structurally deficient’ because they charge multiple acts, creating ‘a menu of options’ as possible grounds for conviction.
The Trump team claims that the Constitution requires that senators agree ‘on the specific basis for conviction’ and that there is no way to ensure that the senators agree on which acts are worthy of removal.
The Trump lawyers accused Democrats of diluting the standards for impeachment, an argument that echoed the case made Sunday by one of Trump’s attorneys, Alan Dershowitz, who contended in talk shows that impeachable offenses must be ‘criminal-like conduct.’
That assertion has been rejected by scholars, and Rep. Adam Schiff, the Democratic chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, called it an ‘absurdist position.’
Earlier Monday, President Trump took up his own impeachment defense, complaining that he got ‘ZERO’ fairness during a House inquiry and claiming Democrats ‘didn’t want’ security advisor John Bolton as a witness.
Trump made his case Monday on the eve of the debut of arguments in his Senate impeachment trial – amid a still unresolved debate and speculation about whether a rump group of Republicans will join Democrats to push for witnesses.
Trump complained he got ‘ZERO’ fairness in the House inquiry
Trump tweeted that Democrats ‘didn’t want’ John Bolton to appear, although they sought his testimony
‘They didn’t want John Bolton and others in the House,’ Trump said of the Democratic impeachment inquiry and his fired national security advisor
Bolton, Trump’s fired national security advisor, has become a key figure, following testimony by other witnesses that he called the Ukraine policy being carried out by Rudy Giuliani, the White House acting chief of staff, and a U.S. ambassador a ‘drug deal.’
‘They didn’t want John Bolton and others in the House. They were in too much of a rush. Now they want them all in the Senate. Not supposed to be that way!’ Trump tweeted Monday.
He also went after Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer, whose caucus and Senate colleagues have been sworn in to impartially weigh evidence against Trump.
‘Cryin’ Chuck Schumer is now asking for ‘fairness’, when he and the Democrat House members worked together to make sure I got ZERO fairness in the House. So, what else is new?’ Trump wrote.
The House invited Bolton to testify in its impeachment inquiry, but the fired national security advisor then joined an effort to seek a ruling from a federal judge about whether he could appear. Bolton’s lawyer asked a judge to rule on whether his client should comply with the request from Congress or a White House instruction for witnesses not to appear.
Early this year, Bolton said through his lawyer that he was willing to appear in the Senate trial. Amid the standoff, the House did not subpoena Bolton, although it heard from multiple officials who spoke of his role – including security advisor Fiona Hill, who testified about his ‘drug deal’ comment.
‘I am not part of whatever drug deal Sondland and Mulvaney are cooking up,’ Hill said Bolton told her. Hill also said Bolton consider Giuliani, who was working to dig up information on the Bidens in Ukraine, a ‘hand grenade.’
Schumer said Sunday he would force a vote on allowing witnesses as the Senate impeachment trial gets underway Tuesday.
‘We have the right to do it, We are going to do it and we are going to do it at the beginning on Tuesday if leader [Sen. Mitch] McConnell doesn’t call for these witnesses in his proposal,’ he said.
‘If they say well let’s wait and hear the arguments we’ll want a vote after they hear the arguments as well and we will do everything we can to force votes again,’ he said. He would need to assemble 51 votes – which would include four Republicans – to prevail.
House Intelligence Chair Rep. Adam Schiff said of Bolton this year, after the House had already voted out two impeachment articles: ‘If we are proceeding in a rationale way where we are trying to be fair to the President and fair to the American people, he should testify before the triers of fact, which are the senators.’
Trump lawyer Alan Dershowitz has argued that abuse of power is not a crime, and therefore not an impeachable offense
John Bolton called Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani a ‘hand grenade,’ according to impeachment witness Fiona Hill. Here he is pictured with former associate Lev Parnas, who has come forward to speak publicly about his efforts to pressure Ukraine to investigate the Bidens
Trump’s push against witnesses comes as key Republicans including Utah Sen. Mitt Romney and Susan Collins of Maine have spoken about witnesses. Romney says he would like to hear from Bolton, and Collins has said she is ‘likely’ to back a motion to hear from witnesses.
Democrats have demanded the Senate hear from witnesses for there to be a fair trial – after the White House refused to allow key figures like Mulaney to appear.
The process fight comes days after Trump’s legal team put forward the legal argument that abuse of power and obstruction of Congress – the two impeachment articles passed by the House – do not even constitute a crime.
‘The Articles of Impeachment are constitutionally invalid on their face. They fail to allege any crime or violation of law whatsoever, let alone ‘high Crimes and Misdemeanors,’ as required by the Constitution,’ Trump’s lawyers wrote in a six-page brief released Saturday.
‘They are the result of a lawless process … Nothing in these Articles could permit even beginning to consider removing a duly elected President or warrant nullifying an election and subverting the will of the American people,’ according to the brief, signed by Trump lawyer Jay Sekulow and White House counsel Pat Cipollone and
They wrote in response to a lengthy Democratic legal brief arguing that Trump violated his oath and abused his office.
‘In fact, it alleges no violation of law whatsoever. House Democrats ‘abuse of power’ claim would do lasting damage to the separation fo powers under the Constitution,’ Trump’s team responded.
Trump lawyer Alan Dershowitz has made a similar argument in TV appearances, as he did on ABC’s ‘This Week’ Sunday. He cited Justice Benjamin Curtis and the impeachment of Andrew Johnson – who he said forwarded the argument that an impeachable offense must also be a crime. That trial involved dozens of witnesses.
‘So I am making an argument much like the argument made by the great Justice Curtis,’ said Dershowitz. ‘And to call them absurdist is to, you know, insult one of the greatest jurists in American history. The argument is a strong one. The Senate should hear it.’
The House on Monday filed its own reply to the arguments put forth by Trump’s team in response to the impeachment articles.
‘President Trump maintains that the Senate cannot remove him even if the House proves every claim in the Articles of impeachment. That is a chilling assertion. It is also dead wrong. The Framers deliberately drafted a Constitution that allows the Senate to remove Presidents who, like President Trump, abuse their power to cheat in elections, betray our national security, and ignore checks and balances,’ House impeachment managers wrote in a document that bears all of their names.
‘Despite President Trump’s stonewalling of the impeachment inquiry, the House amassed overwhelming evidence of his guilt,’ they added. ‘It did so through fair procedures rooted firmly in the Constitution and precedent. It extended President Trump protections equal to, or greater than, those afforded to Presidents in prior impeachment inquiries. To prevent President Trump’s obstruction from delaying justice until after the very election he seeks to corrupt, the House moved to decisively to adopt the two Articles of impeachment. Still, new evidence continues to emerge, all of which confirms these charges,’ they added.
THE IMPEACHMENT MANAGERS: MEET THE SEVEN DEMOCRATS PROSECUTING DONALD TRUMP
Adam Schiff of California: The chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, 59, led the impeachment process against Donald Trump. He became a frequent target of Trump’s fury: the president called him ‘Liddle’ Adam Schiff and made fun of his neck. But Schiff won praise for his leadership during witnesses hearings. Schiff served in the California State Assembly and was a federal prosecutor in the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Los Angeles for six years. He oversaw the prosecution of Richard Miller, the first FBI agent ever to be indicted for espionage. Elected to Congress in 2012.
Jerry Nadler of New York: The Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, 72, led the series of hearings that developed the two articles of impeachment against the president: abuse of power and obstruction of justice. He’s in his 15th term in Congress and was a New York State Assembly man before joining Capitol Hill. He was in law school when he was first elected to state office and completed his J.D. while serving in Albany. He and Schiff were expected to be named. Elected to Congress in 1992.
Zoe Lofgren of California: A close Nancy Pelosi ally and a long time friend of the speaker, Lofgren, 72, has the unique experience of playing a role in three presidential impeachment proceedings: as a Judiciary Committee staffer during Richard Nixon’s in 1974, as a Judiciary Committee Member during Bill Clinton’s 1999 impeachment, and now in President Trump’s. Additionally, she heads the Committee on House Administration, a position that has the moniker ‘Mayor of Capitol Hill’ given the panel’s jurisdiction over the everyday running of the Capitol, including members’ allowance, office space, and rules of the House. Elected to Congress in 1994.
Hakeem Jeffries of New York: Jeffries, 49, was a litigator in private practice before running for elected office. He worked in the litigation department of Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison before becoming assistant litigator for Viacom and CBS, where he worked on litigation stemming from the Super Bowl XXXVIII halftime show controversy, when Janet Jackson’s breast, adorned with a nipple shield, was exposed by Justin Timberlake for about half a second, in what was later referred to as a ‘wardrobe malfunction’. The Federal Election Commission fined CBS $550,000 after a long legal case. The Chair of the House Democratic Caucus, Jeffries serves on the House Judiciary Committee. Before Congress, he was in the New York State Assembly for six years. Elected to Congress in 2012 and a member of the House Judiciary Committee.
Val Demings of Florida: Demings, 62, served in the Orlando Police Department for 27 years, including serving as the city’s first female chief of police. She is one of seven children born in poverty – her father worked in Florida orange groves and her mother was a housekeeper. She was the first member of her family graduate from college. She worked as a social worker before joining the Orlando police department. A member of the House Intelligence panel and the Judiciary Committee, Demings won plaudits for her careful questioning of witnesses during the impeachment hearings. She wrote on Twitter in December, during the impeachment process: ‘I am a descendant of slaves, who knew that they would not make it, but dreamed and prayed that one day I would make it. So despite America’s complicated history, my faith is in the Constitution. I’ve enforced the laws, and now I write the laws. Nobody is above the law.’ She spends her free time riding her Harley-Davidson Road King Classic motorcycle. Elected to Congress in 2016.
Jason Crow of Colorado: Crow, 40, was an Army Ranger in Iraq and Afghanistan, where he served three tours and was awarded a Bronze Star. He was a private litigator with the Holland and Hart Law Firm before running for Congress. He was elected to Congress in 2018 and serves on the House Armed Services Committee.
Sylvia Garcia of Texas: Garcia, 69, has a strong judicial background. She was the director and presiding judge of the Houston Municipal System and was elected city controller. She was also the first Hispanic and first woman to be elected in her own right to the Harris County Commissioner’s Court. Elected to Congress in 2018, she serves on the House Judiciary Committee.
THE TRUMP DREAM TEAM: WHO’S DEFENDING PRESIDENT IN SENATE
Lead counsel: Pat Cipollone, White House Counsel
Millionaire conservative Catholic father-of-10 who has little courtroom experience. ‘Strong, silent,’ type who has earned praise from Trump’s camp for resisting Congress’ investigations of the Ukraine scandal. Critics accused him of failing in his duty as a lawyer by writing ‘nonsense letters’ to reject Congressional oversight. His background is commercial litigation and as White House counsel is the leader of the Trump administration’s drive to put conservative judges in federal courts. Trump has already asked aides behind the scenes if he will perform well on television.
Jay Sekulow, president’s personal attorney
Millionaire one-time IRS prosecutor with his own talk radio show. Self-described Messianic Jew who was counsel to Jews for Jesus. Longtime legal adviser to Trump, but he is himself mentioned in the Ukraine affair, with Lev Parnas saying that he knew about Rudy Giuliani’s attempts to dig dirt on the Bidens but did not approve. Michael Cohen claimed that Sekulow and other members of Trump’s legal team put falsehoods in his statement to the House intel committee; Sekulow denies it. The New York Times reported that he voted for Hillary Clinton.
Alan Dershowitz, Harvard law professor
Shot to worldwide fame for his part in the ‘dream team’s’ successful defense of OJ Simpson but was already famous for his defense of Claus von Bulow, the British socialite accused of murdering his wife in Rhode Island. Ron Silver played Dershowitz in Reversal of Fortune. In 2008 he was a member of Jeffrey Epstein’s legal team which secured the lenient plea deal from federal prosecutors. But Dershowitz was a longtime friend of Epstein and was accused of having sex with two of Esptein’s victims. He denies it and is suing one of them, Virginia Roberts Giuffre, for libel, saying his sex life is ‘perfect.’ He admits he received a massage at Epstein’s home – but ‘kept my underwear on.’ Registered Democrat who spoke out against Trump’s election and again after the Charlottesville violence. Has become an outspoken defender of Trump against the Robert Mueller probe and the Ukraine investigation.
Ken Starr, former Whitewater independent counsel
Famous and reviled in equal measure for his Whitewater investigation into Bill and Hillary Clinton’s finances in Arkansas which eventually led him to evidence of Bill’s affair with Monica Lewinsky. He was a federal appeals judge and George H.W. Bush’s solicitor general before that role. He later became president and chancellor of Baylor University in Waco but was removed as president in May 2016 for mishandling the investigation into allegations of multiple sexual assaults by football players and other students, then quit voluntarily as chancellor. Is the second Jeffrey Epstein defender on the team; he was present in 2008 when the plea deal with prosecutor Alex Acosta was made which let Epstein off with just 13 months of work release prison.
Pam Bondi, White House attorney
Florida’s first female attorney general and also a long-time TV attorney who has been a Fox News guest host – including co-hosting The Five for three days in a row while still attorney general. Began her career as a prosecutor before moving into elected politics. Has been hit by a series of controversies, among them persuading then Florida governor Rick Scott to change the date of an execution because it clashed with her re-election launch, and has come under fire for her association with Scientology. She has defended it saying the group were helping her efforts against human trafficking; at the time the FBI was investigating it over human trafficking. Went all-in on Trump in 2016, leading ‘lock her up’ chants at the 2016 Republican National Convention. Joined the White House last November to aid the anti-impeachment effort.
Robert Ray, Ken Starr’s successor
Headed the Office of the Independent Counsel from 1999 until it closed for business in 2002, meaning it was he, not Ken Starr, who wrote the final words on the scandals of the Clinton years. Those included the report on Monica Lewinsky, the report on the savings and loan misconduct claims which came to be known as Whitewater, and the report on Travelgate, the White House travel office’s firing and file-gate, claims of improper access to the FBI’s background reports. Struck deal with Clinton to give up his law license. Went into private practice. Was charged with stalking a former lover in New York in 2006 four months after she ended their relationship. Now a frequent presence on Fox News.
Jane Raskin, private attorney
Part of a husband-and-wife Florida law team, she is a former prosecutor who specializes in defending in white collar crime cases. Their connection to Trump appears to have been through Ty Cobb, the former White House attorney. She and husband Martin advised Trump on his response to Mueller and appear to have been focused on avoiding an obstruction of justice accusation. That may be the reason to bring her in to the impeachment team; Democrats raised the specter of reviving Mueller’s report in their evidence to the impeachment trial.
Patrick Philbin and Michael Purpura, Deputy White House Counsels
Lowest-profile of the team, they work full-time for Cipollone in the White House. Philbin (left) was a George W. Bush appointee at the Department of Justice who helped come up with the system of trying Guantanamo Bay detainees in front of military commissions instead of in U.S. courts. He was one a group of officials, led by James Comey, who rushed to seriously-ill John Ashcroft’s bedside to stop the renewal of the warrant-less wiretap program. Unknown if Trump is aware of his links to Comey. Purpura (right) is also a Bush White House veteran who shaped its response to Congressional investigations at a time when there were calls for him to be impeached over going to war in Iraq. His name is on letters telling State Department employees not to testify. Has been named as a possible Trump nominee for federal court in Hawaii.
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