Trump Team, Opening Defense, Accuses Democrats of Plot to Subvert Election

While less combative than their famously combustible client, the lawyers relentlessly assailed the prosecution’s interpretation of events, accusing House Democrats of cherry-picking the facts and leaving out contrary information to construct a skewed narrative. They maintained that none of what the Democrats presented the Senate justified the first eviction of a president from the White House in American history.

“They have the burden of proof,” Mr. Cipollone said, “and they have not come close to meeting it.”

After the session, Democrats contended that the White House arguments actually bolstered their demand to call witnesses like John R. Bolton, the president’s former national security adviser, and Mick Mulvaney, his acting White House chief of staff, as well as require documents be turned over, all of which the Republican majority so far has rejected.

“They kept saying there are no eyewitness accounts,” Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the Democratic leader, told reporters. “But there are people that have eyewitness accounts. The very four witnesses, and the very four sets of documents that we have asked for.”

The abbreviated weekend session wrapped up five days of presentations and arguments on the Senate floor in the country’s third presidential impeachment trial. With Mr. Trump’s fate on the line, the trial, unfolding less than 10 months before he faces re-election, has come to encapsulate the pitched three-year struggle that has consumed Washington since he took office determined to disrupt the existing order, at times in ways that crossed longstanding lines.

While he did not attend Saturday’s opening of his defense, as he had previously suggested he might, Mr. Trump watched from the White House and weighed in on Twitter with attacks on prominent Democrats including Mr. Schumer, Representative Adam B. Schiff of California, the lead prosecutor for Democrats, Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, portraying the day as a chance to put them on trial instead.




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