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Democrats Warn Of Dangers Of Trump Acquittal In Impeachment Trial Opening Statement


Donald Trump is only the third U.S. president in history to face an impeachment trial in the Senate. (file photo)

WASHINGTON -- Democratic House of Representatives impeachment manager Adam Schiff (California) has warned that if U.S. President Donald Trump isn’t convicted, future presidents will act as if they too are above the law.

In his opening arguments presented in the Senate trial on January 22, Schiff said the president’s “abuse of his office and obstruction of Congress will permanently alter the balance of power among our branches of government, inviting future presidents to operate…beyond…congressional oversight, and the law.”

As Schiff was speaking, Trump said he felt "NO PRESSURE" in a social media post.

Prosecutors from the House have 24 hours over three days to make their case in a landmark trial on whether to remove Trump from office for “high crimes and misdemeanors.”

Likewise, Trump’s legal counsel will also have the same time period to deliver its opening arguments, according to the trial rules.

Republicans earlier voted in favor of the rules for the impeachment trial proposed by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (Republican-Kentucky).

The resolution that established the overall rules passed in the early hours of January 22 in a 53 to 47 vote that adhered strictly to Republican and Democratic party lines.

The Senate later will decide whether to seek witness testimony and documents.

During votes on the trial rules, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (Republican-Kentucky) admitted in the record evidence from the House fact-finding inquiry into Trump that preceded the trial.

However, Democrats were angered by McConnell's refusal to call additional witnesses and subpoena documents before the trial's arguments phase is over.

Democrats seek testimony from current and former top Trump aides, including acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney and former national-security adviser John Bolton.

Speaking in the Swiss resort of Davos, Trump on January 22 told journalists he would love to attend his impeachment trial, but that his lawyers had advised him against it.

"I'd love to go. I'd sort of love [to] sit in the front row and stare in their corrupt faces," Trump said as he wrapped up his trip to the annual event.

But he added: "I think they [his lawyers] might have a problem."

Trump has previously called the Democratic-led House impeachment inquiry a “sham” and the hearings a “kangaroo court.”

On January 21, he tweeted “READ THE TRANSCRIPTS!” in reference to the transcript of his July 25 phone conversation with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy during which he prodded Kyiv to investigate political rival former Vice President Joe Biden and for his Ukrainian counterpart to do him “a favor.”

The phone call promoted a government whistle-blower to file a complaint, which then led the House to impeach Trump last month on two charges: abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.

After opening arguments, senators will have 16 hours to submit written questions in the chamber.

Afterward, each side -- the trial managers from the House and the president’s lawyers -- will get two hours of arguments.

An acquittal is likely since 67 votes are needed among the 100 mostly Republican senators for a conviction.

With reporting by PBS, NPR, CNN, Reuters, C-SPAN, and AP

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