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Trump Trial Team Concludes Opening Argument, Rejects Bolton Allegations


Republicans control the 100-seat Senate chamber with 53 seats, meaning it is almost certain Trump will be acquitted. (file photo)

Lawyers defending U.S. President Donald Trump in the U.S. Senate concluded their three-day opening argument, urging senators to acquit him of two articles of impeachment and rejecting as "inadmissible" explosive allegations reportedly made in a new book by former national-security adviser John Bolton.

Trump's lawyers said in the Senate chamber on January 28 that voters, not Congress, should decide the fate of the president, who has been charged with two articles of impeachment by the Democrat-controlled House of Representatives.

"The election is only months away. The American people are entitled to choose their president," White House Counsel Pat Cipollone told the Senate.

"Overturning past elections and massively interfering with the upcoming one would cause serious and lasting damage to the people of the United States and to our great country. The Senate cannot allow this to happen," he added.

"It is time for this to end, here and now. So we urge the Senate to reject these articles of impeachment."

His comments came on the third and final day of the Trump legal team's presentation to the Senate. Democratic House managers completed their three allocated days of statements prior to the president's lawyers' arguments.

Republicans control the 100-seat chamber with 53 seats, meaning it is almost certain Trump will be acquitted. Conviction and removal from office requires a two-thirds vote in the Senate.

But press reports of explosive comments to be published in an upcoming book by Bolton, the president's former top security official, have shaken the proceedings.

The New York Times reported that Bolton wrote in August that Trump told him he wanted to withhold $391 million in military aid to Ukraine until Kyiv helped by launching investigations into Democrats, including his potential election opponent, former Vice President Joe Biden, and son Hunter Biden.

Trump has repeatedly denied he attempted to pressure Kyiv by withholding the aid until it announced an investigation into the Bidens.

On the final day of arguments, Trump personal lawyer Jay Sekulow told senators that "you cannot impeach a president on an unsourced allegation," referring to the unpublished book manuscript.

He added, though, that, even if what Bolton says is true, it would not represent impeachable conduct.

Some Republican senators proposed that Bolton's book manuscript be reviewed on a closed, classified basis, but top Senate Democrat Chuck Schumer rejected the suggestion.

Democrats want Bolton and other administration officials to be called to testify in the trial, but Trump's team -- supported by most Republican senators -- oppose the issuance of any such subpoenas.

Democrats have hoped that at least four Republican senators will support them in a vote to allow witnesses.

If no witnesses are allowed, senators will next have the opportunity to ask questions of Democrat managers and Trump's defense team in the trial, which is only the third presidential impeachment case to reach the Senate in U.S. history. The other two ended in acquittals.

With reporting by AP, AFP, and Reuters
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