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Trump Lawyers Target Obama, Biden

They argue that the Obama administration was the one that abused power
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 28, 2020 8:07 AM CST
White House adviser and former Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi speaks during the impeachment trial against President Trump in the Senate, Monday, Jan. 27, 2020.   (Senate Television via AP)
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(Newser) – Much of the second day of President Trump's impeachment defense focused not on the president's actions, but on the previous administration. In what Politico calls "an alternate-reality impeachment of his political rivals," Trump lawyers Pam Bondi and Eric Herschmann argued that former President Obama and Joe Biden should be the ones under investigation for abuse of power. They claimed that Obama had engaged in a quid pro quo with Russia under then-President Dmitry Medvedev and argued that Joe and Hunter Biden's activities in Ukraine should be the target of a corruption probe. Joe Biden led the Obama administration's Ukraine policy. More:

  • Biden rejects "conspiracy theory." Bondi, a former Florida AG, argued that Trump had good reason to seek an investigation of the younger Biden's role on the board of Ukrainian energy company Burisma, and of his father's actions as VP during that time, the Washington Post reports. A rep for Biden, who is on the campaign trail in Iowa, said Bondi was talking about a discredited "conspiracy theory." Biden told reporters he saw no reason to testify. "The reason he’s being impeached is because he tried to get a government to smear me and they wouldn’t," he said.

  • "We do not deal with speculation." While John Bolton's Ukraine claims led to renewed calls for more witnesses to be allowed, with GOP Sen. Mitt Romney calling the move increasingly likely, the Trump team dismissed them as speculation, Fox reports. "We deal with transcript evidence, we deal with publicly available information," Trump lawyer Jay Sekulow. "We do not deal with speculation, allegations that are not based on evidentiary standards at all."
  • Trump blasts Bolton. Trump's commentary on the impeachment trial Monday included retweets of remarks from Bolton critics, including this retweet from Sen. Rand Paul: "Why didn’t John Bolton testify to the US House? Apparently his book wasn’t quite finished yet for presales!"
  • Dershowitz condemns process. Celebrity lawyer Alan Dershowitz was Monday's final speaker, and he argued that "purely non-criminal conduct, including abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, are outside the range of impeachable offenses." He also addressed the Bolton issue, saying "nothing in the Bolton revelations, even if true, would rise to the level of an abuse of power or an impeachable offense," the AP reports.
  • Dershowitz vs. Dershowitz? Vox notes that Democrats pushing back against Republican arguments that no crimes have been committed have pointed to a Government Accountability Office decision last month that found holding up aid to Ukraine violated the Impoundment Control Act of 1974. They have also brought up some of Dershowitz's previous opinions. "It certainly doesn’t have to be a crime if you have somebody who completely corrupts the office of president and who abuses trust and who poses great danger to our liberty, you don’t need a technical crime," the lawyer said in 1998. He said Monday that he had changed his mind on the issue.
  • What to watch for Tuesday. On the final day of Trump's defense, the president's lawyers will "seek to drive home the argument that the House made a shoddy case, and the Senate need not reach in and bolster it by hearing new evidence," the New York Times reports.
  • The next step. Senators will now get a voice in the process for the first time. In a 16-hour question-and-answer session, written questions from senators from both parties will be answered by House impeachment managers and Trump's lawyers. Only one of the 150 questions in Bill Clinton's impeachment trial came from a bipartisan pair of senators and it's not clear whether there will be any at all this time, the Hill reports.
(Read more Trump trial stories.)

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