United States President Donald Trump, who was attending the World Economic Forum in Davos as the historic Senate impeachment trial got underway on Tuesday, blasted the proceedings as a “witchhunt” and a “hoax” and said he expected the Republican-majority Senate to clear him “fairly quickly.”
Trump spoke as Democrats were to present opening arguments yesterday after a day of strict party line votes on ground rules that foreshadowed the president’s likely acquittal. Republicans, who hold a 53 to 47 seat edge in the Senate, shot down a series of bids by Democrats to introduce White House witnesses and documents during nearly 13 hours of acrimonious debate that lasted late into the night. A two-thirds majority, or 67 senators, is required to convict Trump and remove him from office.
Trump defended the Republicans’ rejection of Democratic efforts to force former national security advisor John Bolton and others to testify at his trial saying of Bolton, for example, that it would present a “national security problem.”
“John, he knows some of my thoughts,” Trump said. “He knows what I think about leaders. What happens if he reveals what I think about a certain leader and it’s not very positive?”
The 100 members of the Senate were to be back at their desks, sitting silently and without their cellphones at 1:00 pm (1800 GMT) yesterday as House prosecutors begin formally laying out their case that Trump should be removed from office for “high crimes and misdemeanors.”
The seven members of the House of Representatives, which impeached Trump on December 18, will have 24 hours over the next three days to make their case that the 45th US president is guilty of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.
White House lawyers will then have 24 hours to present their defense of Trump, who maintains he did nothing wrong by asking his Ukrainian counterpart to open an investigation into Democrat Joe Biden, his potential November election rival.