Trump impeachment: President’s legal team calls charges ‘brazen and unlawful’

Donald Trump’s legal team has filed its first formal response to impeachment charges against the president, calling them a “dangerous attack on the right of the American people to freely choose their president”.

In a six-page document filed before opening statements are made on Tuesday in the president’s Senate trial, Mr Trump’s lawyers said the two articles of impeachment – abuse of power and obstruction of Congress – were nothing more than a partisan attempt to remove him from office.

“President Trump categorically and unequivocally denies each and every allegation in both articles of impeachment,” they said.

“This is a brazen and unlawful attempt to overturn the results of the 2016 election and interfere with the 2020 election – now just months away,” they added.

The response came as House Democrats, who are leading the impeachment case, also filed a document of 111 pages, previewing the arguments they will use.

They accused the president of betraying public trust with behaviour that was “the worst nightmare” of the founding fathers and called for him to be removed from office to protect national security and preserve the country’s system of government.

“The Senate should convict and remove President Trump to avoid serious and long-term damage to our democratic values and the nation’s security,” they said.

“The case against the president of the United States is simple, the facts are indisputable, and the evidence is overwhelming,” they added.

Both documents are the first of several filings expected in the coming days as senators prepare to take their seats for the rare trial.

Mr Trump has been accused of abusing his power by pressuring Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy to launch an investigation into Hunter Biden, the son of the present’s political rival Joe Biden, over his time on the board of a Ukrainian oil company.

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The Senate is still debating the ground rules of the trial, particularly the question of whether there will be new witnesses as fresh evidence emerges.

Despite the impeachment process reaching the trial stage, Mr Trump is not expected to be removed from office.

The Democrats control the House of Representatives, making it straightforward for proceedings to get this far, but the second chamber of the US government – the Senate – is controlled by the Republicans.

They have 53 seats there compared to 47 for the Democrats, and it would take 51 votes to approve rules or call witnesses during the trial.

If four Republican senators joined with Democrats, they could insist on new evidence.

Mr Trump’s trial is only the third in US presidential history and the second to be televised.

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