Jan 21, 2020
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McConnell Pushes to Speed Impeachment Trial as Trump Requests Swift Acquittal

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The White House brief stressed that Mr. Trump ultimately met with President Volodymyr Zelensky and released the aid even though the Ukrainians never announced the investigations the president had sought. But the money was delivered and the meeting was set only after a whistle-blower had filed a complaint alleging impropriety by the president and lawmakers had opened their own investigation into why the money had been blocked.

The dueling filings rolled in as both sides braced for a contentious trial on the Senate floor over whether to remove Mr. Trump, only the third such impeachment proceeding in the country’s history. The president visited the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial in Washington on Monday afternoon before he left for Davos, Switzerland, where he planned to meet with other world leaders at an economic conference as the Senate began weighing his fate.

In the Capitol, the House managers and the president’s defense team took turns privately touring the Senate chamber and surrounding offices, transformed over the weekend into a court of impeachment that will open on Tuesday with the debate on the rules for the trial. According to Mr. McConnell’s timetable, oral arguments by the House managers would begin on Wednesday, followed by a presentation by Mr. Trump’s team.

The White House announcement that it will add House Republicans to its defense team came despite objections from Mr. McConnell. In deference to him, they will not argue the case on the Senate floor, but will provide guidance and appear as surrogates, according to a person working with Mr. Trump’s legal team.

In addition to Mr. Jordan, Mr. Meadows and Mr. Ratcliffe, those joining the team include Representatives Doug Collins of Georgia, Mike Johnson of Louisiana, Debbie Lesko of Arizona, Elise Stefanik of New York and Lee Zeldin of Texas.

In their filing on Monday, House Democrats sought to dismantle the president’s case. By arguing that abuse of power is not an impeachable offense, they said, Mr. Trump’s lawyers were ignoring the intentions of the founders and in effect asserting that “the American people are powerless to remove a president for corruptly using his office to cheat in the next election.”

The managers also said the president’s attempt to justify his obstruction failed to account for the House’s broad prerogative to conduct their inquiry. The House investigation was “properly authorized,” they insisted, and they pointed out that Mr. Trump never actually invoked executive privilege, but merely raised the threat of doing so to discourage officials from testifying.

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