As the impeachment trial entered its sixth day – the second for the Trump defence team – if you expected to hear the name “John Bolton” to come up a lot, you would have been very wrong.
The defense team skirted around the supposed new “bombshell” evidence in the leaked draft of the former NSA’s upcoming book, and instead took to disassembling the House’s case by putting Hunter Biden and Barack Obama on trial.
The president’s attorneys essentially put Hunter Biden in the witness chair to show that Mr. Trump had plenty of reasons to urge Ukraine’s president to open a corruption probe of former Vice President Joseph R. Biden and his son.
“Does it merit an inquiry that a corrupt company in a corrupt country is paying our vice president’s son $1 million per year?” Trump attorney Eric Herschmann asked on the Senate floor. “Did he know anything about the natural gas industry at all? Of course not.”
To point out the “absurdity” of Democrats‘ impeachment standards, Mr. Herschmann then brought up President Obama’s private conversation in March 2012 with then-Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, caught on a hot mic, in which he pleaded for “space” from Moscow until after his reelection to negotiate on missile defense systems.
“President Obama knew the importance of missile defense in Europe but decided to use that as a bargaining chip with the Russians to further his own election chances in 2012,” Mr. Herschmann told senators. “President Obama used the powers of the presidency in a manner that compromised the national security of the United States. The case against President Obama would have been far stronger than the allegations against President Trump.”
In a dramatic primetime TV moment, Harvard Law School Professor Alan Dershowitz, delivered a spirited constitutional defense of President Trump. The liberal constitutional law scholar, flatly turned toward House impeachment managers and declared they had picked “dangerous” and “wrong” charges against the president — noting that neither “abuse of power” nor “obstruction of Congress” was remotely close to an impeachable offense as the framers had intended.
“I’m sorry, House managers, you just picked the wrong criteria. You picked the most dangerous possible criteria to serve as a precedent for how we supervise and oversee future presidents,” Dershowitz told the House Democrats, including head House impeachment manager Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif.
“Abuse of power,” he argued, has been a “promiscuously deployed” and “vague” term throughout history. It should remain a merely “political weapon” fit for “campaign rhetoric,” Dershowitz said, as it has no standard definition nor meaningful constitutional relevance.
Overall, the president’s team laid out the aggressive defense amid new calls from Democrats for witness testimony in the trial, after a newspaper report said Mr. Bolton, in a forthcoming book, substantiated the impeachment allegations. He reportedly wrote that Mr. Trump pressured Ukraine for an investigation of the Bidens by pausing U.S. military aid last summer.
While the report in The New York Times seemingly rattled Senate Republicans, it did not cause the massive break in the ranks that the Democrats had hoped for– to turn against President Trump or back the call for more witnesses.