Democrats in impeachment trial say Trump abused his power for political gain

They contended that Trump pushed for the probe because he was worried about facing the former vice president in November’s election...

Istanbul, Jale Akbar, İnteraz - 24 January 2020, 12:24

Democrats worked methodically at U.S. President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial on Thursday to dismantle his long-standing allegation that Democratic presidential contender Joe Biden acted improperly toward Ukraine while vice president.

 

On the second day of their arguments for Trump’s removal from office, Democratic House of Representatives members argued that Biden did nothing wrong and was only carrying out official U.S. policy when he pressured Ukraine to fire its top prosecutor, Victor Shokin, because of corruption concerns.

 

Trump and his allies maintain that Biden wanted Shokin out in order to head off an investigation into a natural gas company, Burisma, where his son Hunter served as a director. Democrats said no evidence supported that allegation.

 

In more than eight hours of argument, House managers spent Thursday focusing on the charge that Trump abused his office by pressing Ukraine to investigate the Bidens purely for political gain.

 

They contended that Trump pushed for the probe because he was worried about facing the former vice president in November’s election. Biden is the front-runner for the Democratic presidential nomination.

 

“If we allow this gross abuse of power to continue, this president would have free rein – free rein – to abuse his control of U.S. foreign policy for personal interest, and so would any other future president,” U.S. Representative Sylvia Garcia said on the Senate floor. “And then this president, and all presidents, become above the law.”

 

Democrats countered by saying Republicans had blocked their attempts to bring new evidence to light through additional witnesses and documents.

Signs emerged on the second day of arguments that the Democratic case was losing some of the public’s attention. Throughout the session, there were empty seats in the gallery overlooking the Senate floor.

 

Television ratings were down. About 8.9 million viewers watched the first day of arguments on Wednesday, falling short of the roughly 11 million who watched on Tuesday, according to Nielsen ratings data.

 

Senators also showed increasing signs of restlessness, with many wandering to the rear of the chamber where they could make phone calls and check their smartphones.

 

At one point late on Thursday, Republican Senator Thom Tillis wandered into the gallery overhead - and stayed there for a spell, watching the proceedings below.

 

Reuters