Democrats condemn Trump as threat to American democracy

Demonstrators on both sides of the political divide outside the US Capitol on Monday, with one man dressed as President Donald Trump.
Demonstrators on both sides of the political divide outside the US Capitol on Monday, with one man dressed as President Donald Trump.PHOTO: BLOOMBERG

WASHINGTON • Even with acquittal seemingly assured, Democrats prosecuting Republican President Donald Trump in his impeachment trial have made a forceful appeal for conviction, calling him a man with no moral compass who must be removed to protect American democracy.

US Representative Adam Schiff wrapped up closing arguments for the seven House of Representatives impeachment managers after Mr Trump's lawyers called the case against the US leader politically motivated, reckless and baseless.

"We have proven Donald Trump guilty. Now do impartial justice and convict him," Mr Schiff told the 100-member Senate on Monday.

"He has betrayed our national security and he will do so again. He has compromised our elections and he will do so again. You will not change him. You cannot constrain him," Mr Schiff said. "If you find the courage to stand up to him, to speak the awful truth to his rank falsehood, your place will be among the Davids who took on Goliath - if only you will say, 'Enough'."

The impeachment drama neared its conclusion a day before Mr Trump is due to give his annual State of the Union speech in Congress.

Meanwhile, in Iowa on Monday, voters participated in the first contest in the state-by-state process of choosing the Democratic nominee to challenge Mr Trump in the Nov 3 election.

The Republican-controlled Senate is set to vote today on whether to remove Mr Trump from office.

It looked more certain to acquit him after Senator Lisa Murkowski, a Republican moderate, said in a speech on Monday evening that she would not vote for conviction despite calling Mr Trump's actions "shameful and wrong".

Senator Joe Manchin, a Democratic moderate, said he had not decided whether to vote to acquit Mr Trump and saw "no path" to the two-thirds majority needed to remove a president.

None of the 53 Senate Republicans has called for conviction.

The Democratic-led House impeached Mr Trump on Dec 18 on charges of abuse of power for asking Ukraine to investigate political rival Joe Biden and obstruction of Congress for blocking testimony and documents sought in the investigation.

Mr Trump has called the impeachment effort an attempted coup by Democrats. Mr Trump's personal lawyer Jay Sekulow urged senators to "stand firm".

"This was the first totally partisan presidential impeachment in our nation's history. And it should be our last," Mr Sekulow said.

"What the House Democrats have done to this nation, to the Constitution, to the Office of the President, to the President himself and to this body (the Senate) is outrageous. They have cheapened the awesome power of impeachment," he said.

Mr Schiff said America's founders intended impeachment - the power given to Congress under the United States Constitution to remove a president for committing "high crimes and misdemeanors" - to be used rarely.

But he said it must be used to remove a president who "would sell out his country for a political favour", undermine the integrity of elections and invite foreign interference in American affairs.

Mr Sekulow said neither charge brought against Mr Trump represented an impeachable offence, and accused Democrats of seeking to negate the 2016 election results and subvert the will of the American people.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 05, 2020, with the headline 'Democrats condemn Trump as threat to American democracy'. Subscribe