Key arguments in Trump's defense as impeachment trial to begin in U.S. Senate

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The White House unveiled its detailed legal defense as the Republican-controlled U.S. Senate gears up to begin President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial on Tuesday.

Trump, who is only the fourth of 45 American presidents to face the possibility of being ousted by impeachment, submitted his most detailed arguments to date for why he should remain in office.

Here are some of the highlights:

1) White House argues House Democrats have failed to identify an “impeachable offense.”

“House Democrats’ novel theory of ‘abuse of power’ improperly supplants the standard of ‘high Crimes and Misdemeanors’ with a made-up theory that would permanently weaken the Presidency by effectively permitting impeachments based merely on policy disagreements.”

“House Democrats’ ‘obstruction of Congress’ claim is frivolous and dangerous. House Democrats propose removing the President from office because he asserted legal rights and privileges of the Executive Branch against defective subpoenas based on the advice from the Department of Justice.”

“The President directed three of his most senior advisers not to comply with subpoenas seeking their testimony because they are immune from compelled testimony before Congress.”

2) White House says impeachment inquiry was “irredeemably flawed.”

“The process that resulted in these Articles of Impeachment was flawed from the start. Since the founding of the Republic, the House has never launched an impeachment inquiry against a President without a vote of the full House authorizing it.”

FILE PHOTO: U.S. President Donald Trump walks to give a speech at the American Farm Bureau Federation's Annual Convention and Trade Show in Austin, Texas, January 19, 2020. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

“House Democrats concocted an unheard of procedure that denied the President any semblance of fair process. The proceedings began with secret hearings in a basement bunker... The President was denied any right to participate.”

“Chairman (Adam) Schiff’s hearings were fatally defective for another reason - Schiff himself was instrumental in helping to create the story behind them.”

“House Democrats resorted to these unprecedented procedures because the goal was never to get the truth. The goal was to impeach the President, no matter the facts.”

3) White House says Democrats have presented “no evidence to support their claims.”

“House Democrats have falsely charged that the President supposedly conditioned military aid or a presidential meeting on Ukraine’s announcing a specific investigation. Yet...House Democrats do not have a single witness who claims, based on direct knowledge, that the President ever actually imposed such a condition.”

“The evidence shows that President Trump had legitimate concerns about corruption and burden-sharing with our allies- two consistent themes in his foreign policy.”

“House Democrats’ assertion that asking historical questions about the last election somehow equates to securing ‘improper interference’ in the next election is nonsensical. Asking about the past cannot be twisted into interference in a future election.”

“It also would have been legitimate to mention the Biden-Bursima affair. Public reports indicate that then-Vice President (Joe) Biden threatened withholding U.S. loan guarantees to secure the dismissal of a Ukrainian prosecutor...”

4) White House says the articles of impeachment are “structurally deficient.”

“The articles are also defective because each charges multiple different acts as possible grounds for conviction... for a valid conviction, the Constitution requires two-thirds of Senators present to agree on the specific basis for conviction.”

“The Senate should speedily reject these deficient Articles of Impeachment and acquit the President. The only threat to the Constitution that House Democrats have brought to light is their own degradation of the impeachment process and trampling of the separation of powers.”

Reporting by Sarah N. Lynch; Editing by Bernadette Baum