Trump impeachment news: President gives 'chilling' defence as his legal team lay out furious response to Senate trial

Joe Sommerlad, Alex Woodward
Donald Trump speaking at the American Farm Bureau Federation Annual Convention and Trade Show in Austin, Texas, on 19 January 2020: Kevin Lamarque/Reuters

The day before his impeachment trial is set to begin, Donald Trump's lawyers are urging the Senate reject the charges against him and are calling the hearings an "illegitimate partisan effort to take him down" by Democrats.

Meanwhile, the prosecution team from the House has filed a stern reply to the president's legal team, following their response to a summons request calling the impeachment articles "constitutionally invalid." House managers replied, calling the president's assertion that he can't be removed from the presidency "chilling" and "dead wrong".

House Intelligence Committee chairman Adam Schiff, who is on that prosecution team, has warned that the CIA and National Security Agency could be holding on to further key evidence regarding the Ukraine scandal that led to the president's impeachment, ahead of the commencement of the Senate trial on Tuesday.

The results of a CNN poll, released the day before the trial begins, revealed that 51 per cent of Americans support the president's removal, and nearly 70 per cent want witness testimony.

Lawyers preparing to defend Mr Trump took to the talk show circuit on Sunday to argue that he cannot be removed from office on abuse of power grounds, a position dismissed as “absurdist” and “arrant nonsense” by Mr Schiff and fellow leading Democrat Jerrold Nadler, who together have helped build the case against him.

Meanwhile, as Mr Trump prepared to leave for Switzerland to participate in the World Economic Forum, the White House had no scheduled events to recognise Martin Luther King Jr's memorial and birthday, breaking once more from previous administration's tradition of service and volunteering to honour the civil rights leader.

The president instead voiced his support for thousands of gun rights advocates carrying weapons in Virginia in protest of upcoming gun control legislation, while White House advisor Kellyanne Conway argued that Dr King would not support impeachment, which she said has "dragged Americans through the process" of considering the president's removal from office.

On Twitter over the weekend, President Trump continued to attack 2020 candidate Michael Bloomberg, revealed a surprise appreciation for Hollywood Golden Age star Cary Grant and tweeted an astonishing claim from Fox News host Mark Levin that: “In the House, the president got less due process than the 9/11 terrorists.”

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