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House Democrats in President Trump’s impeachment tried to make the case Friday that he improperly obstructed Congress’ probe of his interactions with Ukraine — their final day of arguments before Republicans take up his defense against the charges.

The seven Democratic managers, led by Rep. Adam Schiff, a former federal prosecutor and chair of the House Intelligence Committee, were trying to make the case to the GOP-led Senate — and the American public — that Trump is guilty of obstructing Congress for allegedly withholding key witnesses and documents from lawmakers.

New York Rep. Hakeem Jeffries told the senators that the president got caught asking Ukraine’s government to dig up dirt on former veep Joe Biden, the front-runner so far for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination — and then tried to cover it up when he “got caught.”

“At the heart of [the Constitution’s] Article 2, obstruction of Congress, is a simple troubling reality. President Trump tried to cheat. He got caught, and then he worked hard to cover it up,” Jeffries said.

“By July of 2019, White House officials were aware of serious allegations of misconduct by President Trump regarding Ukraine. But instead of halting the president’s corrupt scheme, they worked overtime to conceal it from the American people,” Jeffries continued.

Republicans were equally complicit in what he called the cover-up, he asserted.

“As additional evidence mounted, the Republicans worked hard to keep the American people from learning about the president’s misconduct,” he said.

Trump persisted even after Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Defense Secretary Mike Esper and former national security adviser John Bolton tried to convince him to lift the hold on the nearly $400 million security assistance for Ukraine that Congress had already approved, he said.

“They failed. President Trump was determined to carry out this corrupt scheme. The Ukraine security aid was only released on September 11, after the hold became public, after the House launched an investigation, and after Congress learned about the existence of a whistleblower complaint,” Jeffries said.

“The $391 million in security aid was only released because President Trump was caught red-handed.”

In a July 25 phone call, Trump pressed Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate Biden and his son Hunter, who served on the board of Ukrainian energy company Burisma.

The Dems were also expected to argue that Trump unlawfully refused to cooperate with the House probe of the matter by directing officials to ignore Democratic requests to testify and for relevant documents.

Key administration officials who refused to comply with subpoenas in the probe included Vice President Mike Pence, White House acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney and Pompeo.

Bolton refused a request by the House to testify, but later said he would testify in the Senate if subpoenaed.

Democrats sought to have Bolton testify in the trial, but senators voted along party lines Tuesday against all the Democrats’ proposed witnesses.

White House counsel Pat Cipollone, a member of Trump’s legal team, has accused Democrats of using the impeachment process to try to “steal” the 2020 election and said the president had a constitutional right to keep aides from testifying.

The Democrat-led House on Dec. 18 impeached Trump on the obstruction charge and a separate charge of abuse of power for allegedly trying to coerce Ukraine’s government into digging up dirt on the Bidens.

The impeachment trial in the Senate, just the third in US history, will determine whether Trump is ousted from power less than 10 months before he faces re-election.

The Constitution sets out the impeachment process for removing a president who commits “high crimes and misdemeanors.”

Trump adamantly denies any wrongdoing, while his GOP allies argue that his conduct does not rise to the level of an impeachable offense even if he did what the Democrats have accused him of.

Once Democrats conclude their opening arguments, Trump’s legal team will have up to 24 hours over three days to mount a defense. Senate Republicans are expected to acquit him. A two-thirds vote of the chamber is required to eject him from office.

Trump on Friday retweeted dozens of supporters who repeated his criticism of the proceedings as unfair and politically motivated.

The president also complained his lawyers would have to begin arguments on Saturday, when, he said, nobody watches TV.

“Looks like my lawyers will be forced to start on Saturday, which is called Death Valley in T.V.,” Trump tweeted.

As the trial neared the end of its first week, there was little sign that Senate Republicans were being persuaded by the Democratic case.

Democrats spent Thursday meticulously detailing their allegations that Trump only grew interested in corruption in Ukraine when it appeared that Biden could become a serious political threat.

During the proceedings, Democrats have argued the Senate should allow new witnesses such as Bolton to testify.

Republicans have resisted their push but have threatened to call a witness such as Joe or Hunter Biden in retaliation.

With Post wires



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