White House Counsel Pat Cipollone on Saturday opened the defense case at President Trump’s impeachment trial by accusing the Democratic prosecutors of attempting the biggest election meddling scheme in U.S. history.
Mr. Cipollone, addressing the Senate a day after House impeachment managers completed nearly 24 hours of presenting their case, said the Democrats left out key evidence in a quest to undo the 2016 election and tear him from the ballot in 2020.
“They are asking you to tear up all the ballots across this county,” he said. “I don’t think they spend one minute talking about the consequences of that for our country.”
He then accused the Democrats of the same offense they have charged Mr. Trump: attempting to cheat in an election.
“They are here to perpetrate the most massive interference in an election in U.S. history,” said Mr. Cipollone.
President Trump’s defense team hit lead impeachment manager Adam Schiff over his contacts with the alleged whistleblower Saturday, suggesting Mr. Schiff’s conduct at the start of the impeachment inquiry in the House will be a sticking point in the defense’s strategy.
Patrick Philbin, deputy counsel to the president, referenced a transcript being withheld by Mr. Schiff’s committee that could be helpful to the president’s defense team, pointing to the inspector general for the intelligence community, who raised the issue of the whistleblower’s political bias.
“We don’t know what exactly the political bias was because the inspector general testified in the House committees in an executive session and that transcript is still secret. It wasn’t transmitted to the House Judiciary Committee,” Mr. Philbin said.
The revelation of the closely held transcript was reported by The Washington Times Jan. 23, noting the significance of the classified material.
“We don’t know what he was asked and what he believed about the whistleblower,” Mr. Philbin added. “You would think before going forward with an impeachment proceeding against the President of the United States, you would want to find something out about the complainant that started all of it.”
Mr. Philbin suggested the reason some of this information is being withheld is because Mr. Schiff first denied having contact with the whistleblower, but then it was later revealed his staff did communicate with the whistleblower.
“He was an interested fact witness at that point,” said Mr. Philbin. “He had been caught out saying something that wasn’t truthful about that contact he had — a reason to not want that inquiry.”
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