President Donald Trump's legal defense team took their opening day in the Senate impeachment trial of their client to accuse Democrats of trying to unseat a duly elected president on flimsy charges that he abused his power and obstructed Congress.
"They are here to perpetuate the most massive interference in an American election in US history," White House lawyer Pat Cipollone said in his opening statement on the floor of the Republican-led chamber. "They are asking you not only to overturn the results of the last election but as I've said before, they are asking you to remove President Trump from the ballot in an election that is occurring in approximately nine months."
After three days of presentations by the Democrats making the case against the president, Trump's lawyers said they plan to deliver the bulk of their case on Monday and Tuesday laying out facts they argue will be sufficient to "sink the Democrats case."
Deputy White House counsel Mike Purpura speaking during the impeachment proceedings said his team will present six "key facts" that will show the president did nothing wrong when he asked Ukraine to investigate his political rival, Joe Biden.
Among those facts Purpura said was that Trump asked Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy to investigate the Biden matter after raising concerns about potential corruption.
"Everyone knows by now President Trump asked Presidents Zelenskiy to do us a favor and he made clear that the US referred to our country and not himself," Purpura argued. "Presidents Zelenskiy and other Ukrainian officials have repeatedly said that there was no quid pro quo and no pressure on them to review anything."
Jay Sekulow, attorney for President Trump, accused Democratic prosecutors of omitting key evidence when they presented their case and is urging Senate members to acquit his client on charges that he abused his power and obstructed Congress.
"This case is really not about presidential wrongdoing," Sekulow argued. "This entire impeachment process is about the House manager's insistence that they are able to read everybody's thoughts. They can read everybody's intention, even when the principal speakers, the witnesses themselves, insist that those interpretations are wrong."
The first part of Trump's defense lasted only two hours and as soon as the Senate was adjourned, House impeachment managers and other high-ranking Democratic leaders took to the cameras and Twitter accusing Trump's legal team of "trying to deflect, distract from, and distort the truth."
Lead impeachment prosecutor, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) tweeted that today's proceedings showed the president's lawyers did not "contest the facts of Trump's scheme" while Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said, "I don't think the president's counsel did a very good job - there are gaping holes in their testimony."
Schumer added that there was a "compelling case" for why the Senate should allow new witnesses to testify and permit new documents to be introduced as part of the Senate's impeachment proceedings.
"We have been making the argument that we need witnesses, we need documents," Schumer said during a press conference. "We are making the argument it won't take very long to get them as part of a trial. Today, we thank the president's counsel for one thing: they made our case even stronger."
President Trump's attorneys will continue to make their case on Monday.