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Trump impeachment: Legal team says charges ‘brazen and unlawful’

US President Donald Trump speaks during an event honouring the 2019 college football national champions, the Louisiana State University Tigers, in the East Room of the White House in Washington on 17 January, 2020. Image copyright AFP
Image caption Opening statements in the impeachment trial against Mr Trump will begin next week

US President Donald Trump’s legal team has given its first formal response to the impeachment case against him, describing the charges as a “dangerous attack” on the American people.

The six-page letter said the impeachment articles failed to allege any crime and were a “brazen” attempt to interfere with the 2020 election.

The response came as the Democrats filed their brief for the proceedings.

Opening statements in the trial will begin next week.

Mr Trump is the third US president in history to face an impeachment trial. He is accused of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. He has denied wrongdoing and branded the case against him as a “hoax”.

The House, controlled by opposition Democrats, impeached the president last month. The Senate, controlled by Mr Trump’s Republican Party, will decide whether to convict and remove him from office.

In their brief filed earlier on Saturday, the Democrats laid out their arguments supporting the charges against Mr Trump.

They said the president had “abandoned his oath to faithfully execute the laws and betrayed his public trust”, and called his conduct the “worst nightmare” of the country’s founding fathers.

What did Trump’s lawyers say?

The six-page response written by Mr Trump’s legal team outlines the defence it expects to use in the upcoming trial.

It said the articles of impeachment submitted by House Democrats were a “dangerous attack on the right of the American people to freely choose their president.”

“This is a brazen and unlawful attempt to overturn the results of the 2016 election and interfere with the 2020 election, now just months away,” they argued.

What is he accused of doing?

President Trump is accused of pressuring Ukraine to dig up damaging information on one of his main Democratic challengers for the presidency in 2020, Joe Biden, and his son Hunter.

Hunter worked for a Ukrainian company when Joe Biden was US vice-president.

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Media captionWhat does it take to impeach a president?

The president is accused of dangling two things as bargaining chips to Ukraine – withholding $400m of military aid to Ukraine that had already been allocated by Congress, and a White House meeting for Ukraine’s president.

Democrats say this amounts to an abuse of presidential power.

Mr Trump is also accused of obstructing Congress by refusing to co-operate with the congressional inquiry.


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