Jay Sekulow, Mr. Trump’s lawyer, said the impeachment process laid out by the founders requires the Senate to rise above the political fray and cast aside “leaks and unsourced manuscripts,” a reference to Bolton’s yet-to-be-published book that reportedly claims the president linked aid to Ukraine to investigations into his political rivals.
“What we are involved in here as we conclude is perhaps the most solemn of duties under our constitutional framework: the trial of the leader of the free world and the duly elected president of the United States,” Sekulow said. “It is not a game of leaks and unsourced manuscripts. That’s politics unfortunately, and Hamilton put impeachment in the hands of this body, the Senate, precisely and specifically to be above that fray.”
During his concluding remarks, Sekulow invoked former FBI Director James Comey and special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election, as well as Lisa Page and Peter Strzok, the former FBI officials found to have exchanged derogatory messages about Mr. Trump.
“You can’t view this case in a vacuum,” he said, stressing that senators are “being asked to remove a duly-elected president of the United States.”
“You’re being asked to do it in an election year,” Sekulow said. “There are some of you in this chamber right now that would rather be someplace else.”
Sekulow said senators, acting as jurors, are being asked to remove the president based on “policy differences.”
“You can impeach the president of the United States for asking a question?” he said.
Sekulow stressed that Mr. Trump’s conduct does not rise to the level of impeachment and cited statements from the president, vice president’s chief of staff and the Justice Department that refuted the details of Bolton’s manuscript revealed by The New York Times.
“You cannot impeach a president on an unsourced allegation,” he said, claiming the manuscript is “inadmissible.”
While Sekulow suggested The Times’ reports on the manuscript are “unsourced,” the documents belong to Bolton and neither he nor his attorney refuted the details of the articles.
Sekulow also seemed as if he were attempting to head off the need for additional testimony from Bolton or other witnesses.
“Are you going to allow proceedings on impeachment to go from a New York Times report about someone that says what they hear is in a manuscript? Is that where we are? I don’t think so. I hope not,” he said. — Melissa Quinn