Trump trial closing arguments aim at voters, history

WASHINGTON, United States (AP) — Closing arguments in President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial are unfolding Monday as much for history as any effort to sway votes, one final chance to influence public opinion and set the record ahead of his expected acquittal in the Republican-led Senate.

Senators acknowledge the House Democratic managers have essentially proven their case, that Trump abused power and obstructed Congress, by leveraging US military aid to push Ukraine to investigate political rival Joe Biden to thwart the 2020 election.

But key Republicans have decided the president’s actions toward Ukraine do not rise to the level of impeachable offenses that warrant the dramatic upheaval of conviction and removal from office. His acquittal in Wednesday’s vote is all but assured.

All that’s left, as the Senate opened for four hours of final arguments is for Americans to decide what they think as the third presidential impeachment trial in the nation’s history begins to close. Democrats argue “right matters,” while Trump’s GOP allies contend it is time to end the partisan proceeding.

House managers opened with a plea from Rep. Jason Crow, D-Colo, a freshman, who told the chamber: “We cannot and should not leave our common sense at the door.”

The former Army Ranger invoked the founding fathers and even Republican Barry Goldwater from the Nixon-era impeachment proceedings to intone: “In America, no one is above the law, even those elected president of the United States. I would say — especially those elected president of the United States.”

The Senate proceedings are set against a sweeping political backstop, as voters in Iowa on Monday are choosing presidential Democratic primary candidates in early voting and Trump is poised Tuesday to deliver his State of the Union address in his own victory lap before Congress.