Trump lawyer Jay Sekulow opened the second day of President Trump’s impeachment defense on Monday by declaring that the president’s legal team won’t get drawn into “speculation,” an apparent reference to the furor surrounding reported Ukraine allegations in a manuscript written by John Bolton.
“We do not deal with speculation, allegations that are not based on evidentiary standards at all,” Mr. Sekulow told senators. He said the president’s legal team will deal only with evidence.
The day also featured the first arguments on the Senate floor by former independent counsel Ken Starr, another member of the president’s team. He began delivering an overview of how Congress got to “the age of impeachment,” and warned of the “profound danger that a presidential impeachment will be dominated by partisan considerations.”
“The nation’s most recent experience, the Clinton impeachment, even though severely and roundly criticized, charged crimes,” said Mr. Starr, who is still scorned by many on the Left for leading the impeachment of President Bill Clinton in 1998.
Referring to his role two decades ago, Mr. Starr said, “Like war, impeachment is hell. Or at least presidential impeachment is hell. It’s filled with acrimony and it divides the country like nothing else. Those of us who lived through the Clinton impeachment understand that in a deep and personal way.”
Mr. Starr said the impeachment of Mr. Trump doesn’t meet historical standards because no crime has been charged, the House vote was not bipartisan, and the House inquiry was “dripping with fundamental process violations.”
“The very divisive Clinton impeachment demonstrates, while highly relevant, the commission of a crime is by no means sufficient to warrant the removal of a duly elected president,” Mr. Starr said.
In the case of Mr. Trump’s impeachment, he said, “There is no national consensus. We might wish for one, but there isn’t.”
“Impeachment must be bipartisan in nature,” Mr. Starr told senators. “This body should signal to the nation the return to our traditions — bipartisan impeachments.”
Several Republican senators say they are more eager to hear testimony from Mr. Bolton, the president’s former national security adviser, based on a forthcoming book in which he allegedly confirms that Mr. Trump told him of withholding military aid to Ukraine to get an investigation of Democratic candidate Joseph R. Biden.
Mr. Sekulow said the president was only interested in investigating corruption involving Mr. Biden and his son, Hunter.
“Asking a foreign leader to get to the bottom of issues of corruption is not a violation of his oath,” Mr. Sekulow said.
The president’s lawyer said the impeachment case is actually about “deep policy differences” between congressional Democrats and the president.
“That should not be the basis of an impeachment,” he said.
The trial day opened with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and the Senate chaplain noting the birthday of Supreme Court Chief Justice John G. Roberts, who turned 65 on Monday.
“I’m sure this is exactly how you planned to celebrate today,” Mr. McConnell quipped to Justice Roberts.
Justice Roberts thanked senators “for not asking for the ‘yays’ and ‘nays.’ ”
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