WASHINGTON — U.S. House Democrats on Monday made their closing arguments for removing President Donald Trump from office, insisting that leaving him in the White House guarantees he’ll cheat in the 2020 presidential election.
“He has done it before. He will do it again. What are the odds if left in office, that he will continue trying to cheat?” Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), the lead House impeachment manager, said Monday afternoon.
“I will tell you: 100%. Not 5, not 10 or even 50, but 100%,” Schiff, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, said in a fiery closing speech to senators who are set to vote Wednesday on whether to remove Trump from office.
The GOP-controlled Senate is all but certain to fall short of the 67-vote supermajority that would be needed to convict. If Trump is acquitted as expected, he will be the third U.S. president impeached by the House and acquitted by the Senate.
Georgia’s newly appointed U.S. Sen. Kelly Loeffler confirmed Monday in her first speech from the Senate floor that she will vote to acquit the president. She scolded U.S. House members who approved articles of impeachment and the media for focusing on stories that led to the investigation.
“For the last 132 days, Congress has been neglecting the American people,” Loeffler said in a session broadcast on CSPAN. “I came here to get things done for Georgians. But for the last two weeks we’ve been stuck in a Senate chamber working on something most Americans have little interest in.”
Loeffler, a wealthy Republican businesswoman new to politics, spent her first month in office in January shuttling between Washington and Georgia meet-and-greets to introduce herself to her new constituents.
“When I’ve been around the state, it’s clear this is not what people at home care about,” Loeffler said. “Georgians aren’t losing sleep over a call the president made or questioning his constitutional right to conduct foreign policy. They’re concerned with taking care of their families, their job, their freedom to achieve the American dream and live the lives they imagined.”
She wrapped up her remarks with an oft-repeated GOP refrain in recent days – let the voters decide if they want to change presidents in November’s election.
“I say, enough. Let’s put our trust in the American people to make the decision and they will do that in nine months,” she said.
Even with Trump’s removal highly unlikely, Schiff and his fellow House Democrats implored senators on Monday to unseat the president, warning that failing to do so would set a dangerous precedent for future occupants of the White House. The House voted in December to impeach Trump for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, alleging that he had improperly pressured Ukraine’s president to launch an investigation into Trump’s political rival.
“What you decide on these articles will have lasting implications for the future of the presidency, not only for this president, but for all future presidents,” said Rep. Jason Crow (D-Colo.). “Whether or not the office of the presidency of the United States of America is above the law — that is the question.”
Democrats also attacked the president personally during their closing arguments.
This trial is “most certainly about character,” said Rep. Val Demings (D-Fla.). She said she has been reminded of her father, who worked multiple jobs and was “decent, honest” and a “man of integrity.”
She sought to contrast him with the president. “The president’s lawyer never spoke about the president’s character during this trial, and I find that quite telling.”
Trump’s attorneys accused the Democratic lawmakers of pursuing a partisan impeachment. They defended Trump’s behavior and argued that removing him from office would negate the results of the 2016 presidential election. They accused Democrats — rather than Trump — of attempting to interfere in the upcoming 2020 presidential contest.
“What the House Democrats have done to this nation, to the Constitution, to the office of the president, to the president himself and to this body is outrageous,” Trump attorney Jay Sekulow told senators. “They have cheapened the awesome power of impeachment.”
White House counsel Pat Cipollone said of the effort to remove Trump: “At the end of the day, this is an effort to overturn the results of one election and to try to interfere in the coming election that begins today in Iowa.”
Both sides’ closing remarks came hours before the Democrats were set to begin the Iowa caucuses — the first nominating contest in the lead up the 2020 election.
Trump wrote on Twitter Monday, “I hope Republicans & the American people realize that the totally partisan Impeachment Hoax is exacty that, a Hoax.”
Schiff rebuffed the White House lawyers’ arguments that it should be left to voters to decide in November whether Trump should remain in office.
“We must look at the history of this presidency and to the character of this president — or lack of character — and ask, ‘Can we be confident that he will not continue to try to cheat in that very election?’”
Schiff added, “You can’t trust this president to do the right thing, not for one minute, not for one election, not for the sake of our country. You just can’t. He will not change and you know it.”
Editor-in-chief John McCosh contributed to this report.