President Trump’s legal team called the House’s impeachment case "flimsy" and a “dangerous perversion of the Constitution” in a trial memo filed Monday morning ahead of this week’s arguments to be heard on the Senate floor.
The 110-page filing claimed that the two articles of impeachment – abuse of power and obstruction of Congress – do not amount to impeachable offenses, and that the Democrat-led House inquiry was not a quest for the truth.
"Instead, House Democrats were determined from the outset to find some way – any way – to corrupt the extraordinary power of impeachment for use as a political tool to overturn the result of the 2016 election and to interfere in the 2020 election," Trump's filing said. "All of that is a dangerous perversion of the Constitution that the Senate should swiftly and roundly condemn."
House impeachment managers filed their own brief over the weekend. The 111-page filing included lengthy allegations that Trump abused the power of the presidency by soliciting foreign interference in a U.S. election and using military aid to Ukraine and a White House visit for Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to pressure Ukraine into announcing that they were investigating Trump’s political rivals. Trump is also accused of obstructing Congress by instructing potential witnesses not to testify before the House during the impeachment inquiry.
The House’s prosecution team said in its filing: “[The] Constitution provides a remedy when the President commits such serious abuses of his office: impeachment and removal."
And in a message directly aimed at the senators, who will serve as jurors in the trial, the House Democrats wrote: “The Senate must use that remedy now to safeguard the 2020 U.S. election, protect our constitutional form of government, and eliminate the threat that the President poses to America’s national security.”
Trump’s lawyers asserted that there is no evidence to support House Democrats’ claims, noting that Zelensky and other Ukrainian officials have stated that there was no quid pro quo or pressure placed on them to do anything.
The brief also points out that Trump eventually released the aid to Ukraine and held a meeting with Zelensky without them doing anything in return.
"President Trump had legitimate policy concerns about foreign aid," the memo said, claiming that Trump had put the military aid on hold due to "policy concerns" and that the aid was released after those concerns were later satisfied.
The House's brief included references to findings from Robert Mueller's Special Counsel's investigation of Russian election interference and concerns of obstruction of justice, claiming that the allegations in the articles of impeachment "were consistent with his prior solicitation and encouragement of Russia’s interference in the 2016 election" and "consistent with his previous efforts to obstruct investigations into foreign interference in U.S. elections."
Trump has never been charged with any wrongdoing related to the Russia probe, and his trial memo asserted that such claims have no place in the impeachment trial.
"The Senate cannot expand the scope of a trial to consider mere assertions appearing in House reports that the House did not include in the articles of impeachment submitted to a vote," the memo said.
Trump's attorneys also aimed to blast a hole through the articles of impeachment, calling for the president's immediate acquittal because they do not include impeachable offenses.
"After focus-group testing various charges for weeks, House Democrats settled on two flimsy Articles of Impeachment that allege no crime or violation of law whatsoever—much less 'high Crimes and Misdemeanors,' as required by the Constitution," they wrote.
They called the abuse of power charge "a made-up theory" that is "constitutionally defective." They also defended Trump against the charge of obstruction of Congress by claiming that the president was merely invoking a constitutionally based privilege meant to preserve the separation of powers.
The Democratic impeachment managers spent Monday morning preparing for the trial, touring the Senate chamber. Tuesday will see the beginning of proceedings on the Senate floor with a debate over rules to be followed by opening arguments.
Fox News’ Marisa Schultz and The Associated Press contributed to this report.