WATCH LIVE: Senate floor belongs to President Trump’s team as defense case in impeachment trial opens

The floor of the U.S. Senate now belongs to President Donald Trump’s lawyers as they push the Republican-led chamber for an acquittal on charges that he abused his power and obstructed Congress.The president’s attorneys will begin their arguments Saturday in the impeachment trial and are expected to insist the president did nothing wrong when he asked Ukraine’s leader to investigate political rival Joe Biden. The attorneys have foreshadowed an aggressive, wide-ranging defense that will assert an expansive view of presidential powers and paint Trump as besieged by political opponents determined to undo the results of the last election and ensure his defeat in the next one. They are also expected to try to put Biden on the defensive as he campaigns for a first-place finish in the Iowa caucuses next month.”They put their case forward. It’s our time next,” said Trump attorney Jay Sekulow. The opening of the defense’s case comes after a three-day presentation by House Democrats, who as they wrapped up Friday warned that the president will persist in abusing his power and endangering American democracy unless Congress intervenes to remove him before the 2020 election. They implored Republicans to allow new testimony to be heard before they render a final verdict. “Give America a fair trial,” said Rep. Adam Schiff, the lead Democratic impeachment manager. “She’s worth it.”Schiff closed Democrats’ case after three days of methodical and impassioned arguments detailing charges that Trump abused power by asking Ukraine for politically motivated probes of political rivals, then obstructed Congress’ investigation into the matter.Trump’s lawyers get their first chance to defend him Saturday, and are expected to argue that he was within his rights as president when he asked Ukraine for the investigation.In making their case that Trump invited Ukraine to interfere in the 2020 election, the seven Democratic prosecutors peppered their arguments with video clips, email correspondence and lessons in American history.Republicans who found the presentation tedious and redundant can expect differences in tone and style from Trump’s lawyers, who plan to attack the impeachment as much on political as legal grounds.”It’s really trying to remove the president from the ballot in 2020. They don’t trust the American people to make a decision,” Sekulow said.Defense lawyers have signaled that they’ll cast Trump as a victim not only of Democratic outrage but also of overzealous agents and prosecutors.They’ll likely invoke mistakes made by the FBI in its surveillance of a former Trump campaign aide in the now-concluded Russia probe. In response to allegations that he invited foreign interference, they’ve already argued that it’s no different than Hillary Clinton’s campaign’s use of a former British spy to gather opposition research on Trump in 2016. With acquittal likely — Republicans hold a 53-47 majority in the Senate, and a two-thirds vote would be required for conviction — the defense team is also arguing to an American public that heads to the polls in 10 months.Trump, eyes on the audience beyond the Senate chamber, bemoaned the schedule in a tweet, saying it “looks like my lawyers will be forced to start on Saturday, which is called Death Valley in T.V.”Arguments are scheduled for just a few hours Saturday in what defense lawyers called a sneak preview. They’ll continue Monday.

The floor of the U.S. Senate now belongs to President Donald Trump’s lawyers as they push the Republican-led chamber for an acquittal on charges that he abused his power and obstructed Congress.

The president’s attorneys will begin their arguments Saturday in the impeachment trial and are expected to insist the president did nothing wrong when he asked Ukraine’s leader to investigate political rival Joe Biden.

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The attorneys have foreshadowed an aggressive, wide-ranging defense that will assert an expansive view of presidential powers and paint Trump as besieged by political opponents determined to undo the results of the last election and ensure his defeat in the next one. They are also expected to try to put Biden on the defensive as he campaigns for a first-place finish in the Iowa caucuses next month.

“They put their case forward. It’s our time next,” said Trump attorney Jay Sekulow.

The opening of the defense’s case comes after a three-day presentation by House Democrats, who as they wrapped up Friday warned that the president will persist in abusing his power and endangering American democracy unless Congress intervenes to remove him before the 2020 election. They implored Republicans to allow new testimony to be heard before they render a final verdict.

“Give America a fair trial,” said Rep. Adam Schiff, the lead Democratic impeachment manager. “She’s worth it.”

Schiff closed Democrats’ case after three days of methodical and impassioned arguments detailing charges that Trump abused power by asking Ukraine for politically motivated probes of political rivals, then obstructed Congress’ investigation into the matter.

Trump’s lawyers get their first chance to defend him Saturday, and are expected to argue that he was within his rights as president when he asked Ukraine for the investigation.

In making their case that Trump invited Ukraine to interfere in the 2020 election, the seven Democratic prosecutors peppered their arguments with video clips, email correspondence and lessons in American history.

Republicans who found the presentation tedious and redundant can expect differences in tone and style from Trump’s lawyers, who plan to attack the impeachment as much on political as legal grounds.

“It’s really trying to remove the president from the ballot in 2020. They don’t trust the American people to make a decision,” Sekulow said.

Defense lawyers have signaled that they’ll cast Trump as a victim not only of Democratic outrage but also of overzealous agents and prosecutors.

They’ll likely invoke mistakes made by the FBI in its surveillance of a former Trump campaign aide in the now-concluded Russia probe. In response to allegations that he invited foreign interference, they’ve already argued that it’s no different than Hillary Clinton’s campaign’s use of a former British spy to gather opposition research on Trump in 2016.

With acquittal likely — Republicans hold a 53-47 majority in the Senate, and a two-thirds vote would be required for conviction — the defense team is also arguing to an American public that heads to the polls in 10 months.

Trump, eyes on the audience beyond the Senate chamber, bemoaned the schedule in a tweet, saying it “looks like my lawyers will be forced to start on Saturday, which is called Death Valley in T.V.”

Arguments are scheduled for just a few hours Saturday in what defense lawyers called a sneak preview. They’ll continue Monday.