President Donald Trump's impeachment trial began in earnest in the Senate on Tuesday afternoon.
Shortly after House impeachment manager, Congressman Adam Schiff (D-CA), laid out the evidence against the President unveiled by House Democrats, one of Trump's defense attorneys—Jay Sekulow—asked a question in his rebuttal.
"Why are we here? Are we here because of a phone call? Or are we here, before this great body, because since the president was sworn into office there was a desire to see him removed?"
Trump attorney Jay Sekulow: "Why are we here? Are we here because of a phone call? Or are we here, before this grea… https://t.co/SOher4d1jS— ABC News (@ABC News) 1579634998.0
In case you're in need of a refresher:
An anonymous whistleblower report reported a conversation between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, in which Trump urged Zelensky to announce investigations into former Vice President and 2020 presidential contender Joe Biden and into conspiracy theories about Ukrainian meddling in the 2016 election.
Witness testimony and corroborating documents further indicated that Trump withheld $391 million of congressionally approved military aid to Ukraine in exchange for the announcement of investigations. This evidence also signaled an improper channel in which the President's personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, conducted foreign policy talks for the President's personal benefit.
The White House blocked all firsthand witnesses and relevant documents requested by the House, resulting in an additional article of impeachment for obstruction of Congress.
The House of Representatives then voted to impeach the President, spurring a trial in the Senate.
In short: Trump's actions, brought to light by the telephone call with Zelensky, point to foreign policy decisions being dictated by what's most politically beneficial to the President.
People didn't hesitate to remind Sekulow of just why it is that we are here.
Jay Sekulow asks why are we here? It's pretty simple, Jay. President Trump abused his power by directly soliciting… https://t.co/uHpYIJTgMt— Ahmed Baba (@Ahmed Baba) 1579634733.0
@ABC Or are we here because he systematically over a long period sabotaged the security of an ally against Russia f… https://t.co/pj4JOtvvH7— 8 billion and more (@8 billion and more) 1579635265.0
Jay Sekulow: “Why are we here? Because of a phone call?” Yes, Jay...you’re exactly right. Trump got caught on a ph… https://t.co/UbPRT8bYAx— Lydia (@Lydia) 1579634748.0
@ABC We are here because he committed a crime.— Heartdoc (@Heartdoc) 1579635243.0
Why are we here? We’re here because we have crooked president and administration, if 45 didn’t do anything wrong th… https://t.co/p87zB4YKnj— Anthony Davis (@Anthony Davis) 1579634715.0
@ABC How does this man sleep at night? His client broke the law - he extorted an ally and obstructed justice. No am… https://t.co/Ozs6moHLa8— Caryn Bregman (@Caryn Bregman) 1579636648.0
It's worth noting that Sekulow himself has been implicated by Giuliani associate Lev Parnas, who produced an email from Sekulow to another Trump attorney, John Dowd. Sekulow says in the email that he spoke with the President about Dowd representing Parnas against congressional subpoenas.
Sekulow's own email contradicted numerous denials by Trump that he had any idea who Parnas was.
@chrislhayes This email from Sekulow to Dowd saying President is ok with Dowd representing Parnas and Lev. WTH https://t.co/YCuXk5Vdnn— bcs (@bcs) 1579046102.0
Bottom line: People aren't buying Sekulow's spin.
Sekulow claims the Mueller report found no obstruction, which is a complete lie. Mueller wrote about many instances… https://t.co/cGudv5yWJw— Amee Vanderpool (@Amee Vanderpool) 1579634713.0
Sekulow's argument—delivered in his best outraged lawyer voice—is that Trump got away with soliciting and concealin… https://t.co/sbo1w0VtjV— Susan Hennessey (@Susan Hennessey) 1579634826.0
Please recall, Jay Sekulow told the American people Donald Trump had nothing to do with drafting the summary of wha… https://t.co/PDEJfM4xis— Glenn Kirschner (@Glenn Kirschner) 1579634583.0
The Senate trial of Donald Trump is just beginning.