Factbox: ‘Midnight in Washington’ – quotes from Trump’s impeachment trial


WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Even with acquittal seemingly assured, the Democrats prosecuting U.S. President Donald Trump in his impeachment trial unleashed a blistering attack on him on Monday with a forceful appeal for conviction, calling him a man with no ethical compass who must be removed from office to protect American democracy.

The Republican president’s lawyers in their own arguments called the case against him politically motivated, reckless and baseless, and said the allegations did not rise to the level of impeachable offenses.

Here are some quotes from the closing arguments:

Representative Adam Schiff, Democrat and the lead House impeachment manager:

“It is midnight in Washington. … How did we get here?”

“These undeniable facts require the president to retreat to his final defense: he’s guilty as sin, but can’t we just let the voters decide? He’s guilty as sin, but why not let the voters clean up this mess?”

“Can we be confident that he will not continue to try to cheat in that very (2020) election? Can we be confident that Americans and not foreign powers will get to decide and that the president will shun any further foreign interference in our democratic affairs? And the short, plain, sad, incontestable answer is no, you can’t.”

“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.”

“If you find that the House has proved its case and still vote to acquit, your name will be tied to his with a cord of steel and for all of history, but if you find the courage to stand up to him, to speak the awful truth to his rank falsehood, your place will be among the Davids who took on Goliath,” Schiff said, appearing to address Republican senators in particular. “Is there one among you who will say, ‘enough’?”

Representative Hakeem Jeffries, Democrat, House impeachment manager:

“If the Senate chooses to acquit under these circumstances, then America is in the wilderness. If the Senate chooses to normalize lawlessness, if the Senate chooses to normalize corruption, if the Senate chooses to normalize presidential abuse of power, then America is in the wilderness.”

Representative Val Demings, Democrat, House impeachment manager:

“President Trump’s constitutional crimes, his crimes against the American people and the nation, remain in progress.”

Jay Sekulow, the president’s personal lawyer:

“These articles fail on their face as they do not meet the constitutional standard for impeachable offenses. No amount of testimony could change that fact. … What has occurred over the past two weeks, and really the past three months, was exactly what Alexander Hamilton and other founders of our great country feared.”

“They (the House Democrats) have cheapened the awesome power of impeachment, and unfortunately the country is not better for that.”

“The bottom line is that the president’s opponents don’t like the president, and they really don’t like his policies.”

White House Counsel Pat Cipollone: 

“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 (with Democratic caucuses) in Iowa.”

Trump defense team lawyer Ken Starr:

Starr asked senators whether Trump’s alleged actions amounted to a high crime or misdemeanor, the constitutional standard for impeachment, “one so grave and so serious (as) to bring about the profound disruption of the … government, and to tell the American people … ‘your vote in the last election is hereby declared null and void. And by the way, we’re not going to allow you, the American people, to sit in judgment on this president and his record in November.’

“That is neither freedom nor justice.”

Reporting by Susan Cornwell; Editing by Leslie Adler