US Democrats make opening arguments against Trump in impeachment trial

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U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R) heads to the Senate Chamber during Day 2 of the Senate impeachment trial on Capitol Hill in Washington D.C., the United States, on Jan. 22, 2020. [Photo/Xinhua]

U.S. House impeachment managers, a group of seven House Democrats acting as prosecutors, started making their opening arguments Wednesday on why President Donald Trump should be convicted and removed from office, as an impeachment trial in the Senate entered the second day.

Adam Schiff, the lead manager who, as the House Intelligence Committee chairman, has led the impeachment inquiry, provided his reasoning -- based on findings in the House investigation -- of why Trump's dealings with Ukraine and his ignoring Congress's investigative power amounted to impeachable offenses, arguing that the president should be convicted and removed.

In remarks reminding the senators of their duty to act impartially, the California Democrat said the U.S. Constitution entrusts the senators in the trial "to the responsibility of acting as impartial jurors, have a fair trial and weigh the evidence before you no matter what your party affiliation or vote in the previous election or the next, our duty is to the Constitution and the rule of law."

If Trump is not convicted and removed from office for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, Schiff warned, future presidents will "operate as if they too are also beyond the reach of accountability, congressional oversight, and the law."

As Schiff delivered his speech, the White House reportedly circulated talking points against the impeachment. "Our founding fathers feared that impeachment would be abused as a partisan tool -- rather than the grave remedy it was intended to be," it said.

According to a resolution the Senate approved early Wednesday after over 12 hours of contentious debate, House managers and Trump's legal defense team each have 24 hours to present their opening statements. Each side, if they decide to use up the time allocated to them, is required to wrap up their arguments in three days. 

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