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White House will wait for Senate trial to address impeachment charges

Kitco News

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Donald Trump will address the two impeachment charges brought by Democrats on Tuesday during the U.S. Senate trial phase of the proceedings - continuing to opt not to argue the merits of the charges ahead of an expected vote in the U.S. House, the White House said.

“The President will address these false charges in the Senate and expects to be fully exonerated, because he did nothing wrong,” White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham said in a statement. The statement did not make clear how he would address the charges.

In an interview with Fox News, Grisham, asked whether Trump would testify, said she did not know.

“I’m not going to get ahead of what he may do,” she said, but added that Trump’s White House legal team would certainly participate.

The White House and Trump’s political apparatus - which include his re-election campaign and the Republican National Committee - have opted to attack the impeachment process instead of engaging in a debate about the facts that Democrats have presented.

Calling the process partisan and lacking in fairness, Trump and his allies have sought to paint his Democratic accusers as trying to undo his 2016 election.

Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives announced formal charges against Trump on Tuesday, accusing him of abusing power by pressuring Ukraine to probe a political rival and obstructing Congress’ investigation into the scandal.

The House could vote as soon as next week. The charges conclude weeks of investigation and hearings, which Trump has derided as one-sided and failing to offer him a fair opportunity to present his side. The White House has refused repeated requests for senior officials to testify and for relevant documents.

The House is almost certain to approve impeachment along partisan lines. A trial would then likely be held in the Senate in January, where members of Trump’s party control the chamber. No Republican in the House or Senate has come out in favor of convicting Trump and thus removing him from office.

Trump and his allies have sought to depict the impeachment process as a net gain for the president - arguing that the Democratic-led effort has pushed his supporters to more staunchly back him. Republicans are also trying to leverage the process to attack House Democrats who represent districts the party may be able to pick up in the 2020 election.

“The announcement of two baseless articles of impeachment does not hurt the President, it hurts the American people, who expect their elected officials to work on their behalf to strengthen our Nation,” Grisham said in a statement.

Reporting by Ginger Gibson, Steve Holland and Doina Chiacu; Editing by Lisa Lambert

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