On Day One of the opening arguments of the Senate impeachment trial, one of President Donald Trump’s legal representatives at the proceedings asked a very peculiar question: just why are we here in the first place?
“Why are we here?” Jay Sekulow asked in a rhetorical manner on Tuesday, according to reporting from Second Nexus. “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?”
Anyone who has been paying close attention to the Ukraine scandal, the impeachment inquiry, and the subsequent vote for impeachment understands that the situation is not just about a single phone call — referring to a phone conversation that took place between Trump and Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky in July.
In fact, the controversy with Ukraine — in which Trump, his personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, and several members of his administration sought to coerce Kyiv into investigating a potential political rival of the president’s, withholding military aid to that nation in order to do so — started many months before that phone call even happened, and lasted months after it went down.
Late on Tuesday evening, Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, one of the House managers arguing in favor of indicting Trump in the Senate impeachment trial, directed his comments toward Sekulow’s statements from earlier in the day.
“We are here, sir, because President Trump pressured a foreign government to target an American citizen for political and personal gain,” Jeffries said in his statement. “We are here, sir, because President Trump solicited foreign interference in the 2020 election and corrupted our democracy. We are here, sir, because President Trump withheld $391 million in military aid, from a vulnerable Ukraine, without justification, in a manner that has been deemed unlawful.”
Trump's lawyer asked: Why are we here?
We are here, sir, because President Trump solicited foreign interference in the 2020 election and corrupted our democracy.
We are here, sir, because President Trump elevated his personal political interests over our national interest. pic.twitter.com/8KIKqmsrFE
— House Intelligence Committee (@HouseIntel) January 22, 2020
We are here, sir, because President Donald Trump elevated his personal political interests, and subordinated the national security interests of the United States of America.
We are here, sir, because President Trump corruptly abused his power and then he tried to cover it up.
And we are here, sir, to follow the facts, apply the law, be guided by the Constitution, and present the truth to the American people.
“That is why we are here, Mr. Sekulow, and if you don’t know, now you know,” Jeffries concluded.