President Trump could sell Alaska back to Russia if the Senate does not remove him from office, according to Sen. Adam Schiff who is leading the House’s impeachment case against him.
Schiff, a California Democrat, made the claim during his closing arguments Monday in the impeachment trial of Trump.
“Trump could offer Alaska to the Russians in exchange for support in the next election, or decide to move to Mar-a-Lago permanently and let Jared Kushner run the country, delegating to him the decision whether to go to war,” Schiff said.
Mar-a-Lago is the president’s Florida resort; Kushner is his adviser and son-in-law.
The impeachment drama neared its conclusion a day before Trump is due to give his annual State of the Union speech to Congress. In Iowa on Monday, voters participated in the first contest in the state-by-state process of choosing the Democratic nominee to challenge Trump in the Nov. 3 election.
Trump’s personal lawyer Jay Sekulow urged senators to “stand firm.”
“This was the first totally partisan presidential impeachment in our nation’s history. And it should be our last,” Sekulow said. “What the House Democrats have done to this nation, to the Constitution, to the office of the president, to the president himself and to this body is outrageous. They have cheapened the awesome power of impeachment.”
Schiff makes his closing argument in the impeachment trial
Schiff made his accusations saying he was responding to arguments by Trump’s defense team that a president cannot be removed from office if he believes his political benefit is in the best interest of the country.
Alan Dershowitz, a lawyer for Trump in the impeachment trial, has denied he made that claim. He said he argued that political considerations are an intrinsic part of the job, cannot be separated from it and that Trump had other motivations for seeking an inquiry into the dealings of Joe Biden’s son, Hunter Biden, with a Ukrainian energy company.
The House impeached Trump with accusations of abusing his power in withholding military aid to Ukraine and obstructing Congress from investigation the matter.
“We have proven Donald Trump guilty. Now do impartial justice and convict him,” Schiff told the 100-member Senate.
On Wednesday, the Republican-controlled Senate is set to vote on whether to remove Trump from office. It looked more certain to acquit him after Sen. Lisa Murkowski, a Republican moderate from Alaska, said in a speech Monday evening that she would not vote to convict despite calling Trump’s actions “shameful and wrong.”
Sen. Joe Manchin, a Democratic moderate from West Virginia, said he had not decided on whether to vote to acquit Trump and saw “no path” to the two-thirds majority needed to remove a president. But Manchin predicted that a bipartisan majority in the Senate would vote to censure Trump for his actions, a lesser rebuke.
None of the 53 Senate Republicans has called for conviction.
“The answer is elections’
Sekulow said neither charge brought against Trump represented an impeachable offense and accused Democrats of seeking to negate the 2016 election and subvert the will of the American people.
“The answer is elections, not impeachment,” Sekulow said.
“The president has done nothing wrong,” White House Counsel Pat Cipollone added. “We can, together, end the era of impeachment.”
The Senate voted on Friday not to hear from any witnesses, including Trump’s former National Security Adviser John Bolton, who in an unpublished book depicts Trump as playing a central role in pressuring Ukraine. Only two Republicans, moderate Sens. Mitt Romney of Utah and Susan Collins of Maine, voted to hear witnesses.
Senators will be making speeches on the matter until Wednesday, when a vote on whether Trump is guilty is scheduled at 4 p.m. Eastern time.
Trump is only the third U.S. president to be impeached. No president has ever been removed from office through impeachment. President Richard Nixon resigned in 1974 before the full House could impeach him.
(Reporting by Trevor Hunnicutt, Joseph Ax, Tim Reid, Simon Lewis, Jarrett Renshaw and Ginger Gibson; writing by John Whitesides; editing by Colleen Jenkins, Howard Goller and Peter Cooney; Pluralist contributed to this report.)