The roughly six-page response — which they stressed is different from the brief that is not due until Monday — will address “both the procedural and the substantive issues raised in the articles of impeachment,” the sources said.
Reading several lines from the forthcoming response, the sources demonstrated the aggressive nature of the document.
“In the end, this entire process is nothing more than a dangerous attack on the American people themselves and their right to vote,” one of the sources said.
One of the sources described the articles of impeachment as “constitutionally invalid on their face” and said the response will address both articles. The sources said the response will argue the first article, abuse of power, alleges no violation of law and said does “lasting damage to the separation of powers.”
They said the argument against the second article, obstruction of Congress, will involve claiming Trump was within his rights to ignore what they will describe as invalid requests from Congress. They will also argue Trump demonstrated “extraordinary and unprecedented transparency” by releasing the transcript of his phone call with the Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.
The response slated for Saturday evening will address both the April 21 and July 25 phone calls between Trump and Zelensky.
In addition to the substantive defense, the document will also contain a defense on procedural grounds, the sources said. The document will contain arguments against the process followed in the House, the sources said, echoing Trump’s and Republicans’ many complaints that the House inquiry was conducted unfairly.
With regard to the upcoming trial, the sources said White House counsel Pat Cipollone will present the opening argument and Jay Sekulow, the President’s personal lawyer, will speak next about an overview of the “entire process.” The plans could change and their general presentations could be broken up by other lawyers on the team, the sources said.
The legal team is prepared for all “contingencies,” including that the Senate may call witnesses, according to the sources.
Trump’s legal team
“Why are they doing this to me,” the source quoted Trump as saying repeatedly.
Trump has been telling associates and allies around him that he wanted a “high profile” legal team that can perform on television, the source said. It’s simply who Trump is, the source continued, adding Trump loves having people who are on television working for him.
This in part may explain why Kenneth Starr and Alan Dershowitz were added to the legal team representing the President.
Starr, the hard-charging prosecutor whose work led to President Bill Clinton’s impeachment, and Dershowitz, the constitutional lawyer, will join Robert Ray, Starr’s successor at the Office of Independent Counsel during the Clinton administration, on the defense team, White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham said earlier in a statement.
The three seasoned lawyers are expected to join a legal team headed by Cipollone and Sekulow, who are still expected to deliver statements on the President’s behalf on the Senate floor.
Former Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi, Trump’s longtime personal counsel Jane Raskin and attorney Eric Herschmann will also supplement the President’s impeachment legal team, Grisham has said. All are expected to have speaking roles, people familiar with the matter told CNN.
CNN’s Jim Acosta contributed to this report.