Trump has been impeached for two things, one of which is obstruction of Congress.

White House staffers have refused to testify at the hearings, and Trump has openly dismissed the whole process and refused to appear when invited.

So what is his defence against the charge of obstruction?


This can be read in the 6-page letter by Trump to Congress about the articles of impeachment:

The second claim, so-called "Obstruction of Congress," is preposterous and dangerous. House Democrats are trying to impeach the duly elected President of the United States for asserting Constitutionally based privileges that have been asserted on a bipartisan basis by administrations of both political parties throughout our Nation's history. Under that standard, every American president would have been impeached many times over. As liberal law professor Jonathan Turley warned when addressing Congressional Democrats: "I can't emphasize this enough...if you impeach a president, if you make a high crime and misdemeanor out of going to the courts, it is an abuse of power. It's your abuse of power. You're doing precisely what you're criticizing the President for doing."

(Any typos are mine - I couldn't find a text version)

@DavidSchwartz summarized it very well in a comment (quoted with permission):

The issue is to what extent the President, representing a branch that supposed to be equal to Congress, has to cooperate in an attempt to impeach him. Trump's argument is that he contested the subpoenas in court because he believed they were illegitimate and it is not an abuse of power to ask courts to decide a contested legal issue where he has arguably asserted a recognized privilege. Congress' argument is that they get to decide what the President is legally required to do because the remedy for such abuses would be impeachment and that's in their sole discretion.

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    The question is: is there precedent regarding how a President asking a foreign official to investigate a political rival should be treated? As to me, that was what I thought was the crux of the impeachment case. And the transcript of his Ukraine call indisputably has him on record as asking Zelenskyy to "look into it" regarding matters related to Biden. Moreover, bribery does not require pressure - it only requires an offer of something in exchange for something illicit. If I merely ask a Judge if they could let off my friend for $10,000, then I am engaging in bribery, even if I do – The_Sympathizer Dec 20 '19 at 5:31
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    not actually try to coerce them into accepting the money. It is the offer of a gift or favor, with intent to persuade them to do something illicit thereby, that counts. – The_Sympathizer Dec 20 '19 at 5:31
  • @The_Sympathizer That's the topic of the first article of impeachment. This question and answer specifically address the second article only. – Sjoerd Dec 20 '19 at 7:58
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    Question related to this answer - Trump is asserting that there is precedent for "asserting Constitutionally based privileges that have been asserted on a bipartisan basis by administrations of both political parties throughout our Nation's history" - in this case, his ability to prevent witnesses from complying with subpoenas. Is there any actual precedent for this? – Zibbobz Dec 20 '19 at 16:34
  • @Zibbobz I assume it is en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Executive_privilege which has lots of precedent in recent history. [Let's not discuss in comments whether there is enough precedent for this actual case - that's exactly where the disagreement is about] – Sjoerd Dec 20 '19 at 18:18

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