Trump brings on House bulldogs to impeachment defense team

(File photo by JIM WATSON / AFP) (Photo by JIM WATSON/AFP via Getty Images)

With Senate impeachment trial proceedings set to begin at 1 p.m. ET on Tuesday, the defense team for President Donald Trump was reinforced on Monday with a number of stalwart defenders from the House.

Included among the group of high-profile Republicans formally joining Trump’s legal team are Reps. Doug Collins, R-Ga., Mike Johnson, R-La., Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, Debbie Lesko, R-Ariz., Mark Meadows, R-N.C., John Ratcliffe, R-Texas, Elise Stefanik, R-N.Y., and Lee Zeldin, R-N.Y.

“We are not planning for them to present statements on the Senate floor,” a senior administration official informed CBS News. “The group will continue to give critical guidance on the case because of their strong familiarity with facts and evidence, and they will continue to push those and the message in the media.”

Interestingly, Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., was not too keen on adding GOP House members to the president’s team, suggesting earlier this month that would shine a partisan light on proceedings.

“I don’t think it’s wise,” he said. “I think we need to elevate the argument beyond body politics, beyond party politics and talk about the constitutional problems with these two articles.”

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s proposed resolution for the parameters of the trial is expected to dominate proceedings on Tuesday, as Minority Leader Chuck Schumer has made clear the Democratic narrative in trying the weak House case is to cry “cover-up.”

More from Fox News on the resolution:

[McConnell] revealed Monday that he wanted a condensed, two-day calendar for each side to give opening statements, at 12 hours per day. After the four days of opening arguments, senators would be allowed up to 16 hours for written questions to the prosecution and defense, followed by four hours of debate. Only then would there be votes on calling other witnesses, likely next week.

 

With a reputation for being ruthless in his control of the upper chamber, McConnell intends to make short work of the impeachment trial.

The Senate leader is reportedly looking to add a rule that would allow Trump’s legal team to move to dismiss the articles of impeachment quickly after the presentation of evidence. The would be a de facto “safety valve” to prevent Rep. Adam Schiff and his merry band of co-conspirators from hijacking proceedings.

The Wall Street Journal reported in December that the White House was considering adding some of the president’s staunchest defenders from the House Intelligence and Judiciary committees to the Senate trial team.

It may be surprising to some that Rep. Devin Nunes R-Calif., the ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee, was not among the lawmakers chosen. Another name conspicuously absent is Rudy Giuliani.

White House counsel Pat Cipollone will reportedly lead the team, along with Trump’s personal attorney Jay Sekulow. Harvard Law Professor Alan Dershowitz and Ken Starr, the independent counsel who led the investigation of Bill Clinton’s relationship with White House intern Monica Lewinsky, are also a part of the president’s team.

Screengrab Fox News

Collins spoke about the ploy to call new witnesses Monday during an appearance on Fox News’ “Outnumbered,” insisting Democrats are trying to “find anything shiny” to distract from “how poorly they did their job” in the House trying the president.

“Their case is falling apart and the American people are seeing that their rush to judgment is actually going to cause the people to see that they really did not do their job,” Collins said. “And it’s not fair to say the Senate should do their job for them.”