Transcript for Trump's legal team set to begin their argument in the impeachment battle
impeachment trial, president trump's side preparing to make their opening arguments this morning, setting the stage to see if witnesses will be called. A new abc/"washington post" poll finds two-thirds of Americans surveyed think the survey should call new witnesses to testify before deciding the president's fate. ABC's Kyra Phillips is on capitol hill with more on that. Kyra, good morning. Reporter: Good morning. They say they're going on the attack. Trump's legal team promising a compelling case today while trump took to Twitter referring to his historic impeachment trial as, quote, death valley in TV. Democrats working late into the night as they wrapped up their third and final day of opening arguments Friday. Laying out their case on the obstruction of justice charge against president trump. He orchestrated a cover-up and he did it in plain sight. Reporter: Trump is facing two articles of impeachment that accuse him of abusing the office of the presidency and obstructing congressional efforts to investigate his dealings with Ukraine. But instead of halting the president's corrupt scheme, they worked overtime to conceal it from the American people. Reporter: Friday was one of the last opportunities for Democrats to convince these key Republican senators to call new witnesses like former national security adviser John Bolton, who has said he would testify if subpoenaed by the senate. Some Republicans not happy by this statement from democratic prosecutor Adam Schiff. The trump confidant said that GOP senators were warned vote against your president, vote against the president and your head will be on a pike. Now, I don't know if that's true. That is completely totally false. It's insulting and demeaning to everyone to say that we somehow live in fear and that the president has threatened all of us. Reporter: At the heart of the house case the allegation of a quid pro quo. That trump withheld nearly $400 million in military aid as he carried out a pressure campaign on Ukraine to investigate his political rival Joe Biden and his son hunter Biden who served on the board of the Ukrainian gas company burisma. Today trump's legal team taking center stage. Jay sekulow giving a glimpse into what to expect as they gear up to defend the president. We're going to refute the allegations that they've made and put on affirmative case as well. Reporter: Dan, as I mentioned, the big question now, will Republicans allow Democrats to call in new witnesses like former national security adviser John Bolton? The president actually telling me just a few days ago in Davos, Switzerland, he would love for Bolton to testify even though he's the one blocking him from doing so. Dan? So many big questions looming over the trial. We appreciate your reporting. So much to talk about now. So let's bring in ABC news supreme court contributor Kate Shaw and ABC political analyst Matthew dowd. Let me start with you Kate. Do you think they did a good job? I think the house managers made a lawyerly presentation so started with the constitution and said the drafters basically meant to target serious abuses of public office for private gain and they have tried to show that is exactly what happened here when president trump attempted to coerce Ukraine into assisting him with his re-election prospects. On obstruction of congress, the second article of impeachment, they've argued if the president can wholesale stonewall congress he is essentially above the law so they say all of this amounts to high crimes and misdemeanors and warrants conviction and removal from office. A lawyerly presentation, but, Matt, let me turn to you. Do you think any Republican minds were changed here? Well, I think you have to look at it two ways. Do I think any Republican minds were changed on conviction of the president? No. Do I think there's still three or four or five Republicans sitting out there that I think lean towards the idea that maybe more witnesses should be subpoenaed or more documents should be subpoenaed but I think they're now going to sit with what starts today and what goes on Monday and Tuesday and defense of the president and wait and see. But ultimately this -- what this did is solidify the Democrats against the president and probably the base of Republicans that was for the president it solidified them. So the only ones we should pay attention to are the five or six Republicans who might vote to subpoena other people. Most opinions remain calcified. Let's talk about what's going to happen today. The trump team starts their opening arguments, a truncated version because they'll do most on Monday and Tuesday because ratings will be better. What should we expect here? We hear they'll focus on the Bidens. Is that a smart strategy? I think we're liking to hear a lot about the Bidens. In terms of you mentioned ratings, I think that the president's lawyers are going to be somewhat cross pressured. I think the president clearly does want fireworks, ratings. I'm not sure those swing senators Matt was talking about or Mitch Mcconnell or chief justice John Roberts who is presiding over the trial are going to necessarily appreciate those kinds of theatrics and so I'm not sure what kind of presentation we're likely to on the substance I think they're likely to talk a lot about burisma and the Bidens. You know, they will probably also make the legal case there is no crime charged in these articles of impeachment, and they claim that impeachment requires proof of a crime, not just abuse of power. You know, as Schiff sort of anticipated that argument he sort of spelled out there is a lot of authority on the other side of that position. So I think we're going to see probably a sort of multi-pronged strategy. That will start to play out today and we'll see much more play out on Monday. The other big news is this audiotape that ABC news obtained first that appears to show the president talking to lev parnas about firing our erstwhile ambassador to the Ukraine. Any political or legal ramifications to this audio that you can see? Well, I mean, we'll know more later. There could be some legal ramifications related to the idea this was an unsecured phone left there, it sounds like and began this conversation and then continued the conversation in many different ways on this. Do I think it's going to affect this impeachment hearing in the United States senate? No, because I think almost everybody in there already thought the president got personally involved and wanted her gone. So the fact that he's recorded saying he wanted her gone isn't news to most of those people in that senate chamber. Matthew dowd, Kate Shaw, thank you very much, both of you, really appreciate it on a Saturday morning. I want to remind everybody we'll have live coverage starting at 10:00 eastern right and while I have you, another
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