White House lead counsel Pat Cipollone kicked off the defense's arguments in the impeachment trial against President Trump in the Senate on Saturday. He began by informing the senators-turned-jurors of what the Democrats didn't tell them about Trump's July 25 phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.
Two words: burden sharing.
"They didn't tell you that burden sharing was discussed in the call," Cipollone said.
At the outset of Trump's July call with Zelensky, the call that led to Trump's impeachment, Trump told the new Ukrainian leader that Germany "does almost nothing" for them, as well as a host of other European countries. Zelensky said Trump was "absolutely right."
The Democrats apparently "didn't have time in 24 hours to tell you this," Cipollone said.
Trump then turned their conversation to corruption in the 2016 presidential election and there's "nothing wrong" with asking a foreign power to get to the bottom of corruption, Cipollone noted.
The White House counsel concluded that the other side simply "hid evidence" from the senators.
Deputy White House Counsel Michael Purpura drove home that point, switching to the issue of supposed "quid pro quo." Again, in their 24 hours of arguments, the Democrats failed to tell the senators that the Javelin missiles discussed were not part of the paused military aid. To suggest otherwise, he said, is "misleading."
"They're just trying to confuse you," Purpura told the Senate.
Speaking of misleading, Purpura kicked off his part of the argument by presenting the Senate with the infamous clip of lead impeachment manager Adam Schiff embellishing parts of the July 25 transcript.
Finally, Purpura noted how the Democrats relied heavily on EU Ambassador Gordon Sondland's testimony during last month's impeachment hearings, but they failed to put his testimony in "full context." Had they, Purpura noted, they would have noted how Sondland said his belief that Trump tied Ukraine aid to an investigation of the Bidens was based on the ambassador's own "presumptions." It had to be. Sondland had no direct knowledge of the phone call.
"In his public testimony, Ambassador Sondland use variations of the words assume, presume, guess speculate, and believe over 30 times," said Purpura.
The Democratic managers "have the burden of proof" in this trial, Cipollone reminded the Senate. So far, not so good.