- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 28, 2020

President Trump’s defense lawyers began their final day of arguments in his impeachment trial Tuesday by rejecting House Democrats’ accusation of a White House cover-up of the president’s phone conversation with the president of Ukraine last summer.

Deputy White House Counsel Patrick Philbin knocked down “reckless allegations” by Democrats that White House officials tried to hide a transcript of the July 25 phone call by moving the document to a more secure computer server.

“There was no malicious intent,” Mr. Philbin told senators. “The call was still available to everyone who needed it as part of their job. The president [later] declassified it and made it public.”

He said it was “somewhat absurd” to accuse the White House of trying to conceal the call. Mr. Philbin noted that Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, a National Security Council aide who listened in on the call and first raised concerns about it, still had access to the transcript when it was moved to a more secure server.

Mr. Philbin also said that Lt. Col. Vindman’s former boss, Timothy Morrison, was “concerned about a potential leak” and how that would play out in Washington.

“He was right to be concerned potentially about leaks,” Mr. Philbin said. “The Trump administration has faced national security leaks at an alarming rate.”

When the president’s lawyers finish their side of the case, the trial will move to two days of questions from senators. The Senate will then vote on whether to call witnesses, likely on Friday.

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