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Trump impeachment trial: President 'tried to cheat but got caught', Democrats say while closing case

House Democrats kicked off the final day of their case to remove Donald Trump from office by urging senators to avoid "being fooled" by the case the president's defence team will begin laying out on Saturday.

The opposition party began wrapping up their case by focusing on a $391m military aid package Mr Trump himself ordered frozen during the same period he and his aides, including former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, were pressing Ukrainian leaders to announce investigations of top US Democratic politicians.

Colorado Rep. Jason Crow, a US military veteran, led off Democrats' last eight hours of case-making. And he quickly went directly at acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, saying the former GOP congressman "confirmed" that Mr Trump ordered his aides and surrogates to set up a "quid pro quo" with Ukraine's new president.

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"When pressed that he had just confirmed the quid pro quo that the president had been denying, he doubled down," Mr Crow said of Mr Mulvaney's 17 October press conference at the White House. "He knew exactly what was going on in the Oval Office. Mr Mulvaney confirmed why the president ordered the hold."

The Democratic impeachment manager was referring to Mr Mulvaney's explosive session with reporters that prompted unsuccessful efforts by House and Senate Democrats to force his testimony.

Democrats believe Mr Trump's request of Ukraine's president during a 25 July phone call to "do us a favour, though" after Volodymyr Zelensky mentioned wanting to buy more US-made antitank systems amounts to a quid pro quo and shows Mr Trump abused his office. They impeached him on one count of abuse or power over that call, and on another for obstructing their investigation.

Back in October, Mr Mulvaney had a message for his former House colleagues and others who believe what Mr Trump did was corrupt and deserves to cost him the presidency: "Get over it: there's going to be political influence in foreign policy."

"Obama did it in one way," he said of former President Barack Obama," Mr Mulvaney told shocked reporters. "We're doing it a different way."

Mr Crow noted that the White House only lifted the freeze on the Ukraine aid monies after it was made public in press reports.

"It wasn't lifted for any legitimate reason," the lawmaker told senators. "It was only lifted because President Trump had gotten caught."

New York Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, mentioned in Washington circles as a possible House speaker candidate once Nancy Pelosi retires, went further after he took over for Mr Crow.

"The president tried to cheat. He got caught," Mr Jeffries said. "And then he worked hard to cover it up."

Mr Crow earlier explained Democrats' view of why the aid freeze mattered for Washington and a key Eastern European ally.

"The delay wasn't meaningless. Just ask Ukrainians sitting in trenches today," he said, adding they are "still waiting on millions in aid that hasn't reached them."

"The fact the hold was on was important. Russia was looking for any sign of weakness," Mr Crow said of the volatile situation there. "The damage was done."

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