The Senate will move forward with its trial against Donald Trump on Wednesday after Democrats, and six Republicans, voted impeaching a former president is constitutional.
The Senate held three-and-half hours of debate on the floor Tuesday where the defense and prosecution had the chance to argue whether impeaching a former official is in line with the Constitution.
Most surprising of all was Republican Senator Bill Cassidy of Louisiana going back on his previous claim that impeaching Trump would go against the Constitution’s intent since he is no longer the sitting president.
In a 56-44 vote on Tuesday evening, Cassidy, along with fellow Republican Senators Susan Collins of Maine, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Mitt Romney of Utah, Ben Sasse of Nebraska and Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania voted to move the proceedings forward.
Democrats began their impeachment case against Trump Tuesday afternoon with a video of profanity and violence during the January 6 MAGA attack on the Capitol.
The former president’s defense team claimed the show was part of the left turning the proceedings into a ‘bloodsport’ for some of Trump’s biggest critics.
‘We now learn that the House managers in their wisdom have hired a movie company and a large law firm to create, manufacture and splice for you a package designed by experts to chill and horrify you and our fellow Americans,’ Trump’s defense lawyer David Schoen decried from the Senate floor.
He added: ‘They don’t need to show you movies to show you that the riot happened here. We will stipulate that it happened, and you know all about it. This is a process fueled irresponsibly by base hatred by these House managers.’
The more than 14-minute video presented at the top of the Democrats’ case for conviction included snappy cuts between the violence of the pro-Trump mob and the former president’s speech just beforehand.
The Senate will move forward with its trial against Donald Trump on Wednesday after Democrats, and six Republicans, voted impeaching a former president is constitutional
TIMETABLE FOR THE TRUMP TRIAL
Here is how the Trump impeachment will unfold:
Tuesday 1pm: Senate comes to order with president pro tempore Patrick Leahy (D-VT) presiding over four hours of presentation – two from each side – on whether the trial is constitutional
Tuesday 5pm: Senate votes on whether it is constitutional to move forward. If there are at least 51 votes to continue, which is certain, the Senate adjourns for the day
Wednesday 9am: Deadline for motions from both sides which could be voted on before the trial begins
Wednesday 11am: Deadline for responses to motions
Wednesday noon: If there are motions, they must be voted on but if there are none the trial opens with Democratic impeachment managers beginning up to 16 hours over Wednesday and Thursday of outlining their case
Thursday: Democrats end their case against Trump
Friday noon: Donald Trump’s team begin their defense with up to 16 hours to make their case on Friday and Saturday. An original plan to observe the Jewish sabbath in deference to Trump’s attorney David Schoen has been dropped after he said it was unnecessary
Saturday: Trump’s team ends their defense case
Sunday: At this point the Democratic impeachment managers and Trump’s attorneys can ask to call witnesses if senators vote to allow them on a simple majority vote. If there are witnesses, the trial will adjourn for them to be deposed, which could delay it significantly.
If there are no witnesses Senators have four hours to ask questions of both sides.
Then the Democratic impeachment managers can put forward a motion to introduce all their background evidence and Trump’s defense have an hour to argue against with both sides getting an hour in total, followed by a vote, with Trump’s side then able to do the same.
Unknown but as early as Presidents Day: Once questions are over there are two hours each for both sides to sum up. Then the Senate votes. Conviction needs a two-thirds majority: 67 senators assuming all are present.
Trump’s defense attorney Bruce Castor, however, made less of a legal case and went more for flattery, praising the senators for their work, their patriotism and dedication to country.
When walking out of the chamber on Tuesday night, Murkowski made clear to reporters that she felt Trump’s lawyers missed their opportunity to present a coherent case against the constitutionality of impeaching now-private citizen Trump.
‘Today was supposed to be an opportunity to, to be briefed on the constitutionality of whether or not you can move forward with an impeachment of a former president,’ the Alaska moderate said. ‘I thought that the House presented a pretty good legal analysis.’
She also claimed Castor was a disaster for the former president, but said Trump’s second lawyer David Schoen was able to redeem some of the legal argument.
‘In fairness, I was really stunned at the first attorney who presented for former President Trump,’ she said of Castor. ‘I couldn’t figure out where he was going, spent 45 minutes going somewhere, but I don’t think he helped with us better understanding where he was coming from on the constitutionality of this.’
The Democrats went for the gut punch, using their opening argument to remind senators of what happened the day of the riot, the confusion, fear and brute force that was in play as lawmakers fled from the mass of Trump supporters.
The video showed highlights from the insurrection, including Trump urging his supporters to ‘fight like hell’ at a rally outside the White House that morning. It also showed the violence and destruction the rioters inflicted as they fought their way through police lines and breached the building.
The defense team also presented their own video more than an hour-and-a-half into their two-hours of argument.
Their video included dramatic, dark music with clips of Democrats preemptively saying they would call to impeach Trump starting just days into his presidency. This included a 2019 clip of Representative Rashida Tlaib, just after becoming a congresswoman, saying, ‘We’re going to impeach the motherf***er.’
At the end of Tuesday, the full Senate will vote on the constitutionality of impeaching an ex-president.
Then, the rest of the trial is expected to run through the weekend with a potential vote on convicted on Monday – while others are more optimistic and believe a vote could come as early as Saturday.
Schoen lamented that scheduling the process over the week is an attempt to drag out the process of bringing down Trump’s name.
‘They want to put you through a 16-hour presentation over two days, focusing on this as if it were some sort of bloodsport,’ Schoen lamented. ‘And to what end? For healing? For unity? For accountability? Not for any of those, for surely there are much better ways to achieve each.’
He added: ‘It is, again, for pure, raw, misguided partisanship that makes them believe playing to our worse instincts somehow is good.’
Lead Impeachment manager Jamie Raskin began the Democrats’ case with an impassioned speech on the constitutionality of the impeachment trial and ending with an emotional personal story of the riot and how it affected him. At times he held back tears as he recounted what happened on January 6.
And it wasn’t just about him, he told a captive Senate audience, which sat in silence listening to him.
”This trial is personal for every senator and for every member of the House, for every manager and all our staff and the capital police and the Washington DC metropolitan police and the National Guard and maintenance and custodial crews and the print journalists and TV people who were here,’ Raskin said.
In contrast, Trump attorney Bruce Castor started off his defense of the former president with a rambling soliloquy that veered between name-dropping the senators he knows and praising the Senate for its work.
‘And you know, senators of the United States, they are not ordinary people. There are extraordinary people in the technical sense, extraordinary people,’ Castor said.
‘I have been around the United States senators before. Two of them in this room from Pennsylvania and I would like to think are friendly towards me or at least friends of mine when we are not politically adverse,’ he noted.
He talked about how he worked in the Senate forty years ago and ‘I got lost then and I still do.’
He eventually got around to mentioning Donald Trump. He launched a general defense about the freedom of speech, noting people have the right to disagree with anyone, even Trump.
‘I do not expect and I don’t believe former president expect anybody to walk back any of the language. If that is how they feel about the way things transparent over the last couple of years in his country, they should be allowed to say that. And I will go to court and defend them if anything happens to them as a result,’ Castor said.
One of the arguments Trump’s legal team made is that his speech the morning of January 6th was not inciting a mob but protected free speech under the first amendment.
‘We cannot possibly be suggesting that we punish people for political speech in this country,’ he said.
Donald Trump’s defense lawyer David Schoen argued Tuesday that Democrats are using the impeachment proceedings as bloodsport to drag the former president through the wringer
Democrat impeachment managers kicked off their argument for conviction by playing a 14-minute video highlighting the violence of the MAGA mob on January 6
Schoen accused: ‘We now learn that the House managers in their wisdom have hired a movie company and a large law firm to create, manufacture and splice for you a package designed by experts to chill and horrify you and our fellow Ameircas… They don’t need to show you movies to show you that the riot happened here’
House lead impeachment manager Representative Jamie Raskin points up at a video that he had just shown of Trump supporters storming the U.S. Capitol building, cut together with parts of the former president’s speech on January 6
The main argument from Castor, and fellow defense attorney David Schoen, is meant to focus on the unconstitutionality of moving forward with impeachment of an ex-president. Most of their floor speech on Tuesday, however, did not present much legal argument for that stance.
Toward the end of Castor’s more than 45-minute remarks, he said: ‘President Trump is no longer is in office. The object of the Constitution has been achieved. He was removed by the voters.’
The impeachment managers, however, presented a strong, coherent and cohesive argument to one from Trump’s lawyers that a former president cannot be impeachment. The Democratic prosecutors pointed out that Trump was president when the impeachable offense was conducted, making him liable under the law.
But they let the video speak for them and used the words of the rioters as part of their case:
‘Find Mike,’ one of the rioters is heard yelling about then Vice President Pence.
‘F*** you police,’ one yelled as he confronted Capitol Police officers outside the Capitol.
‘Where the f*** are they,’ another person yells as the rioters made their way through the building.
‘There’s got to be something useful in here,’ one says as he flips through files, tossing documents on the floor.
Senators were also shown footage from the Senate that morning, where they all sat where they did on Tuesday as they heard evidence. They saw Republican Senate Leader Mitch McConnell speak against Trump’s attempts to overturn the election and the chamber being gavelled out of session as rioters made their way toward them. There was also a clip of officer Eugene Goodman leading the rioters away from the Senate as the senators were evacuated.
Impeachment managers included a clip of Trump’s video tweet, where he told the rioters he loved them.
And the senators saw rioters use chairs to try and break the glass outside the House chamber, trying to get in as Capitol Police officers held them off. They heard the shot as rioter Ashli Babbitt was killed.
The sounds from the video seemed to echo through the Senate chamber, filling it with the screams and yells of the mob.
Senators were in the Capitol on January 6th, but the video brought it all back, showing a condensed version of attack and previously unseen footage of the rioters.
When the video concluded, it was silent. Senators sat quietly until Democratic Rep. Jamie Raskin began his argument again. Senators then shuffled in their seats, opening binders and rustling papers.
Raskin, the lead impeachment manager, kicked off the Democrats’ argument that the impeachment of a former president is illegal, countering one of the main defense that Trump’s attorneys will deploy, which is that an impeached president cannot be tried.
‘You ask what a high crime and misdemeanor is under our constitution? That’s a high crime and misdemeanor,’ Raskin said, pointing to one of the monitors in the chamber after the video aired. ‘If that’s not an impeachable offense then there is no such thing.’
Trump attorney Bruce Castor started off his defense of the former president with a rambling soliloquy that veered between name-dropping the senators he knows and praising the Senate for its work
Raskin warned the Senate that Trump was trying to make them ‘powerless’ with his argument the senators couldn’t impeach him.
‘It is undisputed that we impeached him while he was president. There can be no doubt that this is a valid and legitimate impeachment. And there can be no doubt that the Senate has the power to try this impeachment,’ he said.
‘Article 1, section 3 gives the Senate the sole power to try all impeachments. The Senate has the power, the sole power to try all impeachments. All means all under no exceptions to the rule. But because the Senate has jurisdiction to try all impeachments and has jurisdiction to try this on. It’s really that simple,’ he noted.
Raskin, a professor of constitutional law, gave a passionate speech about the founding fathers’ intent with the constitution and he showed the legal history of impeaching officials, pointing out the first Senate impeachment trial was of a former official.
Democratic Rep. Joe Neguse of Colorado took up Raskin’s argument there is no ‘January exception’ for a president when it comes to impeachment.
‘The text of the constitution makes clear there is no January exception to the impeachment power. That president can’t commit grave offenses in their final days and escape any congressional response. That’s not how our constitution work,’ he said.
And Democratic Rep. David Cicilline argued: ‘The president of the United States sided with the insurrectionists.’
Democrats, in their prosecution argument, promised to deliver ‘devastating new evidence’ that the former president incited the MAGA mob’s deadly riot at the Capitol.
ACCUSED EX-PRESIDENT WATCHES FROM HIS FLORIDA HOME
The Senate president pro tempore Patrick Leahy gaveled in the chamber at 1:01 p.m. as Trump’s aides claim the former president will watch every minute on TV from the comfort of his Mar-a-Lago residence.
A senior aide to a Democratic impeachment manager, according to
The nine managers are using their two hours to prove that Trump spent weeks laying the groundwork for what happened the day Congress moved to certify the election for Joe Biden. And an aide claimed they would try to prove that he intentionally ‘incited it further’ after the violence broke out.
Meanwhile, Trump has told his aides he is preparing for a guns blazing return to politics after his almost assured acquittal.
At the end of the four-hour debate on Tuesday – two hours for the prosecution and two hours for the defense – the full Senate will cast a vote on whether it’s constitutional to impeach an ex-president, which only requires a simple majority.
The former president is comparing the whole ordeal to his time as a reality TV personality, claiming the period between leaving Washington and waiting for the trial to conclude is like waiting for a new season of his show to start.
‘He’s compared it to that time in between seasons of ‘The Apprentice,’ building anticipation and wonderment for what’s to come,’ one adviser told
In a press conference before the proceedings, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said Democrats are aiming to hold Trump ‘accountable for the most serious charges, ever, ever levied against a president.’
‘Those who say, ‘let’s move on, that brings unity,’ are false,’ Schumer said.
He added: ‘The Senate has to find – is he guilty of inciting the violence that ensued?’
Impeachment managers, led by Representative Jamie Raskin, tried on Thursday to compel Trump to testify in the trial. But Senate leadership has snubbed the idea of witness calling in general in an effort to expedite the process.
Following the vote, the Senate will adjourn for the day and pick back up Wednesday morning.
David Schoen, one of Trump’s impeachment defense attorneys, withdrew his previous request to pause the trial Friday evening and all Saturday so he could observe the Sabbath.
‘I very much appreciated your decision,’ Schoen said in a letter to Senate leadership on Monday, ‘but I remain concerned about the delay in the proceedings in a process that I recognize is important to bring a conclusion for all involved and for the country.’
‘I am writing today to withdraw my request so that the proceedings can go forward as originally contemplated before I made my request,’ he wrote to Senate’s President pro tempore Patrick Leahy, Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer and Republican Leader Mitch McConnell – adding that changes were made in the defense strategy that will allow him to take off but the trial to proceed.
This means the trial proceedings could run straight through the weekend without any break.
The Senate convened Tuesday afternoon to kick off Donald Trump’s second impeachment trial
Republican Senator Rand Paul, above and circled, was the only senator not wearing a face mask
Senate president pro tempore Patrick Leahy, who is presiding over the trial gaveling in the chamber promptly at 1:01 p.m.
Second act, Representative Joe Neguse argued there is no such thing as a ‘January rule’ or else it would allow presidents to do whatever they want in their finals weeks as president before vacating office without fear of congressional fallout
While Schoen is expected to present the defense’s case on Tuesday, the president’s other impeachment defense lawyer Bruce Castor – and his associate Michael van der Veen – are expected to take over for the remainder of the defense case.
Democrats are charging Trump with ‘incitement of insurrection’, specifically pointing to a speech he made to thousands of his supporters on January 6 before they marched to the Capitol and stormed the building.
The riot resulted in five deaths and hundreds of injuries – it also caused six hours of chaos and fear among Congress members who were forced to shelter in place, evacuate or bunker down in the chambers as protesters banged on the doors.
Despite Trump’s overall public silence since leaving office, those close to him say he is reveling in his ability to still shape the news cycle without a Twitter account and garner mass coverage with just a few public statements.
‘He finally realizes less is more,’ an adviser to the 45th president told Politico.
Trump became quickly known in his 2016 campaign for his outward presence on Twitter and his say-whatever’s-on-his-mind approach.
His account was finally indefinitely suspended last month after Twitter claimed he was inciting violence with his posts.
The Democratic leader denied a request from House impeachment managers to call witnesses in the trial as he and other Senate leaders would like to expedite the proceedings
National Guard troops arrive at the Capitol Tuesday morning as they prepare to help Capitol Police patrol the building as the second impeachment trial against Donald Trump kicks off
At least 5,000 National Guard members are still deployed to Washington D.C. following the fallout of the January 6 Capitol riot
Since leaving Washington, Trump has taken the advice of his closest aides, including his daughter Ivanka Trump and son-in-law Jared Kushner, by spending most of his days on his Palm Beach golf course and out of the public eye.
One aide said: ‘Right now Trump is thinking, ‘I’ve got 45 votes, all I have to do is go golfing and not do anything.’
Ivanka and Jared, who both served as his senior advisers during Trump’s presidency, have warned him that being too public too soon could screw up his chances of acquittal in the Senate.
Kushner has reportedly used the phrase, ‘Snatch defeat for the jaws of victory,’ several times.
REP. RASKIN’S EMOTIONAL PLEA
Democratic Rep. Jamie Raskin of Maryland fought back tears as he asked for a moment to speak personally to the Senate. He recalled being in the Capitol on January 6th and how his family was there with him, as they wanted to be close to him after his son Tommy committed suicide on New Year’s Eve.
He gave an emotional plea about how the trial was personal for everyone on Capitol Hill during the January 6th riot.
‘This trial is personal for every senator and for every member of the House, for every manager and all our staff and the capital police and the Washington DC metropolitan police and the National Guard and maintenance and custodial crews and the print journalists and TV people who were here and all of our families and friends. I hope this trial reminds America how personal democracy is and how personal is the loss of democracy two,’ he said.
Raskin, the lead House impeachment manager, noted his youngest daughter Tabitha and his son-in-law came with him on January 6th after he reassured them it was safe.
‘It was the day after we buried her brother, our son Tommy, the saddest day of our lives,’ he said of his daughter.
The chamber was silent while he spoke. Those senators who were fiddling with papers or adjusting stopped.
Democratic Rep. Jamie Raskin wipes his eyes as he recalls what happened with his family on January 6th
Rep. Jamie Raskin with his family, including his son Tommy
Jamie Raskin’s daughter Hannah with his son-in-law Hank Kronick, who was in the Capitol with him January 6th
Hank Kronick took a selfie of himself in the Capitol on the day of the riot
He talked about how he couldn’t get to them on the day of the attack and how he listened to his colleagues call their loved ones to say goodbye as the rioters tried to break onto the House floor.
‘I couldn’t get out there to be with them in the office. All around me people were calling their wives and their husbands, their loved ones to say goodbye. Members of Congress – the House anyway – were removing their congressional pins so they wouldn’t be identified by the mob as they tried to escape the violence. Our new chaplain got up and set a prayer for us and we were told to put our gas masks on and then there was a sound I will never forget, the sound of pounding on the door like a battering ram in the most haunting sound I ever heard and will never forget,’ he said.
‘They thought they were going to die,’ Raskin said of his family, staff and lawmakers on January 6th.
He wiped away tears as he recalled being reunited with his daughter and noted she told him: ‘She said, dad, I don’t want to come back to the Capital.’
‘Of all the terrible, brutal things I saw and heard on the day and since then that one hit me the hardest. That and watching someone use an American flag poll with the flag still on it to spear and pummel one of our police officers ruthlessly, mercilessly tortured by a poll with a flag on it that he was defending with his very life,’ he said.
Raskin then described the injuries suffered by Capitol Police officers who defended the Capitol that day.
‘People died that day and officers ended up with head damage and brain damage and people’s eyes were gouged and an officer had a heart attack. An officer lost three fingers that day. Two officers had taken their own lives,’ he said.
‘Senators, this cannot be our future. This cannot be the future of America. We cannot have presidents inciting and mobilizing mob violence to get our government and our institutions because they refuse to accept the will of the people under the constitution of the United States,’ he said, wrapping up the Democrats’ opening argument.
PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN STAYS SILENT ON TRIAL
Even as impeachment managers presented emotional arguments and played dramatic violent video of the Capitol riot, President Joe Biden refused to comment on the substance of the unfolding trial.
Asked about it during a meeting with business leaders and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, Biden responded: ‘Look, I told you before, I have a job, my job is to keep people – we’ve already lost over 450,000 people, we’re going to lose a whole lot more if we don’t act and act decisively quickly.’
‘A lot of people as I said are going to – a lot of children are going to bed hungry. A lot of families are food insecure. They’re in trouble. That’s my job. The Senate has their job they’re about to begin it. I’m sure they’re going to conduct themselves well. And that’s all I’m going to have to say about impeachment.’
He called for getting the pandemic under control as well as shoring up the economy.
‘I think we’re in a position to think big and to move big and to move in a direction that can not only get the economy back on its feet, but we have to get people well before we get people on their feet,’ he said.
MASKLESS RAND PAUL DOODLES THROUGH VIOLENT VIDEO AND RICK SCOTT BROUGHT A BOOK
During the trial, including the 14-minute video showing clips edited together of Trump’s speech and the violent Capitol clashes on January 6, most senators appeared to pay attention while others seemed uninterested.
Some took notes.
Kentucky Senator Rand Paul, who has made clear he believes the proceedings are unconstitutional, was doodling random squiggles on a white pad of paper as the video played as Democrats made their prosecution argument against Trump.
Florida Senator Rick Scott brought the book ‘Vicksburg: Grant’s Campaign That Broke the Confederacy’ to the Senate chamber. And Senator Mike Lee of Utah brought a book titled ‘Senate procedure.’
At one point Indiana Senator Mike Braun sat back in his chair on the Senate floor and read The Hill newspaper – he also had a copy of Roll Call on his desk.
Josh Hawley, one of Trump’s biggest Senate allies, was reading some documents that were likely not trial-related as they did not have the symbols on the papers indicating so.
Republican Senator Roger Marshall of Kansas had a glass of milk at his desk.
Paul, a Republican, was not wearing a mask throughout the trial. Senator James Risch of Idaho had his mask off for about 20 minutes during Trump’s defense lawyer Castor’s speech. During that time with his mask down, Risch took notes, itched his eyes, wiped his forehead and rubbing his face multiple times before pulling it back up over his mouth and nose from under his chin.
All of the other senators kept their masks on except for Senator Cynthia Lummis of Wyoming, who pulled it down for an extended period of time in the first hour.
Other than the 50 senators and nine House impeachment managers – Representative Al Greene also attended the trial, taking a seat in the upstairs gallery.
Hawley and Democratic Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia chewed gum behind their masks.
FRAMERS’ WORST NIGHTMARE COME TO LIFE
Representative Joe Neguse of Colorado was second to bat after Raskin presented the opening arguments for why Democrats feel impeachment of an ex-president is constitutional.
He said that Trump’s defense team’s argument to drop the case on the basis of its constitutionality it’s the ‘framers’ worst nightmare.’
‘The framers have answered that question for you – for us – and you don’t need to be a Constitutional scholar that the argument President Trump asks you to adopt is not just wrong, it’s dangerous,’ Neguse said in his statements from the Senate floor.
He said it’s a dangerous precedent to say that a president can do whatever they want in their final days in office because they won’t face any congressional backlash – like impeachment.
Representative Joe Neguse, one of the impeachment managers, was the second to make the case Tuesday for the constitutionality of the second impeachment of Trump
He said of January 6: ‘What our country experienced that day is the framers’ worst nightmare come to life. President’s can’t inflame insurrection in their final weeks and then walk away like nothing happened’
‘There is no January exception to the impeachment power,’ Neguse asserted. ‘That presidents cannot commit grave offenses in their final days and escape any congressional response. That’s not how our Constitution works.’
What has become known as the ‘January rule’ suggests presidents in their lame duck period can act out of character and unlawfully and somehow not face any fallout.
Neguse said that even that argument doesn’t make sense since the House did vote for the second impeachment before Trump vacated the White House due to conduct while still president.
He noted during his remarks that even the first ever impeachment in the U.S. – in the late 1790s – was taken against a former Tennessee senator.
‘Honestly it is hard to imagine a clearer example of how a president could abuse his office – inciting violence against a co-equal branch of government after seeking to remain in power after losing an election. Sitting back and watching it unfold,’ Neguse detailed.
‘We all know the consequences.’
‘Like every one of you, I was in the Capitol on January 6, I was on the floor with lead manager Raskin,’ he continued. ‘Like every one of you, I was evacuated as this violent mob stormed the Capitol’s gates. What you experienced that day, what we experienced that day, what our country experienced that day is the framers’ worst nightmare come to life.’
Neguse concluded: ‘President’s can’t inflame insurrection in their final weeks and then walk away like nothing happened and yet that is the rule that President Trump asks you to adopt.’
Already 45 Republicans, led by Kentucky Senator Rand Paul, voted that it’s unconstitutional to go forward with impeaching Trump in Congress since he has already left office.
At least 17 Republicans would need to vote for Trump’s impeachment for a successful conviction.
Donald Trump will take a break from golf this week to hunker down and watch impeachment proceedings on TV from his Mar-a-Lago residence. While all 50 Democrats will vote for Trump’s conviction, the former president is expected to be acquitted considering it’s a long shot that the 17 Republicans needed for a successful conviction vote will cross the line
The president’s aides, including son-in-law Jared Kushner (left) and daughter Ivanka Trump (right) have advised the former president to keep a low profile until the trial concludes as it still appears he is on the path toward acquittal
Trump (pictured here in his red hat) has golfed nearly every day since leaving Washington, and has reveled in his ability to shape the news cycle despite infrequent public statements
The impeachment proceedings could run straight through the weekend after one of Trump’s lawyers, David Schoen, withdrew his previous request to break for the Sabbath Friday evening through Saturday
Part of the video will show Democrats, like Representative Maxine Waters of California and Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey, using ‘inflammatory rhetoric’ and calling for violence against Republicans and Trump supporters.
They will also present instances when Democrats objected to election results in the past – like Representative Jim McGovern objecting in 2016 to Trump’s win in the deep red state of Alabama.
Trump’s lawyers also plan to present a premeditated attempt to boot Trump from office from Day One, playing sounds bites of Democrats pushing for Trump’s impeachment before he ever was sworn in.
What to watch as the trial kicks off:
FIRST, AN EFFORT TO DISMISS
Tuesday’s proceedings will begin with a debate to dismiss the trial before it even begins. Trump’s lawyers have argued the trial is moot now that Trump is out of office, and 45 Senate Republicans have already voted once to move forward with an effort to dismiss the trial on those grounds.
The Senate will debate the constitutionality of the trial for four hours on Tuesday and then hold a vote on whether to dismiss it. The effort to dismiss is expected to fail, allowing arguments in the trial to begin on Wednesday.
Democrats point to the opinion of many legal scholars – including conservatives – who say the trial is valid under the Constitution. They point to an 1876 impeachment trial of a secretary of war who had resigned and note that Trump was impeached before he left office. Trump’s lawyers dismiss that precedent and say language in the Constitution is on their side.
PRESIDENT PRO TEMPORE PRESIDING
Senator Patrick Leahy of Vermont, the president pro tempore of the Senate, will preside over the second impeachment of Donald Trump – unlike the first trial, which Chief Supreme Court Justice John Roberts oversaw.
Unusual with Leahy’s presiding is that he also has a say in the verdict when it comes time to vote on whether to convict Trump for ‘incitement of insurrection.’
As pro temp, Leahy presides over the Senate session in the absence of Vice President Kamala Harris – who currently holds the tie-breaking vote with a 50-50 split Senate.
The Senate president pro tempore Patrick Leahy, a Democrat, will preside over the impeachment trial – leading to questions if he can be an impartial overseer
While the Constitution requires the top Supreme Court justice to preside over presidential impeachment proceedings, historically, the president pro tempore took the lead in impeachment trials of non-presidents.
Leahy, who at 80 is the longest-serving member of the Senate, disclosed last month he would preside over Trump’s trial.
Some Republicans – and Trump’s lawyers David Schoen and Bruce Castor, are concerned whether Leahy, a liberal senator, will be able to conduct the trial fairly since he is not an impartial party.
‘Now, instead of the Chief Justice, the trial will be overseen by a biased and partisan Senator who will purportedly also act as a juror while ruling on issues that arise during trial,’ the former president’s attorneys wrote in a legal brief filed Monday.
They went as far as to suggest Leahy’s role could already set them up for a legal challenge if Trump is convicted.
The day after Leahy announced his presiding role last month, he was brought to Washington hospital for what he described as ‘muscle spasms.’ The next day he was back at work.
WEDNESDAY: ARGUMENTS BEGIN
The House managers will present their arguments first, beginning Wednesday. Each side will have up to 16 hours, running no more than eight hours per day.
The Democrats are expected to try and take advantage of the senators´ own experiences, tapping into their emotions as they describe in detail – and show on video – what happened as the mob broke through police barriers, injured law enforcement officers, ransacked the Capitol and hunted for lawmakers. The carnage led to five deaths.
The impeachment managers have argued that the mob subverted democracy and that Trump was ‘singularly’ responsible for their actions after months of falsely saying there was widespread fraud in the election. They will appeal to Senate Republicans to vote to convict after most of them criticized Trump in the wake of the riots, with many saying he was responsible for the violence.
There was no widespread fraud in the election. Election officials across the country, and even then-Attorney General William Barr, contradicted Trump’s claims, and dozens of legal challenges to the election put forth by Trump and his allies were dismissed.
It appears unlikely, for now, that there will be witnesses at the trial. But the managers can ask for a Senate vote on calling witnesses if they so choose.
TRUMP’S TEAM HITS BACK
Defense arguments are likely to begin Friday. In their main filing with the Senate, Trump’s lawyers made clear that they will not only argue against the trial on process grounds, but also present a full-throated defense of Trump’s actions that day and why they believe he did not incite the riot.
While the Democrats are expected to appeal to the senators’ emotions, Trump’s lawyers have signaled they will try and tap into raw partisan anger. They repeatedly go after the Democrats personally in the brief, describing their case as a ‘selfish attempt by Democratic leadership in the House to prey upon the feelings of horror and confusion’ and another example of ‘Trump derangement syndrome’ after four years of trying to drive him out of office.
The lawyers argue that Trump’s words ‘fight like hell’ did not mean to literally fight, that the rioters acted on their own accord.
A (LESS) CAPTIVE AUDIENCE
As they were last year, at Trump’s first impeachment trial, senators are expected to listen to every word of the arguments before they cast their votes.
But this trial will look a bit different than the last one due to COVID-19 restrictions. To protect against the virus, senators don’t have to be stuck at their desks for the entirety of the trial, and will be allowed to spread out in the upper galleries or watch a video feed in a room just off the chamber.
REPUBLICANS TO WATCH
Five Republican senators voted with Democrats two weeks ago not to dismiss the trial on constitutional grounds. Those senators so far appear the most likely to vote to convict Trump.
The five senators, all of whom have harshly criticized the president’s behavior, are Susan Collins of Maine, Ben Sasse of Nebraska, Mitt Romney of Utah, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania.
Democrats appear to have little chance of persuading 17 Republicans to find Trump guilty, the minimum number that they would need for conviction. But some GOP senators who voted in favor of the effort to dismiss, such as Rob Portman of Ohio and Bill Cassidy of Louisiana, have said they are coming into the trial with an open mind.
Democrats are likely to focus, too, on senators who are retiring in 2022 and will have less to lose politically if they vote to convict. In addition to Toomey and Portman, also retiring are Alabama Senator Richard Shelby and North Carolina Senator Richard Burr.
THE IMPEACHMENT LEGAL TEAMS
THE HOUSE IMPEACHMENT MANAGERS
Who’s who in the prosecution (from left): Jamie Raskin, David Cicilline, Joaquin Castro, Diana DeGette, Rep. Eric Swalwell, Stacey Plaskett, Joe Neguse
Lead impeachment manager: Jamie Raskin. Constitutional law professor who lectured at American University, in Washington D.C., before moving into politics as a Maryland state senator then House member. Fierce critic of Trump who called for his impeachment after the Mueller report.
David Cicilline: One-time public defender and mayor of Providence, Rhode Island, which is now in his district. Lead author of the article of impeachment.
Joaquin Castro: Texas rep whose twin brother Julian ran for president. Lawyer and member of Texas Legislature before joining Congress.
Diana DeGette: Longest-serving member of Congress in the team with 13 terms for her Colorado district. A civil rights attorney before she went into public office.
Eric Swalwell: California prosecutor turned rep who is the only member of the impeachment managers who was also involved in the first trial. Target of Republican ire for his admitted relationship with a Chinese spy called Fang Fang which he ended when the FBI warned him she was a spy
Stacey Plaskett: Represents the Virgin Islands and therefore has no vote but was an assistant district attorney in the Bronx before entering Congress.
Joe Neguse: Private practice lawyer who is now a two-term Colorado congressman.
Ted Lieu (not in photo): Former Air Force officer who is a reserve colonel in the Judge Advocate General’s Corps. The California rep is another bitter public critic of Trump.
Madeleine Dean (not in photo): Pennsylvania attorney turned English professor and member of its house of representatives whose Pennsylvania district is also home of Bruce Castor, one of Trump’s defense team.
David Schoen: Alabama-based criminal defense attorney who has previously represented Roger Stone, and met with Jeffrey Epstein just before his death – then suggested he did not believe it was suicide. Observant Jewish attorney said he would not work on the Sabbath, leading to impeachment trial being scheduled not to sit from 5pm on Friday, but later said he was not needed that day, allowing it to go on.
Bruce Castor: Castor was Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, district attorney when he decided not to prosecute Bill Cosby on rape charges which his successor went ahead with, leading to the comedian being convicted and imprisoned. Castor settled a defamation case with victim Andrea Costand. Later became acting attorney general of Pennsylvania, and is now in private practice
Michael van der Veen: Added to the roster of attorneys on the eve of the trial. Philadelphia personal injury attorney who is close to Castor and has also been a criminal defense attorney.
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