Donald Trump’s defense lawyers are set to present evidence within the United States Senate, denying charges he incited insurrection within the Capitol riots of 6 January. The team has indicated it’s going to take up only four of its 16 hours, then move the impeachment trial to a speedy end. Democrats spent two days putting their case, including video footage of the violence and arguing acquittal could see a repeat of the attack on Congress.
Acquittal is that the likely verdict though, as most Republicans remain unmoved. A two-thirds majority is required to convict Donald Trump within the evenly split 100-seat Senate. At least 17 members of Mr. Trump’s party would wish to vote against him and although six have shown some movement that way, none of the others have, with many staunchly rejecting the accusations Donald Trump won’t appear and testify in his defense on Friday. If Mr. Trump were convicted, the Senate could then vote to bar him from holding elected office again.
The Democratic-led House of Representatives voted to impeach Mr. Trump last month – for a second time – accusing him of inciting supporters to attack the Capitol to prevent Joe Biden’s election victory from being certified. Five people lost their lives. Over the course of two days of Senate evidence in the week, the Democrats argued Donald Trump had shown a pattern of condoning violence, did nothing on the day to stop the riot, and had expressed no remorse.
What Will The Defense Team Argue?
It hasn’t given any specific details but there are obvious lines of defense that have already been suggested. The first is going to be simply freedom of speech. The Democrats tried to go that off on Thursday by arguing that this didn’t protect Mr. Trump if his comments to supporters on 6 January and before incited them to attack Congress. Fact-checking Trump’s defense caseTrump lawyer offers bewildering defense statements lawyers will probably argue that there was no overt involve violence in Mr. Trump’s remarks which he couldn’t be held liable for the rioter’s actions.
The defense also will paint the impeachment as a partisan Democratic action motivated by political gain. In their comments thus far they need to accuse the Democrats of tremendous hypocrisy, with lawyer David Schoen saying their case lacked any real evidence. He said the video presentation-based evidence was like making movies and an entertainment package. The Democrats have themselves asked the defense to answer why Mr. Trump didn’t act quickly to prevent the attack, send police reinforcements or later condemn the riots.
But it appears unlikely the defense will spend much time on this. Its main plank could be whether a former president should be impeached in the least. The Senate did vote on Tuesday to reject the argument that an ex-president shouldn’t be impeached, but many Republican senators still back it. Senator Roy Blunt told the NY Times. I get to cast my vote, and my view is that you simply can’t impeach a former president. And if the previous president did illegal things, there’s a process to travel through for that. Senator Marco Rubio echoed this, saying impeaching a former president wasn’t appropriate.
One thing the defense team will want to try to do is to avoid the sometimes baffling statement it gave to Congress earlier within the trial. Lawyer Bruce Castor’s meandering 48-minute address was roundly criticized by Mr. Trump’s opponents and supporters alike, and reportedly by the ex-president himself. New video footage of the riots was presented on both Wednesday and Thursday because the Democrats took senators step-by-step through the events of the day of the riot. The impeachment managers hoped the graphic shots of violent rioters, fleeing lawmakers and crushed police would propel conviction for incitement.
House prosecutor Joe Neguse made the case that Mr. Trump was not just a few guys making a controversial speech he was a president addressing supporters who were poised for violence and he struck a match. The arguments on Thursday were more within the never again vein. Representative Jamie Raskin said. My dear colleagues, is there any politician during this room who believes that if he’s ever allowed by the Senate to urge back to the Oval Office, Donald Trump would stop inciting violence to urge his way?” Congressman Ted Lieu said Impeachment, conviction, and disqualification [from office] isn’t almost the past. It’s about the longer term. It’s ensuring that no future official, no future president does an equivalent exact thing.
What Happens Next?
After the defense case, senators will then have up to four hours to present written inquiries to the legal teams. That will be followed by a debate and vote over whether to permit witnesses if either side wants them. If they are doing not, or if the vote fails, each side will make brief closing arguments followed by the ultimate vote on Mr. Trump’s fate. This could conclude as early as Saturday night or by Monday at the newest.