BREAKING NEWS: Donald Trump's second impeachment trial begins
BREAKING NEWS: Donald Trump’s second impeachment trial begins as Democratic managers promise they will give the Senate ‘devastating new evidence’ against the ex-president – who is watching on TV from Mar-a-Lago
- The second impeachment trial against Donald Trump kicked off in the Senate on Tuesday afternoon
- Democratic aides say impeachment managers are set to present brand new ‘devastating’ evidence
- One aide said that the proceedings will resemble a ‘violent crime criminal prosecution.’
- Meanwhile, Donald Trump will take a break from golfing this week to closely follow his second impeachment trial on TV from his Mar-a-Lago residence
- The trial could run straight through the weekend – with a potential conviction vote on Monday
- The former president is already preparing for his comeback to politics after his almost assured acquittal
- Since leaving office, Trump has maintained a relatively low profile, taking the advice of his aides, and daughter Ivanka Trump and son-in-law Jared Kushner, not to rock the boat before the trial concludes
- ‘He finally realizes less is more,’ an adviser to Trump said
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.
Donald Trump’s second impeachment trial kicked off Tuesday afternoon with Democrats promising to deliver ‘devastating new evidence’ that the former president incited the MAGA mob’s deadly riot at the Capitol.
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 NBC News, said that the proceedings will resemble a ‘violent crime criminal prosecution.’
Impeachment managers immediately played a 14-minute video of Trump’s January 6 speech, graphic images of the ensuing Capitol riots and images of his tweets to show that he incited the MAGA mob.
Although the lead up, day-of, and fallout from the riot last month all largely happened in the public eye, some clips shown Tuesday appeared to be never-before-seen – or at least not widely distributed – footage.
The nine managers, led by Representative Jamie Raskin, 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.
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 Politico of his preparations for a ‘second act.’
As the Senate trial kicks off Tuesday afternoon, the former president will forgo his usual routine of hitting the links at his Palm Beach golf club and instead set up in front of the TV for the remainder of the proceedings, his aides say.
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.
Starting Tuesday at 1:00 p.m., the Senate president pro tempore Patrick Leahy will call the session to order. Both sides will then get two hours each to present their argument for and against the constitutionality of impeaching a former president.
After the four hour debate, the Senate will vote on whether it is constitutional to move forward with impeachment. The motion will likely pass as it only requires a simple majority.
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
Senate president pro tempore Patrick Leahy, who is presiding over the trial gaveling in the chamber promptly at 1:01 p.m.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, along with the other 49 senators, are preparing Tuesday to kick off the Senate impeachment trial Tuesday afternoon
The House impeachment managers, led by Representative Jamie Raskin, waked to the Senate floor to present their case for convicting Trump for ‘incitement of insurrection’
The nine impeachment managers are shown walking through statutory hall
Following opening procedures and a roll call vote, Raskin began the argument from Democrats against Trump by showing a video montage of the former president’s speech and the ensuing riots at the Capitol on January 6
Trump’s defense lawyers David Schoen (left) and Bruce Castor (right) are preparing to argue impeaching Trump, who is no longer president, is unconstitutional
Castor did not wear a mask as he walked through the Capitol to the Senate chamber
Republican Leader Mitch McConnell arrives Tuesday for the Senate chamber for the impeachment trial. It is highly unlikely Democrats will be able to sqay the 17 Republicans needed to convict Trump with a two-thirds vote
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.
On Tuesday afternoon, the Senate impeachment trial will kick off with a four-hour debate on whether impeaching an ex-president is constitutional.
Schoen and Castor will argue it is not.
Immediately following, the senators will vote on the constitutionality of the proceedings, which will give a good indication if some Republicans are open to conviction.
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.
Trump defenders: Bruce Castor, David Schoen and Michael van der Veen
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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