The Latest: Republicans criticize Trump lawyers’ performance
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on former President Donald Trump’s second Senate impeachment trial (all times local):
Senate Republicans had sharp criticism for former President Donald Trump’s lawyers after the opening of his second impeachment trial.
Many said they didn’t understand Trump’s lawyers’ arguments as they sought to persuade the Senate to dismiss the trial on constitutional grounds. Trump was impeached by the House for inciting the Jan. 6 insurrection at the Capitol.
Louisiana Sen. Bill Cassidy, who voted with Democrats to move forward with the trial after voting against them in a similar vote two weeks ago, said Trump’s team did a “terrible job” and was “disorganized,” “random” and “did everything they could but to talk about the question at hand.” Maine Sen. Susan Collins, who also voted with Democrats, said she was “perplexed” by lead Trump lawyer Bruce Castor, “who did not seem to make any arguments at all, which was an unusual approach to take.”
Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, one of Trump’s staunchest allies, said he didn’t think the lawyers did “the most effective job,” while praising Maryland Rep. Jamie Raskin, the Democrats’ lead prosecutor, as “impressive.” Sen. John Cornyn of Texas said Castor “just rambled on and on and on.” Both still voted to dismiss the trial, along with 42 other Republican senators.
Asked for a response to the GOP criticism, Castor said, “We had a good day.” Another Trump lawyer, David Schoen, told reporters that “I always hope to improve.”
HERE’S WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT FORMER PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP’S SECOND SENATE IMPEACHMENT TRIAL:
Donald Trump’s second impeachment trial has opened, an undertaking like no other in U.S. history. The defeated former president stands charged by the House with inciting the deadly mob attack on the Capitol to overturn the election in what prosecutors argue is the “most grievous constitutional crime.”
— What to watch as Trump’s 2nd impeachment trial kicks off
— EXPLAINER: What’s ahead as Trump impeachment trial begins
— Key arguments by Trump’s lawyers ahead of impeachment trial
HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS GOING ON:
Senators in Donald Trump’s historic second impeachment trial have agreed to consider the case, rejecting an attempt by the former president’s defense team and some Republican allies to halt the trial because he is no longer in office.
The vote was 56-44 on Tuesday on the question of whether the Senate has jurisdiction and could proceed. It came after four hours of arguments from Trump’s lawyers and the Democratic impeachment managers, who are arguing that the former president incited the Jan. 6 Capitol riots.
The impeachment managers managed to pick up one additional vote from Republicans — Louisiana Sen. Bill Cassidy. Two weeks ago, he voted in favor of an effort to dismiss, but on Tuesday he voted with Democrats to move forward. Cassidy joined Republican Sens. Susan Collins of Maine, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Ben Sasse of Nebraska, Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania and Mitt Romney of Utah in dismissing the Trump team’s claims.
Cassidy told reporters earlier that the impeachment managers’ arguments were “strong arguments” and it was a “very good opening.”
Cassidy said, “I have always said I was approaching this with an open mind.”
A lawyer for Donald Trump is arguing that the former president’s impeachment trial should be dismissed, both because it is unconstitutional and because it will “tear this country apart.”
David Schoen said Tuesday that Democrats are fueled by a “hatred” of Trump and fear that they will lose power. He says if the trial moves forward, it will make “everyone” look bad and other countries that wish the U.S. harm will watch with “glee.”
Trump was impeached on a count of incitement of insurrection over the Jan. 6 Capitol riot by a mob of his supporters. Both sides were debating the trial’s constitutionality on Tuesday, and the debate will be followed by a vote to dismiss the case, which is expected to fail.
Trump’s team is arguing that the trial is not constitutional because Trump is out of office. Democrats, citing legal scholars and precedent from a secretary of war’s 1876 impeachment, have detailed both the historical precedent and the violence of the rioting to argue that it is constitutional.
Trump was impeached one week before he left office and one week after he told his supporters to “fight like hell” before they laid siege on the Capitol. The rioting resulted in five deaths.
One of the lawyers heading former President Donald Trump’s defense at his second impeachment trial is conceding that Trump lost the election to Joe Biden, a fact that Trump himself has refused to acknowledge.
In opening remarks Tuesday, lawyer Bruce Castor said: “The American people are smart enough to pick a new administration if they don’t like the old one. And they just did.”
Later, Castor referred to Trump, saying: “He was removed by the voters.”
Trump has repeatedly disputed the results of the election, falsely claiming he won in a “landside.” He kept up the baseless claim during a speech before the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol, which set in motion his trial on a charge of incitement of insurrection.
There was no widespread fraud in the election, as has been confirmed by election officials across the country and former Attorney General William Barr. Dozens of legal challenges to the election put forth by Trump and his allies were dismissed.
Rep. Jamie Raskin, the lead House impeachment manager, grew emotional as he concluded the Democrats’ first round of arguments in former President Donald Trump’s second impeachment trial.
Raskin spoke about his personal experience in the Capitol on Jan. 6. He had been joined by family members that day — the day after he had buried his son, who took his own life in December.
His daughter and son-in-law were in an office in the Capitol and hid under a desk, where they sent what they thought were their final texts. He says, “They thought they were going to die.”
Separated from them in the House chamber, Raskin described people around him calling to say goodbye to their families, members removing their congressional pins to try to evade detection. And he said he heard the rioters “pounding on the door like a battering ram” — a sound he said he would “never forget.”
He choked up as he recounted his daughter telling him she never wanted to return to the Capitol again.
Through tears, Raskin said, “This cannot be the future of America.”
Democrats are using various arguments to make their case for why the impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump is constitutional.
During arguments Tuesday, they said there is historical precedent for former officials to be tried before the Senate. They said the framers of the Constitution would not have intended for presidents to be let off the hook for conduct committed in their final weeks in office. And they say the Senate should not give in to Trump’s efforts to deprive them of the power to try the president.
Rep. David Cicilline, a Rhode Island Democrat, told senators that the argument that the Senate doesn’t have jurisdiction to try Trump rests on a “purely fictional” legal premise.
Cicilline: “The Senate can and should force President Trump to stand trial.”
The impeachment managers are also invoking the public statements of leading conservative legal scholars who in recent days have come forward to support the idea that the trial is constitutional and that the Senate has jurisdiction.
Donald Trump’s historic second impeachment trial has opened with dramatic video that includes his words to rioters who descended on the U.S. Capitol and the chaos and violence that ensued.
Rep. Jamie Raskin, the lead House impeachment manager presenting the case against Trump, introduced the more than 10-minute-long video timeline of the day. It began with Trump’s speech at a Jan. 6 rally by the White House in which he tells the crowd, “We’re going to walk down to the Capitol,” and it included the crowd marching to the building. That video was juxtaposed with what was happening inside the building as lawmakers were preparing to certify Joe Biden’s victory.
The footage included some of the more well-known pieces of video from the day: Trump saying “We will stop the steal,” Capitol Police officer Eugene Goodman confronting the insurrectionists and leading them away from Senate chambers, and graphic footage of another officer being crushed between two doors.
In other parts, the footage focused on jarring images of rioters confronting police: yelling epithets, throwing objects and pushing past barricades and outnumbered Capitol Police.
President Joe Biden is planning to largely ignore the impeachment trial of his predecessor and plans to focus on the nation’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki on Tuesday said Biden would not be watching the trial of former President Donald Trump and would not “opine on back and forth arguments” taking place during the proceedings.
Biden, and Psaki on his behalf, have for weeks steadfastly refused to address much of the trial, saying they believed the process had to be done but have avoided weighing in on the particulars.
The White House has also made clear that it intends to focus on the business of government while the trial continues.
Pushing for the passage of his COVID-19 relief package, Biden was to meet with Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen on Tuesday. He also plans visits to the Pentagon and National Institute of Health later this week.
Donald Trump’s historic second impeachment trial has opened in the Senate, with Democrats arguing that the former president should be convicted for inciting a violent mob of his supporters to attack the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6.
Tuesday is the first day of arguments in the trial, which is expected to last around a week or more. Senators, sitting at their desks and in other locations around the chamber, will listen to arguments from Trump’s lawyers that the trial is unconstitutional because Trump is no longer president. Democrats will dispute that claim, pointing to legal experts and historical precedent.
Each side has two hours to make its case on Tuesday, after which the Senate is expected to vote and reject the GOP efforts to dismiss the trial.
Opening arguments from the House Democrats start Wednesday, and Trump’s lawyers are expected to mount their defense starting on Friday.
Trump is the first former president to be tried after leaving office. The House impeached Trump Jan. 13, a week before Democrat Joe Biden was inaugurated.
House Democrats prosecuting the impeachment case against Donald Trump say in a final pre-trial brief the former president’s lawyers are trying to “shift the blame onto his supporters” as they argue he’s not to blame for the Capitol insurrection.
The Democrats say the lawyers’ argument that Trump did not incite the Jan. 6 riot ignores Trump’s earlier false statements that there was widespread fraud in the election and his attempts to rally his supporters.
Trump’s team says he was protected by freedom of speech when he told his supporters to “fight like hell” to overturn his election defeat. It says Trump was using “fight” as a general term, not a direction to be violent.
Democrats say the Republican former president “knew that many of his supporters, agitated by his barrage of lies about a stolen election, were prone to violence.”
The Democrats prosecuting the case this week plan to show videos of the riot and tell graphic and personal stories of the rioting, in which five people died.
Trump’s lawyers say they also will have video.
The trial starts Tuesday.
House impeachment managers plan to lay out a “devastating” case that is similar to a criminal prosecution in former President Donald Trump’s second Senate impeachment trial. That’s according to senior aides familiar with the managers’ arguments.
The managers are nine House Democrats chosen by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to argue the case. The aides say the managers will lay out a succinct story that shows Trump’s “singular” responsibility for the deadly Jan. 6 riot, starting with his false claims about election fraud and culminating with the assault on the Capitol. They say the managers will use videos and personal stories to argue that Trump is guilty of inciting the riot, including evidence that hasn’t been seen before.
The aides work on the impeachment managers’ team and were granted anonymity to discuss their upcoming arguments.
Trump’s lawyers plan to argue that Trump did not incite the riot, even though he told his supporters to “fight like hell” just before they laid siege to the Capitol.
The trial will start Tuesday with arguments over whether it should be dismissed. Republicans argue it is not constitutional because Trump is out of office. Democrats say there is no “January exception” in the constitution if a president commits impeachable offenses.
— By Mary Clare Jalonick