The Latest: Tuberville stands by account of Trump phone call
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on former President Donald Trump’s second Senate impeachment trial (all times local):
Republican Sen. Tommy Tuberville of Alabama is standing by his account that he told then-President Donald Trump that Vice President Mike Pence was being evacuated from the Senate during the Capitol riot.
The conversation is of interest to Democrats because Trump sent a tweet at 2:24 p.m. on Jan. 6 saying that Pence didn’t have “the courage” to challenge the election results. If Tuberville’s account is correct, then Trump would likely have known before sending the tweet that Pence had been evacuated and was in danger. At the time, the insurrectionists had already broken into the Capitol, some of them calling for Pence’s death.
Tuberville recounted the phone conversation to reporters on Friday, saying, “I said, ’Mr. President, they’ve taken the vice president out. They want me to get off the phone, I gotta go.”
Louisiana Sen. Bill Cassidy, a Republican who has indicated he is open to convicting Trump, asked Trump’s lawyers and the House impeachment managers about the call during Friday’s question-and-answer session.
In response, Trump lawyer Michael van der Veen called Tuberville’s account “hearsay,” comparing it to something someone had “heard the night before at a bar somewhere.”
HERE’S WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT FORMER PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP’S SECOND SENATE IMPEACHMENT TRIAL:
Senators are submitting written questions to the prosecution and the defense in the impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump. The defense wrapped up their case in about three hours earlier Friday.
— Trump lawyers say impeachment managers just want vengeance
— Trump’s free speech impeachment defense open to debate
— Nebraska Sen. Sasse bets political future on opposing Trump
HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS GOING ON:
The Senate has voted to give the Congressional Gold Medal to Eugene Goodman, a Capitol Police officer who led a violent mob away from the Senate doors on Jan. 6 as they hunted for lawmakers during the presidential electoral count.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer called the vote at the end of the day’s impeachment proceedings, noting Goodman’s “foresight in the midst of chaos, and his willingness to make himself a target of the mob’s rage so that others might reach safety.”
The Senate voted to award Goodman the medal -- the highest honor Congress can bestow -- by unanimous consent, meaning there were no objections. Goodman was in the Senate chamber as Schumer spoke, and the entire Senate stood and turned toward him, giving him a standing ovation. He put his hand on his heart.
Goodman has been in the chamber for much of the impeachment trial, in which House Democrats are charging that former President Donald Trump incited the Jan. 6 insurrection. New evidence introduced in the trial this week showed additional video of Goodman leading Republican Sen. Mitt Romney to safety as he unknowingly headed toward a location where the mob had gathered.
The trial wrapped up for the day Friday night and will resume Saturday.
The lead House prosecutor in Donald Trump’s impeachment trial appears to have had enough of the defense argument that the former president wasn’t responsible for inciting the deadly Capitol siege.
“Get real,” said Rep. Jamie Raskin of Maryland.
The defense lawyers have been arguing that Trump didn’t mean it when he told a rally to go to Congress and “fight like hell” for his presidency as lawmakers were certifying Joe Biden’s election.
“How gullible do you think we are?” Raskin said Friday. “We saw this happen.”
The defense has tried to compare his words to those used by other Democratic politicians fighting for health care or other priorities. The argument is drawing eyerolls from the senators on the Democratic side of the aisle.
Senators are posing questions to the lawyer as the trial heads toward a vote on whether to convict or acquit the former president on the charge of incitement of insurrection.
A House impeachment manager says she questions why lawyers for former President Donald Trump played multiple video clips of people of color or women talking about fighting in a political context.
Del. Stacey Plaskett of the U.S. Virgin Islands told senators Friday that she noted a particular focus in the lawyers’ presentation on “Black women like myself who are sick and tired of being sick and tired for our children, your children, our children.”
Trump’s lawyers have argued that his words exhorting his supporters to fight the election are protected by the First Amendment. They repeatedly showed clips on Friday of Rep. Maxine Waters of California, who is Black.
Democratic impeachment managers say Trump’s Jan. 6 speech was the culmination of a monthslong campaign to sow doubt about his election loss to President Joe Biden and that he should be found guilty of inciting the riot.
The former president’s counsel also used a video montage that created a false equivalency between the Capitol riot and Black Lives Matter protests that followed the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis last May, invoking race in arguments for the president’s innocence.
Plaskett told senators Friday: “I thought we were past that. I think maybe we’re not.”
Senators are submitting written questions to the prosecution and the defense in the impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump.
One of the first questions came from Republican Sens. Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, who have been critical of Trump’s actions. They asked Trump’s lawyers to lay out in detail what Trump did to stop the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, and when Trump first learned the building had been breached.
Trump lawyer Michael van der Veen did not answer directly, instead accusing Democrats of denying Trump due process during the impeachment process.
“The House managers did zero investigation and the American people deserve a lot better than that,” he said.
Trump’s defense wrapped up their opening arguments earlier Friday, telling senators the impeachment is unconstitutional and politically motivated.
Senators will have up to four hours to submit their questions.
The defense attorneys for Donald Trump have wrapped up their presentation in the former president’s impeachment trial.
Lawyers argued for three hours Friday that Trump didn’t incite the Jan. 6 rally crowd to riot at the U.S. Capitol and that his words were merely figures of speech. They say the case against Trump was a political witch hunt by Democrats and was not valid because he is no longer in office.
Their truncated defense barely used the full time allotted, 16 hours over two days. Many senators minds appear already made up.
Trump is accused of incitement of insurrection in the mob siege at the Capitol. Five people died. Senators will next be able to ask the lawyers and House impeachment managers questions when the trial resumes.
Democrats in the Senate chamber chuckled and whispered among themselves as Donald Trump’s defense team played videos of them saying “fight” over and over again at the former president’s impeachment trial -- an effort to counter Trump’s call to his supporters to “fight like hell” before they laid siege on the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6.
Arguing that Trump did not incite the insurrection, as the House has charged, the lawyers played videos of Democrats saying the word “fight” without any context, calling for protests after Black men and women were killed by police officers and challenging the results of the presidential elections that Republicans won. At a break in the proceedings, Democrats said it was a distraction and a “false equivalence” with their own behavior.
“Donald Trump was warned, if you don’t stop talking about a stolen election, people will be killed,” said Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine. “He was specifically warned that. He kept talking about it, and a violent mob attacked the Capitol and seven people are dead who would be alive today, had he just followed their advice. That’s what I thought about those videos.”
Colorado Sen. Michael Bennett said it felt like the lawyers were “erecting straw men to then take them down rather than deal with the facts” and the events of Jan. 6.
Republicans watched intently as the Trump lawyers presented. Some praised them afterward, including Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski, who has been harshly critical of Trump’s role in the riots and panned the lawyers’ previous arguments on Tuesday.
“They are putting on a good defense today,” Murkowski said, adding that the first two hours “were well put together.”
Donald Trump’s lawyers are arguing that his words to his supporters who attacked the U.S. Capitol – to “fight like hell” – are common political rhetoric, using a video montage to show almost every single Senate Democrat using the word “fight” in political speeches.
The lengthy video featured Vice President Kamala Harris, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer and countless other Democrats using the word “fight,” without context. The video also featured most of the Democratic impeachment managers who are prosecuting the case that Trump incited the violent insurrection.
Once the video finished, lawyer David Schoen pointed at both the senators and the impeachment managers and told them to “stop the hypocrisy.” The Democratic prosecutors have argued that Trump’s supporters were primed for violence on Jan. 6, the day of the attack, and that he egged them on with “obvious intent” before they interrupted the electoral count of votes. Five people died in the chaos.
The lawyers followed that with additional videos of Democrats praising protests after the death of George Floyd in Minnesota last year and also challenging the elections of previous Republican presidents. Trump’s supporters attacked the Capitol after he falsely said for months that the presidential election was stolen.
Donald Trump’s lawyers have opened their arguments in the former president’s impeachment trial with a direct attack on Democrats.
Arguing that Trump did not incite the Jan. 6 insurrection of his supporters at the U.S. Capitol, lawyer Michael van der Veen said that the trial is “constitutional cancel culture” by Democrats trying to retain power. He played a video of Democrats calling for protests after Black men and women were killed by police officers and objecting to Trump’s election in 2017.
Trump’s supporters violently attacked the Capitol last month after he falsely claimed the presidential election was stolen from him for months and then told them to “fight like hell” as Congress counted the votes.
The lawyers are arguing that the trial is unconstitutional, that Trump is protected by freedom of speech and that he did not intend to incite the deadly riot.
Van der Veen said the case “poses a serious threat to freedom of speech for political leaders of both parties at every level of government.”
Defense lawyers have begun their opening arguments in the impeachment trial of Donald Trump as the case speeds to an expected conclusion this weekend.
The Trump legal team is expected to argue that the former president did not incite the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol and that his speech was protected by the First Amendment. The lawyers have also raised questions about the trial’s constitutionality because Trump is no longer in office.
Trump’s lawyers are not expected to use anywhere close to their allotted time and will wrap up their arguments later Friday. After that, senators who are serving as jurors will have an opportunity to ask questions of lawyers for both sides, followed by closing arguments.
The case is likely to conclude as soon as Saturday.
Now it’s the Trump team’s time.
House prosecutors at former President Donald Trump’s second impeachment trial relied on emotion and violent images on video to make their case in arguments over the past two days.
The Senate trial is shifting to Trump’s defense lawyers on Friday, and they’re prepared to acknowledge that the violence at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 was every bit as traumatic, unacceptable and illegal as Democrats say.
But Trump’s lawyers plan to say Trump had nothing to do with it. They want to pivot to what they see as the core and more winnable issue of the trial: whether Trump can be held responsible for inciting the deadly riot.
The argument is likely to appeal to Republican senators who themselves want to be seen as condemning the violence without convicting the former president.
Donald Trump’s lawyers have a simple objective as they open their defense at the former president’s impeachment trial: Don’t lose any Republican votes.
Most Republican senators have indicated they’ll vote to acquit Trump on the House charge of incitement of insurrection. They say the trial is unconstitutional and that Trump didn’t incite supporters to lay siege on the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 when he told them to “fight like hell” against the certification of Joe Biden’s White House victory.
If Republicans hold the line, Democrats will fall well short of the two-thirds of the Senate needed for conviction.
Trump’s two top lawyers, Bruce Castor and David Schoen, risked losing one Republican vote on Tuesday after Louisiana Sen. Bill Cassidy said they did a “terrible” job arguing that the trial is unconstitutional.
Cassidy, who had voted with his party two weeks earlier to stop the trial, switched his vote to side with Democrats.
Bruce Castor, is a onetime rising-star prosecutor from suburban Philadelphia, had burned bridges with much of the Republican establishment after a series of election losses. And he’d pretty much stayed out of sight.
But he’s made a comeback as one of Donald Trump’s lawyers at the former president’s impeachment trial.
Castor’s moment in the national glare on Tuesday was seen as a rambling and at times aimless hourlong presentation in search of a point.
He’s getting a chance to make a different impression when he begins to present Trump’s defense on Friday.