Trump attorney quit on Thursday night, rejoined after Trump called him
President Trump’s attorney David Schoen quit on Thursday night over a dispute in strategy about how to use the videos that aired during the defense team’s arguments on Friday, a source close to Mr. Trump’s legal team said. He rejoined the legal team after Mr. Trump called and asked him to, the source said.
The news was first reported by The New York Times.
Schoen participated in the defense’s arguments Friday afternoon, but will not be present at the trial on Saturday because he observes the Jewish Sabbath.
Congresswoman backs claim that Trump told McCarthy “well I guess these people are more upset about the election than you are”
Congresswoman Jaime Herrera Beutler issued a statement late Friday backing reports that House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy had reached President Trump by phone on January 6.
According to Herrera Beutler, McCarthy told her that when he spoke to Mr. Trump that day and asked him to “publicly and forcefully” call off the Capitol assault, “the president initially repeated the falsehood that it was antifa that had breached the Capitol.”
“McCarthy refuted that and told the president that these were Trump supporters,” Beutler’s statement said. “That’s when, according to McCarthy, the president said: ‘Well, Kevin, I guess these people are more upset about the election than you are.'”
Herrera Beutler, a Republican from Washington, was one of 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach Mr. Trump. She referenced the call in her statement of support of impeachment.
Cassidy says he was dissatisfied with Trump lawyer’s answer to his question
Senator Bill Cassidy, one of the few Republicans considered to be a swing vote in the impeachment trial, expressed dissatisfaction with Trump lawyer Michael van der Veen’s response to his question during the question and answer period of the trial.
Cassidy asked about a phone call Senator Tommy Tuberville of Alabama told reporters he had with Mr. Trump at 2:15 p.m. on January 6. Tuberville said that during the call, he told the president that Pence had been evacuated. Cassidy said he presumes it was understood at that time the rioters had entered the Capitol, and noted that even after the call, Mr. Trump criticized the vice president in a tweet.
Van der Veen called Tuberville’s comments referenced by Cassidy “hearsay” and again accused the House of mounting rushed impeachment proceedings.
“I have no idea and nobody from the House has given us any opportunity to have any other idea,” he said.
Cassidy told reporters afterwards that he “didn’t think it was a very good answer.’
“It obviously wasn’t hearsay, Tuberville was right there,” Cassidy said, adding that Tuberville had confirmed his conversation with Mr. Trump on January 6. “The real issue is what was the president’s intent, right? Only the president could answer that. And the president chose not to testify.”
Senators Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski also indicated that they weren’t satisfied with the arguments today from Mr. Trump’s lawyers. The two asked when Mr. Trump had become aware that the Capitol had been breached by rioters.
“I didn’t really feel that I got a response but I’m not sure that that was the fault of the counsel. One of the problems is with the House not having hearings to establish exactly what happened when, it’s difficult to answer a question like that,” Collins said. “I was hoping that one side or the other would have, because I think it’s a very important question, of when did the President know that the barricades were breached and what did he do at what time to stop the rioting and so I wish I had gotten the answers to that.”
Senate adjourns for the night
It will resume at 10 a.m. Saturday for a vote on whether to hear from witnesses, and then for closing arguments.
Senate awards officer Eugene Goodman Congressional Gold Medal as Q&A portion concludes
Just before 6:30 p.m., Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer rose to declare there are no further questions on either side, and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConell agreed there were no further questions from the Republicans.
The question-and-answer portion of the proceedings were brought to a close.
Schumer then announced that Capitol Police officer Eugene Goodman, who was in the chamber, would receive the Congressional Gold Medal, as the Senate would pass legislation bestowing him with the honor. It was swiftly approved by unanimous consent.
“I think we can all agree that Eugene Goodman deserves the highest honor Congress can bestow,” Schumer said.
Senators, House managers, Mr. Trump’s lawyers and Senate officials then stood to applaud Goodman for his heroic actions January 6.
Goodman was captured on video leading a group of rioters away from the entrance to the Senate chamber and, in footage revealed by the House managers Wednesday, he ran past Senator Mitt Romney of Utah after he left the Senate floor while the mob breached the Capitol. Goodman intercepted Romney and turned him around, likely saving him from running into the violent group.
Trump’s attorney seems to suggest a former president could be vulnerable to criminal prosecution
Senator John Cornyn posed the following question: The House managers have argued that if the Senate cannot convict former officers, the Constitution creates a January exception that allows a president to act with impunity. But isn’t a president subject to criminal prosecution after he leaves office for acts he committed in office, even if he commits those acts in January?
Mr. Trump’s attorney, Bruce Castor, said there is no such thing as a January exception. The courts can pursue criminal action of a private citizen, Castor said.
Raskin said “of course” a president would be subject to criminal prosecution by the prosecutor of the District of Columbia, but that’s also true at any point. The reason the Constitution’s framers gave the Congress the power of impeachment was to protect the country, he said.
“We come here in the spirit of protecting our republic, and that’s what it’s all about,” Raskin said.
Castro warns against green-lighting future pressures on election officials by presidents who lose
Senator Michael Bennet of Colorado, a Democrat, asked the House managers what would have happened if numerous officials, including Pence, Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger and others, bowed to Mr. Trump’s pressure and the force exerted by the mob at the Capitol?
Congressman Joaquin Castro, in response, recounted Mr. Trump’s far-reaching campaign to push election officials and state lawmakers to reverse the outcome of the presidential election. In Raffensperger’s case, he and his wife both received death threats after refusing to comply with Mr. Trump’s request.
“Please senators, consider that for a second,” Castro said. “The president putting all of this public and private pressure on election officials, telling them that they could face criminal penalties if they don’t do what he wants.”
Castro questioned what would have happened had the election officials bowed to Mr. Trump’s pressure.
“As a Congress and as a nation, we cannot be numb to this conduct,” he said. “If we are and if we don’t set a precedent against it, more presidents will do this in the future. This will be a green-light for them to engage in that kind of pressure and that kind of conduct.”
Trump attorney says impeachment could “happen to a lot of people” if allowed after an official leaves office
The question asked from a Florida Republican is as follows: Voting to convict a former president would create a new precedent that a former official could be convicted and disqualified. So couldn’t a future House, in an attempt to “lock her up,” disqualify a former Secretary of State from future office?
Raskin said the jurisdictional issue here is over and the Senate entertained jurisdiction already.
“The hypothetical suggested by the gentleman from Florida has no bearing on this case,” Raskin said, pointing out that Mr. Trump was impeached while he was in office for conduct that occurred while he was in office.
Van der Veen, representing Mr. Trump said that impeachment could “happen to a lot of people” if the Senate moves forward with conviction. Van der Veen also told the Senate that they can acquit Mr. Trump for any reason they want.
“So you have to look at what they’ve put on, in its totality, and come to your own understanding,” he said.
Raskin says Trump’s lawyers are “treating their client like he’s a criminal defendant”
One senator asked if the Brandenburg case prohibits holding public officials accountable for the incitement of violence. The Brandenburg test, established in Brandenburg v. Ohio, determined that speech can become illegal when the speech is “directed to inciting or producing imminent lawless action.”
Raskin started with a letter from more than 140 law professors, including some conservative professors, who called First Amendment arguments against Mr. Trump frivolous.
This group of professors said there’s a strong case that Mr. Trump is guilty of the criminal definition of incitement to violence.
“The president swore to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States,” Raskin said. “Did he do that? No, on the contrary.”
Raskin said Mr. Trump can’t be compared to a random person he called to one of his rallies, as the most powerful person in the country.
“They’re already treating their client like he’s a criminal defendant!” Raskin said, suggesting Mr. Trump’s lawyers want to act like this is a criminal trial rather than a political process.
Mr. Trump’s attorney, Michael van der Veer, claimed Brandenburg doesn’t even apply here.
In response to van der Veen at the request of Maryland Senator Chris Van Hollen, a Democrat, Raskin rejected his counterpart’s invocation of another Supreme Court case, Bond v. Floyd, involving the First Amendment.
“Please don’t desecrate the name of Julian Bond, a great American, by linking him with this terrible plot against America that just took place in the storming of the U.S. Capitol,” Raskin said.
Manchin asks if a president would be made aware of threats
Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia submitted the following question: Would the president made aware of the FBI and other intelligence information, and would the president not be responsible for providing a sufficient law enforcement response, as he did at St. John’s Episcopal Church?
The House impeachment managers responded first.
“It’s the responsibility of the president to know,” Plaskett said, noting Mr. Trump gets “daily briefings” about what’s happening in the country.
That’s not to mention that the president had all the public information available suggesting something could go awry, Plaskett said.
Cassidy asks about Trump’s tweet denouncing Pence as mob breached Capitol
GOP Senator Bill Cassidy of Louisiana, who is among the Republicans being closely watched in the proceedings, asked about a phone call Senator Tommy Tuberville of Alabama told reporters he had with Mr. Trump at 2:15 p.m. on January 6. Tuberville said that during the call, he told the president that Pence had been evacuated. Cassidy said he presumes it was understood at that time the rioters had entered the Capitol, and noted that even after the call, Mr. Trump criticized the vice president in a tweet.
“The tweet and lack of response suggests President Trump did not care that Vice President Pence was endangered or that law enforcement was overwhelmed. Does this show that President Trump was tolerant of the intimidation of Vice President Pence?” Cassidy asked.
Van der Veen called Tuberville’s comments referenced by Cassidy “hearsay” and again accused the House of mounting rushed impeachment proceedings.
“Directly, no, but I dispute the premise of your facts. I dispute the facts that are laid out in that question,” he said in response to Cassidy.
Van der Veen said he has a “problem with the facts in the question.”
“I have no idea and nobody from the House has given us any opportunity to have any other idea,” he said.
Raskin, for the House managers, then noted an earlier comment made by van der Veen, in which he said his experience in Washington for the proceedings was “miserable.”
“Man, you should have been here on January 6th,” the Maryland Democrat said.
He went on to note that Democrats asked Mr. Trump to voluntarily testify in the proceedings to “fill in the gaps” as he is in “sole possession” of the evidence that would address such questions.
But Mr. Trump’s lawyers swiftly rejected the request in a response Raskin called “contemptuous.”
“This is about setting standards of conduct for the president of the United States,” he said.
Raskin appealed to van der Veen to bring Mr. Trump to the Senate to have him testify under oath about his tweet sent “while the vice president was being hunted down by a mob that wanted to hang him.”
Castro calls Trump tweet that “these are the things that happen” a “key quote”
Senator Patty Murray Washington brought up Mr. Trump’s tweet at 6:01 p.m. on January 6, when he tweeted “these are the things and events that happen when a sacred landslide election victory is so unceremoniously & viciously stripped away.”
Castro called this a “key quote” from the day, noting people had chanted “hang Mike Pence,” gone after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and threatened the safety of members of Congress.
Castor said this tweet shows the events of January 6 were foreseeable and that Mr. Trump foresaw it and helped incite the violence. Castro said it shows Mr. Trump “intended and revelled in this.”
“He said remember this day forever. So if he was not guilty of inciting this insurrection, if this is not what he wanted … by that time, the carnage had been on television for hours,” Castro said.
Ron Johnson presses Trump’s attorneys on law enforcement response to breach
Senator Ron Johnson of Wisconsin posed to both parties if House managers assert the January 6 attack was predictable and foreseeable, why were law enforcement caught off guard and unable to prevent the breach, and why did the House sergeant at arms reportedly turn down a request to activate the National Guard?
“Holy cow,” van der Veen said. “That is a really good question and had the House managers done their investigation, maybe somebody would have an answer to that. But they didn’t.”
Van der Veen again claimed Mr. Trump was not afforded due process and said the information put forth by Democrats’ indicates federal law enforcement was aware of threats of violence before January 6.
“My question is who ignored it and why?” he said. “If an investigation were done, we would know the answer to that, too.”
Plaskett, then, said if defense counsel has exculpatory evidence, “you’re welcome to give it to us. We would love to see it.”
“The defense counsel wants to blame everyone else but the person who is most responsible for what happened on January 6, and that’s President Trump. Donald Trump,” Plaskett said.
Plaskett noted the National Guard wasn’t deployed until two hours after the assault began and said D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser doesn’t have the authority over the U.S. Capitol and could not deploy the D.C. National Guard.
“The president of the United States did not defend the Capitol of this country,” she said, calling it “indefensible.”
Senator Jeff Merkeley of Oregon then asked the House managers if a president is innocent of inciting an insurrection because he says to “be peaceful” in a speech, even after he spins falsehoods to anger Americans and stokes their anger.
“He said stay peaceful when they had already gotten violent, when they had already brought weapons, when they had already hurt people. What he never said was ‘stop the attack. Leave the Capitol, leave immediately,'” Congressman Joaquin Castro of Texas said.
Mr. Trump used the word “peaceful” once in his lengthy speech at the Ellipse and used the word “fight” or “fighting” 20 times, he said.
“Consider the context. He had been telling them a big lie over and over,” Castro said.
Sanders asks: Did Trump actually win the election?
Senator Bernie Sanders asked if the prosecutors are right when they claim that former President Trump was telling a “big lie,” or did Mr. Trump actually win the election?
House impeachment manager Stacey Plaskett said it was clear that Mr. Trump had lost the election.
The people had spoken, and it was time for the peaceful transfer of power, as our constitution and the rule of law demands, Plaskett said. “… He lost the election. He lost the court cases.”
Then it was Mr. Trump’s attorney’s turn. Michael van der Veen had to have the question read to him again.
“In my judgment, who asked that? My judgment is irrelevant,” van der Veen responded, dodging the question. Sanders responded “I did” and responded “no it isn’t” about van der Veen’s judgment being “irrelevant.”
Sanders then said from his desk: “You represent the president of the United States!”
Senator Patrick Leahy, who is presiding over the trial, intervened and said senators can’t respond to lawyers.
Managers asked about past objections to state Electoral College votes
Senator Elizabeth Warren, Democrat of Massachusetts, asked House managers about prior objections to the counting of electoral votes by Democrats, which were highlighted in the presentation by Mr. Trump’s lawyers. Warren asked whether any of those objections were raised after insurrectionists stormed the Capitol to prevent the counting of electoral votes and after the president’s personal lawyer asked senators to raise objections to delay the certification.
“The answer is no,” Raskin said.
The Maryland Democrat also noted that in no other instance has the Capitol been stormed or the president “gone out and summoned a mob, assembled a mob, incited a mob and lit a match.”
Hawley and Cramer ask if a president could theoretically be disqualified but not removed
Republican Senators Kevin Cramer and Josh Hawley asked the following question: If the Senate’s power to disqualify is not derivative of the power to remove a convicted president from office, could the Senate disqualify a sitting president but not remove him or her?
But instead of taking his two-and-a-half minutes to focus solely on answering that question, Trump attorney Michael van der Veen went on a rant about a squabble with Castro over a point in the record.
Raskin called van der Veen’s response “profoundly inaccurate and irrelevant to what the question is.”
Raskin said the vote is a separate thing. Someone could vote to convict but not to disqualify, he said.
Democrats question long-term consequences of acquitting Trump
Democratic Senators Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, Bob Casey of Pennsylvania and Sherrod Brown of Ohio asked the House managers what message the Senate would be sending to future presidents and Congresses if it did not vote to convict Mr. Trump.
Plaskett, on behalf of the managers, said the consequences of Mr. Trump’s conduct were “devastating,” citing overwhelmed law enforcement, the evacuation of Congress and fear from staff members in the Capitol.
“This was devastating and the world watched us and the world is still watching us to see what we will do this day and will know what we did this day 100 years from now,” she said. “Those are the immediate consequences and our actions will reverberate as to what are the future consequences.”
Plaskett also cited the videos from Mr. Trump’s legal team that showed protests against police brutality and racial injustice following the deaths of Black Americans at the hands of law enforcement, noting many of them featured Black women fighting for a cause.
“What was not lost on me is so many of them were people of color and women, Black women like myself who are sick and tired of being sick and tired for our children. Your children. Our children,” she said.
Republican Senators Mike Lee of Utah and Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee then asked Mr. Trump’s legal team about the constitutionality of the trial, a question that was settled earlier in the week when the Senate voted to move forward with the proceedings.
Citing state constitutions enacted before 1787, which provided for the impeachment of a former officer, they questioned whether the framers’ decision to omit language authorizing the impeachment of former officials indicated they didn’t intend for the U.S. Constitution to allow former officials to be impeached.
“The answer is yes, of course they left it out. The framers were very smart men,” Mr. Trump’s attorney Michael van der Veen said, “and they went over draft after draft after draft on that document and they reviewed all the other drafts of all the state constitutions. All of them. And they picked and choosed what they wanted and they discarded what they did not. And what they discarded was the option for all of you to impeach a former elected official.”
Senators ask about Trump’s knowledge about the danger to Mike Pence
GOP Senators Mitt Romney of Utah and Susan Collins of Maine asked both sides when Mr. Trump knew of the danger to his own vice president, Mike Pence.
“When President Trump sent the disparaging tweet at 2:24 p.m. regarding Vice President Pence, was he aware that the Vice President had been removed from the Senate by the Secret Service for his safety?” the two asked. Pence was removed from the chamber at around 2:12 p.m.
Impeachment manager Joaquin Castro quoted the tweet by Mr. Trump, where the former president castigated Pence for not trying to overturn the election results.
“He said Mike Pence didn’t have the courage to do what needed to be done,” Castro said. He argued that by that time, it was apparent to anyone watching TV that the Capitol had been overrun.
“Donald Trump had not taken any measures to send help to overwhelmed Capitol Police,” Castro said. He also referenced a call between Mr. Trump and Senator Tommy Tuberville shortly after 2 p.m., during which Tuberville told reporters that he told Mr. Trump that Pence had just been evacuated from the Senate chamber.
Mr. Trump’s attorney again avoided the question, blaming House managers for not investigating further.
“At no point was the president informed that the vice president was in any danger,” Trump attorney Michael van der Veen said. “There is nothing at all in the record on this point because the House failed to do even a minimum amount of due diligence.”
Collins and Murkowski press Trump team on what he knew of Capitol breach
Senators Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, two Republicans who are considered possible swing votes, asked Mr. Trump’s team, “Exactly when did President Trump learn of the breach of the Capitol, what actions did he take to bring the rioting to an end and when did he take them? Please be as detailed as possible.”
Van der Veen did not provide an answer, instead claiming his lack of knowledge as to Mr. Trump’s actions underscored how the impeachment was rushed.
“With the rush to bring this impeachment, there’s been absolutely no investigation into that,” he said. “The House managers did zero investigation and the American people deserve a lot better than coming in here with no evidence, hearsay on top of hearsay on top of reports that are of hearsay.”
Democratic Senator Jacky Rosen of Nevada asked the House managers if there is evidence that Mr. Trump knew or should have known that his tolerance of anti-Semitic speech, hate speech, combined with his own rhetoric could incite the kind of violence seen January 6.
“Yes, he has encouraged actual violence, not just the word fight,” Delegate Stacey Plaskett of the U.S. Virgin Islands said.
Plaskett noted Mr. Trump’s comments to the Proud Boys, a far-right group, as well as his cheering in October of a caravan of his supporters in Texas who nearly ran a Biden-Harris campaign bus off a highway, among other examples.
“President Trump had a pattern and practice of praising and encouraging violence, never condemning it,” she said, adding Mr. Trump spent months cultivating a group of people who were known to be violent.
Plaskett said Mr. Trump had spent months calling his supporters to a march on a specific day at a specific time for a specific purpose.
“What else were they going to do to stop the certification of the election on that day but to stop you? But to stop you physically?” she said.
Senators begin questioning period for impeachment managers and Trump lawyers
Senators have up to four hours to submit written questions to the impeachment managers and Mr. Trump’s attorneys. The questions are alternating between the two parties, and managers and the former president’s lawyers have five minutes to respond.
The first question, by Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein and Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, asked the impeachment managers whether it was true that the siege on the Capitol would not have occurred if not for Mr. Trump’s conduct
“Donald Trump summoned the mob, assembled the mob and lit the flame. Everything that followed was his doing,” said Congressman Joaquin Castro, one of the impeachment managers.
The second question, from Republican Senators Ted Cruz, Roger Marshall, Kevin Cramer, and Lindsey Graham, asked the president’s counsel if a fund for raising a bail for rioters encouraged the rioters. Van der Veen replied simply “yes.” The question was an apparent reference to Democrats supporting funds to raise bail for protesters over the summer who demonstrated against police brutality and racial violence.
Democratic Senator Raphael Warnock asked whether it was true that dozens of courts had rejected the Trump campaign’s efforts to overturn the election. Impeachment manager Jamie Raskin said that they had “absolutely no problem” with Mr. Trump using legal routes to attempt to overturn the election, but they objected to his telling the “big lie” to his supporters that the election was stolen.
“The big lie was refuted, devastated and demolished,” Raskin said.
“Plainly a distraction”: Democrats react to videos from Trump’s attorneys
After accusing the House impeachment managers of using videos of Mr. Trump out of context as evidence, Trump’s legal defense played the video of Democrats, including some of the 2020 presidential candidates such as Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey and Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, attempting to equate their words to Trump’s rhetoric during the January 6th rally.
“You didn’t do anything wrong,” said David Schoen, one of Trump’s lawyers. “It is a word people use, but please stop the hypocrisy.”
Democrats did not take this line of argument seriously. Warren tweeted a video montage of her rally appearances shortly after Mr. Trump’s lawyers played the video, showing her embracing women and encouraging young girls to run for office.
“In case anyone is wondering what my rallies look like,” Warren said.
Read more here.
— Grace Segers and Jack Turman
Castor rests case for defense
The Senate reconvened at 2:34 p.m. to hear the final portion of arguments from Mr. Trump’s legal team, presented by lawyer Bruce Castor.
Castor began by rebuffing the characterization that an insurrection had even taken place in the U.S. Capitol, saying “clearly there was no insurrection. Insurrection is a term of art, it’s defined in the law. It involves taking over a country, a shadow government, taking the TV stations over and having some plan on what you’re going to do.”
He also chastised Democrats for failing to connect the assault to Mr. Trump, saying the “only question that needs to be answered is was Donald Trump responsible for inciting the violence that came to this building?”
The Pennsylvania attorney also repeated the claim that the managers selectively edited and manipulated the evidence they presented.
“Political hatred has no place in the American justice system and certainly no place in the Congress of the United States,” he said.
Castor played video clips of President Joe Biden at rallies and in speeches declaring his administration will stand against violence and for law-and-order, juxtaposing them with video of Democrats that had been played throughout the day.
“Make no mistake, and I will repeat it now and any time I’m ever asked, January 6 was a terrible day for our country. The attack on this building shocked us all,” Castor said. “President Trump did not incite or cause the horrific violence that occured on January 6, 2021. They know that.”
Castor said evidence that Mr. Trump did not incite the violence at the Capitol lies with his “admiration” for law enforcement and distaste for rioters and political violence.
“His long-standing hatred for violent protectors and his love for law and order is on display, worn on his sleeve every single day he served at the White House,” he said.
Castor called Mr. Trump the most pro-police and anti-mob president in history. However, it took three days for the White House to lower the flag for the Capitol Police officer who died after suffering injuries during the events of January 6.
Castor also attempted to clean aup Mr. Trump’s remarks at the rally on the morning of January 6, portions of which were played by the House managers in their presentation. Castor said the former president was merely warning Republican senators and House members could face primary challengers if they didn’t object to the tallying of votes, not stoking violence.
“The first way that the House managers presented and wanted you to conclude, that’s the criminal way,” he said. “But what the president said was the American way.”
While Castor sought to demonstrate the violence at the Capitol was premeditated and did not occur at the urging of Mr. Trump, he failed to note the former president repeatedly took to Twitter to invite his supporters to Washington to rally January 6.
“The January 6 speech did not cause the riots. The president did not cause the riots,” he said. “He neither explicitly or implicitly encouraged the use of violence or lawless action but in fact called for peaceful exercise of every American’s First Amendment rights to peacefully assemble and petition their government for redress of grievances.”
Castor admitted to another point of ignorance, too: He isn’t sure whether his own testimony is under oath.
“I don’t know if we’re under oath here,” Castor said during his arguments.
Castor attempted to defend Mr. Trump’s phone conversation with Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, saying there is “nothing untoward” about the former president speaking with a state’s top elections official. During the call, Mr. Trump urged Raffensperger to “find” 11,780 votes and said “there’s nothing wrong with saying that, you know, um, that you’ve recalculated.” The former president lost to Mr. Biden by 11,779 votes.
“Let us be clear. This trial is about far more than President Trump,” Castor said. “It is about silencing and banning the speech the majority does not agree with. It is about canceling 75 million Trump voters and criminalizing political viewpoints. That is what this trial is really about.”
After less than three hours of the 16 in all allotted to them, Castor then rested the case in defense of Mr. Trump.
“This concludes the formal defense of the 45th president of the United States to the impeachment article filed by the House of Representatives, ” he said.
The Senate is now in a brief recess.
— Melissa Quinn and Kathryn Watson
Senate in a short recess
The Senate is taking a 15-minute break.
Trump attorney says “this case is about political hatred”
Trump attorney Michael van der Veen claimed the Democrats’ case is “about political hatred,” even though 10 Republicans joined Democrats to impeach Mr. Trump, making it the most bipartisan impeachment of a president ever. Van der Veen did not address that.
“This case is about political hatred. It has become very clear that the House Democrats hate Donald Trump,” van der Veen claimed.
“Hatred is a dangerous thing. We all have to work to overcome it,” he added.
The Trump attorney warned that the Senate could “create a precedent where the Senate will be tasked with sitting in judgment as to the meaning and implied intent of a president’s words, or words of any elected official.”
Van der Veen then again played a video montage of Democrats using some version of the word “fight,” or suggesting roughing up an opponent. The Trump attorney warned that the First Amendment protected speech, and all political speech should be protected.
Van der Veen went on to complain about how he felt he was being treated.
He also claimed Mr. Trump has “enhanced” protected free speech rights as an elected official, a new argument that Mr. Trump’s team hasn’t presented before.
Schoen accuses Democrats of manipulating evidence presented in trial
Mr. Trump’s lead attorney David Schoen claimed the House impeachment managers manipulated the evidence put forth in the impeachment trial and selectively edited video footage, arguing there is “significant reason to doubt the evidence” presented.
“We have reason to believe that House managers manipulated evidence and selectively edited footage,” he said. “If they did this in a court of law, they would face sanctions from the judge.”
Schoen cited as an example a tweet used by the managers that featured a user who had a blue checkmark next to her name, when the user is not verified by Twitter. He also played a longer version of Mr. Trump’s comments about the violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, though his remarks were widely condemned at the time.
“They selectively edited the president’s words over and over again. They manipulated video, time-shifting clips and made it seem the president’s words were playing to a crowd when they weren’t,” he said.
Schoen also questioned how and when the managers received the shocking new security footage unveiled in their presentation Wednesday, suggesting Democrats withheld it from the American people for political gain.
“How did they get it? How are they the ones releasing it? Why wasn’t it released through law enforcement and the Department of Justice?” Schoen said.
He also took aim at the impeachment managers for relying on media reports during their presentation and said there is “reason to believe” the Democrats created “false representations of tweets.” While Democrats requested Mr. Trump voluntarily testify about the events of January 6 during the proceedings, Schoen and lawyer Bruce Castor have rejected the request.
“President Trump did not incite the horrific terrible riots of January 6,” Schoen said.
Schoen argued the violence perpetrated by Mr. Trump’s supporters were in contrast to the former president’s law-and-order message. He also said “political opportunism” and “hatred” for Mr. Trump led Democrats to rush impeachment through the House.
Arguing the former president was denied due process in the proceedings, Schoen said he and Mr. Trump’s lawyers were denied the opportunity to test the integrity of the evidence used against him and accused Democrats of attempting to disenfranchise more than 74 million people who voted for Mr. Trump in November.
Schoen also accused Democrats of a “double standard” and then played a montage of comments from Democrats, including President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris, and actors using violent language about Mr. Trump. A substantial portion of the montage featured prominent Democrats using the word “fight.”
“You didn’t do anything wrong,” Schoen said of Democrats. “It’s a word people use, but please stop the hypocrisy.”
In an effort to rebut Democrats’ argument that Mr. Trump was seeking to throw out votes that were legally cast and halt the counting of electoral votes on the false grounds the election was stolen, Schoen then played a montage of Democrats objecting to electoral votes cast in the 2016 and 2000 elections. Those instances, however, did not lead to violent riots.
Little of Schoen’s presentation addressed Mr. Trump’s conduct or refuted the charge he incited an insurrection.
Trump defense team alleges Trump offered “peace” and January 6 rally was “hijacked”
In his first 10 minutes of their arguments, Trump attorney Michael van der Veen offered false and misleading information about the Capitol attack.
Van der Veen claimed Mr. Trump’s first two tweets after the Capitol attack were offering words of peace. But that’s not accurate. Mr. Trump’s first tweet after the assault on the Capitol began was to blast Vice President Mike Pence for lacking “courage.” That was while Pence was still in danger on Capitol Hill. It was only after that that Mr. Trump tweeted support for police.
Van der Veen also trying to argue that people of “various different stripes and political persuasions” had “hijacked” the president’s rally. He pointed to one apparent member of “Antifa.” But there is no evidence that the vast majority of those who rushed the Capitol were anything but Trump supporters. Surveillance video and video posted to the Internet show people with Trump flags and gear. Some were caught on camera saying they came because the president told them to, or for the president.
Trial resumes with Trump’s defense attorneys making their case
The Senate impeachment trial resumed Friday, as Mr. Trump’s attorneys get their chance to argue their case. Mr. Trump’s defense team has 16 hours to make their arguments.
The Senate chaplain, Barry Black, prayed that the senators would be infused with “non-partisan patriotism,” and that they would make choices for God’s “greater glory.”
The acting sergeant at arms urged the senators to be silent upon “pain of imprisonment,” as is the warning each day. The Senate will take 15-minute breaks every two hours or so, and take a break for dinner around 5 p.m.
Michael van der Veen, who had not yet argued before the Senate before Friday, began the defense’s case.
“This impeachment is completely divorced from the facts, the evidence and the interest of the American people,” insisting that no reasonable person could come to the conclusion that Mr. Trump’s speech on January 6 incited violence.
Van der Veen said “no person could seriously believe the president’s January 6th speech on the Ellipse was in any way an incitement to insurrection.”
“The president devoted nearly his entire speech to an extended discussion of how legislators should vote on the question at hand,” van der Veen said.
The Trump attorney claimed Mr. Trump wanted the process to play out according to the “letter of the law.”
Impeachment managers won’t say if they plan to call witnesses
Senior aides to the Democrats’ House impeachment managers’ team still won’t say if the impeachment managers plan to call witnesses to make their case that former President Trump should be convicted for inciting an insurrection. But the senior aides say the managers are confident in the arguments they made during their two days of opening arguments.
“We are confident that our position will remain as strong as today. And at the end of this trial, the senators will have no choice but to vote to convict and disqualify,” an aide said.
With the former president’s lawyers indicating they will use just three to four hours of the 16 they are allotted to make their arguments, the House managers are prepared to move to a four hour question and answer session with senators as soon as Friday afternoon.
In a call with reporters Friday morning, the aides sought to rebut three of the arguments that the former president’s lawyers have indicated they will make to defend the former president: That the trial is unconstitutional because the former president is now a private citizen, that Mr. Trump’s speech is protected by the First Amendment, and that Democrats have used similar inflammatory political language.
The aides argued that the matter of constitutionality was settled by the vote at the start of the trial on Tuesday whether the Senate had jurisdiction to consider the impeachment. That vote was 56 to 44, with six Republicans joining Democrats to say it was within the Senate’s jurisdiction.
“By their oath that they have sworn they cannot consider jurisdiction issues,” one aide said.
“They really believe that the logical conclusion of the law is that a president who has lost an election can incite mob violence can direct his followers to ransack the Capitol, to stop the peaceful transfer of power, and that there is nothing that the United States Senate can do about it,” said another aide.
Several Republicans disagree with that point.
“If there is an opportunity or they think that there is a case, it should go to the courts, not to Congress where we don’t have a sitting president,” Republican Senator Joni Ernst of Iowa told reporters on Thursday evening.
One aide said that although there were several empty chairs from Republicans on Thursday, “I won’t paint them all with the same brush.”
“I won’t speculate as to their reasons for not being in their seats, but I would note separately it’s a testimony to the power of the overwhelming evidence that the managers have brought to bear in this case — that one of the only ways not to convict is to pretend you didn’t hear it,” the aide said.
The aides also argued that their case against Mr. Trump rests on much more than the speech he gave on January 6.
“President Trump was not impeached because of the words he used — viewed in isolation, without context [that] are beyond the pale,” an aide said. “Plenty of other politicians have used strong language, but Donald J. Trump was president of the United States. He sought to overturn a presidential election that has been held by every single court to consider it.”
Aides also called arguments about strong language used by other Democrats, which the former president’s lawyers are expected to show on tape during their arguments on Friday, are a “distraction campaign” that draw a “false equivalence” between the two issues.
“Like so much of what President Trump’s lawyers might say, that’s a gimmick. It’s a parlor game meant to inflame partisan hostility and play on our division,” an aide said.
— Rebecca Kaplan and Nikole Killion
Republicans remain unconvinced by impeachment managers’ arguments
Despite the powerful presentation from House managers attempting to connect Mr. Trump to the events of January 6, most Senate Republicans have made statements indicating they are unconvinced by the Democrats’ arguments.
GOP Senator Mike Braun told reporters on Thursday evening that he didn’t think the managers’ arguments had swayed any Republicans. Senator Mike Rounds argued that the impeachment trial itself was unconstitutional, even though the Senate voted earlier this week to dismiss the constitutionality question.
Other Republicans said that the arguments by impeachment managers were redundant.
“I thought today was very repetitive actually. I mean, not much new,” Senator Josh Hawley, who spent much of his time in the visitors gallery reading documents during the impeachment managers’ arguments, told reporters.
“I think the end result of this impeachment trial is crystal clear to everybody,” Senator Ted Cruz said. “Donald Trump will be acquitted. And every person in the Senate chamber understands there are not the votes to convict him. Nor should there be.”
Cruz, Senator Lindsey Graham and Senator Mike Lee met with Mr. Trump’s attorneys on Thursday evening to discuss their legal strategy.
Biden watching to see if GOP Senators “stand up” during impeachment trial
President Biden, asked by a reporter Friday morning about his predecessor’s Senate impeachment trial, said, “I am just anxious to see what my Republican friends do and if they stand up.”
In response to another question about whether he would be speaking with any of them about how they should vote, he curtly said that no, he would not.
The president, first lady Jill Biden and their dogs were making a visit to the White House North Lawn to see the first lady’s overnight Valentine’s display with large heart-shaped messages calling for “Love,” “Unity,” “Amor” and “Gratitude.”
Three GOP senators met with Trump’s legal team Thursday night
Republican Senators Ted Cruz, Lindsey Graham and Mike Lee, all jurors in President Trump’s Senate trial, met with his legal team Thursday night for what Cruz called a “friendly” meeting.
“We were discussing their strategy for tomorrow, and we were sharing our thoughts in terms of where we thought the argument was and where it should go,” Cruz said Thursday.
Asked whether he was comfortable with the strategy, the Texas Republican said that the outcome was already clear, that the president would be acquitted. Congressional correspondent Nikole Killion is on Capitol Hill reporting on the impeachment trial.
Mr. Trump’s lawyers will be arguing that his impeachment is unconstitutional and denies him due process. Trump lawyer David Schoen suggested Thursday night that he didn’t think the team would take the full day to present its defense of the former president — “maybe, maybe three to four hours something like that” — and he also raised the possibility that the question and answer period with senators might also begin Friday.
However, on Friday, just before the trial was to begin, Schoen told reporters, “I don’t think we’re going to do a wrap today.”
Alan He and Zak Hudak contributed to this report.