Donald Trump impeachment trial day 5: what to expect
Yesterday Trump’s legal team used only three of their 16 permitted hours, before wrapping up. Then there was a session where Senators were able to ask questions. The Senate will reconvene at 10am EST today, which is 1500 GMT/0200 AEDT. It may very well prove to be the final session of the fastest impeachment trial in US history. Here’s what we expect…
Closing arguments: Each side today will have two hours to present their closing arguments. We already know what they are.
Democrats will argue that with his words and actions leading up to 6 January, stoking conspiracy theories about a stolen election, Donald Trump incited a crowd to insurrection, and then failed to intervene once they had stormed the US Capitol. They’ll say that Congress must act, as otherwise it sets a precedent and a “January exception” for a president to be able to plot to overthrow an election defeat with no consequences.
Trump’s lawyers will argue that the trial is unconstitutional, and that a former president cannot and should not be impeached. They’ll further add that everything Trump said was protected by his First Amendment rights, and that on 6 January he only used the dramatic rhetoric often employed by politicians, and that he wasn’t responsible for the actions of the mob anyway.
The vote: An impeachment conviction requires a two-thirds supermajority in the Senate to pass. On the assumption that all 100 Senators will cast a vote, that means that 17 Republicans would need to cross the aisle and join the 50 Democrats and independents who are certain to give a combined vote for a conviction. Given that only six Republicans have even voted that the trial is constitutional, that seems unlikely.
The question of witnesses: The one thing that might radically alter this expected timetable today is if we discover that either the House impeachment managers or Donald Trump’s defense team want to call witnesses or subpoena documents prior to their closing arguments. That would trigger a two hour debate and a vote on whether to permit it.
Hello and welcome to Saturday’s live coverage of US politics. Donald Trump’s second impeachment trial will resume in the Senate at 10am EST (1500 GMT), and we’ll almost certainly see a vote to acquit him by the end of the day. Here’s a catch-up on where we are…
Trump’s lawyers didn’t even use a quarter of their allotted time for defense yesterday – arguing the trial was “shameful” and “a deliberate attempt by the Democrat Party to smear, censor and cancel” an opponent. They seem certain they will prevail in a vote.
His legal team were ridiculed for a video cut to show many politicians using the word “fight” in speeches, while neglecting to mention that in none of those speeches were the politicians in question addressing a rally outside the Capitol on the day Congress was meeting to certify an election result they were trying to overturn.
For their part, the prosecution continued to assert that the former president never made a strongly worded explicit call on the rioters to halt the attack – his messages continued to say he loved his supporters and falsely complain the election was “stolen” – nor did he send help.
The point was also made that if Donald Trump had nothing to do with inciting the riots, then why did fellow Republican politicians weigh in on 6 January asking him to call the rioters off?