(Bloomberg) — Donald Trump’s second impeachment trial is underway in the Senate, with members of the House’s prosecution team delivering their opening argument.
The nine impeachment managers presenting the charge against the former president argue that he betrayed his oath of office by inciting the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol. Trump’s lawyers counter that he didn’t prod his supporters to violence and simply exercised his First Amendment rights.
Democrats Detail Trump’s Election-Night Lies (1:25 p.m.)
Representative Joaquin Castro, a Texas Democrat and one of the impeachment managers, said Trump’s false claims of victory and fraud on Election Night were intended to inflame his base.
“He told his supporters that he actually won the election and the whole thing was a fraud. He said that on Nov. 4th, and he has never recanted that statement since,” Castro said. “The most combustible thing you can do in a democracy is convince people that an election doesn’t count.”
Trump continued to ramp up his lies with an all-caps tweet on Nov. 5, Castro said, calling on election officials to stop counting votes.
“That’s what it looks like when Donald Trump wants people to stop doing something,” Castro said, drawing a sharp contrast to Trump’s lack of action on Jan. 6 to halt the rioters.
When they got the order to stop the count, Trump’s supporters responded, Castro said.
“They showed up at election centers across the country to do just that,” he said. “It was a blatant act of political intimidation.” — Steven Dennis and Jarrell Dillard
Lindsey Graham Told Trump ‘Case is Over’ (1:05 p.m.)
Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, one of Trump’s closest allies, says he spoke to the former president Tuesday night after the first day of the trial and assured him that “the case is over” and the trial will end in acquittal.
The South Carolina senator said he told Trump that one of his defense attorneys, David Schoen, “did a pretty good job,” despite widespread criticism of his other attorney, Bruce Castor.
“Bottom line is, I reinforced to the president, the case is over,“ Graham said Wednesday. “It’s just a matter of getting the final verdict now.”
Graham told reporters he expects more than 44 GOP senators to vote to acquit Trump. Only six of the chamber’s 50 Republicans yesterday voted with Democrats to declare the trial constitutional. It would take 67 votes to convict Trump when the trial ends.
“I think the vote for not guilty will probably grow beyond 44,” he told reporters. — Laura Litvan
Democrats Show Weeks of Trump’s Election Lie (12:54 p.m.)
Representative Joe Neguse said Trump set the stage for the riot months in advance by telling his supporters, even before the Nov. 3 election, that the only way he could lose is if the election was stolen from him.
Those falsehoods ramped up after Trump lost, as he urged his supporters to “stop the steal” and then, on Jan. 6, to “fight like hell.”
“He knew when he took that podium on that fateful day that those in attendance had heeded his words“ and were ready to fight, Neguse said.
”When in our history has a speech led thousands of people to storm our nation’s capitol with weapons? To scale the walls? Break windows? Kill a Capitol Police Officer?” Neguse asked. “This was not just a speech.”
The Colorado Democrat said the riot came after Trump’s efforts to win in the courts, influence state legislatures and ultimately intimidate his own vice president to overturn the election all failed.
The call to “stop the steal,” Neguse told the senators, was “to stop you. To stop us.”
Neguse also played video footage of people who participated in the riot saying they were in Washington that day because they believed that’s what Trump had called on them to do. — Steven Dennis and Jarrell Dillard
Democrats Call Trump ‘Inciter-in-Chief’ (12:28 p.m.)
Lead House impeachment manager Jamie Raskin opened his argument by telling senators that his team will prove that Trump bears direct responsibility for the Jan. 6 attack and that he spent weeks beforehand calling his supporters to Washington.
“We will prove that the impeached president was no innocent bystander,” Raskin said, pointing to December tweets by Trump urging people to come to Washington to protest that day. “He incited this attack, and he saw it coming.”
Raskin said Trump’s actions were designed to prevent certification of Joe Biden’s victory and that was “the greatest betrayal of the presidential oath in the history of the United States.”
Raskin also said the Senate has settled the question of whether Trump can be tried and convicted because he’s a private citizen. Raskin said the constitutional issue has been decided, and the proceedings are now about fact-finding.
Raskin used Trump’s video message and tweets from Jan. 6 to show that Trump continued to echo the lie that he actually won the election, suggesting that the former president’s sympathies were with the rioters, not with those in the Capitol who were under attack.
“The stakes of this trial could not be more serious,” Raskin said, adding that the American public is following the Senate trial. He encouraged families to watch together and said impeachment managers will give warnings ahead of particularly “graphic” video of the attack. — Laura Litvan and Mike Dorning
Trial Day Starts With Prosecution’s Case (12:04 p.m.)
House impeachment managers kicked off opening arguments on Wednesday, set to deliver an emotional recounting of the events of Jan. 6.
The prosecution team will have a maximum 16 hours split over two days to present their case, although aides indicated that Democrats won’t use their full alloted time. That will be followed by 16 hours for Trump’s defense.
Democrats Say Incitement Started Early (10 a.m.)
The House impeachment managers will lay out their case Wednesday, contending that Trump’s incitement of the mob that attacked the Capitol began much earlier with his false claims of election fraud, according to aides who briefed reporters.
Although attention has focused mostly on Trump’s fiery rhetoric on Jan. 6, the House Democrats presenting their case will look at his months of claims that the election would be stolen and, later, that he won it despite the actual results, inspiring “Stop the Steal” rhetoric before the attack.
The managers, who defended the constitutionality of the trial on Tuesday with vivid video recreating the attack, also plan to show more video taken from Capitol security cameras.
The House members plan to finish presenting their case on Thursday, not using all 16 hours allotted for them before Trump’s lawyers get their turn. — Billy House
Candidate Says Trial Inspired Him to Run (9:15 a.m.)
Josh Mandel, Ohio’s Republican former state treasurer, cited Trump’s impeachment as his reason to run for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Rob Portman in 2022.
“Watching this sham impeachment has made my blood boil and motivated me to run,” Mandel, who ran unsuccessfully for the Senate in 2012 and in 2018 before dropping out of the race, said in a tweet on Tuesday.
Mandel also said he’s “going to Washington to fight for President Trump’s America First Agenda,” trying to stake out his position as the Trump candidate in a state the former president won twice by about 8 percentage points.
But Jane Timken, the Ohio Republican Party chairwoman under Trump, resigned last week in anticipation of a possible Senate bid and also vowed to “continue the fight for him and the America First agenda in a new capacity going forward.” — Mark Niquette
House Managers to Present Their Case (6 a.m.)
House impeachment managers will have as much as 16 hours over two days to present their case to convict Trump, starting at noon on Wednesday. After that, his lawyers will follow with their presentation of up to 16 hours in a trial likely to run into the weekend, if not beyond.
On Tuesday, the House Democrats showed a damning, if selective, video montage with Trump urging action juxtaposed against the violence of the mob that left his rally to attack the Capitol. And after a shaky start, Trump’s lawyers denounced what one of them called “the political weaponization of the impeachment process,” fueled by “base hatred” and fear that Trump will run again in 2024.
But those were just the preliminaries.
The House Democrats pushing for Trump’s impeachment won an initial victory Tuesday, but it might not be an omen of success. Six Republican senators joined Democrats in a 56-44 vote that the trial of a former president is constitutional. Several of the GOP members bemoaned a rambling opening performance by Trump lawyer Bruce Castor.
Yet 17 Republicans would have to join all of the Senate’s Democrats if Trump’s critics are to muster the 67 votes that would be needed to convict him at the end of the trial, an outcome that remains very unlikely.
Where to Watch:
You can catch the proceedings live on the Bloomberg Terminal or streaming on the web at bloomberg.com. Cable news networks CNN, Fox News and MSNBC are likely to show significant portions of the trial. C-SPAN 2, which covers Senate floor proceedings, will broadcast it on cable and online.
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