Former President Donald J. Trump’s second indictment trial began on Tuesday, 370 days after he was acquitted of serious crimes and misdemeanors in his first trial. He is accused of “incitement to insurgency” for his role in igniting violence on January 6 at the US Capitol. House impeachment officials and Mr. Trump’s defense team clashed over whether the Constitution allowed the Senate to hold a trial of a former president, ultimately deciding he could go from there. ‘before.
Here are some takeaways from the first day.
Senators ruled that a former president can, in effect, be tried for impeachment.
In a 56-to-44 vote, the Senate rejected Mr. Trump’s defense team’s argument and ruled, mostly in party favor, that he had the jurisdiction to try a former president dismissed. This paved the way for Wednesday’s trial.
The impeachment officials, led by Representative Jamie Raskin of Maryland, argued that the dismissal of this impeachment trial would create a “January exception,” setting the precedent for a lame president to act inconsequentially in cases of last weeks of its administration.
The defense team called the prosecution case an “immediate indictment” and argued that a former president should not have to stand trial, as this would set a precedent for any former public servant to be punished after leaving office at the whim of the ruling party.
On the question of competence, only a simple majority is required, contrary to the two-thirds majority required for a conviction. Six Republicans joined the 50 Democrats in deciding the Senate could proceed with the trial.
In a 13-minute video of scenes from the Jan.6 assault on Capitol Hill, the ‘s top impeachment official, Mr. Raskin, showed a graphic visual recording of the attack, including the language explicit rioters and rallying screams, plus clips of Mr. Trump’s comments during the day – like his speech to supporters before some of them stormed the Capitol and a Twitter post hours after the attacks, in which he wrote: “Remember this day forever.”
- A trial is underway to decide whether former President Donald J. Trump is guilty of inciting a murderous mob of his supporters when they stormed the Capitol on January 6, violently breaching security measures and sending lawmakers go underground as they convene to certify President Biden. victory.
- The voted 232 to 197 to approve a single article of impeachment, accusing Mr. Trump of “inciting violence against the United States government” in his quest to overturn the election results. Ten Republicans joined Democrats in voting to remove him.
- To condemn Mr. Trump, the Senate would need a two-thirds majority to agree. That means at least 17 Republican senators would have to vote with Senate Democrats to be sentenced.
- A conviction seems unlikely. Last month, only five Republicans in the Senate sided with the Democrats in pushing back a Republican attempt to dismiss the charges because Mr. Trump is no longer in office. On the eve of the start of the trial, only 28 senators say they are undecided on whether to convict Mr. Trump.
- If the Senate condemns Mr. Trump, convicting him of “inciting violence against the United States government,” then senators could vote on whether to prevent him from performing his future duties. That vote would only require a simple majority, and if it were party lines, Democrats would win with Vice President Kamala Harris voting for the tiebreaker.
- If the Senate does not condemn Mr. Trump, the former president could again be eligible for public office. Public opinion polls show he remains by far the most popular national figure in the Republican Party.
Scenes of chaos in the video showed crowds of protesters violently pushing through security barricades and lines of police. Footage from inside the building included an officer screaming as he was crushed by a door as well as the gunshot fired by another officer, which killed one of the rioters, Ashli Babbitt.
For many senators on Tuesday, the images offered different perspectives of what they experienced firsthand, as they were kicked out of the same Senate chamber in shock and fear.
“You are asking what a high felony and misdemeanor is under our Constitution,” Raskin told senators at the end of the video. “It is a high felony and misdemeanor. If it is not an impenetrable offense, then there is no such thing.
One of Mr Trump’s defense attorneys, David I. Schoen, accused House directors of hiring a “movie company” to put together the most disturbing footage from that day. Mr Schoen also offered a video account featuring a collection of calls from Democrats for Mr Trump’s impeachment over the past four years, a bogus equivalence as none of those comments led to violence.
The expected outcome of this trial is the same as that of Mr. Trump.
Even though this is a new Senate – with Democrats in the majority – and the nature of what Mr Trump is accused of is different from the allegations he faced in his first impeachment trial , there is little doubt that Mr. Trump will ultimately be acquitted. , the same as a year ago.
Democrats would need 17 Republicans to break away from the former president and vote with them to have the two-thirds needed to convict Mr. Trump. If the six Republican senators who voted with Democrats on Tuesday on the Senate’s right to hold the trial also vote to convict Mr. Trump, Democrats would still need 11 more Republican deserters to secure a conviction.
For Democrats, a guilty verdict would be a formal and permanent renunciation of Mr. Trump’s behavior. If Mr. Trump were to be convicted, the Senate could hold a vote to decide whether to prevent him from running again – what Democrats have argued is in the best interest of the country.
An acquittal would give Republicans a suspended sentence for their party’s most popular member. But that would only delay the inevitable counting of their party’s faces between the more moderate members and the far-right who not only defends Mr. Trump, but also seeks to punish his fellow Republicans for betraying him.
For Democrats, an acquittal could still be some sort of political victory, as the trial provided an opportunity to publicly condemn Mr. Trump’s actions during his final days as president and to present an official record of Republican senators. refusing to punish him.
Already, Utah Republican Senator Mike Lee has come under fire for suggesting that Mr. Trump be given a pass for the events of January 6.
“Listen, everyone makes mistakes, everyone deserves a mulligan every now and then,” Mr. Lee said on Fox News after House leaders’ arguments, using a golf term for a do- over.
Senator Patrick Leahy, Democrat of Vermont, is a witness, juror and judge.
As the longest-serving Democrat in the Senate, Mr. Leahy, 80, is the chairman of Mr. Trump’s Senate trial.
Last year, Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. held the post, a constitutionally enshrined appointment. This time, however, Chief Justice Roberts was not interested in the job. And because the Constitution does not stipulate who should oversee the trial of a former president, it rests with Mr Leahy, empowering him to rule on key issues such as the admissibility of evidence.
On January 6, Mr Leahy was among lawmakers who had to scurry away from the violent crowd, making him one of hundreds of witnesses who were on Capitol Hill that day. And as one of 100 senators, he will also vote on whether to condemn Mr. Trump for inciting violence against the United States.
Mr. Leahy’s three hats were part of several reminders that these proceedings in the Senate, although called a trial, are not analogous to those held in courtrooms across the country.
Mr. Trump’s defense team unsuccessfully argued that Mr. Leahy’s conflict of interest was one of the reasons the trial was unconstitutional.
The first lawyer to defend Mr. Trump has left senators a little confused about his team’s strategy.
Bruce L. Castor Jr., the lawyer who launched the arguments for Trump’s defense team on Tuesday, took senators down a winding path of generalizations about the Senate, Mr. Trump’s right to liberty of expression and the difference between murder and manslaughter in the criminal justice system.
“I have no idea what he’s doing,” said Alan M. Dershowitz, who was part of Mr. Trump’s defense team during his first impeachment trial last year, on the Conservative Newsmax TV channel. “Maybe he’ll bring it home, but right now that doesn’t seem like an effective defense to me.
While Mr. Castor spoke, other senators seemed worried and began to speak among themselves.
“The president’s lawyer just chatted over and over again,” Texas Republican Senator John Cornyn told reporters after the debate ended. “I saw a lot of lawyers and a lot of argument, and it wasn’t one of the best I’ve seen.
Mr Schoen, another of Mr Trump’s lawyers, appeared to regain attention in the room by arguing that the Constitution does not allow the impeachment of a former president.
“This trial is going to tear this country apart, perhaps as we have only seen once in our history,” said Mr Schoen, an apparent reference to the civil war. “Politically,” he added, “this is wrong, as evil can be for all of us as a nation.”
Glenn thrush contribution to reports.