On day one of his second impeachment trial, former President Donald J. Trump was mostly in hiding on Tuesday at his private club Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach, Fla., Leaving the new office Wizards had created its private quarters outside the main building.
Mr Trump is said to have had meetings that were put on his schedule to coincide with his defense team’s presentation and keep him busy. But he still managed to nab his two lawyers, Bruce L. Castor Jr. and David I. Schoen, on TV – and he didn’t like what he saw, according to two people briefed on his reaction.
Mr. Castor, the first to speak, made a rambling and almost sleepwalking defense of the former president for nearly an hour. Mr Trump, who often leaves the television on in the background even when he holds meetings, was furious, people close to his reaction said.
On a scale of one to 10, with 10 being the most angry, Mr. Trump “had eight,” said a person familiar with his reaction.
And while he was comforted that his other lawyer, Mr Schoen, had given a more spirited performance, Mr Trump ended the day frustrated and furious, people familiar with his reaction said.
Unlike his first Senate impeachment trial just over a year ago, Mr. Trump has no Twitter thread to do what he believes he does better than anyone – defend himself – and throw threats. retaliation on the heads of Republican senators who sit on the impeachment jury.
- 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 House 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.
The ex-president was therefore forced to rely on a traditional method of defense – with lawyers in the Senate chamber well and allies voicing their plans to defend him against the charge of “incitement to crime”. ‘insurrection’ for his role in the deadly assault on the Capitol on January 6 by a mob of supporters.
In the run-up to trial this week, Mr. Trump’s allies and advisers said he appeared to be taking his second indictment more or less in stride, concerned about his golf game and troubled business. , and trying to ignore what was going on in Washington.
But that he struggled to retain a full team of lawyers for the trial was of concern to some of his staff. None of the lawyers from the first impeachment trial who defended Mr. Trump have returned for the second round. And most of the team he had originally hired abruptly separated from him days before the trial began.
Several of the former president’s advisers and associates said they grumbled at the performance of Mr Castor, a former Pennsylvania prosecutor who spoke first after Democratic House leaders presented their impeachment case to the House. using graphic videos of the Jan.6 attack, providing a curvy defense. .
An adviser to Mr Trump, speaking on the background as the lawyer defended, insisted Mr Castor had always planned to try to reduce the temperature in the bedroom because the former president and his collaborators anticipated a moving presentation of the Democrats.
But Mr Castor undermined that by stating up front that he and Mr Schoen had changed their order of presentation because the Democrats’ case had been so good.
That one of his own attorneys praised prosecutors surprised and exasperated Mr. Trump, said people familiar with his reaction. And other Trump allies have said privately that some members of the legal team appeared surprised at the raw snippets of the riot Democrats showed, even though House officials had reported for days that it was was their plan.
Mr. Schoen made a more forceful argument, with the kind of intensity Mr. Trump prefers. Mr. Schoen, who is based in Atlanta, argued that the lawsuit itself was unconstitutional because the former president was no longer in office and the effort was aimed at undermining Mr. Trump.
But even with his almost certain acquittal, Mr. Trump was far from satisfied with the arguments made on his behalf.
The president’s advisers handed out sharper ‘talking points’ in the morning and afternoon, apologizing to Democrats later in the day for opening the case’ just as we all expected them to do. : by glorifying violence and by intentionally deceiving the Constitution ”.
“In doing so, Democrats have set a horrific precedent for the remainder of the impeachment trial by making it clear that they will selectively change – which is a polite way of saying ‘lie’ – everything from video footage to remarks by jurists to the Constitution itself. The talking points said.
In the first impeachment trial, which focused on Mr. Trump’s appeal to the Ukrainian president to demand inquiries into President Biden and his son, Hunter, as Mr. Trump turned down Congress-approved military aid to the Ukraine, Republicans and Mr. Trump’s lawyers argued the conduct was not objectionable.
But in addition to claiming that Mr. Trump’s speech before the rampage was constitutionally protected, Republicans generally refrained from defending the events of that day.
The lack of a defense on the central accusation of the impeachment case – and Mr Castor’s difficulty in articulating a clear point – has not escaped the Republicans in the Senate.
Senator Bill Cassidy, a Republican from Louisiana, lambasted Mr. Trump’s defense attorneys over why he voted ‘yes’ on whether the Senate had jurisdiction in the case even though Mr. Trump is removed from office.
When asked why he thought they had done wrong, Mr. Cassidy replied to reporters, “Did you listen to him?”
“It was disorganized, random – they talked about a lot of things, but they didn’t talk about the issue in question,” he said.