WASHINGTON — Former President Donald Trump’s second impeachment trial continues into its fourth day Friday when his team of lawyers begin mounting their defense.
House impeachment managers, led by Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.), closed their remarks on Thursday evening after presenting 16 hours of evidence arguing that Trump was responsible for inciting the Jan. 6 Capitol riot.
Trump lead impeachment lawyer David Schoen has indicated the defense will not use the full 16 hours allocated to present their case.
Senators then have four hours to ask questions of both sides before a four hour debate on whether to call witnesses.
Speaking with reporters on Thursday evening, Schoen said the defense team would likely only use three to four hours on Friday to present its arguments, meaning that a vote could come as early as Saturday evening if the chamber moves forward with the question and answer portion later Friday.
Schoen, an observant Jew, requested the trial break for the Jewish Sabbath from sundown Friday to Sunday morning but rescinded that request to avoid delaying proceedings.
Sundown in Washington, D.C., happens at 5:24 p.m. on Friday, meaning Schoen could wrap up before then or handover to Castor to bring it home.
Both sides will have two hours each to present their closing arguments before a vote on convicting Trump.
House impeachment managers invited Trump to testify but he declined. No other witnesses have been called and both sides are eager to wrap the trial as quickly as possible and resume debating President Biden’s $1.9 trillion coronavirus rescue package.
Where to watch
The trial will be carried on all major TV news networks, and will also be available for streaming through C-Span, PBS and YouTube, beginning at 12 p.m. ET.
What to watch for
The former president’s legal team say they will expose the “hypocrisy” of Democratic lawmakers who made their own calls for violence against conservatives or stood silent during the violence and unrest seen during last summer’s protests.
“I think you’ll at least be moved by what you see and get a much better picture of what’s going on,” Schoen told Fox News on Thursday.
“Everyone in that room and the House will look bad,” he went on. “Our politicians will look bad if this thing goes forward and that’s a very unfortunate thing.”
Democratic leaders, aware of the fact they won’t get the 67 votes needed to convict Trump, have floated introducing legislation using the 14th Amendment to bar the former president from running for public office again.
The impeachment articles have a clause that bans Trump from holding public office if he is found guilty. Trump has not ruled out a 2024 bid.
The 14th Amendment says Congress can bar people who “engaged in insurrection or rebellion” against the US from holding office and was originally designed to prevent Confederates from serving after the civil war.
“We’re first going to finish the impeachment trial and then Democrats will get together and discuss where we go next,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said Thursday when asked if they’d invoke the amendment.
Where Biden stands
President Biden has avoided publicly commenting on the trial and this week told reporters he was too busy working on his coronavirus relief package to watch the proceedings.
But on Friday morning he appeared to appeal to Republican lawmakers while taking a morning walk with the first lady and their two dogs outside the White House.
“I’m just anxious to see what my Republican friends do, if they stand up,” Biden told CNN, adding that he had no plans to speak to them or try to change their vote.
Where Republicans stand
Several GOP lawmakers said Thursday they were keeping an open mind after Democrats wrapped their case.
On Thursday evening, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) said he believed there was “no chance whatsoever” Trump would be convicted and said Democrats had not made a solid case.
Democrats need 17 Republicans to cross the aisle and vote with them to impeach Trump to meet the two-thirds majority needed to convict, but it seems almost certain that the former president will be acquitted for a second time.
“President Trump is going to be acquitted,” Cruz told Fox News. “There is no chance there will be 67 votes to convict him. All 100 senators know that,” he said.
“The House managers have not proven their case,” he went on.
GOP Sen. Rand Paul also sounded off against Democrats and said he believes they are guilty of using fiery language in front of large crowds.
Paul and his wife were attacked by a mob of Black Lives Matter protesters in D.C. last August and said they feared for their lives.
The Kentucky libertarian also pointed to a controversial 2020 speech by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) at the Supreme Court.
“Chuck Schumer got lucky that his crowd wasn’t that big and wasn’t as violent,” he told Fox News.