House impeachment managers push back on Trump team’s claims that trial is unconstitutional

47 min ago

House impeachment managers push back on Trump team’s claims that trial is unconstitutional 

From CNN’s Jeremy Herb and Manu Raju

House impeachment managers walk to deliver the article of impeachment to the Senate on Capitol Hill on January 25 in Washington DC. Melina Mara/Pool/Getty Images

The House impeachment managers responded to former President Donald Trump’s lawyers in a pre-trial brief on Monday that pushed back on Trump’s claims that the trial was unconstitutional and his speech did not incite the rioters at the Capitol on Jan. 6.

The Democrats’ legal briefing was in response to last week’s filing from the Trump team, and is a preview of the arguments that will be made in the Senate when the trial begins on Tuesday.

“The evidence of President Trump’s conduct is overwhelming. He has no valid excuse or defense for his actions. And his efforts to escape accountability are entirely unavailing,” the House managers write. “As charged in the Article of Impeachment, President Trump violated his Oath of Office and betrayed the American people. His incitement of insurrection against the United States government – which disrupted the peaceful transfer of power – is the most grievous constitutional crime ever committed by a president.”

The five-page House brief says that Trump can stand trial in the Senate for a crime that he committed while in office.

“Presidents swear a sacred oath that binds them from their first day in office through their very last,” the Democrats write.

And they pushed back on the Trump legal team contention that Trump’s false claims the election was stolen from him were protected by the First Amendment and could not be proven inaccurate.

“President Trump’s repeated claims about a ‘rigged’ and ‘stolen’ election were false, no matter how many contortions his lawyers undertake to avoid saying so,” the House managers wrote.

Read the full brief here.

57 min ago

White House says Biden won’t spend much time watching Trump’s impeachment trial

From CNN’s Nikki Carvajal

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki speaks during a press briefing on February 8 in the Brady Briefing Room of the White House in Washington, DC. Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

President Biden won’t have time to watch his predecessor’s second impeachment trial, the White House said Monday afternoon.

“The President himself would tell you that we keep him pretty busy, and he has a full schedule this week,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters.

She said his schedule would include visits to the National Institutes of Health and the Department of Defense, in addition to “engaging with business leaders, mayors and governors, and of course continuing to make the case and have conversations with Democrats and Republicans directly about his hopes and plans for the American Rescue Plan moving forward as quickly as possible.”

“I think it’s clear from the schedule and from his intention he will not spend too much time watching the proceeding, if any time,” she added.

Biden will also “remain closely in touch with speaker Pelosi, leader Schumer a range of officials on the Hill about his plan and that’s exactly what they want him to do,” Psaki said. “He will leave the pace and the process and the mechanics of the impeachment proceedings up to members of Congress.”

Psaki later added that she doesn’t expect the President to speak about impeachment over the course of the trial.

“The President was asked about this this morning and he made pretty clear he wasn’t planning to speak to it,” she said. “He’s no longer in the Senate and we put out a statement at the conclusion of the House proceedings. I certainly would consider doing that at the conclusion of the Senate, but I don’t expect that he’s going to be posturing or commenting on this over the course of the week.”

57 min ago

White House says intelligence professionals will determine if Trump can receive briefings

From CNN’s Kevin Liptak

Former President Donald Trump looks on during a ceremony in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, DC, on December 7, 2020. Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

President Biden will allow intelligence professionals to determine whether his predecessor can receive sensitive briefings if he requests them, the White House said.

The clarification came after Biden said during an interview that former President Trump should not receive intelligence briefings because of his “erratic behavior.”

“The President said when asked that there was no need for him to receive them and he referenced, of course, his erratic behavior, which I think many Americans would agree with him on,” press secretary Jen Psaki said during a briefing on Monday.

“He was expressing his concern about former President Trump receiving access to sensitive intelligence,” she went on. “But he also has deep trust in his own intelligence team to make a determination about how to provide intelligence information if at any point the former president requests a briefing.”

She said such a scenario was “not currently applicable,” suggesting Trump has not yet requested access to intelligence.

“But if he should request a briefing, he leaves it to them to make a determination,” Psaki said.

Asked during an interview on CBS whether Trump should still receive intelligence briefings, Biden responded: “I think not.”

1 hr 46 min ago

Schumer provides some details on rules for impeachment trial as they finalize a resolution

From CNN’s Ali Zaslav

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer speaks during a press conference outside the U.S. Capitol on February 4 in Washington, DC. Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer announced some details about the resolution being finalized that outlines the rules for the impeachment trial. He said the impeachment managers, including Lead Manager Rep. Jamie Raskin, are ”very happy” with the proposal. 

“We are finalizing a resolution that’s been agreed to by all parties: the house managers, the former president’s counsel, Leader McConnell and I that will ensure a fair, honest, bipartisan Senate impeachment trial of Donald Trump,” Schumer said.

The New York Democrat added they’ll be releasing more of the details today. But he’s “proud to report” that each side will have ample time to make their arguments.

On witnesses at the trial, he said if the impeachment managers decide they want witnesses “there’ll be a vote on that — that’s what they requested.” He said the managers want to preserve the option.

One other detail of note is Schumer said the trial will pause for the Jewish Sabbath on Friday evening through Saturday, to accommodate one of Trump’s lawyers requests and will “resume on Sunday afternoon after Jewish the Sabbath is over.”

2 hr 2 min ago

Trump’s defense team just filed their legal brief. Read the full thing here.

In a pretrial brief ahead of former President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial in the Senate, Trump’s legal team accused House Democrats of engaging in “political theater” and argued that the upcoming trial is unconstitutional because Trump is no longer president.

Read the full brief:

2 hr 4 min ago

Trump’s legal team accuse House Democrats of “political theater” in new filing

From CNN’s Jeremy Herb and Manu Raju

Former President Donald Trump’s legal team accused House Democrats of impeaching Trump for “political theater” as they argued that the upcoming Senate impeachment trial is unconstitutional because Trump is no longer President.

“This was only ever a selfish attempt by Democratic leadership in the House to prey upon the feelings of horror and confusion that fell upon all Americans across the entire political spectrum upon seeing the destruction at the Capitol on January 6 by a few hundred people,” Trump’s lawyers wrote in a pre-trial brief filed Monday. “Instead of acting to heal the nation, or at the very least focusing on prosecuting the lawbreakers who stormed the Capitol, the Speaker of the House and her allies have tried to callously harness the chaos of the moment for their own political gain.”

The 75-page legal brief from Trump’s attorneys expands upon their initial response to the House’s impeachment last week, in which they argued that the trial was unconstitutional, that Trump didn’t incite the rioters and that his speech spreading false conspiracies about widespread election fraud is protected by the First Amendment.

The brief filed Monday also claims that Trump’s speech on Jan. 6 did not incite the rioters, arguing that he urged those gathered to be peaceful.

“Despite the House Managers’ charges against Mr. Trump, his statements cannot and could not reasonably be interpreted as a call to immediate violence or a call for a violent overthrown of the United States’ government,” Trump’s lawyers say.

In his speech on Jan. 6, Trump’s told the crowd to “fight like hell.” 

 “And if you don’t fight like hell, you’re not going to have a country anymore,” Trump said.

In their brief, Trump’s lawyers argued that Trump’s speech about fighting was metaphorical and he did not call for any violence.

“To characterize this statement alone as ‘incitement to insurrection’ is to ignore, wholesale, the remainder of Mr. Trump’s speech that day, including his call for his supporters to ‘peacefully’ making their ‘voices heard.,” the lawyers claim.

The House impeachment managers will file their response to Trump’s arguments in a brief that’s due at noon today.

Read the legal brief of Trump’s defense team here.

2 hr 11 min ago

Key Senate Republicans to watch during the impeachment trial 

From CNN’s  Jeremy Her

From left to right, Sen. Patrick Toomey, Sen. Lisa Murkowski, Sen. Mitt Romney, Sen. Susan Collins and Sen. Ben Sasse Getty Images

Even Republican senators open to voting to convict Trump say they recognize the votes aren’t there for a guilty verdict, which would require 17 Republican senators to join every Democrat to vote for conviction.

Last month, 45 of the Senate’s 50 Republicans voted in favor of a procedural motion to dismiss the trial on constitutional grounds.

“I think it’s very unlikely, right?” Sen. Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania said on CNN’s “State of the Union” Sunday. “I mean, you did have 45 Republican senators vote to suggest that they didn’t think it was appropriate to conduct a trial. So, you can infer how likely it is that those folks will vote to convict. I disagreed with their assessment. I think it is constitutional.”

Toomey is one of the Republican senators that Democrats hope to convince to vote to convict Trump at the conclusion of the trial, after 10 House Republicans voted in favor of impeachment last month.

The other key Republican senators voted with Toomey and the Democrats that the trial was constitutional: Susan Collins of Maine, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Mitt Romney of Utah and Ben Sasse of Nebraska.

Democrats’ case will rely on video of the rioters themselves on Jan. 6 as well as their comments, laid out in subsequent indictments, of how they were inspired by Trump to attack the Capitol and attempt to stop the peaceful transfer of power.

Their case will also focus on Trump’s comments, both in the months leading up to the riots where he spread baseless conspiracy theories about election fraud, and on Jan. 6 when he spoke before his followers marched to the Capitol.

While convicting Trump is unlikely, the case will serve as the first detailed public accounting of how rioters temporarily halted Congress from certifying President Biden’s win, violently attacked police officers and actively sought out then-Vice President Mike Pence and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi as they ransacked the Capitol.

3 hr 31 min ago

Senate leaders close in on deal on impeachment trial rules, source familiar with the talks says

From CNN’s Manu Raju

Getty Images

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell are closing in on an agreement on a trial resolution for the impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump, according to a person familiar with the talks. 

Below is some of what has been agreed to, according to this person, but they note that this is not a complete list:

  • On Tuesday, up to a four hour debate on issue of constitutionality of the trial and then they will vote at a simple majority threshold (a repeat of the vote Sen. Rand Paul forced a few weeks ago). 
  • Starting Wednesday at noon ET, up to 16 hours per side for presentations.
  • At the request of the impeachment managers, a debate and vote on calling witnesses, if the managers want it.
  • Per the request of the former President’s counsel, no trial proceedings during the Sabbath (between Friday after 5 p.m. ET or on Saturday). The trial would reconvene the afternoon of Sunday, Feb. 14.
3 hr 41 min ago

Biden says Senate should “work it out” when asked about Trump’s impeachment

From CNN’s Nikki Carvajal

President Joe Biden walks from Marine One after arriving on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, DC, on February 8. Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

After Marine One landed at the White House at 9:39 a.m., President Biden took a single question on impeachment before walking into the residence side of the White House.

When a reporter asked if former President Trump should lose his political rights, Biden responded, “the Senate has to work it out,” according to pool reports. 

Biden was later spotted jogging to the Oval Office.