impeachment-managers-are-finishing-their-case-against-trump-at-senate-trial

Impeachment managers are finishing their case against Trump at Senate trial

Politics

(CNN)House impeachment managers charged Thursday that the insurrectionists carried out their attack on the US Capitol on behalf of former President Donald Trump in their final day of arguments at the former president’s impeachment trial.

Rep. Dianna DeGette of Colorado began the House Democrats’ second-day presentation by using the insurrectionists’ own words before, during and after the January 6 riot to show that they believed they were acting at Trump’s direction.

“They truly believed that the whole instruction was at the President’s orders. And we know that, because they said so,” DeGette said. “Many of them posed for pictures, bragging about it on social media. This was not a hidden crime. The president told them to be there, and so they actually believed they would face no punishment.”

    The House impeachment managers are concluding their case Thursday one day after they showed violent and disturbing video footage of the attack as part of their case that Trump should be convicted for inciting the riot.

    Later, the managers plan to zero in on Trump’s lack of remorse following the deadly attack and examine the harm that the attack caused to the people in the Capitol, including beyond just the physical scars, according to senior aides on the impeachment team.

    In addition, they will discuss the legal issues surrounding the case, according to the aides, in what will likely be a prebuttal to the arguments they expect to hear from Trump’s legal team when the defense presentation begins on Friday.

    Trump’s team will get its chance to respond to the House’s case on Friday. Trump’s lawyers are expected to finish their arguments in one day, according to two sources, and they plan to argue that Democrats glorified violence, the trial is unconstitutional and Trump’s speech is protected by the First Amendment.

    Never-before-seen Capitol security camera footage aired during Wednesday’s presentation forced senators to relive the harrowing attack and confront chilling new details about the incredibly serious threat posed to everyone in the Capitol, including lawmakers.

    A number of GOP senators made clear Wednesday evening that they were shaken by what they saw, but still signaled they won’t change how they plan to vote as Trump appears headed toward acquittal at the conclusion of the trial.

    Republican Sen. Mike Braun of Indiana called the video “riveting,” saying, “it’s just as kind of hard to take now as it was then.”

    Asked if Wednesday’s presentation will impact how he will vote, Braun answered, “No, because I’ve seen, I think, most of it,” adding, “I think it’s good to review it, but I don’t know that that’s going to make a difference for any one senator just having it on a loop again.”

    Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa said, “It’s kind of hard to describe” the videos shown in the Senate chamber, calling it a “horrendous situation.” But when asked if it would have an effect on his vote, he said, “Listen, you gotta weigh all the information together.”

    In addition to airing the video footage, the managers spent much of the first day of arguments making the case that Trump engaged in a months-long campaign of lying to his supporters that the election was stolen, provoking their fury over the false belief that the results were fraudulent and inciting them to violently disrupt the peaceful transfer of power.

    “Donald Trump committed a massive crime against our Constitution and our people and the worst violation of the presidential oath of office,” Rep. Jamie Raskin, the lead impeachment manager said. “He must be convicted by the United States Senate.”

    On Friday, Trump’s lawyers will have up to 16 hours over two days to make their presentation, though two sources told CNN former Trump’s defense team expects to finish their arguments by Friday night.

    Trump lawyers David Schoen, Bruce Castor, Michael van der Veen and William Brennan are all expected to speak. Because the legal team is so disorganized, Trump’s allies are apprehensive about how the defense will go. Trump erupted Tuesday as Castor made a meandering opening argument.

    Several of Trump’s allies lobbied him to get rid of Castor that day, which Trump briefly considered, according to two people. Trump was upset as he watched multiple people, including his usual allies on Fox News, trash Castor’s performance. But Castor has remained on the team and is expected to present, at least in part, on Friday. He has told people he wasn’t planning on speaking Tuesday, which led to the muddled speech.

    5 takeaways from Day 2 of Donald Trump's impeachment trial

    Though Castor was supposed to lead the defense, as CNN reported, that’s now expected to be Schoen, who has said he will not participate in the proceedings during the Sabbath. Trump’s team believes they will likely wrap up their arguments by then.

    On Wednesday, Castor downplayed the significance of the video footage to the trial, saying that the House managers failed to connect the rioters’ acts to the former President.

    “I didn’t learn anything that I didn’t already know. We know a mob reached the Capitol and wreaked havoc in the building. I’m waiting for them to connect that up to President Trump and so far that hasn’t happened,” he said.

    Asked if he is worried the video will have an emotional impact on the jury, he said: “It would have an emotional impact on any jury. But there are two sides of the coin and we have not played ours.”

    After Trump’s team concludes, the Senate will have up to four hours to ask written questions to the legal teams, and then the House managers could seek a vote on hearing from witnesses. But it’s not clear yet they plan to do so.

      If there is no effort to seek testimony from witnesses, the trial is likely to wrap up with a vote on conviction sometime this weekend.

      This story and headline have been updated with additional developments Thursday.

      CNN’s Ted Barrett contributed to this report.