Trump impeachment trial speeds toward conclusion

  • Senators asked questions in the fourth full day of arguments in the Senate impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump now underway.
  • Trump’s lawyers presented his defence, relying on the argument that the former president’s rally remarks are protected by free speech principles.
  • House managers had offered two days of powerful and, at times, emotional arguments including graphic video of the January 6 attack by Trump supporters on the US Capitol.
  • President Joe Biden said he was “anxious to see” whether Republican senators will vote to convict as the trial appears headed to a speedy conclusion.

    Senate awards congressional medal to Capitol Police officer

    Republicans and Democrats suspended proceedings in the impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump to award the Congressional Gold Medal to Capitol Police Officer Eugene Goodman for bravery during the January 6th mob attack on the Congress.

    “In the weeks after the attack on January the sixth, the world learned about the incredible bravery of Officer Goodman on that fateful day,” said Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer.

    “Here in this trial, we saw new video, powerful video showing calmness under pressure, his courage in the line of duty, his foresight in the midst of chaos and his willingness to make himself a target of the mob’s rage, so that others might reach safety,” Schumer said.

    “If not for the quick thinking and bravery of Officer Eugene Goodman, in particular, people in this chamber may not have escaped harm that day,” Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell said.

    Dem senator asks what would have happened had officials bowed to Trump’s pressure

    Senator Michael Bennet, a Democrat, asked the following question:

    “Since the November election, the Georgia secretary of state, the vice president, and other public officials withstood enormous pressure not to uphold the lawful election of President Biden and the rule of law,” Bennet said.

    “What would have happened if these officials had bowed to the force President Trump exerted or the mob that attacked the Capitol?” Bennet asked.

    House manager Joaquin Castro responded, saying the events of January 6 were “a combination of things that only Donald Trump could have done”.

    “And for us to think otherwise, is to think that somehow a rabbit came out of the hat and a mob just showed up here on their own, all by themselves,” Castor said.

    House manager says ‘Brandenburg’ case does not apply

    “Brandenburg was a case about a bunch of Klansmen who get assembled in a field and they weren’t near anybody such that they could actually do violent damage to people but they said some pretty repulsive racist things,” Representative Jamie Raskin, the lead Democratic House impeachment manager.

    “They think we are making a criminal case here, the former president is not going to spend one hour, one minute in jail,” Raskin said.

    “This is about protecting our republic and articulating and defining the standards of presidential conduct,” he said.

    Donald Trump’s lawyer says House managers are relying on hearsay evidence

    “Unfortunately, we are not going to know the answer to the facts in this proceeding because the House did nothing to investigate what went on,” Trump counsel Michael van der Veen said.

    “It was a report from a reporter from a friend of somebody who had some hearsay they heard the night before at a bar somewhere,” he said.

    “I mean that’s really the kind of evidence that the House has brought before us.”

    Senator Ted Cruz questioned whether Trump’s remarks met the criminal law standard for incitement

    “Out of their 16 hours, the House managers devoted all of 15 minutes to articulating a newly created legal standard for incitement,” Republican Senator Ted Cruz of Texas asked.

    “One, was violence foreseeable? Two, did he encourage violence? Three, did he do so willfully?” Cruz asked.

    “Is this new standard derived from the criminal code or any Supreme Court case?” Cruz asked.

    Trump’s defence counsel outlined the US criminal law standard for incitement found in the 1969 “Brandenburg” ruling by the US Supreme Court which requires specific words urging people to commit violence.

    “The speech has to be explicitly or implicitly encouraging the use of violence. In other words, it has to be in the words itself,” which is “clearly not” in the president’s words, Trump lawyer Michael van der Veen said.

    Trump’s lawyer accuses House managers of ‘doctoring’ evidence

    Donald Trump’s lawyer Michael van der Veen accused lead House manager Representative Jamie Raskin and his team of “doctoring” evidence in the impeachment trial.

    “There was nothing fun here, Mr Raskin. We aren’t having fun here. This is about the most miserable experience I’ve had down here in Washington, DC,” said van der Veen, a personal injury lawyer from Philadelphia.

    “There’s nothing fun about it. And in Philadelphia, where I come from, when you get caught doctoring the evidence, your case is over.”

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