Donald Trump’s lawyers plan to argue four key points during their defense of the former president today — all focused on process.
The latest: Trump lawyer David Schoen accused the impeachment managers of “manipulating video” and relying on media reports as evidence about the president’s response to the riots. Notably, Trump’s legal team turned down a request to have him testify under oath, calling it a “stunt.”
- Trump lawyer Michael van der Veen kicked off the presentation by arguing that “no thinking person” could conclude that Trump incited the insurrection on Jan. 6, calling the impeachment an “unconstitutional act” of “political vengeance” and a “political witch hunt.”
- Van der Veen played clips of House Democrats in 2016 objecting to Trump’s victory in several states — including lead impeachment manager Jamie Raskin. “To litigate questions of election integrity within the system is not incitement to insurrection. It is the democratic system working as founders and lawmakers have designed,” Van der Veen argued.
- He falsely claimed that one of the first people arrested after the Capitol attack was “a leader of Antifa,” before going on to accuse Democrats of encouraging “mob violence” over the past four years.
- Van der Veen concluded by claiming the impeachment is “about Democrats trying to disqualify their political opposition” and “smear” the 75 million Americans who voted for Trump, calling it “Constitutional cancel culture.”
This story will be updated throughout the day with highlights from the trial.
The big picture: Trump’s team is expected to spend just a few of their 16 allotted hours to present their case. The defense plans to do just enough to sustain the votes needed for acquittal, knowing that most Republican senators are dug in on their position that impeaching a former president is unconstitutional.
Details: Trump’s team, led by Bruce Castor and David Schoen, will argue …
- The trial is unconstitutional
- There was no due process
- Convicting Trump violates his First Amendment rights
- Impeachment doesn’t unify the country
What to watch: Trump’s lawyers will rely on video, albeit far less graphic than the images and audio shown by the House impeachment managers.
- They’ll air footage of the certification process surrounding the 2016 election, when a handful of Democrats — including Rep. Jamie Raskin, the lead impeachment manager — objected to the Electoral College results making Trump president.
- They will also home in on Trump telling his supporters at the Jan. 6 “Stop the Steal” rally to “peacefully and patriotically” make their way to the Capitol.
The defense will also point to a series of facts showing the post-rally riot had been planned, something House managers did for different reasons.
- They’ll point out that pipe bombs were placed before the speech and that Trump administration officials had offered federal law enforcement to help secure the city prior to the rally.
- This evidence, the defense will say, shows Trump’s words at the rally didn’t directly incite the attack.
The bottom line: Republicans lawmakers — as well as Trump’s defense team — agree that they want to get the trial over as quickly as possible, given the beating they’re taking from the media and the strength of the Democrats’ presentation.