Trump impeachment trial could wrap up on Saturday, conviction seen
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[February 13, 2021]
By Andy Sullivan
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Donald Trump's
second impeachment trial could conclude on Saturday, leaving a divided
U.S. Senate to decide whether the former president incited his
supporters to attack the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 in a last-ditch effort
to stay in power after his November election defeat.
Trump is the first U.S. president to be impeached twice and the first to
face trial after leaving office. If convicted, the Senate could then
vote to bar him from running for office again.
Conviction is seen as unlikely, however, as at least 17 Republicans in
the 100-seat chamber would have to join all 50 Democrats to find the
former president guilty.
Only six Republicans voted with Democrats to move forward with the
trial, rejecting an argument made by other Republican Senators that the
Constitution does not allow Congress to impeach a president who has
already left office.
The Senate is due to convene at 10 a.m. (1500 GMT), and a final vote
could come in the afternoon.
The trial has highlighted the extraordinary danger lawmakers faced on
Jan. 6, when Trump urged his followers to march to the Capitol and "get
wild" in an effort to prevent lawmakers from certifying his defeat to
Democrat Joe Biden in the presidential election. Five people died in the
Security-camera footage shown at the trial showed rioters came
perilously close to lawmakers as they were evacuated from the Senate and
the House of Representatives.
Among those targeted was Vice President Mike Pence, who had refused
Trump's entreaties to interfere with the proceedings earlier that day.
Trump criticized Pence on Twitter as lacking "courage" shortly after
Republican Senator Tommy Tuberville told Trump that the vice president
was being evacuated for his own safety.
Trump's lawyers gave conflicting answers on Friday when asked if Trump
knew Pence was in danger when he issued his tweet. Several Republican
senators said they still had questions about Trump's role.
"The issue is what was the presidentís intent, right? Only the president
could answer. And the president chose not to," Republican Senator Bill
Cassidy told reporters. He said he had not made up his mind on how to
Trump refused to testify in the trial.
House Democrats making the case for impeachment have argued that Trump
set the stage for violence through repeated -- and baseless -- claims
that the election results were fraudulent. They say he summoned the mob
to Washington, gave the crowd its marching orders and did nothing to
stop the violence as it played out on television.
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The U.S. Capitol Building on the third day of the second impeachment
trial of former U.S. President Donald Trump over his role in the
January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol Building in Washington, U.S.,
February 11, 2021. REUTERS/Leah Millis
Trump's defense lawyers have argued that Trump's activity was
allowable under free-speech protections in the U.S. Constitution.
"I don't know, at this point, how many minds get changed," Senator
John Thune, the chamber's No. 2 Republican, told reporters on
As many as 10 Republicans could find Trump guilty, according to a
Senate aide, which would still be short of the 67 votes needed for
conviction. Republican Senate Leader Mitch McConnell, who
reprimanded Trump after the Jan. 6 attack, remains a question mark.
Trump's first impeachment trial, which stemmed from his efforts to
pressure Ukraine to investigate Biden, ended in an acquittal a year
ago in what was then a Republican-controlled Senate.
Trump remains popular among conservative voters, and some say they
are angry that more elected Republicans did not support his effort
to overturn the election.
"I don't think there's any salvation for the Republican Party. It's
time to burn it down and start over," said North Carolina resident
Adam Silva, who said he switched his voter registration to
"unaffiliated" after Congress certified Biden's victory.
Lawmakers from both parties have said they would like to wrap the
trial up quickly so they could move on to other business, such as
confirmation votes on senior Biden administration officials and a
$1.9 trillion coronavirus aid package.
With initial presentations complete, the prosecution or the defense
could call witnesses on Saturday to bolster their cases. Neither
side has said whether they will do so.
After that, the prosecution and defense teams get two hours each for
closing statements. Defense lawyer Bruce Castor said he only planned
to use half of his alloted time.
That means a final vote on conviction could come as soon as early
(Reporting by Andy Sullivan,; Additional reporting by Susan
Cornwell, Makini Brice and David Morgan, Editing by Soyoung Kim and
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