The second impeachment trial against former President Donald Trump is rapidly drawing to a close, less than a week after it began.
The final vote in the historic process could take place on Saturday afternoon, a month after the House indicted Trump on an article inciting the January 6 insurrection in the U.S. Capitol.
Despite the new evidence, ardent arguments, and hours of answering questions, the Senate seems just as likely to acquit Trump as it was before the trial began.
The Senate is expected to return at 10 a.m.CET.
The process was unprecedented in many ways. No president before Trump has ever been tried and tried twice, and a former president has never been tried in the Senate. If the process closes as expected this weekend, it will be the shortest impeachment process ever recorded.
It is also noteworthy that the senators serving as the jury in the trial are themselves witnesses to the events that, according to prosecutors, instigated Trump.
The break-in at the Capitol forced a joint session of Congress to vacate their chambers, ruining the process of confirming President Joe Biden’s electoral college victory. Five people, including a US Capitol police officer, died as a result of the attack.
Before the siege began, Trump held a rally in front of the White House calling on a crowd of his supporters to march to the Capitol to protest the election results and to pressure Republicans, including then Vice President Mike Pence, for them To question results.
“If you don’t fight like hell, you will have no more land,” Trump said at the rally, one of many statements before, during and after the uprising that the Democrats took as evidence of incitement.
Nine House Democrats selected as impeachment managers in the process argued that Trump has direct responsibility for the invasion. Led by Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md., The executives presented within two days that Trump should be convicted and disqualified for ever holding federal office again.
Trump laid the groundwork for the attack over the months by relentlessly spreading the “big lie” that the 2020 elections were stolen by widespread electoral fraud. Managers said Trump set his “Stop the Steal” rally on Jan. 6 as the final stand to reverse the election result, then whipped his supporters and directed them to the Capitol.
“He had gathered thousands of violent people, people he knew to be violent, people he had considered violent,” property manager Madeleine Dean said at the trial. “And then he pointed to us, lit the fuse and sent an angry mob to fight the supposed enemy – his own Vice President and members of Congress – when we confirmed an election.”
Their presentation contained never-before-seen video and audio evidence, including security footage in the Capitol that showed lawmakers running to safety from the mob.
Trump’s lawyers denied that the former president had instigated the attack and placed particular emphasis on his use of the words “peaceful and patriotic” during his speech at the pre-insurrection rally. Trump’s rhetoric, they said, was a fully protected speech under the First Amendment and no worse than what Democrats have said in the past.
The urge to expel Trump from the future office amounts to a “culture of constitutional repeal,” said defense attorney Michael van der Veen.
The defense team also had problems with the legal process. They argued that the impeachment process itself was unconstitutional as Trump was a private citizen and no longer a president. They also said the process was rushed and Trump was deprived of procedural rights.
Van der Veen warned that the process would transform the impeachment power of Congress into a “mechanism for enforcing state control over which individuals can and cannot become president”.
They started their presentation on Friday noon; They finished less than three hours later, although they had up to 16 hours to represent their case.
Trump’s legal roster was released less than two weeks before the first day of the trial when the Senate met to review and vote on whether it had jurisdiction over the former president.
One of Trump’s attorneys, Bruce Castor Jr., received scathing reviews from Democrats and Republicans after making a meandering, tangential argument. Senator Bill Cassidy, a Republican who had previously voted to dismiss the trial on constitutional grounds, voted with the Democrats after listening to Trump’s lawyers.
However, with only six out of 50 Republican senators convinced the trial should take place at all, Tuesday’s vote indicated that convicting Trump was next to impossible.
Democrats need two-thirds of the Senate to vote for a conviction, which means that at least 17 Republicans would have to vote with all Democrats and Independents to convict Trump.
In Trump’s first impeachment trial, only one GOP senator, Mitt Romney of Utah, voted to condemn Trump.
That process, in which the Senate examined articles on abuse of power and obstruction of Congress in connection with Trump’s pressure on Ukraine to investigate Biden and his son, took nearly three weeks – allegedly the shortest in US history.
If Trump’s second trial ends on Saturday, it will have lasted five days.