WASHINGTON, DC (CBS News) — Former President Trump’s legal team will mount their defense on Friday, the fourth day of the second Senate impeachment trial against him.
They plan to conclude their arguments in a single day. Both sides will then field questions from senators before lawmakers consider any requests for witnesses or admission of additional evidence.
If the House managers decline to seek witness testimony, the trial could conclude with a vote on whether to convict or acquit as early as this weekend.
House Democrats leading Mr. Trump’s prosecution concluded their arguments Thursday, zeroing in on his words and actions in the run-up to the January 6 attack on the Capitol to urge senators to find him guilty.
“If you think this is not impeachable, what is? What would be?” said Representative Jamie Raskin, the lead House impeachment manager. “If you don’t find this a high crime and misdemeanor today, you have set a new, terrible standard for presidential misconduct in the United States of America.”
The impeachment managers presented video evidence, media reports and court documents to demonstrate how some members of the pro-Trump mob that stormed the Capitol believed they were acting at the direction of the president.
“They truly believed that the whole intrusion was at the president’s orders, and we know that because they said so,” Representative Diana DeGette said. “This was not a hidden crime. The president told them to be there and so they actually believed they would face no punishment.”
The Democrats deployed a litany of Mr. Trump’s comments in interviews and at political rallies over the years to make the case that he deliberately incited his supporters to resort to violence in a desperate attempt to remain in power.
“January 6 was a culmination of the president’s actions, not an aberration from them,” Raskin said. “The insurrection was the most violent and dangerous episode so far in Donald Trump’s continuing pattern and practice of inciting violence.”
The managers also warned that failure to convict Mr. Trump would set a dangerous precedent that future presidents — or Mr. Trump himself — could exploit.