After opening arguments, Senate votes to continue impeachment trial against Trump

The former president's attorneys pointed to the partisanship driving the 'politically motivated,' hate-motivated proceedings.
Tue Feb 9, 2021 - 5:20 pm EST
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WASHINGTON, D.C., February 9, 2021 (LifeSiteNews) – The impeachment trial currently underway against Donald Trump is a partisan exercise undertaken in violation of the Constitution’s text, attorneys for the former president argued before the Senate on Tuesday.

Senate impeachment proceedings began Tuesday, starting with a vote on the permissibility of impeaching a president who no longer holds office. Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Maryland, the lead House impeachment manager, argued that a so-called “January exception” to the impeachment power would constitute an “Invitation to the president to take his best shot at anything he may want to do on his way out the door.”

Fellow impeachment manager Rep. Joe Neguse, D-Colorado, cited the 1876 impeachment of President Ulysses S. Grant’s War Secretary, William Belknap, who resigned in hopes of evading impeachment. That the Senate proceeded with Belknap’s impeachment anyway, Neguse argued, provides sufficient precedent for a post-presidency impeachment.

The first member of Trump’s legal team to respond was attorney Bruce Castor, who framed the impeachment as politically motivated and warned that if it succeeds, “partisan impeachments will become commonplace.”

“We can’t possibly be suggesting that we punish people for political speech in this country,” Castor added.

Trump attorney David Schoen took a more aggressive tack, calling the trial “pure, raw sport” fueled by “hatred” of the former president. To support this point, he played a video montage of Democrats calling for Trump’s impeachment since before he took office:

Schoen devoted much of his remarks to arguing that, because the primary purpose of impeachment is removal, this impeachment was moot because the November election already removed Trump from office. He also took aim at the lack of due process and apparent partisanship of the proceeding, from the House voting on the article without calling witnesses or holding hearings, to Sen. Pat Leahy, D-Vermont, presiding over the Senate trial rather than Chief Justice John Roberts.

“This proceeding, lacking due process, must end now,” he argued.

Nevertheless, following arguments the Senate voted 56-44 to deem the trial constitutional and continue it. Six Republicans joined every Democrat in that vote: Bill Cassidy, R-Louisiana; Susan Collins, R-Maine; Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska; Mitt Romney, R-Utah; Ben Sasse, R-Nebraska, and Pat Toomey, R-Pennsylvania.

The impeachment concerns the protesters who broke into the U.S. Capitol Building on January 6 after the “March to Save America” rally, where Trump said supporters would march “over to the Capitol building to peacefully and patriotically make your voices heard,” where “we're going to cheer on our brave senators and congressmen-and-women” who were meeting to formally object to the certification of electoral votes from a handful of states.

Viral videos showed protesters engaging in physical altercations with police, pushing against security barricades, breaking through a window, trespassing in congressional offices, and climbing on walls, causing the vote certification to be suspended and lawmakers to be evacuated from the chambers. While many were let in by police and simply walked the halls after the initial breach, there were several deaths, including a protester shot by police, a protester trampled by other protesters, a police officer whose cause of death remains unknown, and others due to unspecified “medical emergencies.”

The march on the Capitol was a pre-planned part of the rally, and the violence was started by people who either left Trump’s speech early or skipped it entirely, but House Democrats quickly moved to impeach Trump for supposedly “inciting” the violence.

But while six Republicans have joined Democrats in voting to continue, the trial itself is not expected to yield the 67 votes necessary to convict Trump and disqualify him from future office.

  bruce castor, capitol hill riot, david schoen, democrats, donald trump, imeachment, jamie raskin, joe neguse, senate

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