House Democrats rested their case on Thursday in the impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump after arguing that the rioters who stormed the Capitol were doing so at his direction.
In their second full day of arguments, Democratic House impeachment managers made the case that Trump's lack of remorse for the violence necessitates his conviction.
The House managers sought in their first day of arguments on Wednesday to present Trump as methodically pushing the "big lie" of election fraud months before his loss, when he saw himself consistently trailing Joe Biden in the polls. That set the stage for him to incite the riot at the Capitol on Jan. 6 by supporters who Democrats said had been primed by Trump's relentless falsehoods to believe they were acting on his orders to "fight like hell" to prevent the election from being stolen.
The Democratic managers played a series of audio and video, including police communications and security footage that had not been released publicly, detailed a nearly minute-by-minute account of what happened once the Capitol was breached.
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GOP senators met with Trump legal team to discuss 'strategy'
Former President Donald Trump's legal team met with Sens. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., Mike Lee, R-Utah, and Ted Cruz, R-Texas, on Thursday afternoon after the House managers rested their case.
Cruz said they were "discussing their legal strategy and sharing our thoughts."
Graham was spotted leaving the meeting, saying, "See you tomorrow."
The meeting raised eyebrows as senators who will be voting on whether to convict Trump were also strategizing with his legal team. But they're just following in the footsteps of Mitch McConnell, who as Senate majority leader during Trump's first impeachment trial said he was "coordinating with the White House counsel."
"There will be no difference between the president's position and our position as to how to handle this," McConnell, R-Ky., said at the time.
Trump defense attorney David Schoen told reporters after the meeting: "I think it's the best practice here in impeachment. There's nothing about this thing that has any semblance of due process whatsoever."
Schoen says Trump defense arguments may take only 3 to 4 hours Friday
Former President Donald Trump's lawyer David Schoen said his team thinks it will need only a few hours to deliver its defense arguments.
Speaking to reporters after the House managers finished their arguments Thursday, Schoen said Trump's team may go for about "three to four hours, something like that," on Friday.
He criticized the case made by the House managers, saying they had turned the evidence into "an entertainment piece," which he said was "horrific."
Graham and Cornyn share a laugh during House manager's argument
As Raskin was wrapping up the House managers' case, uttering the words “put to bed” — in reference to the constitutionality argument — GOP Sen. Graham and Cornyn looked at each other and laughed.
Asked on his way out of the chamber for the day if the case presented by House managers persuaded him, Graham said, "Nope."
Many GOP senators appear to be unmoved by managers' argument
After hearing two days of arguments from the House managers, several GOP senators indicated that their minds hadn't been changed, saying the issue of constitutionality remains a concern.
According to pool reports, Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, said: "I think it's been spelled out. If there is an opportunity or they think that there is a case, it should go to the courts, not to Congress where we don't have a sitting president."
Mike Braun, R-Ind., told reporters he thought the House managers' presentation Thursday "didn't really have anything that changed my point of view after today. I'm anxious to hear what the defense side, you know, says tomorrow."
Tim Scott, R-S.C., told reporters that when Raskin stated Trump "does not deserve due process, it negated everything I heard before that.”
Josh Hawley, R-Mo., told reporters that the constitutionality argument was "bizarre."
"I thought today was very repetitive actually," he said. "I mean, not much new. I was really disappointed they didn’t engage much with the legal standards. This is a legal process after all."
Roy Blunt, R-Mo., told reporters his view is "unchanged."
Tommy Tuberville, R-Ala., told reporters that he hasn't decided which way he'll vote, but that he took Raskin's point of constitutionality with weight. He also told reporters he is still waiting to hear what the defense has to say in response.
"I want to hear about that day," he said. "I don’t want to hear about any of that other stuff. I want to hear about that day, was he right or wrong."
GOP Sen. Rounds says Lieu's warning left an impression on Republicans
When Rep. Lieu warned the Senate that former President Trump, if acquitted, could run for office again and potentially incite more violence if he loses, it made an impression on some Republicans in the chamber.
"Several of us wrote that down," Sen. Mike Rounds, R-S.D., told reporters later Thursday. "I think that was a strong statement on his part."
Lieu had warned earlier in the day: "I'm not afraid of Donald Trump running again in four years. I'm afraid he's going to run again and lose. Because he can do this again."
Still, Rounds said that questions about what the former president might do later are "hypotheticals" and signaled that they wouldn't form the basis of how senators vote.
"What I think right now is that — we're basing everything that we're doing on what's already happened," he said. "And we're not going to try to do hypotheticals about what's happening in the future."
Here's what comes next in the Senate impeachment trial
With the House managers having wrapped their case on Thursday, the Senate impeachment trial will move into its next phase — the defense's presentation.
Like the prosecution, the defense will have a maximum of 16 hours to present its case, though, like the House managers, they may choose to use less than that alloted time.
Following their presentation, senators will have the opportunity to ask questions of both the House managers and the defense. That proceeds a vote on whether to request additional documents and witnesses. Should no additional documents and witnesses be requested, a total of four hours will be given so each side can make their closing arguments before the Senate will advance to voting on whether or not to convict the president.
Graham's not persuaded by House arguments
Senate adjourns as House managers rest their case
The Senate adjourned for the day with House managers having wrapped their presentation.
In closing, Raskin wished the senators "good luck in your deliberations." In order to secure a conviction, 17 Republicans will need to vote to convict Trump.
Next up in the trial will be defense arguments from the former president's legal team. After that concludes, senators will have the option to ask questions of both the House managers and the defense team.
Raskin concludes impeachment presentation of House managers
Rep. Raskin concluded the House managers' impeachment presentation by attempting to blunt the defense's argument that the trial is unconstitutional.
He argued that the defense's argument on constitutional grounds is moot since the Senate voted against that argument and that it is important to pay attention to the facts. He enveloped his closing argument in a history lesson, quoting President Lincoln, the Founding Fathers and philosophers.
"We have the power to impeach the president, the president does not have the power to impeach us," Raskin said, breaking down the powers enshrined in the constitution.
He attempted to summarize the timeline House managers detailed in today's presentation, which described how Trump's inflamed rhetoric led to the Jan. 6 riot, arguing that inciting an insurrection is a high crime.
"Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered, but we have this saving consolation: The more difficult the struggle, the more glorious in the end will be our victory. Good luck in your deliberations," Raskin said.
GOP senators met with McConnell during a break
Several GOP senators met with Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., during an impeachment trial recess.
The group met around McConnell's desk and included John Thune, R-S.D., Bill Cassidy, R-La., Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, and Mitt Romney, R-Utah, Jerry Moran, R-Kan., and Richard Burr, R-N.C., later joined them.
Murkowski, Romney and Cassidy were among the six Republicans who voted in favor of the trial's constitutionality.
McConnell later left, walking over to speak with Richard Shelby, R-Ala. McConnell spoke quietly and close to Shelby's ear.
Rick Scott, R-Fla., eventually walked over to McConnell’s desk to chat with him briefly.
Many senators were still outside the chamber when the gavel resumed session at 2:46 p.m. ET.
As Rep. Castro began speaking, there was much rustling in the chamber as senators got settled in, with around a third of senators not in their seats. Both Republicans and Democrats had members straggling.
Several Republicans went back to studying materials that appeared unrelated to the trial, including Scott and John Kennedy, R-La.