Senate Proceeds with Trump Trial

Olivia Allery, contributor
Seven of the nine Democratic representatives managing the Senate’s conviction trial stride into court; from left to right: Madeleine Dean, Stacey Plaskett, Joaquin Castro, Ted Lieu, Diana DeGette, Eric Swalwell, and David Cicilline, obtained from Rep. Diana DeGette’s Instagram account.

Former President Donald Trump’s conviction trial began this week, following his second impeachment. He is being charged with violating his oath of office, attacking the democratic process, jeopardizing Congress’s safety and undermining national security.

In the weeks leading up to the trial, it was uncertain whether the trial would proceed at all, as there is no precedent for a president undergoing a conviction trial after their term has already ended. 

While many GOP senators initially called the impeachment unconstitutional, seven have since sided with Democrats after hearing the opening remarks of the trial. This ultimately tipped the scales against Trump and his legal team, as the Senate decided in a 56-44 vote that the impeachment trial is constitutional. 

Trump’s first defense team left only a week before the trial even started, leaving the former president scrambling to assemble a new defense team for the first day of trial. Trump is said to be quite unhappy with his defense team since his lawyer Bruce Castor openly admitted to the court that they had to change their opening statement because the House’s presentation was “well done.”

A few days before the trial, Congress released their official brief. This document includes Congress’s arguments of Trump’s criminal actions as well as a recount of actions that led to his second impeachment. 

The document explains how Trump incited the January white supremacist attack on the US capitol. His refusal to accept the 2020 election results along with outright lies of voter fraud and asserting his “victory” told his supporters that the election was “stolen” and “rigged.” “We are up BIG, but they are trying to STEAL the election,” said Trump in a now deleted November tweet. “We will never let them do it.” 

The incitement of violence was only furthered when Trump spoke at a Washington D.C. rally immediately before the January capitol attack, encouraging his supporters to combat the election results. “If you don’t fight like hell you’re not going to have a country anymore,” he declared. 

Following the attacks, Congress argued Trump sympathized with the domestic terrorists in a recorded video statement: “We love you, you’re very special,” he said. “I know how you feel. But go home and go home in peace.”

Trump’s defense lawyers have written a response to the House’s briefing, rebutting the arguments made by the House.The defense’s first claim is that the Senate could not hold an impeachment trial for a former president, since there is no way for him to be removed from office. The defense team also argued that, in his claims of a rigged election, Trump was using his first amendment right of free speech to “express his belief that the election results were suspect.” The defense also denied that Trump wanting his supporters to “fight like hell” had anything to do with the insurrection and the people who attacked the capitol did so for their own personal reasons. 

This is an ongoing story; future updates will be posted to The Echo as the impeachment trial continues.