Tag Archives: impeachment

Impeachment is over. These four threats now loom over Donald Trump

Look, he warned you. Way back at the dawn of his political adventure, Donald Trump opined that his supporters would stay with him forever, even if he pulled out a gun and shot somebody in the middle of a Manhattan avenue.

That proposition has fortunately never been tested.

Yet his second impeachment, and the 57-43 vote which led to his acquittal, have managed to unearth thorny truths about American politics and his indelible place in it.

One obvious takeaway from this unusual episode is that the U.S. Constitution’s impeachment provisions have revealed themselves to be a dull-toothed tiger.

This has potentially long-lasting implications: Trump could run for office again, and the country’s constitutional guardrails have proven feeble at a time of mounting threats to democracy. 

The Senate’s most powerful figure, Democrat Chuck Schumer, called it a vote that will live in infamy and expressed his fear of this acquittal setting a precedent with bleak implications for the republic.

“If encouraging political violence becomes the norm, it will be open season — open season — on our democracy,” Schumer, the Senate’s majority leader, said.

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer speaks after the Senate acquitted Trump on Saturday in Washington. Schumer expressed his fear that the former president’s acquittal following a violent attack on the Capitol on Jan. 6 will set a precedent. (Senate Television via The Associated Press)

“Everything will be up for grabs by whoever has the biggest clubs; the sharpest spears; the most powerful guns.”

His Republican counterpart, Mitch McConnell, spent minutes on the Senate floor also ripping into Trump, saying the former president could yet face criminal and civil threats and that he hadn’t gotten away with anything.

McConnell voted to acquit Trump, however, which he described as a technical matter of agreeing with scholars who argue you can’t convict a former official.

Forty-three of the 50 Senate Republicans opposed conviction. Strikingly, this is weak by historical standards: The seven Republicans voting to convict a president of their own party actually set a new record.

And that speaks volumes about how impeachment has worked.

Political parties didn’t exist back when the framers, in their powdered wigs, gathered in downtown Philadelphia to put impeachment rules to paper in 1787 — let alone today’s entrenched party solidarity, which renders the idea of achieving a Senate conviction as remote to our generation as a presidential tweetstorm would have seemed to James Madison’s.

Trump has now single-handedly created a fuller sample size to measure what happens when an impeachment case reaches the Senate, by doubling the number of presidential impeachments in U.S. history from two to four.

The answer is: probably nothing.

When the U.S. Constitution was written in 1787, political parties did not exist and would not have factored into the framers’ thinking when they set the bar for conviction in an impeachment trial at two-thirds of the Senate. (U.S. National Archives)

Attaining that 67-vote threshold to convict is hard when the person on trial is the de facto leader of one party in the chamber; it’s even harder when Congress is deeply unpopular, and senators are being asked to turf a leader their supporters prefer to them.

Most Republicans made clear they wanted to avoid the trial, and the few who’d backed impeachment faced the wrath of Trump supporters in their home states.

It was all pretty predictable. 

They sat through days of testimony where Democrats accused the ex-president of the most serious crime ever committed against the republic by an American commander-in-chief: turning a mob against the state.

Was there a point to all of this?

Republicans watched presentations accusing Trump of whipping up this mob with years of violence-threatening rhetoric; of fomenting its anger with weeks of delusional attacks on the election result; and of timing it all to crash into the Capitol on Jan. 6, when he organized a rally just as lawmakers met to certify the election of Joe Biden as president.

Trump’s lawyers countered that, yes, he urged supporters to march on the Capitol — but, they noted, Trump told them to stay peaceful, and when he urged them to “fight like hell,” they said, he was using a term commonly employed by all politicians.

If the result was so utterly predictable, then that in itself raises an important question. Was this pointless? 

It’s far too soon to conclude that this process left Trump unblemished — or for that matter that he leads a consequence-free political existence. 

The trial went as expected, aside from last-minute drama about calling witnesses. Trump spokesperson Jason Miller, shown Saturday, held a sheet threatening to subpoena Democrats as witnesses if they called their own. The Democrats dropped their call for witnesses. (Greg Nash/The Associated Press)

Accountability mechanisms still exist in American politics, even if dented and hammered beyond the shape originally fashioned by the founders.

There are at least four potential consequences for Trump’s past actions.

The impeachment itself, for starters, might have failed to deliver Trump a short-term sting but will carry a long-term stink.

For as long as there’s an American republic, schoolchildren will ask about that president who got impeached twice. 

Joseph Ellis, a presidential historian who participates in academic surveys ranking presidents, has said the likelihood of Trump being ranked dead last went up with his record-setting second impeachment.

The impeachment also allows voters, both in the Republican primaries and in the general election in 2024, to evaluate how candidates handled this moment. Did they back Trump strongly or meekly? Did they oppose him? Did they duck the debate? 

Next: ‘Serious’ criminal investigations

A second source of potential trouble ahead for Trump: the legal system. Prosecutors in several jurisdictions have publicly revealed they’ve opened criminal investigations related to him.

When asked about the likely outcome, two former prosecutors told CBC News they wouldn’t be surprised to see charges against Trump.

In fact, said Ben Gershman, who specialized in corruption cases at the Manhattan district level and state level in New York and now teaches law at Pace University: “I’d be surprised if he wasn’t charged.” 

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Republican, leaves the chamber on Saturday after the Senate voted to acquit Trump at his impeachment trial. McConnell, who was critical of Trump during the trial, ultimately voted to acquit the former president. (J. Scott Applewhite/The Associated Press)

He said that’s based on what’s already in the public domain. It includes tax and insurance fraud investigations reportedly underway at the city and state level in New York; state authorities saying they’re looking at a property deal in Westchester County; prosecutors in Georgia launching a criminal investigation into the ex-president’s attempt to pressure state officials to overturn the 2020 election result; Trump being an unindicted co-conspirator in the campaign finance-fraud case involving Stormy Daniels (though that case is reportedly dormant); accusations of mortgage fraud; and several incidents of potential obstruction of justice described in the Mueller report

Nick Akerman, a former federal prosecutor for the Southern District of New York, described Trump’s legal exposure as: “Extremely serious. On the tax, the mortgage fraud [laws] and the matter in Georgia, where he’s on tape.”

The ultimate punishment

A third potential source of scrutiny involves investigations into what happened on Jan. 6. There have already been different processes launched in Congress, and there will be others, probing the attack and how the Trump administration responded.

Finally, there’s the punishment Trump has already started suffering: The sting of electoral rejection. 

That metaphor Trump used about shooting someone on Fifth Avenue was never completely accurate. It’s broadly, but not totally, true that his voters are an unbreakable block.

After four years of Trump’s presidency, a tiny percentage soured on him, in small-but-sufficient numbers to cost him some states.

Trump, shown in 2016, has insisted that he was a victim of the courts, the Democrats, weak-kneed Republican officials and voting machines in a supposed conspiracy that cost him numerous swing states in November’s election. (Carlo Allegri/Reuters)

That much-vaunted unflappability of his base cannot obscure the fact that not once — not for a moment in Trump’s presidency — did he build on that base to achieve approval numbers anywhere close to the ones currently enjoyed by Biden. Several surveys showed majority or plurality support for impeaching Trump.

Now settled into his post-presidency in his seaside home at Mar-a-Lago, Trump will keep arguing that he was robbed in the election.

He has insisted, and will keep insisting forever, that he was a victim of the courts, the Democrats, weak-kneed Republican officials and voting machines in a supposed conspiracy that cost him numerous swing states, and he’ll correctly point to the near-record total of 74 million votes he received. 

But it won’t change a thing about Trump’s status: defeated president.

Nothing he does will erase the other verdict rendered in a larger political court, by a record-smashing number of voters — 81,268,924 people who did what Republican senators never would to Donald John Trump.

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CBC | World News

Senate to call witnesses, delaying Trump impeachment vote

The U.S. Senate on Saturday voted to allow witnesses to be called in its impeachment trial of former president Donald Trump, who faces a charge of inciting his supporters to attack the Capitol on Jan. 6.

The 55-45 vote will allow Republican Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler of Washington state to testify. Herrera Beutler, one of the 10 Republicans who voted to impeach Trump, released a statement late Friday detailing a conversation she said with House Republican Leader Rep. Kevin McCarthy.

McCarthy told her that during the attack on the Capitol, he asked Trump to publicly call off the riot and that Trump told him, “‘Well, Kevin, I guess these people are more upset about the election than you are,'” according to Herrera Beutler’s statement.

Before the vote, U.S. senators were poised to vote on whether Trump will be held accountable for inciting the horrific attack. Until now, the impeachment trial has moved quickly, laying bare the danger to lawmakers’ lives and the fragility of the country’s tradition of a peaceful transfer of presidential power.

But senators are now seemingly confused about what should happen next. After the vote, some huddled on the floor of the chamber and strategized about how to proceed. Some also expressed confusion about what, exactly, they had voted for earlier.

WATCH | Trump’s team delivers final arguments in impeachment trial:

Donald Trump’s legal team has rested its case in the former U.S. president’s second impeachment trial. Lawyers argued that Democrats have, many times, also used aggressively charged language for political ends and that nothing Trump said, before or after Jan. 6, rose to the level of incitement of insurrection as it’s defined by law. 2:43

Impeachment trials are rare, especially for a president, and the rules are negotiated for each one at the outset.

For Trump’s trial, the agreement said if senators agree to hear witnesses, votes to hear additional testimony would be allowed.

The nearly week-long trial has delivered a grim and graphic narrative of the riot and its consequences in ways that senators, most of whom fled for their own safety that day, acknowledge they are still coming to grips with.

Acquittal expected

Acquittal is expected in the evenly divided Senate. That verdict could heavily influence not only Trump’s political future but that of the senators sworn to deliver impartial justice as jurors.

House prosecutors have argued that Trump’s rallying cry to go to the Capitol and “fight like hell” for his presidency just as Congress was convening Jan. 6 to certify Joe Biden’s election victory was part of an orchestrated pattern of violent rhetoric and false claims that unleashed the mob. Five people died, including a rioter who was shot and a police officer.

Trump faces a single charge of inciting insurrection after his supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol, forced their way into the building and clashed with police. Five people died in the Jan. 6 riot, including an officer. (Jose Luis Magana/The Associated Press)

Trump’s lawyers countered in a short three hours on Friday that Trump’s words were not intended to incite the violence and that impeachment is nothing but a “witch hunt” designed to prevent him from serving in office again.

Only by watching the graphic videos — rioters calling out menacingly for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and then-vice-president Mike Pence, who was presiding over the vote tally — did senators say they began to understand just how perilously close the country came to chaos. Hundreds of rioters stormed into the building, taking over the Senate. Some engaged in hand-to-hand, bloody combat with police.

While it is unlikely the Senate would be able to mount the two-thirds vote needed to convict Trump, several senators appear to be still weighing their vote. Many Republicans representing states where the former president remains popular doubt whether Trump was fully responsible or if impeachment is the appropriate response. Democrats appear all but united toward conviction.

Conviction would make history

Trump is the only president to be twice impeached and the first to face trial charges after leaving office.

Unlike last year’s impeachment trial of Trump in the Ukraine affair — a complicated charge of corruption and obstruction over his attempts to have the foreign ally dig up dirt on then-campaign rival Biden — this one brought an emotional punch over the unexpected vulnerability of the U.S. tradition of peaceful elections. The charge is singular: incitement of insurrection.

On Friday, Trump’s impeachment lawyers accused Democrats of waging a campaign of “hatred” against the former president as they wrapped up their defence.

WATCH | Democrats wrap up case for Trump’s impeachment: 

House prosecutors wrapped up their impeachment case against Donald Trump on Thursday insisting the Capitol invaders believed they were acting on ‘the president’s orders’ to stop Joe Biden’s election and warning that he would do it again if not convicted. 2:44

His lawyers vigorously denied that Trump had incited the riot, and they played out-of-context video clips showing Democrats, some of them senators now serving as jurors, also telling supporters to “fight,” aiming to establish a parallel with Trump’s overheated rhetoric.

“This is ordinarily political rhetoric,” Trump lawyer Michael van der Veen said. “Countless politicians have spoken of fighting for our principles.”

But the presentation blurred the difference between the general encouragement that politicians make to battle for health care or other causes and Trump’s fight against officially accepted national election results, and it minimized Trump’s efforts to undermine those results. The defeated president was telling his supporters to fight on after every state had verified its results, after the electoral college had affirmed them and after nearly every election lawsuit filed by Trump and his allies had been rejected in court.

Democratic senators shook their heads at what many called a false equivalency to their own fiery words. “We weren’t asking them to ‘fight like hell’ to overthrow an election,” said Sen. Richard Blumenthal, a Democrat from Connecticut.

Democrats say that Trump was the “inciter in chief” whose months-long campaign against the election results was rooted in a “big lie” and laid the groundwork for the riot — a violent domestic attack on the Capitol unparalleled in history.

“Get real,” the lead prosecutor, Rep. Jamie Raskin, a Democrat from Maryland, said at one point. “We know that this is what happened.”

The Senate has convened as a court of impeachment for past presidents Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton and now twice for Trump. But the unprecedented nature of the case against an out-of-office president has provided Republican senators one of several arguments against conviction.

Republicans maintain the proceedings are unconstitutional, even though the Senate voted at the outset of the trial on this issue and confirmed it has jurisdiction.

Republican votes will be closely watched

Six Republican senators who joined Democrats in voting to take up the case are among those most watched for their votes.

Early signals came Friday during questions for the lawyers.

Sen. Susan Collins and Sen. Lisa Murkowski, Republicans from Maine and Alaska, respectively, asked the first question. Two centrists known for independent streaks, they leaned into a point the prosecutors had made, asking exactly when Trump learned of the breach of the Capitol and what specific actions he took to end the rioting.

Democrats had argued that Trump did nothing as the mob rioted.

Another Republican who voted to launch the trial, Sen. Bill Cassidy of Louisiana, asked about Trump’s tweet criticizing Pence moments after being was told by another senator that Pence had just been evacuated.

Van der Veen responded that at “no point” was the president informed of any danger. Cassidy told reporters later it was not a very good answer.

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CBC | World News

Jan. 6 rioters acted on Trump’s direct orders, prosecutors say as they wrap their case for impeachment

House prosecutors concluded two days of emotional arguments in Donald Trump’s impeachment trial  late Thursday, insisting the Capitol invaders believed they were acting on “the president’s orders” to stop Joe Biden’s election

The prosecutors argued the defeated president’s pattern of spreading false and violent rhetoric will continue to vex American politics if left unchecked.

The prosecutors described in stark, personal terms the horror they faced that day, some of it in the very Senate chamber where Trump’s trial is underway. They displayed the many public and explicit instructions Trump gave his supporters — long before the White House rally that unleashed the deadly Capitol attack as Congress was certifying Biden’s victory.

Five people died in the chaos and its aftermath, a domestic attack unparalleled in U.S. history.

Videos of rioters, some posted to social medial by themselves, talked about how they were doing it all for Trump.

The House of Representatives has charged Trump, a Republican, with inciting an insurrection.

WATCH | Democrats use Republican officials’ own words condemning Trump’s complicity to make their case:

House manager Joe Neguse used Republicans’ video statements about Trump’s involvement in encouraging the riot to further the Democrats’ argument that he incited violence. 2:08

“We were invited here,” said one rioter. “Trump sent us,” said another. “He’ll be happy. We’re fighting for Trump.” Five people died.

“They truly believed that the whole intrusion was at the president’s orders,” said Rep. Diana DeGette of Colorado. “The president told them to be there.”

She went on to say, “This was not a hidden crime. The president told them to be there, so they actually believed they would face no punishment.”

U.S. House impeachment manager Rep. Diana DeGette of Colorado quotes the words of the insurrectionists and rioters at the U.S. Capitol about their motivations at former president Donald Trump’s impeachment trial on Thursday. (U.S. Senate TV/Handout via Reuters)

The prosecutors drew a direct line from his repeated comments condoning and even celebrating violence — praising “both sides” after the 2017 outbreak at the white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia — and urging his rally crowd last month to go to the Capitol and fight for his presidency. He spread false claims about election fraud, even there has been no evidence of it, and urged his supporters to “stop the steal” of the presidency.

Lead impeachment manager Jamie Raskin said that the litany of examples showed “obvious intent” as Trump told his supporters to come to Washington, and then to “fight like hell” just before they laid siege to the U.S. Capitol.

Raskin showed clips of Trump encouraging violence and also sanctioning violence afterward — including his telling a crowd to “knock the crap out of” a protester at one of his speeches. He told the crowd that he would pay their legal fees if they did. Another clip showed him saying it was “very, very appropriate” when some of his supporters attacked a protester at a Trump event. “That’s what we need a little bit more of,” Trump said.

‘Trump would do it again’

And, said Raskin, Trump would do it again if he were elected in the future. “Is there any politician leader in this room who believes if he’s ever allowed by the Senate to get back into the Oval Office, Donald Trump would stop inciting violence to get his way?” he asked.

“Would you bet the lives of more police officers on that? Would you bet the safety of your family on that? Would you bet the future of your democracy on that?”

In urging senators to convict Trump, Raskin said Trump knew that if he egged them on, “his most extreme followers would show up bright and early, ready to attack, ready to engage in violence, ready to fight like hell for their hero.”

WATCH | Capitol staffers describe hiding amid gunfire:

House impeachment manager Rep. David Cicilline plays video at Trump’s impeachment trial of two staffers who recount what it was like to be hiding in the U.S. Capitol as rioters gained access and shots were fired on Jan. 6. 1:19

Raskin implored senators in his closing speech Thursday to exercise “common sense about what just took place in our country” and find Trump guilty of inciting an insurrection.  

He said senators have the power under the Constitution to find Trump guilty of having betrayed the oath of office the nation’s founders wrote into the Constitution.

Another impeachment manager warned senators that acquitting Trump could have lasting consequences for the country. Rep. Joe Neguse said that “if we pretend this didn’t happen, or worse, if we let it go unanswered, who’s to say it won’t happen again.”

Trump team arguments begin tomorrow

Trump’s lawyers will launch their defence on Friday. They are expected to argue that his words were protected by the Constitution’s First Amendment and just a figure of speech.

According to Trump senior adviser Jason Miller, they are planning to begin and wrap up their defence in his impeachment trial in less than a day, using far fewer than their allotted argument hours.

The House managers spent much of Wednesday recounting the events that led to the riot and highlighting the threat to former vice-president Mike Pence.

‘Hang Mike Pence’

Senators on Wednesday were shown searing security footage the pro-Trump mob stalking the Capitol hallways chanting “Hang Mike Pence!” and searching for Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

Previously unseen videos showed the view from inside the Capitol as rioters smashed windows and fought with police, coming within 30 metres of the room where Pence was sheltering with his family. The mob had set up a gallows outside.

WATCH | A recap of Wednsday’s presentation by the impeachment managers:

The Democrats used never-before-seen footage of the Capitol Hill riots as they laid out their case that the attackers were incited by the former president. 3:34

The footage, which also included body-camera views of brutal attacks on Capitol police, showed Pence and lawmakers being hustled to safety steps ahead of an advancing mob. Five people who were at the Capitol died that day, including a police officer and a woman who was fatally shot by Capitol Police.

Trump had repeatedly said Pence had the power to stop the certification of the election results, even though he did not.

“The mob was looking for Vice-President Pence,” Representative Stacey Plaskett said, narrating footage that showed the crowd threatening Pence and searching for Pelosi.

Trump singled out targets

“President Trump put a target on their backs and then his mob broke into the Capitol to hunt them down,” she said.

Democrats face a difficult task in securing a Senate conviction and barring Trump from ever again seeking public office. A two-thirds majority in the Senate must vote to convict, which means at least 17 Republicans would have to defy Trump and his continued popularity among Republican voters.

“I am holding out hope that the forcefulness of this argument will still sway some. I believe there are more Republicans that are open to conviction than is publicly clear at this point,” said Democratic Senator Chris Coons.

But while several Republican senators said the footage showed on Wednesday was emotional, many added it did not change their minds.

“I didn’t see a case there that a prosecutor can make in court against the president,” Republican Senator Roy Blunt said.

“Today’s presentation was powerful and emotional, reliving a terrorist attack on our nation’s capital, but there was very little said about how specific conduct of the president satisfies a legal standard,” added Republican Senator Ted Cruz.

By Thursday, senators sitting through a second full day of arguments appeared somewhat fatigued, slouching in their chairs, crossing their arms and walking around to stretch.

Republican, Sen. James Inhofe of Oklahoma, said during a break: “To me, they’re losing credibility the longer they talk.”

Trump is the first U.S. president to be impeached twice and the first to face trial after leaving office. His first impeachment trial, which stemmed from his efforts to pressure Ukraine to investigate Biden, ended in an acquittal a year ago in what was then a Republican-controlled Senate.

WATCH | Previously unseen Jan. 6 footage shown at Senate trial:

Security video played Wednesday during Donald Trump’s impeachment trial shows a Capitol Police officer directing Sen. Mitt Romney away from the rioters who had breached the building. 0:45

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CBC | World News

Trump’s 2nd impeachment trial begins with dramatic video of the Jan. 6 Capitol attack

Donald Trump’s historic second impeachment trial opened Tuesday in the Senate with graphic video of the deadly Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Congress and the defeated former president whipping up a rally crowd — saying “We’re going to walk down to the Capitol!” — as he encouraged a futile fight over his presidency.

The lead House prosecutor told senators the case would present “cold, hard facts” against Trump, who is charged with inciting the siege of the Capitol to overturn the presidential election he lost to Democrat Joe Biden. Senators sitting as jurors, many who themselves fled for safety that day, watched the jarring video of the chaotic scene, which included rioters pushing past police to storm the halls and Trump flags waving.

“That’s a high crime and misdemeanor,” said Rep. Jamie Raskin, in opening remarks. “If that’s not an impeachable offence, then there’s no such thing.”

Trump is the first president to face impeachment charges after leaving office and the first to be twice impeached . The Capitol siege stunned the world as rioters ransacked the building to try to stop the certification of Biden’s victory, a domestic attack on the nation’s seat of government unlike any in its history. Five people died.

A Donald Trump flag is seen as a mob climbs through a window they broke at the U.S. Capitol Building in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 6. (Leah Millis/Reuters)

Figure of speech, say Trump lawyers

Each side has two hours to make its case on Tuesday, after which the Senate is expected to vote and reject the Republican efforts to dismiss the trial.

Trump’s lawyers insist that he is not guilty on the sole charge of “incitement of insurrection,” his fiery words just a figure of speech, even as he encouraged a rally crowd to “fight like hell” for his presidency. Five people died as a result of the ensuing siege of the Capitol.

Front Burner21:38Trump’s impeachment: Will history repeat itself?

Donald Trump is facing an historic second Senate impeachment trial. Will the former U.S. president avoid conviction once again? Politico reporter Andrew Desiderio explains why all signs point to an acquittal. 21:38

While acquittal is likely, the trial will test the nation’s attitude toward his brand of presidential power, the Democrats’ resolve in pursuing him, and the loyalty of Trump’s Republican allies defending him.

“In trying to make sense of a second Trump trial, the public should keep in mind that Donald Trump was the first president ever to refuse to accept his defeat,” said Timothy Naftali, a clinical associate professor at New York University and an expert on Richard Nixon’s impeachment saga, which ended with Nixon’s resignation rather than his impeachment.

“This trial is one way of having that difficult national conversation about the difference between dissent and insurrection,” Naftali said.

Security remained extremely tight at the Capitol, a changed place after the attack, fenced off with razor wire and armed National Guard troops on patrol. The nine House managers walked across the shuttered building to prosecute the case before the Senate.

Constitutional arguments up first

In filings, lawyers for the former president lobbed a wide-ranging attack against the House case, dismissing the trial as “political theatre” on the same Senate floor invaded by the mob.

Trump’s defenders are preparing to challenge both the constitutionality of the trial and any suggestion that he was to blame for the insurrection. They suggest that Trump was simply exercising his First Amendment rights when he encouraged his supporters to protest at the Capitol, and they argue the Senate is not entitled to try Trump now that he has left office.

WATCH | Amherst College law professor Lawrence Douglas on Trump’s 2nd trial:

The second impeachment trial of former U.S. president Donald Trump is not without precedent, says law professor Lawrence Douglas, nor is it likely to result in a conviction. 4:04

Witnesses unlikely to be called

But the House prosecutors argued there is no “January exception” for a president on his way out the door. Rep. Joe Neguse, referred to the corruption case of William Belknap, a war secretary in the Grant administration, who was impeached, tried and ultimately acquitted by the Senate after leaving office.

“President Trump was not impeached for run of the mill corruption, misconduct. He was impeached for inciting a violent insurrection – an insurrection where people died, in this building,” Neguse said.”If Congress stands by, it would invite future presidents to use their power without any fear of accountability.”

It appears unlikely that the House prosecutors will call witnesses, in part because the senators were witnesses themselves. At his Mar-a-Lago club in Florida, Trump has declined a request to testify.

Trump’s defence team has said it plans to counter with its own cache of videos of Democratic politicians making fiery speeches. “We have some videos up our sleeve,” senior Trump adviser Jason Miller said on a podcast Monday.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Tuesday that Biden would not be watching the trial of his predecessor.

“Joe Biden is the president, he’s not a pundit,” she said. “He’s not going to opine on back and forth arguments.”

WATCH | Trump’s First Amendment rights could rest on intent:

The events, the words and the context leading up to the Capitol Hill riots will be the key evidence used in former U.S. president Donald Trump’s second impeachment trial in the Senate. 6:39

Typically senators sit at their desks for such occasions, but the COVID-19 crisis has upended even this tradition. Instead, senators will be allowed to spread out, in the “marble room” just off the Senate floor, where proceedings will be shown on TV, and in the public galleries above the chamber, to accommodate social distancing, according to a person familiar with the discussions.

Trump’s second impeachment trial is expected to diverge from the lengthy, complicated affair of a year ago. In that case, Trump was charged with having privately pressured Ukraine to dig up dirt on Biden, then a Democratic rival for the presidency.

This time, Trump’s “stop the steal” rally rhetoric and the storming of the Capitol played out for the world to see, as well the preceding two months in which he claimed without merit on Twitter and in appearances that he was legitimate winner of the election.

The Current20:13What Donald Trump’s impeachment trial means for U.S. political institutions

As former U.S. president Donald Trump’s impeachment trial gets underway this week for his role in inciting the U.S. Capitol attack, some say the country’s political institutions are at stake. To unpack the issue, Matt Galloway speaks with Ken Mack, the Lawrence D. Biele professor of law and affiliate professor of history at Harvard University, and Karen Tumulty, a political columnist for the Washington Post. 20:13

The Democratic-led House impeached the president swiftly, one week after the most violent attack on Congress in more than 200 years. 

A conviction in a Senate trial requires two-thirds — or 67 senators — to vote in favour.

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CBC | World News

Trump impeachment trial 2.0: The main players

The second impeachment trial of former U.S. president Donald Trump begins Tuesday in the Senate.  

Trump was impeached by the U.S. House of Representatives nearly four weeks ago for “incitement of insurrection” in connection with the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol that left five people dead. 

It was the most bipartisan presidential impeachment in modern times, with 10 Republicans joining the Democrats in the vote to impeach, indicating they believe Trump violated his oath to protect and defend U.S. democracy.  

Now, the process moves to the trial stage.

Trump’s defence team will begin by arguing the trial is unconstitutional because Trump is no longer president and because he did not incite the riot.

Trump did tell his supporters at a rally that morning to “fight like hell” and talked about joining them in marching to Capitol Hill, though he didn’t follow through.  

No witnesses are expected to be called, in part because the senators sworn as jurors will be presented with footage of the scenes they themselves experienced that day as they were forced to flee to safety.

Here are the main players who will be front and centre in the proceedings.

Trump’s defence team

Trump was forced to quickly replace his original legal team only a week ago. The lawyers who had previously signed on abruptly left, reportedly over Trump’s desired defence strategy of relying on his thoroughly debunked allegations that election fraud cost him the presidency in the Nov. 3 election. He will now rely on two lead lawyers to defend him. 

David Schoen is a civil rights and criminal defence lawyer. While he has represented accused rapists, killers and alleged Mafia bosses, he has also been awarded for fighting to change the face of public institutions in the south, according to his website, including the foster care system, public schools, prisons and more.

In 1995, he was a recipient of the American Bar Association’s Pro Bono Publico Award for his commitment to providing volunteer legal services to those in need.

He represented Trump’s former adviser, Roger Stone, who was convicted in 2019 of lying under oath in the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. Trump pardoned Stone weeks before he left office. 

Schoen also met with convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein about joining his defence team handling sex trafficking charges just days before the financier killed himself in a New York City jail.

Bruce Castor is a former district attorney from Pennsylvania. His highest profile case was in 2005 when he declined to charge comedian Bill Cosby after Andrea Constand of Toronto, who worked at Temple University in Philadelphia at the time, accused Cosby of drugging and sexually assaulting her in his home. 

He lost re-election as district attorney to an opponent who later went on to charge Cosby. 

Dozens of other women later came forward with sex-related allegations against Cosby, who was convicted in 2018 of sexually assaulting Constand.

In a statement to The Associated Press upon joining Trump’s defence team, Castor said, “The strength of our constitution is about to be tested like never before in our history. It is strong and resilient. A document written for the ages, and it will triumph over partisanship yet again, and always.”  

WATCH | The former head of the FBI says Trump is guilty and should not be able to run for office again:

Former FBI director James Comey says former U.S. president Donald Trump should be convicted in the upcoming impeachment trial 8:28

The impeachment managers

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi named nine House representatives to argue the case against Trump. All are lawyers and many of them have experience investigating the president. 

Rep. Jamie Raskin of Maryland, a former constitutional law professor, is the lead impeachment manager. He wrote the House resolution after the Jan. 6 attack that called on Vice-President Mike Pence to invoke the 25th Amendment and declare Trump unable to complete his term in office. When Pence ruled out doing so, Raskin helped to draft the article of impeachment against Trump. 

Of the Jan. 6 riot, Raskin told The Associated Press, “That is the groundwork for fascism, when you add racism, anti-Semitism, conspiracy theory and magical thinking. That is an absolute powder keg in terms of an assault on democracy…. So we have to be very tough, and very strong right now in defending the constitution and democracy.”

The impeachment trial is happening just six weeks after Raskin lost his 25-year-old son to suicide on New Year’s Eve. 

U.S. House lead impeachment manager Jamie Raskin reads the House article of impeachment against Trump on Jan. 25. (U.S. Senate TV/Handout via Reuters)

Rep. Joaquin Castro is a member of the U.S. House intelligence and foreign affairs committees, where he has been an outspoken critic of Trump’s handling of Russia. He was a litigator in private practice before he was elected to the Texas legislature and later to Congress, where he is in his fifth term.

Rep. David Cicilline of Rhode Island, a former public defender, is in his sixth term in Congress and is a senior member of the House judiciary committee.

He was heavily involved in Trump’s first impeachment and was one of the three original authors of the most recent impeachment article. He and Rep. Ted Lieu began writing the article together, in hiding, as the rioters were still ransacking the Capitol. He tweeted out a draft the next morning. “I have prepared to remove the President from office following yesterday’s attack on the U.S. Capitol,” he wrote.

Rep. Madeleine Dean of Pennsylvania is a lawyer who was first elected when Democrats recaptured the House in 2018. She is also a member of the House judiciary committee. She says she hopes the prosecutors can convince the Senate and the American people “to mark this moment” with a conviction.

“I think I bring to it just the simple fact that I’m a citizen, that I’m a mom and I’m a grandma,” Dean said. “And I want my children, my grandchildren, to remember what we did here.”

WATCH | ‘This is not any kind of unconstitutional exercise,’ but conviction is unlikely:

The second impeachment trial of former U.S. president Donald Trump is not without precedent, says law professor Lawrence Douglas, nor is it likely to result in a conviction. 4:04

Rep. Diana DeGette, who is serving her 13th term representing Denver, Colo., is a former civil rights attorney and one of Pelosi’s go-to allies. The Speaker picked her to preside over the House during the first impeachment vote in 2019. DeGette said Pelosi trusted her to do it because she is “able to control the passions on the floor.”

She said she was surprised when Pelosi called to offer her the prosecutorial position but quickly accepted. “The monstrosity of this offence is not lost on anybody,” DeGette said.

Rep. Ted Lieu, who authored the article of impeachment with Cicilline and Raskin, is on the judiciary and foreign affairs committees.

The Los Angeles-area lawmaker is a former active-duty officer in the U.S. air force and military prosecutor. “We cannot begin to heal the soul of this country without first delivering swift justice to all its enemies — foreign and domestic,” he said.

Rep. Joe Neguse of Colorado, in his second term, is a rising star in the Democratic caucus who was elected to Pelosi’s leadership team his freshman year in Congress. A former litigator, he sits on the House judiciary committee and consulted with Raskin, Cicilline and Lieu as they drafted the article the day of the attack. At 36, he will be the youngest impeachment manager in history, according to his office.

“This armed mob did not storm the Capitol on any given day, they did so during the most solemn of proceedings that the United States Congress is engaged in,” Neguse said a week later, speaking of the act of certifying the 2020 election results. “Clearly, the attack was done to stop us from finishing our work.”

Delegate Stacey Plaskett does not have voting rights in the House because she represents the U.S. Virgin Islands, as opposed to a state, and so was not able to cast a vote for impeachment. But she will bring her experience as a former district attorney in New York and senior counsel at the U.S. Justice Department.

“Donald J. Trump has been and continues to be a clear and present danger to our republic, to our constitution, and to the people of this nation,” she said in a statement. “I will do my duty and defend our blessed country.”

Rep. Eric Swalwell of California also serves on the intelligence and judiciary committees and was deeply involved in congressional probes of the Trump campaign’s alleged Russian ties. A former prosecutor, he briefly ran for president in 2019.

“The case that I think resonates the most with the American people, and hopefully the Senate, is that our American president incited our fellow citizens to attack our Capitol on a day where we were counting electoral votes, and that this was not a spontaneous call to action by the president at the rally,” Swalwell said.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, left, and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, seen here together in 2018, will have significant influence in the second Trump impeachment trial. (J. Scott Applewhite/The Associated Press)

Other figures to watch

Sen. Mitch McConnell, the Republican Senate minority leader, was one of the strongest figures behind Trump’s acquittal in his first impeachment trial in early 2020.

Initially repulsed by the graphic images of the Jan. 6 attack on Congress, McConnell denounced the violence and pointed blame at Trump. But in late January, he was one of 45 Republican senators who voted in favour of a failed procedural motion seeking to force a vote on the constitutionality of the second Trump impeachment trial. Many of McConnell’s fellow Republicans in Congress have expressed support for Trump, arguing his comments do not make him responsible for the violence and questioning the legitimacy of trying someone no longer in office.  

Sen. Chuck Schumer, the Democratic Senate majority leader, will be working to try to rally Republican votes against Trump. 

While announcing the timing and structure of the trial Monday, Schumer said, “For the past few weeks, the political right has been searching for a safe harbour. A way to oppose the conviction of Donald Trump without passing judgment on his conduct, to avoid alienating the former president’s supporters without condoning his obviously despicable, unpatriotic, undemocratic behaviour. But the truth is, no such safe harbour exists.”

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Senate Republicans rally behind Trump on eve of impeachment trial

Donald Trump’s defenders in the Senate on Sunday rallied around the former president before his impeachment trial, dismissing it as a waste of time and arguing that his fiery speech before the U.S. Capitol insurrection does not make him responsible for the violence of Jan. 6.

“If being held accountable means being impeached by the House and being convicted by the Senate, the answer to that is no,” said Republican Sen. Roger Wicker of Mississippi, making clear his belief that Trump should and will be acquitted. Asked if Congress could consider other punishment, such as censure, Wicker said the Democratic-led House had that option earlier but rejected it in favour of impeaching him.

“That ship has sailed,” he said.

The Senate is set to launch the impeachment trial on Tuesday to consider the charge that Trump’s fighting words to protesters at a Capitol rally, as well as weeks of falsehoods about what he called a stolen and rigged presidential election, provoked a mob to storm the Capitol. Five people died as a result of the melee, including a police officer.

Many senators, including Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell, immediately denounced the violence and pointed a finger of blame at Trump. Following the riot, Wicker said Americans “will not stand for this kind of attack on the rule of law” and, without naming names, said “we must prosecute” those who undermine democracy.

But with Trump now gone from the presidency, Republicans have shown little political appetite to take further action, such as an impeachment conviction that could lead to barring him from running for future office. Those partisan divisions appear to be hardening ahead of Trump’s trial, a sign of his continuing grip on the Republican Party.

On Sunday, Wicker described Trump’s impeachment trial as a “meaningless messaging partisan exercise.” When asked if Trump’s conduct should be more deserving of impeachment than that of former president Bill Clinton, whom Wicker voted to impeach, he said: “I’m not conceding that President Trump incited an insurrection.” Clinton’s impeachment, in 1998, was sparked by his false denial in a deposition of a sexual relationship with a White House intern.

Republican Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky dismissed Trump’s trial as a farce with “zero chance of conviction,” describing Trump’s words to protesters to “fight like hell” as Congress was voting to ratify Joe Biden’s presidential victory as “figurative” speech.

“If we’re going to criminalize speech, and somehow impeach everybody who says, `Go fight to hear your voices heard,’ I mean really, we ought to impeach Chuck Schumer then,” Paul said, referring to the now Democratic Senate majority leader and his criticisms of Justice Neil Gorsuch and Justice Brett Kavanaugh.

“He went to the Supreme Court, stood in front of the Supreme Court and said specifically, `Hey Gorsuch, Hey Kavanaugh, you’ve unleashed a whirlwind. And you’re going to pay the price.”‘

Republican Sen. Rand Paul speaks while Trump looks on during a campaign rally in Lexington, Ky., in November 2019. (Susan Walsh/The Associated Press)

Paul noted that Chief Justice John Roberts had declined to preside over this week’s impeachment proceeding because Trump was no longer president. Democratic Sen. Patrick Leahy will preside over the trial as Senate president pro tempore.

“It is a farce, it is unconstitutional. But more than anything, it’s unwise and going to divide the country,” Paul said.

Last month, Paul forced a vote to set aside the trial as unconstitutional because Trump is no longer in office, which legal experts say is disputable. But the vote suggested the near impossibility in reaching a conviction in a Senate where Democrats hold 50 seats but a two-thirds vote — or 67 senators — would be needed to convict Trump.

Forty-four Republican senators sided with Paul and voted to oppose holding an impeachment trial at all. Five Republican senators joined with Democrats to reject Paul’s motion: Mitt Romney of Utah, Ben Sasse of Nebraska, Susan Collins of Maine, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania.

WATCH | Republicans face backlash for speaking out against Trump:

Although former U.S. president Donald Trump still has allies in the Republican Party, others are facing backlash for saying he should be punished for inciting the Jan. 6 assault on the U.S. Capitol. 2:05

Some Republicans have said the vote doesn’t “bind” them into voting a particular way on conviction, with Republican Sen. Bill Cassidy of Louisiana saying Sunday he would listen carefully to the evidence. But even Trump’s sharper Republican critics on Sunday acknowledged the widely expected outcome.

“You did have 45 Republican senators vote to suggest that they didn’t think it was appropriate to conduct a trial, so you can infer how likely it is that those folks will vote to convict,” said Toomey, who has made clear he believes Trump committed “impeachable offences.”

“I still think the best outcome would have been for the president to resign” before he left office, Toomey said. “Obviously he chose not to do that.”

Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, one of Trump’s ardent defenders, said he believes Trump’s actions were wrong and “he’s going to have a place in history for all of this,” but he insisted it’s not the Senate’s job to judge.

“It’s not a question of how the trial ends, it’s a question of when it ends,” Graham said. “Republicans are going to view this as an unconstitutional exercise, and the only question is, will they call witnesses, how long does the trial take? But the outcome is really not in doubt.”

Wicker spoke on ABC’s This Week, Paul was on Fox News Sunday, Toomey appeared on CNN’s State of the Union and Graham was on CBS’s Face the Nation.

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Trump names new impeachment lawyers after several part from his defence team

Donald Trump on Sunday named two lawyers to his impeachment defence team, one day after it was revealed that the former U.S. president had parted ways with an earlier set of attorneys.

The two representing Trump will be defence lawyer David Schoen, a frequent television legal commentator, and Bruce Castor, a former district attorney in Pennsylvania who was criticized for his decision to not charge actor Bill Cosby in a sex crimes case.

Both attorneys issued statements through Trump’s office saying that they were honoured to take the job.

“The strength of our Constitution is about to be tested like never before in our history. It is strong and resilient. A document written for the ages, and it will triumph over partisanship yet again, and always,” said Castor, who served as district attorney for Montgomery County, outside of Philadelphia, from 2000 to 2008.

The announcement Sunday was intended to promote a sense of stability surrounding the Trump defence team as his impeachment trial nears. Several South Carolina lawyers had been set to represent him at the trial, which starts the week of Feb. 8.

WATCH | Trump impeachment conviction unlikely, law professor says:

The second impeachment trial of former U.S. president Donald Trump will not be long and drawn out, says law Prof. Lawrence Douglas, nor is it likely to result in a conviction. 6:12

Trump, the first president in U.S. history to be impeached twice, is set to stand trial in the Senate on a charge that he incited his supporters to storm the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 as lawmakers met to certify Joe Biden’s electoral victory.

Republicans and Trump aides have made clear that they intend to make a simple argument in the trial: Trump’s trial is unconstitutional because he is no longer in office. Legal scholars say there is no bar to an impeachment trial despite Trump having left the White House.

“The Democrats’ efforts to impeach a president who has already left office is totally unconstitutional and so bad for our country,” Trump adviser Jason Miller has said.

Many legal scholars say there is no bar to an impeachment trial despite Trump having left the White House. One argument is that state constitutions that predate the U.S. Constitution allowed impeachment after officials left office. The Constitution’s drafters also did not specifically bar the practice.

Castor, a Republican who was the elected district attorney of Pennsylvania’s third-most populated county, decided against charging Cosby in an alleged 2004 sexual encounter. He ran for the job again in 2015, and his judgment in the Cosby case was a key issue used against him by the Democrat who defeated him.

Former Montgomery County District Attorney Bruce Castor is seen after a pre-trail hearing for entertainer Bill Cosby and his sexual assault case in Norristown, Pa., in February 2016. (Clem Murray/Getty Images)

Castor has said that he personally thought Cosby should have been arrested, but that the evidence wasn’t strong enough to prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt.

In 2004, Castor ran for state attorney general unsuccessfully. In 2016, he became the top lieutenant to the state’s embattled attorney general — Kathleen Kane, a Democrat — as she faced charges of leaking protected investigative information to smear a rival and lying to a grand jury about it. She was convicted, leaving Castor as the state’s acting attorney general for a few days.

Schoen met with convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein about joining his defence team on sex trafficking charges just days before the financier killed himself in a New York jail. In an interview with the Atlanta Jewish Times last year, Schoen said he had been approached by Trump associate Roger Stone before Stone’s trial and was later retained to handle his appeal. Trump commuted Stone’s sentence and then pardoned him.

Neither Schoen nor Castor immediately returned phone messages seeking comment Sunday evening.

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Trump loses lead impeachment lawyers as trial nears, sources say

Former U.S. president Donald Trump has parted ways with his lead impeachment lawyers little more than a week before his trial, two people familiar with the situation said Saturday. The change injects fresh uncertainty into the makeup and strategy of his defense team.

Butch Bowers and Deborah Barbier, both South Carolina lawyers, have left the defense team in what one person described as a “mutual decision” that reflected a difference of opinion on the direction of the case.

The two people familiar with the legal team discussions insisted on anonymity to discuss private conversations. One said new additions to the legal team were expected to be announced in a day or two.

The upheaval injects fresh uncertainty into the makeup and strategy of Trump’s defense team as he prepares to face charges that he incited the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6. However, all but five Senate Republicans this week voted in favour of an effort to dismiss the trial before it even started, making clear a conviction of the former president is unlikely regardless of his defense team.

Greg Harris and Johnny Gasser, two former federal prosecutors from South Carolina, are also off the team, one of the people said.

Trump has struggled to find attorneys willing to defend him after becoming the first president in history to be impeached twice. He is set to stand trial the week of Feb. 8.

After numerous attorneys who defended him previously declined to take on the case, Trump was introduced to Bowers by one of his closest allies in the Senate, South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham.

Bowers, a familiar figure in Republican legal circles, had years of experience representing elected officials and political candidates, including then-South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford against a failed impeachment effort that morphed into an ethics probe.

Bowers and Barbier did not immediately return messages seeking comment Saturday evening.

Republicans and Trump aides have made clear that they intend to make a simple argument in the trial: Trump’s trial is unconstitutional because he is no longer in office.

While Republicans in Washington, D.C., had seemed eager to part ways with Trump after the deadly events of Jan. 6, they have since eased off of their criticism, wary of angering the former president’s loyal voter base.

CNN was first to report the departure of the lawyers.

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U.S. Capitol Police bolstering travel security for lawmakers as Trump’s impeachment trial nears

U.S. Capitol Police are stepping up security at Washington-area transportation hubs and taking other steps to safeguard travelling lawmakers as Congress continues to react to this month’s deadly assault on the U.S. Capitol.

Capitol Police will be stationed at area airports and Washington’s Union Station railway hub on busy travel days, the House’s chief law enforcement officer wrote in an email obtained Friday by The Associated Press. Timothy P. Blodgett, the acting sergeant-at-arms, wrote that officials were setting up an online portal so lawmakers can notify them of travel plans and urged legislators to report threats and suspicious activity.

“Members and staff should remain vigilant of their surroundings and immediately report anything unusual or suspicious,” said the email, sent late Thursday.

Blodgett said lawmakers have previously been advised that they can use office expense accounts to pay for security to protect their offices and events in their districts and for self-protection while performing official duties. It also cited a 2017 Federal Elections Commission opinion that they can use campaign contributions to install security systems at their homes.

Federal officials, meanwhile, said Friday that two pipe bombs left at the offices of the Republican and Democratic national committees — discovered just before thousands of pro-Trump rioters stormed the U.S. Capitol — were actually placed the night before.

The FBI said the investigation had revealed new information, including that the explosive devices were placed outside the two buildings between 7:30 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. on Jan. 5, the night before the siege. The devices were not located by law enforcement until the next day.

It is not clear whether that means the pipe bombs were unrelated to the next day’s attack or were part of the riot planning. Both buildings are within a few blocks of the Capitol.

The incident has been particularly concerning for law enforcement as officials step up security preparations ahead of the Senate’s impeachment trial of former president Donald Trump. For weeks, investigators have been worried about the potential for attacks on soft targets in the nation’s capital.

The FBI released additional photos of the explosive devices on Friday, including a photograph that showed one of the devices placed underneath a bush. Officials have also increased the reward in the case to $ 100,000 US.

Steven D’Antuono, the assistant director in charge of the FBI’s office in Washington, said earlier this week that locating the person who planted the pipe bombs was a top priority for federal agents, though officials have only released grainy surveillance camera images of a potential suspect.

On Friday, the FBI said the person wore a grey hooded sweatshirt, a face mask and Nike Air Max Speed Turf sneakers in yellow, black and grey, and had been carrying a backpack.

‘Enemy is within the House,’ Pelosi says

President Joe Biden is in “close touch” with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, about congressional security, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said.

Pelosi told reporters Thursday that lawmakers face threats of violence from an “enemy” within Congress and said money would be needed to improve security. The California Democrat’s comments were a startling acknowledgment of escalating internal tensions between the two parties over safety since the Jan. 6 attack by Trump supporters.

Also Thursday, the acting chief of the Capitol Police said “vast improvements” are needed to protect the Capitol and adjacent office buildings, including permanent fencing.

Such barricades have ringed the complex since the deadly Jan. 6 riot, but many lawmakers have long resisted giving the nation’s symbol of democracy the look of a besieged compound, and leaders were noncommittal about the idea.

U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Thursday that lawmakers face threats of violence from an ‘enemy’ within Congress. (Andrew Harnik/The Associated Press)

Pelosi focused her comments on the anxiety and partisan frictions that have persisted in Congress since Trump supporters’ assault on the Capitol, which led to five deaths. She told reporters she thinks Congress will need to provide money “for more security for members, when the enemy is within the House of Representatives, a threat that members are concerned about.”

Asked to clarify what she meant, Pelosi said, “It means that we have members of Congress who want to bring guns on the floor and have threatened violence on other members of Congress.”

Some lawmakers who voted for this month’s House impeachment of Trump have reported receiving threats, and initial moves to enhance safety procedures have taken on clear partisan undertones. Some Republicans have loudly objected to having to pass through newly installed metal detectors before entering the House chamber, while Pelosi has proposed fining lawmakers who bypass the devices.

WATCH | James Comey says Trump should be banned from running again:

Former FBI director James Comey says former U.S. president Donald Trump should be convicted in the upcoming impeachment trial 8:28

Pelosi did not say whom she meant by her reference to an “enemy” within the House, and a spokesperson provided no examples.

First-term Republican Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, who has expressed support for baseless QAnon conspiracy theories, has liked Facebook posts that advocated for violence against Democrats and the FBI. One post suggested shooting Pelosi in the head.

Asked to comment, the Republican from Georgia sent a written statement accusing Democrats and journalists of attacking her because she is “a threat to their goal of Socialism” and supports Trump and conservative values.

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Most U.S. Senate Republicans vote against holding 2nd impeachment trial against Donald Trump

All but five U.S. Senate Republicans voted in favour of an effort to dismiss Donald Trump’s historic second impeachment trial on Tuesday, making clear a conviction of the former president for “incitement of insurrection” after the deadly Capitol siege on Jan. 6 is unlikely.

The 55-45 procedural vote to set aside an objection from Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul puts the Senate on record as declaring the proceedings constitutional and means the trial on Trump’s impeachment, the first of a former president, will begin as scheduled the week of Feb. 8. The House impeached him two weeks ago for inciting deadly riots in the Capitol on Jan. 6 when he told his supporters to “fight like hell” to overturn his election defeat.

But at the same time, the final tally shows it is unlikely there will be enough votes for conviction, which requires the support of all Democrats and 17 Republicans, or two-thirds of the Senate. While most Republicans criticized Trump shortly after the attack, many of them have since rushed to defend him, showing the former president’s enduring sway over the Republican Party.

“If more than 34 Republicans vote against the constitutionality of the proceeding, the whole thing’s dead on arrival,” Paul said shortly before the vote.” Paul said Democrats “probably should rest their case and present no case at all.”

“I think this was indicative of where a lot of people’s heads are,” said South Dakota Sen. John Thune, the No. 2 Republican in the Senate, after the vote.

Sen. Rand Paul lost the procedural vote he prompted with an objection that would have declared the impeachment proceedings unconstitutional. (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)

The five Republicans who voted with Democrats to allow the trial to proceed were Sens. Susan Collins of Maine, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Mitt Romney of Utah, Ben Sasse of Nebraska and Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania — all recent critics of the former president and his effort to overturn President Joe Biden’s win.

Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell, who has said Trump “provoked” the riots and indicated he is open to conviction, voted with Paul to move toward dismissing the trial.

Presiding Democrat taken to hospital

Late Tuesday, the presiding officer at the trial, Democratic Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont, was taken to the hospital for observation after not feeling well at his office, spokesman David Carle said in a statement. The 80-year-old senator was examined by the Capitol’s attending physician, who recommended he be taken to the hospital out of an abundance of caution, he said. Carle said Leahy was later sent home “after a thorough examination” and was looking forward to getting back to work.

Many Republican senators, including Paul, have challenged the legitimacy of the trial and questioned whether Trump’s repeated demands to overturn Joe Biden’s election really constitute “incitement of insurrection.”

So what seemed for some Democrats like an open-and-shut case that played out for the world on live television is running into a Republican Party that feels very different. Not only are there legal concerns, but senators are wary of crossing the former president and his legions of followers.  

As Republicans said the trial is not legitimate, Democrats rejected that argument, pointing to an 1876 impeachment of a secretary of war who had already resigned and to opinions by many legal scholars.

Sen. Patrick Leahy, seen here in January 2020, was taken to hospital late Tuesday after complaining of feeling unwell. (Joshua Roberts/Reuters)

Democrats also say that a reckoning of the first invasion of the Capitol since the War of 1812, perpetrated by rioters egged on by a president as electoral college votes were being tallied, is necessary.

On Monday, the nine House Democrats prosecuting the case against Trump carried the sole impeachment charge of “incitement of insurrection” across the Capitol in a solemn and ceremonial march along the same halls the rioters ransacked three weeks ago.

The lead House prosecutor, Rep. Jamie Raskin of Maryland, stood before the Senate to describe the violent events of Jan. 6 — five people died — and read the House resolution charging “high crimes and misdemeanours.”

Republicans came to Trump’s legal defence.

Sen. John Cornyn of Texas asked if Congress starts holding impeachment trials of former officials, what’s next: “Could we go back and try President Obama?”

Besides, he suggested, Trump has already been held to account. “One way in our system you get punished is losing an election.”

For Democrats the tone, tenor and length of the trial so early in Biden’s presidency poses its own challenge, forcing them to strike a balance between their vow to hold Trump accountable and their eagerness to deliver on the new administration’s priorities following their sweep of control of the House, Senate and White House.

Leaders in both parties agreed to a short delay in the proceedings, which serves their political and practical interests, even as National Guard troops remain at the Capitol because of security threats to lawmakers ahead of the trial.

The start date gives Trump’s new legal team time to prepare its case, while also providing more than a month’s distance from the passions of the bloody riot. For the Democratic-led Senate, the intervening weeks provide prime time to confirm some of Biden’s key Cabinet nominees.

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