Yesterday, the Senate voted 56-44 that impeachment of a former president is constitutional, paving the way for opening arguments today in the impeachment trial of Donald Trump.
House impeachment managers argued yesterday that elected officials must be held accountable for any crimes they commit while in office, regardless of when those crimes occurred in their tenure. They provided evidence in the form of historic precedent, highlighting how past officials have been impeached for crimes committed in office only after they have left the office. They also provided emotional video footage from the riot that occurred at the Capitol on January 6th, which had left those bunkered inside fearful for their lives.
Lead impeachment manager Jamie Raskin (D-MD), who was at the Capitol that day with his daughter and son-in-law, provided an account of his experience inside during the siege. “I couldn’t get out to be there with them in that office,” he said, recalling how he’d become separated from his daughter and son-in-law. “And all around me people were calling their wives and their husbands, their loved ones, to say goodbye. Members of Congress — in the House, anyway — were removing their congressional pins so they wouldn’t be identified by the mob as they tried to escape the violence.”
On the other side, Trump is reportedly unhappy with his lawyers and their defense strategy. Lead attorney Bruce Castor was criticized for a rambling performance by commentators and senators on both sides of the aisle. David Schoen, however, presented a more coherent line of defense, arguing that Democrats were using impeachment for political gain.
At the end of the day, however, most commentators were critical of the Trump team’s line of defense. “President Trump’s team were disorganized,” said Bill Cassidy (R-LA) “They did everything they could but to talk about the question at hand. And when they talked about it, they kind of glided over, almost as if they were embarrassed.”
Cassidy joined with five other Republicans in voting that impeachment was constitutional — a surprise move, since he had previously voted that impeachment was unconstitutional last month.
For today’s proceedings, impeachment managers are expected to introduce new, never-before-seen footage from the siege on the Capitol, which Politico reports “will shed light on the rioters’ ‘extreme violence’ from a new vantage point,” according to congressional aides. The footage is part of prosecutors’ efforts to establish that Trump had stoked the fires of insurrection for months with his rhetoric that the election had been stolen.