House Democrats are holding the second day of arguments in former President Donald Trump’s second impeachment trial, trying to convince skeptical Republicans that the former president alone was responsible for inciting his mob of supporters who broke into the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 and interrupted the presidential electoral count.
Trump’s conviction is considered highly unlikely.
The arguments Wednesday from the nine Democratic impeachment managers for the House, which impeached Trump last month, come a day after the Senate voted to move ahead with the trial even though Republicans and Trump’s lawyers argued that it was unconstitutional because Trump had already left office.
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All Democrats and six Republicans disagreed, arguing that there is legal precedent for the trial and that there should be no exceptions for impeachable behavior in a president’s last months in office.
While Democrats won Tuesday’s vote, it also signaled that they will not likely have the votes for an eventual conviction, since they would need a minimum of 17 Republicans to vote with them. Democrats say they know they are arguing the case uphill, but they are holding out hope that they will convert more Republicans by the final vote.
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Trump’s lawyers had a bad day on Tuesday, as Trump fumed at their performance and GOP senators leaving the trial criticized their arguments as “random,” “disorganized” and “perplexing.”
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Trump felt that the team, especially lead lawyer Bruce Castor, came off badly on television and looked weak compared to the Democratic prosecutors, according to a person who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss private conversations.
On Friday, they will get another chance, starting what is likely to be two days of arguments that last into the weekend. They plan to argue that Trump did not incite the violence, that rioters acted of their own accord, and that the former president is protected by freedom of speech.
Six Republican senators voted with Democrats on Tuesday not to dismiss the trial on constitutional grounds. Those senators so far appear the most likely to vote to convict Trump.
The six senators, most of whom have harshly criticized the president’s behavior, are Susan Collins of Maine, Ben Sasse of Nebraska, Mitt Romney of Utah, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania and Bill Cassidy of Louisiana.
Cassidy was the only one who did not side with Democrats in a similar vote two weeks ago. He said after the vote Tuesday that he thought Democrats had a better argument and that Trump’s team had done a “terrible” job.
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He said he will watch the additional arguments as an impartial juror and then decide whether to convict.
Ohio Sen. Rob Portman, who voted Tuesday to dismiss the trial, is retiring in 2022 and has also said he has an open mind about conviction.
The Associated Press contributed to this article