Former Trump Chief of Staff says there’s ‘no chance’ of stopping him from running
Donald Trump’s historic second impeachment trial begins on Tuesday, with prosecutors arguing that he must be convicted of the “most grievous constitutional crime” after an armed crowd stormed the Capitol building.
Lawyers for the former president insist he is not guilty of inciting mob violence in January in a bid to overturn the election, describing it as “political theatre”.
Mr Trump faces a sole charge of incitement to insurrection after he encouraged a rally crowd to “fight like hell” for his presidency.
Rioters stormed the building trying to stop the certification of Joe Biden’s victory. Five people lost their lives. Mr Biden’s press secretary has insisted the president will be too busy to watch.
Why Trump-loving Republicans might surprise you at the impeachment trial | Opinion
The burning question in American politics right now: Will the party founded by the colleagues of Abraham Lincoln nearly 170 years ago return to being a stable and reasonable right-leaning force of the body politic, or will it remain the bizarre Orange Combover Cult into which it somehow morphed over the past five years? Put another way: Can elected Republicans demonstrate the political savvy to function effectively, even as a minority party that is currently completely shut out of power (thanks to electoral ineptitude of the aforementioned Cult)? Or do they possess the same level of political sophistication as the mob who stormed the Capitol a month ago?
Tom Batchelor9 February 2021 12:01
Constitution doesn’t allow impeachment, says Republican senator
Missouri senator Josh Hawley has spoken out against Donald Trump’s impeachment trial.
“The constitution doesn’t allow it,” Mr Hawley said in an interview with local news channel KTVO, when asked whether the procedure violates the constitution.
“The constitution doesn’t give the Senate the power to try and convict private citizens.
“I mean, it just doesn’t. You know, the UK, the United Kingdom Parliament try and convict private citizens, they used to do it all the time – but our founders made the choice not to do that, to limit the power of the Senate, and you can see why, because if ex-presidents can be tried and convicted once they are out of office, my goodness, every time we have a switch in party, you’re going to see now the majority party coming in and saying lets try the ex-president.”
Mr Hawley, who was elected as a senator in Missouri in 2019, faced controversy after he led efforts in Congress to block the certification of votes to confirm Joe Biden as US president in January.
Mr Hawley, an ally of Mr Trump, was the first senator to announce that he would challenge Mr Biden’s victory at the certification of votes in Congress, but was quickly joined by other Republicans including Texas senator Ted Cruz.
Tom Batchelor9 February 2021 11:45
Senator Leahy to preside over impeachment trial
Presiding over the trial will not be US Chief Justice John Roberts, who oversaw Donald Trump’s first trial, but a Democratic senator who will also get a say in the verdict.
Patrick Leahy of Vermont is president pro tempore of the Senate, meaning he is empowered to preside over Senate sessions in the absence of Vice President Kamala Harris, Reuters reports.
The Constitution requires the Supreme Court chief to preside in presidential impeachments.
When Mr Leahy, who at age 80 is the longest-serving member of the Senate, disclosed last month he would fill that role in Mr Trump’s trial, he noted the president pro tempore had historically presided over Senate impeachment trials of non-presidents.
Mr Leahy, a liberal lawmaker, has vowed to be fair, but some Republicans and Trump’s lawyers have criticised the arrangement.
“Now, instead of the Chief Justice, the trial will be overseen by a biased and partisan Senator who will purportedly also act as a juror while ruling on issues that arise during trial,” Mr Trump’s lawyers wrote in a legal brief filed on Monday.
Tom Batchelor9 February 2021 11:33
Biden ‘won’t be tuning in to watch Trump’s trial’
Joe Biden has a “full schedule” this week and won’t be tuning in to watch Donald Trump’s trial, White House press secretary Jen Psaki has said.
“I don’t expect that he’s going to be, you know, posturing or commenting on this through the course of the week,” she said.
Instead, he will be focused on pushing his pandemic relief package, visiting the National Institutes of Health, touching base at the Pentagon and tackling his other duties at a time of crisis, the White House said.
But with the eyes of the country on the trial, it will be difficult for Mr Biden to avoid.
Tom Batchelor9 February 2021 11:00
Biden’s Justice Department drops case against author of tell-all Melania Trump book
The Justice Department of the new Biden administration has dropped a lawsuit against Stephanie Winston Wolkoff, a former adviser to Melania Trump who was accused of breaking a non-disclosure agreement with her tell-all book about the first lady.
Ms Wolkoff, the author of Melania and Me, worked as an unpaid adviser to Ms Trump from January 2017 to February 2018, and was accused of violating an agreement that she signed in 2017.
She had left the job after The New York Times reported that a firm founded by Wolkoff received $26m (£18.8m) to help organise a Trump inauguration event.
Tom Batchelor9 February 2021 10:41
Trump’s new lawyers defended ‘reputed mobsters’ and sued a Bill Cosby accuser
Donald Trump has tasked a former district attorney most known for declining to prosecute Bill Cosby — then suing one of his accusers — and a lawyer who has boasted about representing “all sorts of reputed mobster figures” to lead his defence in the impeachment trial.
The two controversial additions to the former president’s impeachment team were reported during the weekend after five lawyers parted ways with Mr Trump over apparent disagreements about the trial strategy.
Tom Batchelor9 February 2021 10:28
How long will the trial last?
It is likely to be more than a week.
The trial opens on Tuesday with four hours of debate on whether the hearing is even constitutional.
The Senate will then vote on whether to dismiss the charge against Mr Trump. If that vote fails, as expected, the House managers will begin their arguments on Wednesday.
Both prosecutors and the defence have up to 16 hours to make their arguments, with no more than eight hours of arguments per day. Senators will be permitted to ask questions and there could be further procedural votes.
That is likely to continue into Thursday.
Mr Trump’s lawyers are expected to begin their arguments on Friday, which will last into Saturday.
That means a final vote on Mr Trump’s conviction will likely not happen until next week.
Tom Batchelor9 February 2021 09:59
Judge refuses to send Capitol riot suspect back to jail after breaching orders
A US federal judge has declined to send a suspect accused of involvement in the Capitol riots to jail, despite ruling that he violated his release orders.
John Sullivan, 26, was accused of violating a previous order from a different judge by buying a smartphone, trying to access Twitter and promoting his organisation “Insurgence USA”, and inviting its members to attend his court hearing.
US magistrate judge Robin Meriweather expressed “serious concerns” after Mr Sullivan violated his release order immediately after he was allowed to go home last month.
However, she said, she doesn’t believe Mr Sullivan poses any danger to the community.
Tom Batchelor9 February 2021 09:42
Majority back Trump impeachment – poll
More than half (54 per cent) of registered US voters “somewhat” or “strongly” agreed that Donald Trump should be convicted, a poll found.
An even greater margin (58 per cent) said the former president should “probably” or “definitely” be prevented from running for public office again, the Politco/Morning Consult survey of 1,986 voters found.
Conducted between 5 and 7 February, the poll also found that 19 per cent of Republicans said he should be convicted, while 7 per cent of Democrats said he should be acquitted.
Tom Batchelor9 February 2021 09:29
What to watch as the trial kicks off
Tuesday‘s proceedings will begin with a debate to dismiss the trial before it even begins. Mr Trump’s lawyers have argued the trial is moot now that he is out of office, and 45 Senate Republicans have already voted once to move forward with an effort to dismiss the trial on those grounds.
The Senate will debate the constitutionality of the trial for four hours on Tuesday and then hold a vote on whether to dismiss it.
The effort to dismiss is expected to fail, allowing arguments in the trial to begin on Wednesday.
Beginning Wednesday, the House managers will present their arguments first. Each side will have up to 16 hours, running no more than eight hours per day.
Defense arguments are likely to begin on Friday. In their main filing with the Senate, Mr Trump’s lawyers made clear that they will not only argue against the trial on process grounds, but also present a full-throated defense of Mr Trump’s actions that day and why they believe he did not incite the riot.
Tom Batchelor9 February 2021 09:07