Trump's second impeachment trial: Day 1

By Meg Wagner, Melissa Macaya, Melissa Mahtani, Mike Hayes and Veronica Rocha, CNN

Updated 8:30 p.m. ET, February 9, 2021
46 Posts
Sort byDropdown arrow
4:08 p.m. ET, February 9, 2021

Trump once suggested impeaching Obama after he was out of office

From CNN's Jim Acosta

As senators debate the constitutionality of the impeachment proceeding against former President Trump, it's worth noting that as President, Trump once suggested impeaching his predecessor, Barack Obama, even though he was out of office. 

At a rally in Manchester, New Hampshire, on Feb. 10, 2020, Trump said Obama should be impeached for saying Americans could keep their doctors under Obamacare. 

"Remember President Obama? 'You can keep your plan, you can keep.. 28 times.. your doctor?' That didn't turn out very good," Trump said.

"We should impeach him for that. Why aren't we impeaching him? 28 times ' you can keep your doctor.' We should impeach President Obama," the former President continued.

  Watch the moment:

4:19 p.m. ET, February 9, 2021

Defense lawyer says Democrats are pursuing trial to prevent Trump being a "political rival in the future"

Senate TV
Senate TV

Former President Trump's defense lawyer Bruce Castor Jr. laid out his argument against the constitutionality of the impeachment trial.

In a lengthy speech from the Senate floor, Castor deflected the blame from Trump, and said the reason for this impeachment trial is to prevent Trump from running for office again.

"We are really here because the majority in the House of Representatives does not want to face Donald Trump as a political rival in the future. That's the real reason we're here, and that's why they have to get over the jurisdictional hurdle, which they can't get over," Castor said.

Democrats in the House of Representatives charged Trump with "incitement of insurrection" but Castor defended Trump's remarks before the Capitol riot.  

"We can't be possibly suggesting we punish people for political speech in this country and that people go and commit lawless acts as a result of their beliefs, and they cross the line. They should be locked up," Castor said.

Remember: Barring Trump from further office would require a second vote by senators, although it probably would not require two-thirds agreement.

Listen to Trump's defense lawyer Bruce Castor Jr.:

4:03 p.m. ET, February 9, 2021

Lawyer who defended Trump in first impeachment trial says he has "no idea" what new attorney is doing

From CNN's DJ Judd 

 

Alan Dershowitz speaks to the press during Trump's first impeachment trial in 2020.
Alan Dershowitz speaks to the press during Trump's first impeachment trial in 2020. Mario Tama/Getty Images

Alan Dershowitz, who served on former President Trump’s impeachment defense team during last year’s trial, blasted attorney Bruce Castor for his opening remarks during today’s impeachment proceedings, telling Newsmax, “I have no idea what he’s doing.” 

Castor is leading Trump's defense during this second impeachment trial. He's currently giving opening statements in the case.

“Maybe he'll bring it home, but right now, it does not appear to me to be effective advocacy,” Dershowitz told the conservative cable news outlet in an interview Tuesday. “He may know the senators better than I do, maybe they want to be buttered up, maybe they want to be told what great people they are and how he knows two Senators, but it's not the kind of argument I would have made, I have to tell you that.”

Dershowitz said he would have focused on a First Amendment defense, telling Newsmax, “You cannot abridge the freedom of speech, and whatever you might think of the President's speech, and I don't think very much of it, it can't be the basis for an impeachment if it's constitutionally protected.” 

“I would have gotten right to that, but again, different strokes for different folks, different styles for different lawyers,” Dershowitz said. “And he's a folksy lawyer, and folksy lawyers sometimes do very, very well with juries.”

3:35 p.m. ET, February 9, 2021

Trump's former chief of staff is on Capitol Hill to meet with the impeachment team

From CNN's Kristin Wilson

Former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows arrives on Capitol Hill on February 9.
Former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows arrives on Capitol Hill on February 9. Chip Somodevilla/Pool/AFP/Getty Images

Former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows told reporters that the Democrats opening argument was “pretty much what I was expecting” and that “it’s hard to make a good case when you have an unconstitutional process.”

He said he’s spoken with former President Trump on a “regular basis” but had not spoken with him about the opening arguments at the Senate trial.

When asked why he was on Capitol Hill, he said, “I'm just coming over to meet with the impeachment team” and said that he will be with them sporadically over the course of the trial.

3:28 p.m. ET, February 9, 2021

Trump's defense team is speaking on the Senate floor. Here are key things to know about his lawyers.

From CNN's Devan Cole

Bruce L. Castor Jr. speaks on the Senate floor.
Bruce L. Castor Jr. speaks on the Senate floor. Senate TV

Former President Trump's lawyers are arguing now on the Senate floor against the constitutionality of the impeachment trial.

The lawyers who signed on to lead Trump's impeachment defense team bring a curious history of experience. David Schoen, a seasoned civil and criminal lawyer, and Bruce L. Castor, Jr, a well-known lawyer and the former Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, district attorney, are defending him in the trial.

The lawyers, both of whom have legal careers peppered with curiosities, joined Trump's team a day after five members of his defense left, effectively collapsing the team.

Trump’s lawyers are tasked with devising a defense strategy for a former President who faces the impeachment charge of inciting a deadly insurrection at the US Capitol, something that if convicted could also result in him being barred from holding federal office ever again.

For Schoen, whose website says he "focuses primarily on the litigation of complex civil and criminal cases before trial and appellate courts," Trump is just the latest controversial figure his career has brought him to in recent years.

Schoen was on the team of lawyers representing Roger Stone, Trump's longtime friend and former adviser, in the appeal of his conviction related to issues Stone took with the jury. Stone dropped that appeal after the then-President commuted his prison sentence, but before Stone received a full presidential pardon for convictions, including lying to Congress to protect Trump.

Schoen, who holds a master of laws from Columbia University and a juris doctorate from Boston College, according to his biography, serves as chair of the American Bar Association's Criminal Justice Subcommittee of the Civil Rights Litigation Committee.

Castor, meanwhile, served as Montgomery County district attorney from 2000 to 2008, before serving two terms as the county commissioner, according to a release from Trump's office.

He was involved in at least one high-profile case as district attorney, when he declined in 2005 to prosecute Bill Cosby after Andrea Constand reported the actor had touched her inappropriately at his home in Montgomery County, citing "insufficient credible and admissible evidence."

Cosby was later tried and convicted in 2018 for drugging and sexually assaulting Constand at his home in 2004, despite the fact that Castor argued during a pre-trial hearing that he'd already committed the state to not prosecuting the actor.

Read more about the lawyers here.

3:16 p.m. ET, February 9, 2021

GOP senator says impeachment managers made "very good argument" on constitutional question

From CNN's Ted Barrett

Sen. Bill Cassidy walks in the US Capitol on Tuesday.
Sen. Bill Cassidy walks in the US Capitol on Tuesday. Susan Walsh/AP

Sen. Bill Cassidy, a Republican from Louisiana, told CNN it was a “very good opening” by the House impeachment managers. 

He said they made “very good arguments” on the constitutional question and he wants to hear from the other side.

Asked if he is now open to considering the managers’ argument, he said, “I’ve always said I would approach this with an open mind and would listen as an impartial juror to both sides.”

Remember: Cassidy voted in favor of GOP Sen. Rand Paul’s recent motion that impeachment after former President Trump left office is unconstitutional.

Bruce Castor Jr., one of Trump's defense lawyers, is currently making his case to the Senate.

3:31 p.m. ET, February 9, 2021

The trial is back in session

After a short break, the Senate is now back in session for the first day of Trump's second impeachment trial.

They are in the middle of a four-hour debate on the constitutionality of the proceeding against the former President.

The House impeachment managers presented their points and showed footage of the Capitol riot before the break, and Trump's lawyers now have their turn to speak. Trump's defense lawyer Bruce Castor Jr. is speaking now on the Senate floor.

3:39 p.m. ET, February 9, 2021

Several GOP senators say nothing can change their minds on the constitutional question

From CNN's Manu Raju

Sen. Roger Wicker walks through the US Capitol on Tuesday.
Sen. Roger Wicker walks through the US Capitol on Tuesday. Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call/Bloomberg/Getty Images

Sen. Roger Wicker, a Republican from Mississippi, told CNN moments ago that “Democrats sent a better team” this time, calling them “very eloquent.”

But he also told CNN's Manu Raju that “no” nothing changed his mind on the constitutionality question. He thinks it’s not constitutional to try a former president.

Heading into the impeachment trial this afternoon, some GOP senators said no matter what they heard their minds wouldn't be changed. 

"I think the constitutional defects of this – both in the House and the Senate are overwhelming. .. You don't have to be Judge Judy to see the constitutional defects,” Sen. John Kennedy told CNN.

"No,” Ron Johnson said when asked if anything could change his mind on the question of its constitutionality. “Is there anything that could change Democrats' minds about the whole thing? Probably not," he added.

The Senate is in the middle of a four-hour debate on the constitutionality of the impeachment proceeding against former President Trump.

Hear more from CNN's Manu Raju:

2:57 p.m. ET, February 9, 2021

Raskin’s daughter was with him during the Capitol attack. She said she doesn't want to go back.

Lead impeachment manager Rep. Jamie Raskin said his youngest daughter, Tabitha, and his son-in-law, Hank, were at the US Capitol with him on Jan. 6 when the deadly riot unfolded. It was just a day after the family had buried Raskin's late son, Tommy.

Raskin said that as rioters stormed the building, Tabitha and Hank were with his chief of staff. They hid under desks and placed final texts and phone calls because, "they thought they were going to die," Raskin said.

"And when they were finally rescued, over an hour later by Capitol officers, and we were together, I hugged them and I apologized and I told my daughter Tabitha — who's 24 and a brilliant algebra teacher in Teach for America now — I told her how sorry I was, and I promised her that it would not be like this again the next time she came back to the Capitol with me," Raskin said.

"And you know what she said? she said, "Dad, I don't want to come back to the Capitol," he added.