The second impeachment trial of former President Trump started today with a debate on the constitutionality of the proceeding.
After the lengthy debate, the Senate voted that the trial was constitutional. The 56 to 44 vote, however, showed why there's little path for the House managers to obtain the two-thirds majority needed for conviction, as all but six Republican senators voted for a second time that the trial was unconstitutional because Trump is no longer president.
In case you missed it, here's what you need to know about today's proceedings:
- The vote on the trial's constitutionality: Six GOP senators voted with Democrats on the question whether the impeachment trial against Trump was constitutional. It was the second time such a vote was taken after Sen. Rand Paul, a Kentucky Republican, forced a vote on the same question last month. Louisiana Sen. Bill Cassidy emerged as the sole Republican today to switch his vote after that initial vote on constitutionality.
- Video footage of Capitol riot shown: Rep. Jamie Raskin of Maryland, the lead House impeachment manager, opened his presentation with a video showing disturbing footage of how protesters overran police and ransacked the Capitol, forcing lawmakers in the House and Senate to flee their chambers. The video was spliced with Trump's speech on Jan. 6 ahead of the riots, showing the crowd's reaction to Trump as he urged them to head to the Capitol. "If that's not an impeachable offense, then there's no such thing," Raskin argued.
- Trump's defense offered a wide-ranging response: The initial presentation from the defense team offered a Jekyll-and-Hyde-esque response to the impeachment charge, with Trump attorney Bruce Castor praising the managers for a presentation that was "well done" and attorney David Schoen following by slamming Democrats for trying to tear apart the country. Schoen was supposed to present first, not Castor, according to two people familiar with the plan. But Castor told the Senate that Trump's legal team "changed what we were going to do on account that we thought that the House managers' presentation was well done."
What happens next: House managers will have 16 hours over two days to make their presentation beginning Wednesday, followed by two days for Trump's lawyers. Senators will then have four hours to ask questions submitted in writing to both sides, and the Senate could debate and vote on whether to subpoena witnesses, though it remains unclear whether any will be sought at trial.