Trump's second impeachment trial: Day 3

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

Updated 6:00 PM ET, Thu February 11, 2021
39 Posts
Sort byDropdown arrow
4:42 p.m. ET, February 11, 2021

"The risk of violence was foreseeable," impeachment manager says

Senate TV
Senate TV

Impeachment manager Joe Neguse made the argument that violence was both predictable and foreseeable at the Jan. 6 rally before the Capitol riot.

"Was it foreseeable that the violence would erupt on January 6th if President Trump lit a spark? Was it predictable that the crowd at the 'Save America rally' was poised on a hair trigger for violence that they would fight literally if provoked to do so? Of course it was. When President Trump stood up to that podium on January 6th, he knew that many in that crowd were inflamed, were armed, were ready for violence. It was an explosive situation. And he knew it," Neguse said. 

Using a combination of tweets, photos and videos, he explained how Trump's inflammatory rhetoric was part of an intentional pattern used by Trump to provoke his supporters.

"You’ve seen it, the images, the videos, the articles, and the pattern which show that the violence on that terrible day was entirely foreseeable. We’ve showed you how this all began with the big lie, the claim that the election was rigged and that President Trump and his supporters were the victims of a massive fraud, a massive conspiracy to rip away their votes. We’ve showed you how President Trump spread that lie and how over the course of months with his support and encouragement, it inflamed part of his base, resulting in death threats, real-world violence, and increasingly extreme calls to stop the steal. We established that after he lost the election, the President was willing to do just about anything to prevent the peaceful transfer of power. That he tried everything he could do to stop it," Neguse said.

He listed numerous examples of how Trump tried to pressure individuals to overturn the election results and how he continued to rally his base around the false idea that the election was stolen.

"There can be no doubt that the risk of violence was foreseeable," Neguse said. "And what did he do in the days leading up to the rally? Did he calm the situation? Ask yourself. I mean, did he call for peace? No. He didn’t do that. He spread his big lie more. The most dangerous lie, as I mentioned, that Americans’ votes were being stolen and the final act of theft would occur here in the Capitol. And then he assembled all of those supporters. He invited them to an organized event on a specific day, at a specific time, matched perfectly to coincide with the joint session of Congress to coincide with the 'steal' that he had told them to stop. By any and all means. Again, he was told by law enforcement and all over the news that these people were armed and ready for real violence. He knew it. I mean, he knew it perfectly well. That he had created this powder keg at his rally. He knew just how combustible that situation was. He knew there were people before him who had prepared, who are armed and armored. He knew they would jump to violence at any signal, at any sign, from him that he needed them to fight. That he needed them to 'stop the steal.' And we all know what happened next. Second question. Did he encourage the violence? Standing in that powder keg, did he light a match? Everyone knows the answer to that question." 

Neguse argued that Trump's rhetoric not only incited the Capitol riot, but said it threatened national security and said a failure to convict the former President would set a precedent that "inciting violence is OK."

Watch the moment:

4:11 p.m. ET, February 11, 2021

Raskin outlines what impeachment is — and what it is not 

Senate TV
Senate TV

As the House impeachment managers prepare to finalize their arguments before the Senate, lead impeachment manager Rep. Jamie Raskin laid out what impeachment is — and what it is not — in their case against former President Trump.

"I hope we all can agree today that if a president does incite a violent insurrection against the government, he can be impeached for it. I hope we all can agree that that is a constitutional crime," Raskin said.

The article of impeachment passed by the House in January reads, in part: "Donald John Trump engaged in high Crimes and Misdemeanors by inciting violence against the Government of the United States." 

Raskin went on to argue that despite the claims of Trump's defense team, the question of the case against Trump is not whether he committed a crime under the federal code, DC law or a law of a state.

"Impeachment does not result in criminal penalties, as we keep emphasizing. No one spends a day in jail. There are not even criminal or civil fines," Raskin said.

He continued:

"Centuries of history, not to mention the constitutional text, structure, and original intent and understanding, all confirm the teaching of James Wilson, another framer, who wrote that impeachments and offenses come not within the sphere of ordinary jurisprudence. Simply put, impeachment was created for a purpose separate and distinct from criminal punishment. It was created to prevent and deter elected officials who swear an oath to represent America, but then commit dangerous offenses against our republic. That's a constitutional crime," Raskin said.

"And, senators, what greater offense could one commit than to incite a violent insurrection at our seat of government during the peaceful transfer of power?," Raskin said.

Trump's defense team will have an opportunity to present their case starting tomorrow.

Hear Rep. Jamie Raskin:

3:32 p.m. ET, February 11, 2021

Defense attorneys say there's no "direct" link between actions of rioters and Trump

From CNN's Manu Raju

 Members of former President Donald Trumps defense team, David Schoen, center left, Michael van der Veen, center, and Bruce Castor, center right, arrive at the Capitol before the start of day three of the impeachment trial in the Senate on Thursday, February 11.
 Members of former President Donald Trumps defense team, David Schoen, center left, Michael van der Veen, center, and Bruce Castor, center right, arrive at the Capitol before the start of day three of the impeachment trial in the Senate on Thursday, February 11. Bill Clark/CQ-Roll Call, Inc/Getty Images

Ahead of their presentation tomorrow, former President Trump's defense attorneys are arguing that — despite the evidence presented at trial — there's no "direct" link between the actions of the insurrectionists and Trump himself.

The Trump team appears poised to argue before the Senate that no evidence exists where Trump explicitly commands a rioter to go to the Capitol and commit acts of violence.

That's what the two main attorneys, David Schoen and Bruce Castor, clearly signaled to CNN in interviews in the Capitol this afternoon.

Asked about evidence showing insurrectionists carrying out Trump's orders, Castor said: "Did someone say that they heard directly from President Trump to do that?"

Pressed about the evidence in trial where insurrections said they were carrying out Trump's order, Castor said: "I don't believe that's what happened, no."

Schoen made a similar case.

"They haven't in any way tied it to Donald Trump," Schoen said when asked about Democrats' presenting video evidence of rioters citing Trump's demands as a reason for their actions. "And I think it's offensive quite frankly, in reference to the healing process, to continue to show the tragedy that happened here that Donald Trump has condemned, and I think it's with the American people now, frankly."

3:48 p.m. ET, February 11, 2021

"The world is watching and wondering whether we are who we say we are," Rep. Castro says  

From CNN's Jason Kurtz

Senate TV
Senate TV

During today's proceedings, House impeachment managers are arguing that the results of former President Trump's second trial will send a signal likely felt around the globe.

"What message will we send the rest of the world?" asked House impeachment manager Rep. Joaquin Castro during his presentation on the Senate floor.

Pointing to various media reports, Castro noted that adversaries of the US — including China and Iran — have latched on to the events of Jan. 6, citing them as an example of vulnerability.

"For America's adversaries, there was no greater proof of the fallibility of Western democracy than the site of the US Capitol shrouded in smoke and besieged by a mob whipped up by their unwillingly outgoing president," Castro read from a news headline.

US allies, meanwhile, have shown support for America amid the turmoil, placing even greater importance on the result of Trump's second impeachment trial.

"Following the insurrection on January 6th, even our allies are speaking up," said Castro, pointing to our neighbors to the north.

"Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said, 'what we witnessed was an assault on democracy by violent rioters incited by the current president and other politicians,'" read Castro, continuing Trudeau's statement:

"'As shocking, deeply disturbing, and frankly saddening as that event remains, we have also seen this week that democracy is resilient in America, our closest ally and neighbor.'"

Castro concluded his message on global perspective by commenting further on the lifeblood and framework of American democracy.

"The world is watching and wondering whether we are who we say we are," Castro said. "Because other countries have known chaos, our Constitution has helped keep order in America. This is why we have a constitution. We must stand up for the rule of law because the rule of law doesn't just stand up by itself."

"This trial is an opportunity to respond and to send a message back to the world. I say this as somebody who loves my country, our country, just as all of you do," Castro continued, speaking to the senators in the room.

Watch the moment:

3:17 p.m. ET, February 11, 2021

Trump defense team eyes shortening Senate presentation to as little as 3 hours, source says

From CNN's Pamela Brown

A source close to former President Trump's legal team says the defense is eyeing shortening their presentation and possibly making it as short as three hours in an effort to make it "short, tight and direct." 

The team plans to include video presentations showing Democratic leaders using similar language to Trump, including one clip of Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer outside the US Supreme Court, saying "I want to tell you, Gorsuch, I want to tell you, Kavanaugh, you have released the whirlwind, and you will pay the price. You won't know what hit you if you go forward with these awful decisions," referring to Supreme Court Justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh. 

Although Schumer's words were not followed with violence against the justices, and his supporters did not storm the Capitol, the legal team plans to argue hypocrisy and say Trump never intended for the protesters at the "Stop the Steal" march to take over the Capitol building.  

3:14 p.m. ET, February 11, 2021

The Democrat's have brought up Trump's First Amendment defense. Here's what you need to know. 

Trump's defense team has said that the former President's false claims – that the presidential election was rigged and claims made in his speech to the crowd ahead of the Jan. 6 Capitol riot – are protected by the First Amendment.

House impeachment manager Rep. Joe Neguse took a swipe at this defense during his presentation today, saying that their argument is "a distraction."

The First Amendment is often brought up in cases to protect people's claims but it doesn't always guarantee you the rights you think it does.

Here's what the First Amendment actually says:

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances."

That's the entirety of the US Constitution's First Amendment.

There's a lot going on in those few sentences, and it's important to know when and how it applies to common situations – and, equally as important, when it doesn't.

Our constitutional experts look at some common First Amendment arguments and when the Amendment actually applies. You can read them here.

3:06 p.m. ET, February 11, 2021

Trump talking with advisers about moving on from "stop the steal" messaging, sources say

From CNN's Pamela Brown

Former President Trump has been talking with advisers in recent weeks about moving on from his “stop the steal” messaging, once the impeachment trial scrutinizing his inflammatory words ends, sources close to Trump say.

One of the sources says he realizes continuing to push out that messaging would be politically damaging, because talking about the election will only conjure up images of the riots. 

The Trump adviser who has been in touch with the former President in recent days says, “He’s past the election – he understands he needs to be past it.” 

But a separate source close to the Trump team, when asked whether Trump would stick to moving on said, “Good luck with that!” 

CNN has previously reported that Trump is not showing any remorse for his words and actions leading up to the Jan. 6th riot – even as Democrats present damning new evidence this week. 

The source also said that the Trump defense team’s focus would be on how the former President told his supporters to go “peacefully and patriotically make your voices heard” on Jan. 6.  

After Democrats were criticized for not showing Trump using the “peacefully and patriotically” line during their evidence on Tuesday, impeachment manager Madeleine Dean included video evidence of it in her portion of Wednesday’s session.

Trump’s lawyers are expected to focus on this line during their defense.

2:56 p.m. ET, February 11, 2021

Democratic senator says today's impeachment presentation was "emotionally difficult"

From CNN's Kristin Wilson

Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin, a Democrat from Illinois, said he found today’s presentation “emotionally difficult.” He said the House impeachment managers made a case that former President Trump incited the mob that attacked the Capitol and that he “should bear responsibility.”

“They brought together all the victims, and others who verified the case they made yesterday, that Donald Trump incited this mob and should bear responsibility,” he said. “They keep bringing us to the point of saying ‘and if you walk away and do nothing, what is the message to this former President and every president’?”

Durbin said he would leave to the House managers the question of witnesses, but said that there’s “been a lot of witnesses’ statements that’s been taken and put on the record.”

2:52 p.m. ET, February 11, 2021

The Senate impeachment trial has resumed

From CNN's Jeremy Herb, Manu Raju, Kaitlan Collins and Clare Foran

The Senate is back in session after taking their first break of the day.

House impeachment managers will continue to present their case against former President Trump – it's their last day to do so.

So far, managers have used video – some from as early as 2015 – to show how Trump's behavior over the years has demonstrated a pattern of inciting violence.

They have also made the case that Trump's lack of remorse is crucial to this impeachment trial. House impeachment manager Rep. Lieu said it showed that the former President "will undoubtedly cause future harm if allowed."

House impeachment manager Rep. Dianna DeGette, meanwhile, used the rioters' own words before, during and after attack to show that they believed they were acting as a result of Trump's guidance.

The allegation of "incitement" is central to the impeachment case House Democrats are trying to make, because it ties Trump's words and actions to the insurrection on Capitol Hill. Read more about the Democrats' case against Trump here.

Trump's defense will start their arguments tomorrow.

CNN's Zach Wolf contributed reporting to this post.