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
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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. 

2:49 p.m. ET, February 11, 2021

Despite evidence shown, Trump's lawyer denies rioters said they were following former President's orders

From CNN's Manu Raju and Sarah Fortinsky

Trump Defense attorney Bruce Castor denied to CNN that rioters said they were ordered by former President Trump to do what they did – even though that has been a key part of the evidence Democrats have been presented.

“Did someone say that they heard directly from President Trump?” Castor said when asked for his reaction to the videos played.

“I don't believe that’s what happened, no,” Castor said.

Earlier, one of Trump's other lawyers David Schoen argued that the impeachment managers have failed to tie the Capitol attack on Jan. 6 to the former President. 

2:59 p.m. ET, February 11, 2021

Trump's lawyer says trial "should be as short as possible"

Michael Reynolds/Pool/AP
Michael Reynolds/Pool/AP

During the House impeachment managers' presentation to convict the former President, David Schoen, Trump's defense lawyer, left the Senate chamber to appear on Fox News.

Schoen told the network, "this trial never should have happened," and said his goal is to make it "as short as possible."

Trump's defense will take the Senate floor tomorrow as they begin their arguments against conviction. Each side has 16 hours spread over two days to make their case.

Schoen has indicated he will only take one day.

CNN's Pam Brown has more:

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

The Senate is taking a short break

The Senate has just paused for their first break of the day.

Today is the last day for House impeachment managers to present their case against former President Trump.

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. Impeachment manager Rep. Lieu said it showed that the former President "will undoubtedly cause future harm if allowed."

2:20 p.m. ET, February 11, 2021

The impeachment managers referenced this journalist's tweet about how dangerous the riot became

From CNN's Aditi Sangal

While highlighting the trauma that many present on Capitol Hill went through during the riot on Jan. 6, House impeachment manager Rep. David Cicilline highlighted a tweet thread posted by a CNN producer one month after the attack.

"There are countless people who are still living with the trauma of what happened that day. This includes, by the way, another group of people who were with us in the Capitol on that day, and that's the press," Cicilline said.

CNN producer Kristin Wilson recounts in the twitter thread the impact the Capitol riot had on her team of journalists.

"None of us should have feared for our lives. Not one," she writes in one of the tweets.

Read her tweets: