Trump's second impeachment trial: Day 4

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

Updated 9:33 PM ET, Fri February 12, 2021
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6:29 p.m. ET, February 12, 2021

Senate impeachment trial ends for the day. Here's what comes next.

From CNN's Jeremy Herb, Manu Raju, Kaitlan Collins and Pamela Brown

The Senate has adjourned until 10 a.m. ET tomorrow. Senators just wrapped a question-and-answer session where they got their turn to pose written questions to both legal teams — the House impeachment managers and former President Trump's lawyers.

During the Senate questions, the key Republican senators who could vote to find Trump guilty focused on the actions the former President took as the riots unfolded and then Vice President Mike Pence was endangered, a topic that Trump's lawyers did little to address during their argument.

Democrats' questions to the managers and most GOP questions to the President's team were intended to help bolster their respective cases. But the most interesting questions came from some of the handful of Republican senators open to conviction: Sens. Susan Collins of Maine, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Mitt Romney of Utah.

Collins and Murkowski jointly asked Trump's legal team to describe when Trump learned of the riots and the actions he took. They asked the lawyers to be as specific as possible, but Trump lawyer Michael van der Veen only said that Trump tweeted at 2:38 p.m. before launching into an attack against the House Democrats for lack of due process.

Trump's legal team wrapped up their presentation in a little more than three hours Friday before the question-and-answer session.

What comes next: Democratic senators told CNN they've been informed that the Senate will reconvene at 10 a.m. ET tomorrow.

A final vote on Trump's conviction or acquittal will be around 3 p.m. ET. This is not locked in yet and can change, but that's the expectation at the moment. Conviction requires two-thirds of senators present to offer "guilty" votes. Normally, two-thirds is 67 senators, which would require 17 Republican votes.

If Trump is convicted, there would be a subsequent vote on whether to bar him from further office. This would require only a simple majority — that's 50 votes.

CNN's Ted Barrett and Ali Zaslav contributed reporting to this post.

7:16 p.m. ET, February 12, 2021

Capitol police Officer Goodman receives standing ovation in Senate

Senate TV
Senate TV

The Senate unanimously passed legislation today to award Capitol Police Officer Eugene Goodman with the congressional gold medal.

Goodman was in the Senate chamber, and received a standing ovation from the senators.

"In the weeks after the attack on January the 6th the world learned about the incredible, incredible bravery of officer Goodman on that fateful day. Here in this trial we saw new video, powerful video showing calmness under pressure. His courage in the line of duty, his foresight in the midst of chaos, his willingness to make himself a target of the mobs rage so that others might reach safety," Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said on the Senate floor, while announcing the legislation.

"I think we can all agree that Eugene Goodman deserves the highest honor Congress can bestow," Schumer continued.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell joined Schumer in praising Goodman's actions on Jan. 6.

"Officer Goodman's actions reflect a deeply personal commitment to duty, brought even greater distinction upon all his brave brothers and sisters. I am proud the senator is taking the step forward recognizing his heroism with the highest honor we can bestow," McConnell said.

Schumer also thanked the other law enforcement officials who helped protect the lawmakers during the Capitol riot.

"I want to be clear that he was not alone that day. The nation saw, and has now seen, numerous examples of the heroic conduct of the capital police, the Metropolitan Police, the SWAT teams that were with us on January 6th in the Capitol protecting us. Our heartfelt gratitude extends to each and every one of them," Schumer said.

More on Goodman's actions: New security footage presented during the impeachment trial showed even more heroics from Goodman, including potentially saving Sen. Mitt Romney from the violent mob that breached the US Capitol.

Goodman, now the acting deputy Senate sergeant-at-arms, had already been hailed as a hero after previous video emerged of him guiding the violent mob away from the Senate chamber, where then Vice President Mike Pence had been conducting the ceremonial counting of the 2020 electoral votes.

CNN's Paul LeBlanc contributed reporting to this post.

Watch here:

6:53 p.m. ET, February 12, 2021

Rep. Raskin to Trump's defense team: "Bring your client up here and have him testify under oath"

From CNN's Leinz Vales

Senate TV
Senate TV

Rep. Jamie Raskin, the lead House impeachment manager, called out former President Trump's defense for blaming the prosecution for not having evidence "that's within the sole possession of their client, who we invited to come and testify last week."

"This is about preserving the republic, dear Senate," said Raskin from the Senate floor. "That's what this is about. Setting standards of conduct for the President of the United States so this never happens to us again. So, rather than yelling at us, and screaming about how we didn't have time to get all of the facts about what your client did, bring your client up here and have him testify under oath."

Sen. Bill Cassidy, who joined five other Republican senators in voting that Trump's impeachment trial was constitutional, directed his question to Trump's defense team during the question-and-answer session today.

He asked Trump's defense team if Trump tolerated Vice President Mike Pence being intimidated after hearing Pence was evacuated from the Senate floor. The former president tweeted that Pence lacked courage.

Michael van der Veen, Trump's defense lawyer, said "no," but also disputed the premise of the question. 

"I dispute the facts that are laid out in that question," he said. "And, unfortunately, we're not going to know the answer to the facts in this proceeding, because the House did nothing to investigate what went on."

Van der Veen went on to say that the evidence that the House impeachment mangers have bought forth has been "hearsay," citing reports of comments made by Republican lawmakers during the Jan. 6 Capitol riot.

"I have a problem with the facts in the question, because I have no idea, and nobody from the House has given us any opportunity to have any idea, but Mr. Trump and Mr. Pence have had a very good relationship for a long time," van der Veen said. "And I'm sure Mr. Trump very much is concerned and was concerned for the safety and well-being of Mr. Pence and everybody else that was over here."

6:23 p.m. ET, February 12, 2021

Sen. Sanders exclaims "no it isn't" responding to defense claim that his question was "irrelevant"

From CNN's Josiah Ryan

Senate TV
Senate TV

Sen. Bernie Sanders responded audibly to former President Trump's defense's attempt to dismiss his question this afternoon, drawing a rebuke from the presiding officer. 

"No it isn't," exclaimed Sanders, when Trump attorney Michael van der Veen called the Vermont senator's question "irrelevant."

Van der Veen was responding to Sanders' question, "Are the prosecutors right when they claim Trump was telling a big lie, or, in your judgment, did Trump actually win the election?" 

"My judgment? Who asked that?" asked van der Veen.

Sanders replied, "I did."

"My judgment is irrelevant in this proceeding," continued van der Veen. "It absolutely is."

Sanders could then be heard saying, "no, it isn't." He the shook his head when the defense asked for the question to be reread.  

The exchange caused an audible stir from some senators present prompting Sen. Patrick Leahy, the presiding officer, to pound his gavel, saying, "the Senate will be in order."

"The senators under the rules cannot challenge the content of the response," Leahy instructed.

Van der Veen then persisted, saying again that his own judgment was "irrelevant to the question before this body."

"What's relevant in this impeachment article is were Mr. Trump's words inciteful to the point of violence and riot," he said. "That's the charge. That's the question. And the answer is no, he did not have speech that was inciteful to violence or riot."

Watch the moment:

5:21 p.m. ET, February 12, 2021

Trump's lawyer offers false answer about whether Trump knew Pence was in danger

From CNN's Jim Acosta and Kristin Wilson

Senate TV
Senate TV

Former President Trump's lawyer Michael van der Veen said during the Q&A period that "at no point" was Trump aware that Vice President Mike Pence was in danger.  

But Sen. Tommy Tuberville, a Republican from Alabama, told reporters this week that he spoke to Trump on Jan. 6 and told him that Pence had just been rushed away from the rioters by US Secret Service.

Tuberville told reporters:

"I said 'Mr. President, hey, they just took the Vice President out, I’ve got to go.'"

CNN has previously reported that Trump called the personal cell phone of Sen. Mike Lee, a Republican from Utah, shortly after 2 p.m. ET on Jan. 6. At that time the senators had been evacuated from the Senate floor and were in a temporary holding room, as a pro-Trump mob began breaching the Capitol.

Lee picked up the phone and Trump identified himself, and it became clear he was looking for Tuberville and had been given the wrong number. Lee, keeping the President on hold, went to find his colleague and handed Tuberville his phone, telling him the President was on the line and had been trying to reach him.

Tuberville spoke with Trump for less than 10 minutes, with the President trying to convince him to make additional objections to the Electoral College vote in a futile effort to block Congress' certification of then President-elect Joe Biden's win, according to a source familiar with the call. The call was cut off because senators were asked to move to a secure location. In that call, Sen. Tuberville said he told Trump that Pence had been evacuated.

The timeline of that call puts it before Trump tweeted about Pence. 

Trump's tweet at 2:24 p.m. ET said: "Mike Pence didn’t have the courage to do what should have been done to protect our Country and our Constitution, giving States a chance to certify a corrected set of facts, not the fraudulent or inaccurate ones which they were asked to previously certify. USA demands the truth!"

On Tuesday – the first day of Trump's second impeachment trial – both Sens. Tuberville and Lee briefly addressed a last minute objection that was made by Lee on the Senate floor regarding the phone call.

Lee said that the House managers “made statements attributed to me, which they repeatedly characterized – consisted of statements that I did not make.”

Lead impeachment manager Jamie Raskin withdrew the remarks, and Lee withdrew his objection.  

Tuberville, calling the moment “unusual” said that he “wishes that it had been correct.” But when asked what was incorrect about House impeachment manager Rep. David Cicilline’s remarks about the call, Tuberville said “I don’t know, you know President Trump, you don’t get many words in, but he didn’t get a chance to say a whole lot because, I said, ‘Mr. President, they just took the vice president out, I’ve got to go.’ That’s what it was.”

5:09 p.m. ET, February 12, 2021

GOP senators ask when Trump knew the Capitol was breached and what actions he took to end the rioting

From CNN's Jason Kurtz

Senate TV
Senate TV

During today's impeachment proceedings, senators have the opportunity to question both the House impeachment managers as well as the lawyers for former President Trump.

Sen. Susan Collins, a Republican representing Maine, submitted the following question on behalf of herself and her colleague, Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska to Trump's defense team.

"Exactly when did President Trump learn of the breach of the Capitol? What specific actions did he take to bring the rioting to an end? And when did he take them? Please be as detailed as possible."

Both Collins and Murkowski were among the six Republicans who joined all of their Democratic colleagues on Tuesday to vote that the impeachment trial against Trump is constitutional.

Michael van der Veen, one of Trump's lawyers, took their question as an opportunity to suggest that the House managers failed to address this very topic.

"With the rush to bring this impeachment, there's been absolutely no investigation into that," said van der Veen, adding "and that's the problem with this entire proceeding."

Referencing an incomplete timeline dating back to December 2020, as well as a Jan. 6th tweet posted at 2:38 p.m. ET, van der Veen argued that there was "a lot of interaction between the authorities and getting folks to have security" ahead of the day's riot.

However, van der Veen maintained, the House managers "did zero investigation, and the American people deserve a lot better than coming in here with no evidence."

Calling the case again the former President "hearsay on top of hearsay, on top of reports that are of hearsay," van der Veen concluded his response to Collins' question by saying "due process is required here and that was denied."

Watch the moment:

4:42 p.m. ET, February 12, 2021

Photograph appears to capture planned remarks on impeachment of undecided GOP senator 

From CNN's Ted Barrett 

Senator Bill Cassidy, R-La., talks with staff in the Senate Reception room on the fourth day of the Senate Impeachment trials for former President Donald Trump on Capitol Hill on Friday, February 12.
Senator Bill Cassidy, R-La., talks with staff in the Senate Reception room on the fourth day of the Senate Impeachment trials for former President Donald Trump on Capitol Hill on Friday, February 12. Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post/Pool/AFP/Getty Images

A Washington Post photographer captured what appeared to be prepared remarks by GOP Sen. Bill Cassidy. He is seen holding a typed memo that has a few lines at the top crossed out by pen marks. 

The typed copy reads, “The House Managers did not connect the dots to show President Trump knew that the attack on the Capitol was going to be violent and result in the loss of life." 

Cassidy’s communications director Ty Bofferding responded shortly afterwards in a tweet saying that Cassidy is still weighing both sides. 

"@SenBillCassidy is still weighing both sets of arguments and is reviewing memos from both points of view as part of his thought process before coming to a conclusion," he tweeted. 

More context: Six Republicans joined all of their Democratic colleagues on Tuesday to vote that the impeachment trial against former President Trump is constitutional, with Cassidy emerging as the sole Republican to switch his vote after an initial vote on constitutionality last month.

Cassidy told CNN Tuesday after the House managers' presentation that it was a "very good opening" and they made strong arguments. During their presentation, House impeachment managers showed how rioters violently breached the US Capitol and attacked police officers, invoking Trump's name as they tried to disrupt the certification of the November election.

5:22 p.m. ET, February 12, 2021

GOP Sen. Romney asks how much Trump knew about Pence's safety

From CNN's Josiah Ryan

Sen. Mitt Romney, a Republican from Utah, submitted a question asking just how much former President Trump knew about the safety of then Vice President Pence as rioters stormed the Capitol. 

"When President Trump sent the disparaging tweet at 2:24PM regarding Vice President Pence, was he aware that the Vice President had been removed from the Senate by the Secret Service for his safety?" asked Romney, through a question submitted to the counsel for former President Trump. 

Trump's tweet at the time disparaged Pence and falsely suggested that he had betrayed the US Constitution. His tweet said:

"Mike Pence didn't have the courage to do what should have been done to protect our Country and our Constitution," a 2:24 p.m. tweet read.

Impeachment manager Rep. Joaquin Castro was the first to answer the question, arguing in detail that there was no reasonable way Trump could not have been aware of the threat to Pence, given the saturation of news coverage on Jan 6.

"There were hours of chaos and carnage and mayhem, and the Vice President and his family were still in danger at that point," Castro said. "Our commander-in-chief did nothing." 

But Trump's defense counsel, Michael van der Veen, demurred saying that Democrats had constructed a flimsy case agains the former President and not included proof that Trump was aware of the threat to Pence.

"The answer is no," he said. "At no point was the President informed that the Vice President was in any danger."

"There is nothing at all in the record on this point because the House failed to do even a minimum amount of due diligence," he added.

Sen. Tommy Tuberville, a Republican from Alabama, told reporters this week that he spoke to Trump shortly after 2 p.m. on Jan. 6 and told him that Pence had just been rushed away from the rioters by US Secret Service. That was before Trump tweeted about Pence at 2:24 p.m. ET.

4:21 p.m. ET, February 12, 2021

Fact check: Trump team misleadingly omits Trump remarks defending violence  

From CNN's Daniel Dale

Trump lawyer Michael van der Veen highlighted comments from Democrats that he suggested had promoted or defended violence.

Trump, he argued, is different than these Democrats. “Contrast the President’s repeated condemnations of violence with the rhetoric from his opponents,” van der Veen said. He then played a video that juxtaposed clips of Trump condemning violence, and calling himself an “ally of all peaceful protesters,” with some selectively edited clips of Democrats. 

Facts FirstThis argument and video were misleading by omission. Trump has indeed condemned violence and called for peaceful protest, but he has also repeatedly applauded or defended violence and aggressive behavior. 

Among other things, Trump has done the following since he launched his presidential campaign in 2015:

  • Praised a Republican congressman for assaulting a journalist
  • Urged police officers not to worry about injuring the heads of suspects they are arresting
  • Said he would like to punch a protester in the face
  • Urged supporters to “knock the crap out of” any protester they saw holding a tomato
  • Said a kidnapping plot against Michigan Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer might not be an actual “problem”
  • Approvingly told a fake story about an early 20th century US general who massacred Muslim terrorists with bullets dipped in the blood of pigs
  • Said it was a “beautiful sight” when the authorities tossed a journalist to the ground during unrest in Minneapolis
  • Mocked a reporter who got shot with a rubber bullet
  • Applauded the Trump supporters who surrounded a Joe Biden campaign bus on the highway, an incident that prompted an FBI investigation.