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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10:22 a.m. ET, February 12, 2021

Trump's defense team will start their arguments today — and they expect to finish today, too, sources say

From CNN's Kaitlan Collins

Former President Trump's defense team expects to finish their arguments in the Senate's impeachment trial tonight, two sources told CNN.

His lawyers will take the Senate floor today, but they are not currently expected to use all of their allotted time. Each side gets 16 hours for presentations.

Attorneys David Schoen, Bruce Castor, Michael van der Veen and William Brennan are all expected to speak during Friday's arguments, according to a person familiar with the latest plan. Using videos of Democratic lawmakers, they plan to argue that Democrats glorified violence by recreating the Jan. 6 riot, will claim the trial is unconstitutional and stress Trump's First Amendment rights.

Because the legal team is so disorganized, Trump's allies are apprehensive about how the defense will go. Trump erupted Tuesday as Castor made a meandering opening argument during which he praised the prosecutors. 

Several of Trump's allies lobbied him to get rid of Castor that day, which Trump briefly considered, according to two people. Trump was upset as he watched multiple people, including his usual allies on Fox News, trash Castor's performance. But Castor has remained on the team and is expected to present, at least in part, on Friday. He has told people he wasn't planning on speaking Tuesday, which led to the muddled speech. Castor also admitted on the Senate floor that he swapped speaking roles with Schoen because Democrats presented such a strong opening argument. 

Though Castor was supposed to lead the defense, as CNN reported, that's now expected to be Schoen, who has said he will not participate in the proceedings during the Sabbath. Trump's team believes they will likely wrap up their arguments by then.