After hours of debate between House impeachment managers and attorneys representing Donald Trump, the Senate voted Tuesday that the trial of a former president is constitutional.
The vote was 56-44, with six Republicans joining all 50 Democrats. Those Republicans were Sens. Susan Collins of Maine, Bill Cassidy of Louisiana, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Mitt Romney of Utah, Ben Sasse of Nebraska, and Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania.
Last month, Trump was impeached by the House of Representatives for inciting an insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6.
Now that the trial’s constitutionality has been voted on, the trial itself begins in earnest on Wednesday at noon.
Today’s proceedings started with House impeachment managers showing a video that walked through the events of January 6. The video included Trump’s speech before his supporters breaching the Capitol, his tweets from that day, and his video comments to supporters during the attack that said, We love you. You’re very special.”
Following the video, lead impeachment manager Jamie Raskin argued that Trump’s actions constitute high crimes and misdemeanors and dismissed claims that you can only try a president while they are in office.
“Their argument is that if you commit an impeachable offense in your last few weeks in office, you do it with constitutional impunity,” he said. “You get away with it.” He called this the “January exception” to impeachment.
Trump’s lawyers attempted to argue multiple points, with some coming across better than others. They first argued that the trial itself is unconstitutional. Then they argued that Trump’s comments about the election are protected under the First Amendment. Finally, they argued Trump was not responsible for inciting the mob that breached the Capitol.
The opening argument delivered by attorney Bruce Castor was long-winded, and he seemed to ramble at times. He acknowledged that the legal team had changed its strategy after hearing the House’s argument.
“I’ll be quite frank with you. We changed what we were going to do on account that we thought that the House managers presentation was well done.”
Another attorney from Trump’s legal team, David Schoen, spoke about constitutional issues and tried to make the case that the Senate does not have jurisdiction to try “private citizen” Trump.
Oral arguments in the case will begin Wednesday. The House managers and Trump’s legal team will each have up to 16 hours over two days to present their case.