Lawyers for former President Donald J. Trump will have their first chance on Friday to counter the claim that Democratic House impeachment managers have sought to establish this week: that he was personally responsible for inciting the mob that stormed the Capitol on Jan 6.
As House prosecutors wrapped up their arguments on Thursday, they gave no indication that they planned to call witnesses, as they did last year in Mr. Trump’s first Senate trial. Rather, they expressed confidence that they had proved their case.
Mr. Trump’s lawyers have also shown little interest in prolonging the proceedings. One of them, David I. Schoen, said on Thursday that he expected his team might use as few as three or four hours to mount its defense on Friday.
The Senate will reconvene at noon.
What will Trump’s defense look like?
From the outset, Mr. Trump’s lawyers have contended that impeaching a former president is improper and unconstitutional, and a number of prominent Republican senators have echoed that stance. That argument may continue to be the keystone of the defense team’s case on Friday.
Mr. Trump’s lawyers may also seek to argue that the former president was never in control of his supporters’ actions, and that his expressions of frustration about the election were not overt calls to violence but opinions protected as free speech under the Constitution.
Anticipating this defense, House prosecutors sought to pre-empt that line of reasoning on Thursday.
“Absolutely nobody in America would be protected by the First Amendment if they did all the things that Donald Trump did,” said Representative Jamie Raskin, the lead House impeachment manager.
Mr. Trump’s lawyers have so far avoided repeating or defending Mr. Trump’s more outlandish claims of widespread election fraud, and are not expected to make that part of their arguments.
What is the mood among senators?
If Mr. Trump’s lawyers do complete their presentation quickly, senators, who act as jurors in the case, may have time on Friday to begin questioning each side. Trial rules allow four hours for senators to do so.
A number of Republican senators reiterated concerns on Thursday about the constitutionality of the trial and the precedent that impeaching a former president could set. Many said they expected to see questioning finished by Friday night.
A final vote to either convict or acquit Mr. Trump could follow as early as Saturday, allowing senators to avoid a Sunday session that was approved in trial rules set this week.
How can I follow the trial?
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