Donald Trump on Monday asked the senators responsible for trying him for “incitement to insurgency”, to immediately close his trial which is due to start on Tuesday and which, even if it is unlikely to end with a conviction, is announced embarrassing.
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The elected Democrats who bring the accusation immediately swept aside a “futile” request, which they said reflects the “efforts” of the Republican billionaire to escape “his responsibility” in the assault on Capitol Hill on January 6.
On the eve of a historic trial, the two camps scrapped in writing, in arguments sent to the Senate which give a foretaste of the debates to come.
For the former president’s lawyers, Donald Trump cannot be tried in the impeachment procedure since he is no longer in power. To argue otherwise is “totally ridiculous,” they argued.
Me David Schoen and Bruce Castor therefore requested that the lawsuits against their client be immediately declared “null and void”.
Democratic prosecutors, led by House representative Jamie Raskin, have dismissed a request they say reflects the former president’s lack of “a valid excuse or defense”.
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Donald Trump, who is accused of having encouraged his supporters to attack Congress as elected officials certify Joe Biden’s presidential victory, has engaged in “the worst violation of the Constitution ever committed by an American president” , they added.
” How long ? ”
The legal debate will occupy the first day of the trial on Tuesday: each camp will have two hours to deliver its arguments and the senators will then vote to say whether they deem themselves competent, according to an agreement between the two parties announced Monday.
Given Democratic control over the Senate, senators should decide to complete the trial, although there is little doubt about the outcome.
The Constitution requires a two-thirds majority for a guilty verdict and it seems unlikely that 17 elected Republicans will join their votes to the 50 Democrats.
Like a year ago, during his first impeachment trial, Donald Trump should therefore be acquitted.
“The only question is, are they going to call witnesses? How long will it last ? Influential Republican Senator Lindsey Graham said.
The agreement reached on Monday provides the first elements of an answer. The debates will take place every afternoon, and will be interrupted Friday evening and Saturday, in order to allow Me Schoen, a practicing Jew, to respect the Shabbat.
Each side will have two days to present their arguments. Senators will then have four hours to ask questions, before voting to decide whether or not to call witnesses.
This possibility does not seem the most plausible, each camp having an interest in moving quickly, the Republicans because they do not want to linger on a sequence which divides their ranks; Democrats because they want to focus on their priority: approving Joe Biden’s candidates and laws.
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If the elected officials do not demand new elements, the defense and the prosecution will have four hours for their pleadings and indictment, before a final vote, perhaps as early as Tuesday.
“Let the Senate manage”
Joe Biden, who promised to work to reconcile America, has from the beginning refrained from intervening in this trial. “We will let the Senate manage all of this,” he said again Monday during a brief exchange with the press.
The new president, busy fighting the pandemic, “will not spend a lot of time watching the hearings, if at all,” added White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki.
The proceedings will be televised live throughout the United States. Democratic prosecutors should take the opportunity to try to make an impression by using numerous videos to recall the violence of the attack and the incendiary words of the president who, a few minutes earlier, called on his supporters to show “their strength”.
This strategy could be damaging for Donald Trump who, at 74, cherishes the idea of a new candidacy in 2024.
Even though it retains a strong supporter base, the attack on the Capitol has eroded its popularity. According to a poll released Sunday, 56% of Americans think the ex-president should be condemned and banned from running – but more than 80% of Republicans are against it.