This week, former US President Donald Trump’s unprecedented second trial is taking shape as Democrats outline their case and Trump’s rush to prepare his defense amid confusion in his attorneys team.
Trump is due to provide his response to the indictment on Tuesday, but he changed the head of the lawyers’ team over the weekend.
His new team, led by attorneys David Schwen and Bruce Castor, will have a little more than a week to prepare before the trial begins on February 9th, yet the Democrats seeking to convict him of “incitement to revolt” face an uphill task.
They will have to convince at least 17 of the 50 Republicans in the Senate that Trump has guilty of instigating his supporters to attack the Capitol on January 6 in an unsuccessful attempt to prevent Congress from certifying Joe Biden’s victory in the November 2020 presidential election. Five people were killed during the chaos.
After Trump leaves office on January 20, the vote to condemn him will have little practical effect but may open the way for a vote to prevent him from assuming any official position in the future.
House Democrats, who will bring the matter before the Senate, will present a pre-trial briefing to explain their case against Trump, and will determine by Tuesday whether they intend to call witnesses, a vital point of last year’s trial.
Significantly, Trump’s response to the accusation will show if he intends to continue arguing without substantiation that he lost the presidential election due to widespread fraud in the voting process, and many federal and state courts rejected the allegations.
In the aftermath of the Capitol Hill riots, Republicans aghast at how to respond to Trump’s role and failure to try to curb the violence was so apparent.
Most of the Republicans in the Senate are currently lining up against the conviction, and while few defend his actions, many argue that Congress does not have the power to impeach a former president, and they insist that a second trial would undermine efforts to unify the country in the post-Trump era.
Republican Senator Bob Portman, who said last week he would not seek to run again in light of the country’s deep divisions, hinted that Trump’s defense of the former president’s allegations of election fraud would not help.
“If the debate is not based on things like constitutionalism, which are real and should be brought up, I think this will not help the president,” Portman told CNN’s “State of the Union” program.
Trump’s legal team can argue that he was exercising the right of free speech enshrined in the First Amendment on January 6 when he spoke to his supporters in front of the White House before they headed to Capitol Hill.
Regardless of the approach the defense attorneys take, 100 senators from both the Democratic and Republican parties will form a jury expecting a trial that will likely last a few days, in a shorter time than Trump’s first two-week trial.