The second impeachment trial of former US President Trump is underway.
The trial is in a four-hour debate on the constitutionality of the proceeding, which will be followed by a vote at a simple majority threshold to affirm the proceeding's constitutionality.
Live updates to the second impeachment trial of former US President Donald Trump are provided below:
4:30 AM: US Senator Bill Cassidy changed his vote on the constitutionality of Trump's impeachment
Sen. Bill Cassidy, a Republican from Louisiana, was the only GOP senator to change his vote on the constitutionality of former President Trump's impeachment.
Cassidy previously voted in favor of GOP Sen. Rand Paul's recent motion that impeachment after Trump left office is unconstitutional, reports CNN.
However, speaking to CNN earlier, Cassidy said he heard a "very good opening" by the House impeachment managers.
He said they made "very good arguments" on the constitutional question and that he wanted to hear from the other side, reports CNN.
"I've always said I would approach this with an open mind and would listen as an impartial juror to both sides," Cassidy said.
A total of six GOP senators voted with Democrats, passing the hurdle to proceed despite some Republican calls to dismiss proceedings, reports CNN.
4:26 AM: 6 Republicans voted that the trial is constitutional
Six GOP senators voted with Democrats, establishing that the impeachment trial is constitutional despite calls from some Republicans to dismiss proceedings.
The six senators are:
- Bill Cassidy
- Susan Collins
- Lisa Murkowski
- Mitt Romney
- Ben Sasse
- Pat Toomey
The question passed 56-44, reports CNN
4:16 AM: Senate says Trump's impeachment trial is constitutional
A majority of senators said the impeachment trial of former President Trump is constitutional despite calls from some Republicans to dismiss proceedings.
A simple majority was needed to proceed, reports CNN.
The House managers and Trump's defense team have each been allotted up to 16 hours spread over two days to present their cases.
The House managers arguing for impeachment go first, and they are expected to use a lot of video from the day of the insurrection to make their points, reports CNN.
The proceedings are expected to resume at noon ET on Thursday.
4:05 AM; The Senate is voting on the trial's constitutional validity
Following four hours of debate where both sides presented their arguments, the senators are now voting on the constitutionality of an impeachment trial for a president who has already left office.
A simple majority is needed to proceed, reports CNN.
4:01 AM: US Supreme Court says Senate has power to set trial rules
Former President Trump's lawyer David Schoen acknowledged that the Supreme Court's 1993 case of Nixon v. United States gives the Senate wide latitude to run an impeachment trial, even as Schoen argued for greater due process for Trump.
That 1993 case stands for the proposition that the Senate has sole authority over how it undertakes the trial of an impeached official. The high court majority said that a challenge to an impeachment trial is a "nonjusticiable" political question, reports CNN.
The case involved US District Court Judge Walter Nixon, who had been impeached by the House and convicted by the Senate in 1989. Nixon challenged the Senate procedures used for his trial.
Writing for the majority that broadly rejected Nixon's arguments, Chief Justice William Rehnquist said that the Constitution gives the Senate "sole" power to try a case and added that in the case of a president, "opening the door of judicial review … would expose the political life of the country to months, or perhaps years, of chaos."
Justice David Souter suggested an exception that would allow court review for Senate maneuvers that would threaten the integrity of the result, "say, upon a coin toss." No other justice joined his concurring opinion in the case, reports CNN.
3:58 AM: Trump lawyers tout the fact that he hasn't been charged
Former US President Trump's lead impeachment attorney, Bruce Castor, argued on the Senate floor that if Trump actually committed a "high crime or misdemeanor," then he would have been criminally charged.
"After he's out of office, you go and arrest him," Castor said, pushing back on Democrats' arguments that impeachment is the right way to hold a president accountable for eleventh-hour misconduct, reports CNN.
"There is no opportunity where the President of the United States can run rampant in January at the end of his term and go away Scott-free," added Castor
To further make his point, Castor noted that Trump hasn't been named as a co-conspirator in any of the 200-plus criminal cases stemming from the Capitol insurrection so far, reports CNN.
"So far, I haven't seen activity in that direction," Castor said. "And not only that, the people who stormed this building and breached it were not accused of conspiring with the President."
3:56 AM: Trump's defense lawyer calls impeachment an effort "to disenfranchise 74 million-plus American voters"
Trump's defense lawyer is making the case that the second impeachment trial against the former President is unconstitutional, saying the proceedings have been falsely disguised as an effort to garner accountability for the events of Jan. 6.
"They say you need this trial before the nation can heal," said David Schoen. "I say our nation cannot possibly heal with it."
Schoen suggested the trial would "open up new and bigger wounds across the nation," and said Democrats are looking to discount those who voted for Trump in 2016, reports CNN.
"Many Americans see this process for exactly what it is: a chance by a group of partisan politicians seeking to eliminate Donald Trump from the American political scene and seeking to disenfranchise 74 million-plus American voters," he said.
Schoen called those pushing for the second impeachment trial "elitists" who failed to accept the results in 2016, and called the trial an attempt to further a left-leaning political agenda, reports CNN.
"At the end of the day, this is not just about Donald Trump or any individual. This is about our Constitution and abusing the impeachment power for political gain," he said.
Schoen said the trial would not unite the nation, rather it will "tear the country in half, leaving tens of millions of Americans feeling left out of the nation's agenda."
Noting that House impeachment managers enlisted the help of a movie company to produce a video recapping the Capitol riot, Schoen criticized the tactic as an effort to "chill and horrify" those who will view it, reports CNN.
"They want to put you through a 16-hour presentation over two days focusing on this as if it were some sort of blood sport. And to what end?" he asked, adding, "for healing? For unity? For accountability? Not for any those."
Instead, he dubbed it a "pure, raw, misguided partisanship that makes them believe playing to our worst instincts somehow is good."
3:22 AM: 'Pure, raw partisanship'
Trump's lawyer David Schoen says the trial is for "pure, raw, misguided partisanship".
He began his speech by saying it's an honour to appear in this chamber, but "that is tempered by a feeling of grave concern", reports BBC.
"My overriding emotion is frankly wanting to cry for what I believe these proceedings will do to our great long-enduring Constitution and to the American people on both sides of the great divide that now characterises our nation."
Schoen says the trial is unconstitutional and "wrong as wrong can be", reports BBC.
He adds that while Democrats claim the proceedings are for accountability if that was the case, they would wait for a full investigation.
He says the trial is a "chance for partisan politicians to eliminate Donald Trump from the American political scheme and to disenfranchise" the millions of people who voted for him, reports BBC.
3:01 AM: Trump's lawyers swapped speaking slots at the last minute
Attorney David Schoen, who is speaking on the Senate floor now, was supposed to present first, not Bruce Castor, according to two people familiar with the plan.
As he closed his opening argument, Castor said they changed the order because the House managers did such a good job, reports CNN
"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," he said.
2:53 AM: Lawyer who defended Trump in first impeachment trial says he has "no idea" what new attorney is doing
Alan Dershowitz, who served on former President Trump's impeachment defense team during last year's trial, blasted attorney Bruce Castor for his opening remarks during today's impeachment proceedings, telling Newsmax, "I have no idea what he's doing."
Castor is leading Trump's defense during this second impeachment trial. He's currently giving opening statements in the case, reports CNN.
"Maybe he'll bring it home, but right now, it does not appear to me to be effective advocacy," Dershowitz told the conservative cable news outlet in an interview Tuesday. "He may know the senators better than I do, maybe they want to be buttered up, maybe they want to be told what great people they are and how he knows two Senators, but it's not the kind of argument I would have made, I have to tell you that."
Dershowitz said he would have focused on a First Amendment defense, telling Newsmax, "You cannot abridge the freedom of speech, and whatever you might think of the President's speech, and I don't think very much of it, it can't be the basis for an impeachment if it's constitutionally protected."
"I would have gotten right to that, but again, different strokes for different folks, different styles for different lawyers," Dershowitz said. "And he's a folksy lawyer, and folksy lawyers sometimes do very, very well with juries."
2:50 AM: Trump lawyer says ex-president cannot become scapegoat, makes an appeal to patriotism
Trump attorney, Bruce Castor Jr, denounces the Capitol riot and says those responsible ought to be prosecuted.
He adds that there is a reasonable desire to ask "how do we make them pay?"
But Castor argues that Trump should not be the scapegoat for this tragedy, reports the BBC.
"We expect US senators to not react to popular will and emotions, but do what is right," Castor says.
Much of Trump lawyer Castor's speech has focused on appealing to the patriotism of the Senate, reports the BBC.
"The top responsibility of a US senator and the top characteristic that you all have in common... there isn't a single one of you who doesn't consider yourself a patriot of the US."
"That is why this attack on the constitution will not prevail," he says, reiterating his argument that the impeachment of Trump is unconstitutional, reports the BBC
2:30 AM: Trump's defense team is speaking on the Senate floor
Former President Trump's lawyers are arguing now on the Senate floor against the constitutionality of the impeachment trial.
The lawyers who signed on to lead Trump's impeachment defense team bring a curious history of experience. David Schoen, a seasoned civil and criminal lawyer, and Bruce L. Castor, Jr, a well-known lawyer and the former Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, district attorney, are defending him in the trial, reports CNN.
The lawyers, both of whom have legal careers peppered with curiosities, joined Trump's team a day after five members of his defense left, effectively collapsing the team.
Trump's lawyers are tasked with devising a defense strategy for a former President who faces the impeachment charge of inciting a deadly insurrection at the US Capitol, something that if convicted could also result in him being barred from holding federal office ever again, reports CNN.
2:13 AM: GOP senator says impeachment managers made "very good argument" on constitutional question
US Senator Bill Cassidy, a Republican from Louisiana, told CNN it was a "very good opening" by the House impeachment managers.
He said they made "very good arguments" on the constitutional question and he wants to hear from the other side, reports CNN.
Asked if he is now open to considering the managers' argument, he said, "I've always said I would approach this with an open mind and would listen as an impartial juror to both sides."
2:11 AM: Several GOP senators say nothing can change their minds on the constitutional question
Sen. Roger Wicker, a Republican from Mississippi, told CNN moments ago that "Democrats sent a better team" this time, calling them "very eloquent."
But he also told CNN's Manu Raju that "no" nothing changed his mind on the constitutionality question. He thinks it's not constitutional to try a former president.
Heading into the impeachment trial this afternoon, some GOP senators said no matter what they heard their minds wouldn't be changed, reports CNN.
"I think the constitutional defects of this – both in the House and the Senate are overwhelming. .. You don't have to be Judge Judy to see the constitutional defects," Sen. John Kennedy told CNN.
"No," Ron Johnson said when asked if anything could change his mind on the question of its constitutionality. "Is there anything that could change Democrats' minds about the whole thing? Probably not," he added.
The Senate is in the middle of a four-hour debate on the constitutionality of the impeachment proceeding against former President Trump, reports CNN.
1:35 AM: Trump's tweet on rioters "chills me to the core," House impeachment manager says
Democratic Rep. David Cicilline, a House impeachment manager, said that a tweet from former President Trump on Jan. 6 shows exactly how he felt about the Capitol attack.
At 6:01 p.m. ET on Jan. 6, Trump tweeted "these are the things that happen when a sacred landslide election victory is so unceremoniously and viciously stripped away from great patriots," adding for rioters to go home "with love and in peace," reports the CNN.
"Every time I read that tweet, it chills me to the core," Cicilline said. "The President of the United States sided with the insurrectionists. He celebrated their cause. He validated their attack. He told them, 'remember this day forever,' hours after they marched through these halls looking to assassinate Vice President Pence, the Speaker of the House, and any of us they could find."
Cicilline said that Trump's arguments against impeachment are "dead wrong" and "distractions," reports the CNN.
1:32 AM: 'Presidents can't inflame insurrection and walk away', says Joe Neguse
Impeachment manager Joe Neguse wraps up his time with an impassioned reminder for his colleagues to remember what happened on 6 January.
"What you experienced that day, what we experienced that day, what our country experienced that day, is the framers' [of the Constution] worst nightmare come to life," Neguse - a rising Democratic star from Colorado - says, reports the BBC.
"Presidents can't inflame insurrection in their final weeks and then walk away like nothing happened. And yet that is the rule that President Trump asks you to adopt.
"I urge you - we urge you - to decline his request. To vindicate the Constitution. To let us try this case."
01:04 AM: Trump's most loyal defenders in Senate dig in
Just a few minutes into Donald Trump's Senate impeachment trial, and it's already clear that the former president's most loyal defenders are digging in.
During consideration of the bipartisan resolution setting out the ground rules for the trial, 11 Republicans voted no, reports the BBC.
They included Josh Hawley of Missouri and Ted Cruz of Texas, two of the most outspoken supporters of Trump's efforts to challenge his general election loss.
Also opposed were Rand Paul of Kentucky, who introduced a resolution last week to dismiss the case against Trump, and Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, another of the president's ardent defenders, reports the BBC.
These 11 senators are also regular "no" votes on Joe Biden's picks to fill cabinet posts. Hawley has voted against all seven nominees considered by the Senate so far. Cruz has rejected five.
Some of the senators, like Cruz and Hawley, have 2024 presidential ambitions. Others, like Bill Hagerty of Tennessee and Tommy Tuberville of Alabama, come from very conservative states that overwhelmingly support Trump. Call them the scorched-earth caucus.
With at least 11 Republicans in favour of shutting the trial down before it even starts, it means 17 of the 39 remaining of them would have to side with all 50 Democrats to convict, reports the BBC.
12:53 AM: Capitol riot video shows clear impeachable offense, lead House impeachment manager says
After playing footage from the Jan. 6 Capitol riot, lead House impeachment manager Rep. Jamie Raskin said that former President Trump's actions inciting the riot constitute "a high crime and misdemeanor."
"If that's not an impeachable offense, then there is no such thing," Raskin said.
Raskin said that Trump wants to render the Senate "powerless" during a presidential transition period, while Raskin believes it is one of the most important and fragile times for the country, reports the CNN.
"The transition of power is always the most dangerous moment for democracies. Every historian will tell you that. We just saw it in the most astonishing way. We lived through it. And you know what, the framers of our Constitution knew it. That's why they created a Constitution with an oath written into it that binds the president from his very first day in office until his very last day in office and every day in between," Raskin said.
Raskin, an expert on constitutional law, went on to lay out why the Democrats believe a trial against a president who has left office is constitutional, reports the CNN.
"Under that Constitution, and under that oath, the president of the United States is forbidden to commit high crimes and misdemeanors at any point he is in office. Indeed, that's one specific reason impeachment, conviction and disqualification powers exist, to protect us against presidents who try to overrun the power of the people in their elections and replace the rule of law with the rule of mobs," Raskin added. "These powers must apply even if the president commits his offenses in his final weeks in office. In fact, that's precisely when we need them the most, because that's when elections get attacked."
12:50 AM: Democrats respond to Trump's defence claims
Lead Democratic impeachment manager Raskin is now detailing why holding a trial now is still constitutional and necessary, although Trump is no longer president.
Raskin says the founders' goal was "always about accountability, protecting society and deterring official corruption" rather than removing someone from office, reports the BBC.
12:38 AM: Democrats are showing footage from the Capitol riot at the trial
As part of his opening remarks in the Senate impeachment trial, lead impeachment manager Rep. Jamie Raskin showed footage from the day pro-Trump rioters stormed the US Capitol building.
Videos from the deadly attack were interweaved with footage of President Trump addressing a rally of supporters just moments before the surge, reports the CNN.
"We fight like hell," President Trump is heard saying at the rally. "We're going to the Capitol," he said at another point.
Videos from the Capitol showed supporters clashing with police and scaling the building's walls before breaching the doors of the Capitol.
Footage from inside the Capitol showed members of Congress evacuating before rioters stormed the Senate floor and members' offices. One video showed the moment was rioter was shot and killed, reports the CNN.
12:34 AM: Lead House impeachment manager says their case is "based on cold, hard facts"
In his opening remarks, lead House impeachment manager Jamie Raskin said his team's case against former President Trump would be "based on cold, hard facts."
"It's all about the facts," Raskin said.
Raskin, a Democratic congressman from Maryland, said Trump has sent his lawyers to the trial to "try to stop the Senate from hearing the facts of this case.," reports the CNN
"They want to call the trial over before any evidence is even introduced. Their argument is that if you commit an impeachable offense in your last few weeks in office, you do it with constitutional impunity. You get away with it," said Raskin.
12:16 AM: GOP senators discussed the possibility the trial could end Saturday night
GOP senators at lunch just now discussed the possibility trial could be done Saturday night with a final vote then, per two senators.
They expect the Trump legal team will not use their full 16 hours, and they don't expect senators to use their full four hours of question time, reports the CNN.
It still remains to be seen if this is the case. But this is what GOP senators are expecting at the moment — if no witnesses are called.
12:13 AM: The Senate is voting to adopt the rules to guide the trial
The Senate is voting on the rules agreed upon by leadership to govern the trial.
"It has been agreed to by House managers, the former President's counsel, and co-sponsored by the Republican leader, it is bipartisan," Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said as he introduced the organizing resolution, reports the CNN.
"It is our solemn constitutional duty to conduct a fair and honest impeachment trial of the charges against former President Trump, the gravest charges ever brought against a President of the United States in American," he continued, speaking from the Senate floor.
The organizing resolution sets the schedule for the trial. Here's a look at other key parts of the resolution:
- After four hours of debate today on the constitutional question, there will be a vote at a simple majority threshold to affirm the proceedings constitutionality.
- After that, each side has up to 16 hours for presentation.
- Then there are four hours for senators' questions.
- If there's a request for witnesses by the House impeachment managers, there will be two hours of debate after the question period, followed by a vote on whether to call a witness.
- There will then be four hours of closing arguments, evenly divided.
- Then the vote on conviction or acquittal.
12:02 AM: Trump's second impeachment trial has started
The second impeachment trial of former President Trump has just begun in the Senate. Senators will vote shortly on the rules agreed upon by leadership to govern the trial.
The Senate began proceedings with a prayer from the chamber's chaplain, followed by the US Pledge of Allegiance, reports the BBC.
With that, opening business is closed, and Democrat Leahy sounds the gavel.
Trump is the only US President to have ever been impeached twice, reports CNN.
It's just the fourth impeachment trial in US history.
Congress has conducted three presidential impeachment trials to date:
- US President Andrew Johnson in 1868 for firing a Cabinet secretary without the consent of Congress.
- US President Bill Clinton in 1998 for perjury and obstruction of justice.
- US President Trump in 2020 for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.
Johnson, Clinton and Trump were acquitted, so they stayed in office.
This is the first-ever impeachment trial of a former President. It will aim to answer whether one can incite an insurrection with impunity, reports CNN.
Democrats in the House of Representatives voted on Jan. 13 to impeach Trump following the Jan. 6 Capitol riot, charging him with "incitement of insurrection."
11:55 PM: The House impeachment managers are walking now to the Senate floor
The nine House impeachment managers are walking now to the Senate floor for the start of former President Trump's impeachment trial.
They are tasked with arguing the Democrats' case against Trump, reports CNN.
The impeachment managers are:
- Rep. Jamie Raskin of Maryland (lead manager)
- Rep. Diana DeGette of Colorado
- Rep. David Cicilline of Rhode Island
- Rep. Joaquin Castro of Texas
- Rep. Eric Swalwell of California
- Rep. Ted Lieu of California
- Rep. Stacey Plaskett of the US Virgin Islands
- Rep. Joe Neguse of Colorado
- Rep. Madeleine Dean of Pennsylvania
Democrats in the House of Representatives voted on Jan. 13 to impeach Trump following the Jan. 6 Capitol riot, charging him with "incitement of insurrection," reports CNN.
11:00 PM: House impeachment managers release final pre-trial brief
House impeachment managers released their final brief ahead of the trial on Tuesday, responding to the rebuttal from Mr. Trump's attorneys, which challenged the constitutionality of the trial and argued that Mr. Trump was not responsible for the January 6 assault on the Capitol, reports CBS News.
"President Trump's pre-trial brief confirms that he has no good defense of his incitement of an insurrection against the Nation he swore an oath to protect," the managers wrote in a 33-page memorandum. "Instead, he tries to shift the blame onto his supporters, and he invokes a set of flawed legal theories that would allow Presidents to incite violence and overturn the democratic process without fear of consequences."
The managers said that Mr Trump seeks "to evade responsibility for inciting the January 6 insurrection by arguing that the Senate lacks jurisdiction to convict officials after they leave office."
They also pushed back against the argument that impeaching Mr Trump violated his right to free political speech. Mr Trump repeatedly promoted false claims about the election and urged his supporters to "fight like hell" to overturn the results just hours before the riot at the Capitol, reports CBS News.
"Accepting President Trump's argument would mean that Congress could not impeach a President who burned an American flag on national television, or who spoke at a Ku Klux Klan rally in a white hood, or who wore a swastika while leading a march through a Jewish neighborhood — all of which is expression protected by the First Amendment but would obviously be grounds for impeachment," the managers said.
Representatives Jamie Raskin, David Cicilline and Joe Neguse are expected to present the arguments in favor of holding an impeachment trial this afternoon, reports CBS News.