WASHINGTON – A final verdict in the second impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump may be near as both sides stand ready to shut down arguments when the trial resumes on Saturday.
However, it must first be decided whether to call witnesses. If the Senate voted to call witnesses, the decision could add weeks or months to the trial as the witnesses would have to be dismissed and further investigation would have to be conducted.
No formal witness announcements have been made, but both sides have indicated that they do not need them.
When one of the House impeachment managers prosecuting the case, Rep. Madeleine Dean, D-Pa., Was asked Thursday if she needed witnesses, she replied, “I think we did our case.” Sen. Dick Durbin , D-Ill., Who requested a thorough trial for the historical records, said Friday he did not need to hear from witnesses. “I think adequate evidence has been presented,” he said.
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One of Trump’s strongest defense lawyers, Senator Lindsey Graham, RS.C., also said that witnesses are not necessary but that Trump’s team should call witnesses if the managers do so. One of Trump’s lawyers, David Schoen, told reporters on Thursday: “That has not yet been decided.”
Property managers asked Trump himself to testify under oath in hopes of questioning him, but the president refused.
If both sides choose not to hear from witnesses, it would postpone the process to four hours of concluding arguments. After that, the Senate will consider and finally vote on whether Trump should be convicted or acquitted. Several senators said a vote could take place on Saturday afternoon.
The House indicted Trump on January 13, accusing him of instigating the January 6 riot at the Capitol that interrupted Congress and counted the votes of the electoral college. Five people died, including a police officer and a woman shot by police, as rioters raged through the building looking for Vice President Mike Pence and House Spokeswoman Nancy Pelosi.
Sentencing would require a two-thirds majority in the Senate, a high bar in a chamber evenly divided between 50 Republicans and 50 lawmakers meeting with Democrats. In preliminary votes that confirmed the constitutionality of the process, only six Republicans joined the Democrats instead of the 17 required for a conviction, signaling that Trump could be acquitted.
In the course of the process, which began Tuesday, managers argued that Trump sparked riots with months of complaints about the legitimacy of the election. Trump then called on his supporters on the day of the uprising to “fight” the election results in the Capitol.
House Prosecutor Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md., Warned that if Trump is not convicted and expelled from office in the future, Trump will pose an ongoing threat to the country.
But Trump’s lawyers argued that he used standard political language to rally his supporters and could not be held responsible for the mob’s violence. The defense team also argued that Trump’s speech was protected by the first change.
Michael van der Veen, one of Trump’s lawyers, described the impeachment as an obvious political process that represented partisan vengeance. He called it a “politically motivated witch hunt”.
– Bart Jansen