Verdict expected as Senate reconvenes for Trump impeachment trial

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Supporters of President Donald Trump march to the Capitol in Washington after hearing him speak at a rally outside the White House on January 6, 2021. He derided the impeachment as a "witch hunt" and "constitutional cancel culture".

"You didn't do anything wrong" in using the word, Trump attorney David Schoen told the senators. A final up-or-down vote to convict could come as soon as Saturday. His lawyers lingered on Democrats' using as evidence Trump telling his supporters to "fight like hell" in his speech preceding the January 6 attack on the Capitol, and they played reels of selectively edited video of Democrats saying the word "fight" to normalize Trump's language. "He knew who he was calling and the violence they were capable of, and he still gave them their marching orders".

For Donald Trump's legal team, the trial centred on his right to free speech.

But Trump's lawyers say that goal only underscores the "hatred" Democrats feel for Trump. "But, please, stop the hypocrisy".

Defending him before the Senate, Mr. Trump's legal team on Friday repeatedly tried to equate his exhortations for supporters to descend on the Capitol and overturn his election loss with speeches by Democratic politicians, in which they called on people to "fight" for progressive policies.

"When President Trump sent the disparaging tweet at 2:24 p.m. regarding Vice President Pence, was he aware that the vice president had been removed from the Senate by the Secret Service for his safety?"

Were it not for Mr. Goodman's actions, Republican Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said, "people in this chamber may not have escaped that day unharmed". "But here, the president's speech called for peaceful protest", said Trump's lawyer Bruce Castor Jr.

Telling the crowd they needed to "fight like hell" was simply political speech, Mr van der Veen said.

They lost that argument, so now they had to set about defending the former president on the merits of the case.

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But Democratic impeachment managers charge that Trump deliberately stoked national tension after losing to Joe Biden on November 3 with a campaign of lies claiming there had been mass voter fraud.

It would take a two-thirds majority to convict, meaning 17 Republicans would need to join the Senate's 50 Democrats.

"I'm anxious to see what my Republican friends do", Biden told reporters at the White House on Friday.

Meanwhile, Rep. Jamie Gaskin, D-Md., one of the house managers, said van der Veen should have had Trump testify at the trial instead of blaming Democrats for not having all the facts.

The day saw one moment of bipartisanship, as the Senate voted unanimously to award a congressional gold medal to Capitol Police officer Eugene Goodman. They played dozens of clips showing Democrats, some of them senators now serving as jurors, using the same word to energize supporters in speeches railing against Trump.

Schoen said the Democrats case was driven by "political opportunism" and that it skipped basic norms of due process and fairness, though impeachment trials are not equivalent to criminal trials. The false equivalency ignored the context of Trump's incendiary comments, but seemed to resonate with some Republican Senators.

"I dispute the premise of your facts, I dispute the facts that are laid out in that question, and unfortunately we're not going to know the answer to those facts in these proceedings because the House did nothing to investigate what went on" on January 6, van der Veen said in response to a question from Sen. He added that he did not think an effort to bar Trump from holding office again under the 14th Amendment would go anywhere.

The Senate will reconvene on Saturday to debate on whether to allow witness testimony, then finish closing arguments and possibly vote on a verdict.

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