Trump impeachment trial: GOP senator rips former president's legal team

CNBC's live blog covering the second impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump has concluded for Tuesday. Coverage will resume Wednesday.

Former President Donald Trump's second impeachment trial kicked off today with a round of debate over whether the trial is constitutional.

Starting at noon tomorrow, each side will have up to 16 hours to make their case to the 100 senators who will decide whether to convict Trump on the charge of inciting the deadly Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol.

Immediately prior to the insurrection, Trump led a rally in which he proclaimed his oft-repeated lies about the election being stolen and encouraged his supporters to march to the Capitol, where lawmakers were voting to finalize Joe Biden's victory in the presidential election.

The House impeached Trump a week later, just seven days before Biden took the oath of office.

With the Senate split 50-50 between Democrats and Republicans, it is unlikely they will reach the two-thirds threshold for conviction.

Trump is the only president to be impeached twice.

The proceedings in the Senate started just after 1 p.m. ET, and debate lasted nearly four hours. The proceedings adjourned just after 5 p.m.

GOP senator voted to hold impeachment trial because Trump's legal team was 'terrible'

GOP Sen. Bill Cassidy on Trump's defense team
GOP Sen. Bill Cassidy on Trump's defense team

GOP Sen. Bill Cassidy said that he voted in favor of holding an impeachment trial because former President Donald Trump's defense team did "a terrible job."

"Trump's team was disorganized, they did everything they could but to talk about the question at hand. And when they talked about it, they kind of glided over it, almost as if they were embarrassed of their arguments," Cassidy told reporters at the Capitol.

"Now if I'm an impartial juror and one side is doing a great job and the other side is doing a terrible job on the issue at hand, as an impartial juror, I'm going to vote for the side that did the good job," he said.

The Louisiana senator was one of six Republicans to vote alongside all 50 Democrats on the question of whether the Senate has jurisdiction to try a former president for impeachable offenses.

Cassidy was the only senator to change his vote from the last time the question had been posed to the chamber weeks earlier.

In a statement sent shortly after the vote, Cassidy said, "If anyone disagrees with my vote and would like an explanation, I ask them to listen to the arguments presented by the House Managers and former President Trump's lawyers."

"The House managers had much stronger constitutional arguments. The president's team did not," he said.

The five other Republicans who voted to hold the trial are Sens. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Nebraska's Ben Sasse, Mitt Romney of Utah, Maine's Susan Collins and Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania.

Cassidy's statement noted that his vote on the question of constitutionality "is not a prejudgment on the final vote to convict." — Kevin Breuninger

Senate trial to restart at noon Wednesday

Donald Trump's impeachment trial will reconvene at noon ET on Wednesday after a day of arguments about the constitutionality of trying a former president for high crimes and misdemeanors.

The Senate voted by a 56-44 margin that the proceedings are constitutional, as only six Republicans joined with all Democrats.

On Wednesday, the nine House impeachment managers prosecuting the case against Trump and the former president's defense team will start arguments about whether Trump incited an insurrection when a mob of his supporters attacked the Capitol on Jan. 6. Each side will have up to 16 hours over no more than two days to make their case.

The House managers are expected to start Wednesday by rebutting the arguments Trump's lawyers made before the constitutionality vote. — Jacob Pramuk

Senate votes that impeachment trial is constitutional

The Senate voted that it has jurisdiction under the Constitution to hold former President Donald Trump's impeachment trial.

The 56-44 vote came after House impeachment managers and Trump's defense team spent four hours making arguments on whether a president can be subject to a Senate trial after leaving office.

"The Senate shall proceed with the trial," said Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., who is presiding over the trial, after the vote was tallied.

Sen. Bill Cassidy of Louisiana, one of six Republicans who joined all 50 Democrats in voting to hold the trial, was the only senator to change his vote from the last time the question had been posed to the chamber weeks earlier.

To convict Trump, Democrats need at least 17 Republicans to join them.

The vote means that the trial will continue. On Wednesday, House managers and Trump's lawyers are scheduled to begin presenting their cases on the article of impeachment itself, which charges Trump with inciting the deadly Capitol riot. — Kevin Breuninger

Raskin closes for the day without more arguments

In this screenshot taken from a webcast, Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-MD) – lead manager for the impeachment speaks on the first day of former President Donald Trump's second impeachment trial at the U.S. Capitol on February 9, 2021 in Washington, DC. | Getty Images

Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md., the lead House impeachment manager, waived the remaining time allotted to the prosecution following hours of speeches from Trump's defense attorneys, saying "nothing could be more bipartisan than the desire to recess."

"We see no need to make any further argument that this body has the power to convict and to disqualify President Trump for his breathtaking constitutional crime of inciting a violent insurrection against our government," Raskin said.

The Senate then moved to a vote on whether it has jurisdiction over Trump, the subject of the day's debate. — Tucker Higgins

Trump attorney Schoen accuses lawmakers of 'insatiable lust for impeachment'

David Schoen, defense attorney for Donald Trump, speaks in the Senate Chamber in a video screenshot in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday, Feb. 9, 2021.
Senate Television | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Trump's second defense attorney to speak on Tuesday, David Schoen, delivered a scathing critique of the impeachment process in a speech that accused Democrats of seeking to go after the ex-president in any way they could.

"The denial of due process in this case of course starts with the House of Representatives," Schoen, a former lawyer to Trump ally Roger Stone, said from the Senate floor.

Schoen's remarks, which he at times read from prepared notes, were more direct than those made by Castor, who assumed a folksy persona and appeared to ramble.

"In this unprecedented snap impeachment process, the House of Representatives denied every attribute of fundamental constitutional due process that Americans have correctly come to believe is what makes this country so great," Schoen said. "How and why did that happen? It is a function of the insatiable lust for impeachment in the House for the last four years."

Schoen played a video montage of Democrats, including the lead impeachment manager Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md., calling for Trump's impeachment as far back as 2017.

Other Democrats shown in the video included Keith Ellison, the former Minnesota congressman who now serves as that state's attorney general, Rep. Maxine Waters of California, Rep. Alexandria-Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., and Sens. Cory Booker of New Jersey and Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts.

"To say there was a rush to judgment by the House would be a grave understatement," Schoen said. — Tucker Higgins

Trump impeachment lawyer Castor's drawn-out argument gets panned on Twitter

Attorney Bruce Castor, representing and defending former President Donald Trump, addresses the U.S. Senate as it begins the second impeachment trial of former president, on charges of inciting the deadly attack on the U.S. Capitol, on the floor of the Senate chamber on Capitol Hill in Washington, February 9, 2021.
U.S. Senate TV via Reuters

Political watchers covering the impeachment trial on social media quickly lost patience with Bruce Castor Jr., the first lawyer on former President Donald Trump's legal team to deliver arguments in the Senate.

Castor, a former district attorney in Pennsylvania, took the chamber floor to argue that the impeachment trial is unconstitutional because Trump is no longer president.

But viewers quickly got lost trying to follow Castor's rhetoric and took to Twitter to mock the speech as confusing, rambling and at times incoherent.

Even some of Trump's supporters gave Castor's performance dismal reviews.

"There is no argument. I have no idea what he's doing. I have no idea why he's saying what he's saying," said Alan Dershowitz, who previously said he would be willing to defend Trump in the trial.

Kevin Breuninger

Trump's defense team begins argument against constitutionality of impeachment trial

In this image from video, Bruce Castor, an attorney for former President Donald Trump speaks during the second impeachment trial of Trump in the Senate at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Tuesday, Feb. 9, 2021.
Senate Television via AP

A member of former President Donald Trump's legal team began his argument against the constitutionality of the Senate impeachment trial by condemning those responsible for the violence at the Capitol.

"You will never hear anybody representing former President Trump say anything at all other than what happened on Jan. 6 in the storming and the breaching of the Capitol should be denounced in the most vigorous terms," attorney Bruce Castor Jr. said as he began his remarks.

Trump's legal team is arguing that it is unconstitutional for the Senate to hold a trial to convict a former president.

Democratic House impeachment managers decried the idea of a "January exception" to being held accountable for impeachable conduct. — Kevin Breuninger

Emotional impeachment manager Raskin discusses personal tragedy on Senate floor

Congressman Jamie Raskin recounts the Capitol invasion, which happened the day after he buried his son
Congressman Jamie Raskin recounts the Capitol invasion, which happened the day after he buried his son

Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md., the lead House impeachment manager, recounted his own harrowing experience during the Jan. 6 Capitol riot, which he went through just after enduring another personal tragedy.

"My youngest daughter, Tabitha, was there with me on Jan. 6. It was the day after we buried her brother, our son, Tommy. The saddest day of our lives," Raskin said.

Raskin's daughter and son-in-law accompanied him "because they wanted to be together with me in the middle of a devastating week for our family," he said. "And I told them I had to go back to work, because we were counting Electoral votes ... it was our Constitutional duty."

Raskin, who was visibly emotional on the Senate floor, said dozens of members had consoled him earlier in the day, before the pro-Trump mob broke into the Capitol.

When the rioters descended on the building, Raskin said he had been separated from his family members, who were in the office of House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md.

"Members of Congress, in the House anyway, were removing their congressional pins so they wouldn't be identified by the mob as they tried to escape the violence."

"We were told to put our gas masks on, and then there was a sound I will never forget," Raskin said. "The sound of pounding on the door like a battering ram — the most haunting sound I ever heard, and I will never forget it."

When he was reunited with his daughter, Raskin said he promised her that her next visit to the Capitol would be different.

"She said, 'Dad, I don't want to come back to the Capitol,'" said Raskin, a former constitutional law professor, as he wiped tears from his eyes.

"Of all the terrible, brutal things I saw and I heard on that day and since then, that one hit the hardest," he said.

"Senators, this cannot be our future. This cannot be the future of America." — Kevin Breuninger

House prosecutor cites former Republican expert witness in pro-impeachment argument

A House impeachment manager cited professor Jonathan Turley, who had appeared as a Republican witness during Trump's first impeachment battle, as part of the prosecution's argument in favor of holding the former president on trial.

Rep. Joe Neguse, D-Colo., quoted Turley's assertion in a past study on the executive branch that "resignation from office does not prevent trial on articles of impeachment."

Neguse also quoted Turley's writing in a 1999 article on impeachment, where the professor approvingly quoted 18th century statesman Edmund Burke's declaration that "no man in no circumstance, can escape the account, which he owes to the laws of his country."

Turley in recent weeks, however, has argued that "the planned impeachment trial is at odds with the language of the Constitution, which expressly states that removal of a president is the primary purpose of such a trial."

Turley had appeared before the House as Republicans' expert witness in 2019, as part of the proceedings related to Trump's first impeachment. — Kevin Breuninger

Watch Democrats' 15-minute video making the case against Trump

Supporters of U.S. President Donald Trump battle with police at the west entrance of the Capitol during a "Stop the Steal" protest outside of the Capitol building in Washington D.C. January 6, 2021.
Stephanie Keith | Reuters

Lead impeachment manager Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md., introduced a nearly 15-minute video showing the carnage that took place during the deadly riot on Jan. 6 juxtaposed with former President Trump's urging that his supporters march to the Capitol and fight.

He made the video public at the start of his opening argument in favor of impeaching and convicting Trump.

"We will stop the steal," the video shows Trump saying at the rally in front of the White House. Later, the video shows Trump telling the crowd, "We're going to walk down to the Capitol."

It then shows Trump supporters encouraging others to head to the Capitol and later scenes of protesters breaking into the halls of Congress as lawmakers attempted to certify the Electoral College results of the 2020 election. — Brian Schwartz

White House won't weigh in on Trump's impeachment trial

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki holds the daily press briefing in the Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House in Washington, DC, February 3, 2021.
Saul Loeb | AFP | Getty Images

WASHINGTON — White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said Tuesday that the Biden administration would not comment on predecessor President Donald Trump's second impeachment trial.

"This is obviously a big story in the country, no one's denying that here, and there's certainly going to be a lot of attention and focus on it," Psaki began.

"Our focus and the president's focus is on putting people back to work, getting the pandemic under control, and that means we're not going to weigh in on every question about the impeachment trial, and we don't feel it's necessary or our role to do that," she added.

The House impeached Trump on the heels of the deadly Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol. The Senate impeachment proceedings are scheduled to last through the week.

Trump is the only president to be impeached twice. — Amanda Macias

Raskin: 'January exception' to impeachment would be the 'worst nightmare' of founders

House lead impeachment manager Jamie Raskin (D-MD) reads the House article of impeachment against former President Donald Trump on accusations of inciting the January 6 attack on the Capitol, on the floor of the U.S. Senate in this frame grab from video shot at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, U.S., January 25, 2021.
U.S. Senate TV | via Reuters

Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md., said that carving out a "January exception" for prosecuting impeachable offenses would be the "worst nightmare" of America's founders.

Raskin, the lead House impeachment manager, was the first to deliver arguments on the question of whether it is constitutional for the Senate to hold an impeachment trial for a president who has already left office.

Former President Donald Trump left the White House on Jan. 20.

Raskin characterized his opponents, Trump's legal team, as arguing that otherwise impeachable conduct cannot be challenged in the final portion of a presidency.

As part of his argument against that position, Raskin played a lengthy video showing numerous clips of Trump's pre-riot rally, followed by rioters storming the Capitol and lawmakers evacuating their chambers.

"If the president's arguments for a January exception are upheld ... [Trump's lawyers] would have you believe that there is absolutely nothing the Senate can do about it," Raskin said. — Kevin Breuninger

Scholar rebukes Trump impeachment defense team, saying they misrepresented his writings

Michigan State University College of Law professor Brian Kalt said former President Trump's impeachment defense team repeatedly misrepresented his writings in their legal brief concerning the trial.

Kalt said that Trump's legal team did not cite his article accurately, according to NBC News. In a law review article, he concluded that the Senate has authority to try former officials.

"There is plenty in there for them to use. The problem was that they did not cite accurately," he told NBC News. — Christian Nunley

Trump's second impeachment trial officially begins as Senate comes to order

Proceedings begin for former President Trump's second impeachment trial
Proceedings begin for former President Trump's second impeachment trial

Former President Donald Trump's second impeachment trial officially kicked off Tuesday, with the Senate convening in the chamber as a court of impeachment.

The trial began nearly a month after the House impeached Trump on one article of inciting the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol.

Democrats had unsuccessfully pushed Republican Senate Leader Mitch McConnell to start the trial before Trump left office on Jan. 20. With Trump now a private citizen, the opening hours of the trial are expected to center around whether it is constitutional for the Senate to try a former president. — Kevin Breuninger

Fox asks court to drop Smartmatic's $2.7 billion suit over false election claims

A clip of President Donald Trump's Thursday press conference is played on 'Fox And Friends', seen on a monitor outside of the Fox News studios, on February 17, 2017 in New York City.
Drew Angerer | Getty Images

An attorney for Fox Corporation and Fox News asked a court in New York to drop a $2.7 billion defamation suit brought against the media companies by Smartmatic, a voting systems maker targeted by conspiracy theorists who regularly appeared on the news network, as well as some Fox hosts.

Paul Clement, a veteran Supreme Court lawyer who served as solicitor general under former President George W. Bush, wrote in court papers that Fox could not be held liable because its actions were protected by the First Amendment's press freedom guarantees.

"This lawsuit strikes at the heart of the news media's First Amendment mission to inform on matters of public concern," Clement wrote in a filing submitted to the New York State Supreme Court in the County of New York.

In addition to Fox Corporation and Fox News, Smartmatic named Fox hosts Lou Dobbs, Maria Bartiromo and Jeanine Pirro as defendants in its suit. It also named Trump allies Sidney Powell and Rudy Giuliani, the former New York mayor.

The case is one of several brought by Smartmatic and Dominion Voting Systems, another voting machine supplier, against those who peddled false and frequently outlandish claims about Trump's defeat to President Joe Biden in November's contest. – Tucker Higgins

Trump impeachment prosecutors set to unveil new evidence against ex-president

President Donald Trump is seen on a screen speaking to supporters during a rally to contest the certification of the 2020 U.S. presidential election results by the U.S. Congress, in Washington, January 6, 2021.
Shannon Stapleton | Reuters

The second impeachment trial in the Senate for former President Trump will highlight previously undisclosed evidence related to the charge that he incited the Jan. 6 Capitol complex riot by his supporters, House aides said.

Those aides also said there will be evidence that Trump not only spent weeks laying the groundwork for the mob invasion of Congress by his fans but that he incited that riot even further after it began.

Aides suggested that there could be enough Republican senators needed to convict Trump after they hear such evidence, despite the vast majority of the GOP caucus having previously voted against holding the trial based on the argument that a former president cannot be tried by the Senate.

"Once they see that this President did in fact incite a violent insurrection in order to hold onto power, I think it very well may be the case that reluctant senators change their mind and vote to convict," aides said.

"The House will establish at trial that President Trump merits conviction and disqualification to hold and enjoy any office of honor, trust, or profit under the United States." — Dan Mangan

Here's how the first day of the trial will unfold

Members of the National Guard patrol at the U. S. Capitol as the second impeachment trial of former U.S. President Donald Trump is scheduled to begin in Washington, U.S., February 9, 2021.
Joshua Roberts | Reuters

Former President Donald Trump's second impeachment trial is expected to begin around 1 p.m. ET in the Senate, presided over by Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt.

Democratic House impeachment managers and Trump's legal team will share up to four hours to make their case on whether the Senate has jurisdiction under the Constitution to hold the trial.

The former president's lawyers have said that it should be dismissed, arguing that it is unconstitutional to hold an impeachment trial now that Trump is a private citizen and no longer in office.

The House managers say that the Senate has the authority to hold impeachment trials on a president's conduct "from their first day in office through their very last."

"There is no 'January Exception' to the Constitution that allows Presidents to abuse power in their final days without accountability," the prosecutors wrote Monday in a reply to Trump's lawyers.

After the four hours have elapsed, the Senate will take a vote on the question, with a simple majority required to pass. — Kevin Breuninger