Trump’s second impeachment trial moves toward a vote. Here are highlights and analysis

A video screen affixed to a truck flashes an anti-Trump message near the U.S. Capitol during former U.S President Donald Trump's second impeachment trial in Washington, U.S., February 12, 2021. Photo by REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

Maryland Democratic Congressman Jamie Raskin, the lead House impeachment manager, gave closing remarks on Thursday in the second Senate trial of former President Donald Trump, this time on the charge of inciting an insurrection.

“How can we assure that our commander in chief will protect, preserve and defend us and our Constitution if we don’t hold a president accountable in circumstances like this? What is impeachable conduct if not this? … If President Trump’s lawyers endorse his breathtaking assertion that his conduct in inciting these events was totally appropriate, and the Senate acquitted Donald Trump, then any president could incite and provoke insurrectionary violence against us again,” Raskin said.

Over the past four days, House Democrats built a narrative tying Trump’s repeated false claims about the November 2020 election results to the deadly January 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol building.

California Democrat Ted Lieu said on Thursday, “President Trump's lack of remorse shows that he will undoubtedly cause future harm if allowed. Because he still refuses to account for his previous high-grade crime against our government. You know, I'm not afraid of Donald Trump running again in four years. I'm afraid he's going to run again and lose, because he can do this again.”

Trump’s defense team began presenting their case today. They’re arguing that Trump can’t be impeached since he’s no longer in office, and that he shouldn’t be held responsible for the violent acts of others.

Trump’s counsel Michael van der Veen said during his opening statement, “The article of impeachment now before the Senate is an unjust and blatantly unconstitutional act of political vengeance. This appalling abuse of the Constitution only further divides our nation when we should be trying to come together around shared priorities.”

Trump’s lawyers say their defense will be brief and that they could wrap up later today. That means a vote in the Senate could happen as soon as Saturday.

Credits

Guests:
Sahil Kapur - national political reporter for NBC News - @sahilkapur, Alexis Coe - presidential historian and author of “You Never Forget Your First: A Biography of George Washington”

Host:
Madeleine Brand

Producers:
Sarah Sweeney, Angie Perrin, Michell Eloy, Amy Ta, Rosalie Atkinson, Brian Hardzinski, Bennett Purser