Former Trump Chief of Staff says there’s ‘no chance’ of stopping him from running
Donald Trump’s historic second impeachment trial begins on Tuesday, with prosecutors arguing that he must be convicted of the “most grievous constitutional crime” after an armed crowd stormed the Capitol building.
Lawyers for the former president insist he is not guilty of inciting mob violence in January in a bid to overturn the election, describing it as “political theatre”.
Mr Trump faces a sole charge of incitement to insurrection after he encouraged a rally crowd to “fight like hell” for his presidency.
Rioters stormed the building trying to stop the certification of Joe Biden’s victory. Five people lost their lives.
Biden ‘won’t be tuning in to watch Trump’s trial’
Joe Biden has a “full schedule” this week and won’t be tuning in to watch Donald Trump’s trial, White House press secretary Jen Psaki has said.
“I don’t expect that he’s going to be, you know, posturing or commenting on this through the course of the week,” she said.
Instead, he will be focused on pushing his pandemic relief package, visiting the National Institutes of Health, touching base at the Pentagon and tackling his other duties at a time of crisis, the White House said.
But with the eyes of the country on the trial, it will be difficult for Mr Biden to avoid.
Tom Batchelor9 February 2021 11:00
Biden’s Justice Department drops case against author of tell-all Melania Trump book
The Justice Department of the new Biden administration has dropped a lawsuit against Stephanie Winston Wolkoff, a former adviser to Melania Trump who was accused of breaking a non-disclosure agreement with her tell-all book about the first lady.
Ms Wolkoff, the author of Melania and Me, worked as an unpaid adviser to Ms Trump from January 2017 to February 2018, and was accused of violating an agreement that she signed in 2017.
She had left the job after The New York Times reported that a firm founded by Wolkoff received $26m (£18.8m) to help organise a Trump inauguration event.
Tom Batchelor9 February 2021 10:41
Trump’s new lawyers defended ‘reputed mobsters’ and sued a Bill Cosby accuser
Donald Trump has tasked a former district attorney most known for declining to prosecute Bill Cosby — then suing one of his accusers — and a lawyer who has boasted about representing “all sorts of reputed mobster figures” to lead his defence in the impeachment trial.
The two controversial additions to the former president’s impeachment team were reported during the weekend after five lawyers parted ways with Mr Trump over apparent disagreements about the trial strategy.
Tom Batchelor9 February 2021 10:28
How long will the trial last?
It is likely to be more than a week.
The trial opens on Tuesday with four hours of debate on whether the hearing is even constitutional.
The Senate will then vote on whether to dismiss the charge against Mr Trump. If that vote fails, as expected, the House managers will begin their arguments on Wednesday.
Both prosecutors and the defence have up to 16 hours to make their arguments, with no more than eight hours of arguments per day. Senators will be permitted to ask questions and there could be further procedural votes.
That is likely to continue into Thursday.
Mr Trump’s lawyers are expected to begin their arguments on Friday, which will last into Saturday.
That means a final vote on Mr Trump’s conviction will likely not happen until next week.
Tom Batchelor9 February 2021 09:59
Judge refuses to send Capitol riot suspect back to jail after breaching orders
A US federal judge has declined to send a suspect accused of involvement in the Capitol riots to jail, despite ruling that he violated his release orders.
John Sullivan, 26, was accused of violating a previous order from a different judge by buying a smartphone, trying to access Twitter and promoting his organisation “Insurgence USA”, and inviting its members to attend his court hearing.
US magistrate judge Robin Meriweather expressed “serious concerns” after Mr Sullivan violated his release order immediately after he was allowed to go home last month.
However, she said, she doesn’t believe Mr Sullivan poses any danger to the community.
Tom Batchelor9 February 2021 09:42
Majority back Trump impeachment – poll
More than half (54 per cent) of registered US voters “somewhat” or “strongly” agreed that Donald Trump should be convicted, a poll found.
An even greater margin (58 per cent) said the former president should “probably” or “definitely” be prevented from running for public office again, the Politco/Morning Consult survey of 1,986 voters found.
Conducted between 5 and 7 February, the poll also found that 19 per cent of Republicans said he should be convicted, while 7 per cent of Democrats said he should be acquitted.
Tom Batchelor9 February 2021 09:29
What to watch as the trial kicks off
Tuesday‘s proceedings will begin with a debate to dismiss the trial before it even begins. Mr Trump’s lawyers have argued the trial is moot now that he is out of office, and 45 Senate Republicans have already voted once to move forward with an effort to dismiss the trial on those grounds.
The Senate will debate the constitutionality of the trial for four hours on Tuesday and then hold a vote on whether to dismiss it.
The effort to dismiss is expected to fail, allowing arguments in the trial to begin on Wednesday.
Beginning Wednesday, the House managers will present their arguments first. Each side will have up to 16 hours, running no more than eight hours per day.
Defense arguments are likely to begin on Friday. In their main filing with the Senate, Mr Trump’s lawyers made clear that they will not only argue against the trial on process grounds, but also present a full-throated defense of Mr Trump’s actions that day and why they believe he did not incite the riot.
Tom Batchelor9 February 2021 09:07
Key arguments to be used by Trump’s legal team
Donald Trump’s lawyers released a 78-page memorandum on Monday detailing a range of legal and factual arguments that they intend to make at trial.
Here, AP has picked out the main arguments his legal team will make.
TRUMP DID NOT INCITE THE INSURRECTION
Defense lawyers are adamant that Mr Trump did not incite the riot when he addressed a huge crowd of supporters at a rally that preceded it. They accuse House impeachment managers of cherry-picking Mr Trump’s statements from an hourlong speech by highlighting only those that Democrats see as helpful to their case, pointing out repeatedly that he had told his supporters to “peacefully and patriotically make your voices heard”.
The Trump legal team plans to lean on the Constitution in multiple ways, including by arguing that Mr Trump enjoyed First Amendment protections in everything he said to his supporters. “The fatal flaw of the House’s arguments is that it seeks to mete out governmental punishment — impeachment — based on political speech that falls squarely within broad protections of the First Amendment,” the lawyers say.
THE TRIAL ITSELF IS UNCONSTITUTIONAL
This is disputed among legal scholars, but Mr Trump’s legal team plans to argue that the trial itself is unconstitutional because he is no longer in office. They say the Constitution does not extend the power of impeachment against a “private citizen.”
DEMOCRATS HAVE THEIR OWN STATEMENTS AND ACTIONS TO ANSWER FOR
Mr Trump’s lawyers signaled that they’ll look to defend him by invoking other examples of what they say is similar political rhetoric from Democrats. They point to a statement that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi made at a 2018 news conference about the Trump administration’s zero tolerance policy on immigration. “I just don’t even know why there aren’t uprisings all over the country. Maybe there will be,” she said.
Mr Trump’s lawyers resurrect an argument raised during the first impeachment case against him – that House lawmakers rushed through the process without conducting a full investigation or evaluating all the evidence
Tom Batchelor9 February 2021 08:36
Biden to avoid Trump trial
White House press secretary Jen Psaki has said Joe Biden will be occupied with the business of the presidency and would not spend much time watching the televised proceedings.
“He’ll leave it to his former colleagues in the Senate,” she said.
Mr Biden gave an interview on Sunday with CBS when he said he would leave the impeachment process to others.
“Look, I ran like hell to defeat [Donald Trump] because I thought he was unfit to be president,” he said.
“I’ve watched what everybody else watched, what happened when that – that crew invaded the United States Congress.
“But, I’m not in the Senate now. I’ll let the Senate make that decision.”
Tom Batchelor9 February 2021 08:19
Justice Department seeks resignations of Trump’s US attorneys
The Justice Department will ask US attorneys who were appointed by Donald Trump to resign from their posts, as the Biden administration moves to transition to its own nominees, a senior Justice Department official said. But the US attorney overseeing the federal tax probe involving Joe Biden’s son, Hunter Biden, will remain in place.
The acting attorney general, Monty Wilkinson, called US Attorney David Weiss, who runs the federal prosecutor’s office in Delaware, and asked him to remain on the job, the official said.
The transition process, which happens routinely between administrations, is expected to take weeks and would apply to a few dozen US attorneys who were appointed by Mr Trump and confirmed by the Senate.
Many of the federal prosecutors who were nominated by Mr Trump have already left their positions, some in recent weeks.
Tom Batchelor9 February 2021 08:06