The second impeachment trial of former U.S. president Donald Trump begins Tuesday in the Senate.
Trump was impeached by the U.S. House of Representatives nearly four weeks ago for “incitement of insurrection” in connection with the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol that left five people dead.
It was the most bipartisan presidential impeachment in modern times, with 10 Republicans joining the Democrats in the vote to impeach, indicating they believe Trump violated his oath to protect and defend U.S. democracy.
Now, the process moves to the trial stage.
Trump’s defence team will begin by arguing the trial is unconstitutional because Trump is no longer president and because he did not incite the riot.
Trump did tell his supporters at a rally that morning to “fight like hell” and talked about joining them in marching to Capitol Hill, though he didn’t follow through.
No witnesses are expected to be called, in part because the senators sworn as jurors will be presented with footage of the scenes they themselves experienced that day as they were forced to flee to safety.
Here are the main players who will be front and centre in the proceedings.
Trump’s defence team
Trump was forced to quickly replace his original legal team only a week ago. The lawyers who had previously signed on abruptly left, reportedly over Trump’s desired defence strategy of relying on his thoroughly debunked allegations that election fraud cost him the presidency in the Nov. 3 election. He will now rely on two lead lawyers to defend him.
David Schoen is a civil rights and criminal defence lawyer. While he has represented accused rapists, killers and alleged Mafia bosses, he has also been awarded for fighting to change the face of public institutions in the south, according to his website, including the foster care system, public schools, prisons and more.
In 1995, he was a recipient of the American Bar Association’s Pro Bono Publico Award for his commitment to providing volunteer legal services to those in need.
He represented Trump’s former adviser, Roger Stone, who was convicted in 2019 of lying under oath in the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. Trump pardoned Stone weeks before he left office.
Schoen also met with convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein about joining his defence team handling sex trafficking charges just days before the financier killed himself in a New York City jail.
Bruce Castor is a former district attorney from Pennsylvania. His highest profile case was in 2005 when he declined to charge comedian Bill Cosby after Andrea Constand of Toronto, who worked at Temple University in Philadelphia at the time, accused Cosby of drugging and sexually assaulting her in his home.
He lost re-election as district attorney to an opponent who later went on to charge Cosby.
Dozens of other women later came forward with sex-related allegations against Cosby, who was convicted in 2018 of sexually assaulting Constand.
In a statement to The Associated Press upon joining Trump’s defence team, Castor said, “The strength of our constitution is about to be tested like never before in our history. It is strong and resilient. A document written for the ages, and it will triumph over partisanship yet again, and always.”
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The impeachment managers
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi named nine House representatives to argue the case against Trump. All are lawyers and many of them have experience investigating the president.
Rep. Jamie Raskin of Maryland, a former constitutional law professor, is the lead impeachment manager. He wrote the House resolution after the Jan. 6 attack that called on Vice-President Mike Pence to invoke the 25th Amendment and declare Trump unable to complete his term in office. When Pence ruled out doing so, Raskin helped to draft the article of impeachment against Trump.
Of the Jan. 6 riot, Raskin told The Associated Press, “That is the groundwork for fascism, when you add racism, anti-Semitism, conspiracy theory and magical thinking. That is an absolute powder keg in terms of an assault on democracy…. So we have to be very tough, and very strong right now in defending the constitution and democracy.”
The impeachment trial is happening just six weeks after Raskin lost his 25-year-old son to suicide on New Year’s Eve.
Rep. Joaquin Castro is a member of the U.S. House intelligence and foreign affairs committees, where he has been an outspoken critic of Trump’s handling of Russia. He was a litigator in private practice before he was elected to the Texas legislature and later to Congress, where he is in his fifth term.
Rep. David Cicilline of Rhode Island, a former public defender, is in his sixth term in Congress and is a senior member of the House judiciary committee.
He was heavily involved in Trump’s first impeachment and was one of the three original authors of the most recent impeachment article. He and Rep. Ted Lieu began writing the article together, in hiding, as the rioters were still ransacking the Capitol. He tweeted out a draft the next morning. “I have prepared to remove the President from office following yesterday’s attack on the U.S. Capitol,” he wrote.
Rep. Madeleine Dean of Pennsylvania is a lawyer who was first elected when Democrats recaptured the House in 2018. She is also a member of the House judiciary committee. She says she hopes the prosecutors can convince the Senate and the American people “to mark this moment” with a conviction.
“I think I bring to it just the simple fact that I’m a citizen, that I’m a mom and I’m a grandma,” Dean said. “And I want my children, my grandchildren, to remember what we did here.”
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Rep. Diana DeGette, who is serving her 13th term representing Denver, Colo., is a former civil rights attorney and one of Pelosi’s go-to allies. The Speaker picked her to preside over the House during the first impeachment vote in 2019. DeGette said Pelosi trusted her to do it because she is “able to control the passions on the floor.”
She said she was surprised when Pelosi called to offer her the prosecutorial position but quickly accepted. “The monstrosity of this offence is not lost on anybody,” DeGette said.
Rep. Ted Lieu, who authored the article of impeachment with Cicilline and Raskin, is on the judiciary and foreign affairs committees.
The Los Angeles-area lawmaker is a former active-duty officer in the U.S. air force and military prosecutor. “We cannot begin to heal the soul of this country without first delivering swift justice to all its enemies — foreign and domestic,” he said.
Rep. Joe Neguse of Colorado, in his second term, is a rising star in the Democratic caucus who was elected to Pelosi’s leadership team his freshman year in Congress. A former litigator, he sits on the House judiciary committee and consulted with Raskin, Cicilline and Lieu as they drafted the article the day of the attack. At 36, he will be the youngest impeachment manager in history, according to his office.
“This armed mob did not storm the Capitol on any given day, they did so during the most solemn of proceedings that the United States Congress is engaged in,” Neguse said a week later, speaking of the act of certifying the 2020 election results. “Clearly, the attack was done to stop us from finishing our work.”
Delegate Stacey Plaskett does not have voting rights in the House because she represents the U.S. Virgin Islands, as opposed to a state, and so was not able to cast a vote for impeachment. But she will bring her experience as a former district attorney in New York and senior counsel at the U.S. Justice Department.
“Donald J. Trump has been and continues to be a clear and present danger to our republic, to our constitution, and to the people of this nation,” she said in a statement. “I will do my duty and defend our blessed country.”
Rep. Eric Swalwell of California also serves on the intelligence and judiciary committees and was deeply involved in congressional probes of the Trump campaign’s alleged Russian ties. A former prosecutor, he briefly ran for president in 2019.
“The case that I think resonates the most with the American people, and hopefully the Senate, is that our American president incited our fellow citizens to attack our Capitol on a day where we were counting electoral votes, and that this was not a spontaneous call to action by the president at the rally,” Swalwell said.
Other figures to watch
Sen. Mitch McConnell, the Republican Senate minority leader, was one of the strongest figures behind Trump’s acquittal in his first impeachment trial in early 2020.
Initially repulsed by the graphic images of the Jan. 6 attack on Congress, McConnell denounced the violence and pointed blame at Trump. But in late January, he was one of 45 Republican senators who voted in favour of a failed procedural motion seeking to force a vote on the constitutionality of the second Trump impeachment trial. Many of McConnell’s fellow Republicans in Congress have expressed support for Trump, arguing his comments do not make him responsible for the violence and questioning the legitimacy of trying someone no longer in office.
Sen. Chuck Schumer, the Democratic Senate majority leader, will be working to try to rally Republican votes against Trump.
While announcing the timing and structure of the trial Monday, Schumer said, “For the past few weeks, the political right has been searching for a safe harbour. A way to oppose the conviction of Donald Trump without passing judgment on his conduct, to avoid alienating the former president’s supporters without condoning his obviously despicable, unpatriotic, undemocratic behaviour. But the truth is, no such safe harbour exists.”