Former president Donald Trump’s impeachment trial over inciting the January 6 Capitol riot ended Saturday with an acquittal. Below, in reverse chronological order, are updates on the trial and aftermath as it played out.
Pelosi rules out censure, calls GOP senators cowards, and goes after McConnell
The Speaker joined the House managers’ press conference after the verdict and unloaded on the senators who voted to acquit Trump.
“What we saw in that Senate today was a cowardly group of Republicans who apparently have no options, because they were afraid to defend their job, respect the institution in which they serve,” Pelosi said, “What is so important about any one of us? What is so important about the political survival of any one of us than the Constitution we have sworn to protect and defend?”
She also singled out McConnell, rejecting his post-acquittal attack on Trump: “For him to get up there and make this indictment against the president, and say, ‘I can’t vote for it because it’s after the fact’ — [it was ] the fact that he established … that [the article of impeachment] could not be delivered before the inauguration.”
Pelosi also ruled out the possibility of the House voting to censure Trump, remarking that, “We censure people for using stationery for the wrong purpose, we don’t censure people for inciting insurrection that kills people in the Capitol.”
How the seven Republicans who voted to convict Trump later explained their decisions
“The evidence is compelling that President Trump is guilty of inciting an insurrection against a coequal branch of government and that the charge rises to the level of high crimes and misdemeanors,” said Senator Richard Burr, who is retiring at the end of his term in 2022.
Senator Bill Cassidy said he voted “guilty” because that’s what Trump was, and that “Our Constitution and our country is more important than any one person.”
“Instead of preventing a dangerous situation, President Trump created one,” explained Senator Susan Collins, referencing how primed the January 6 crowd of Trump supporters was for violence. “And rather than defend the Constitutional transfer of power, he incited an insurrection with the purpose of preventing that transfer of power from occurring.”
Explained Senator Lisa Murkowski: “If I can’t say what I believe that our president should stand for, then why should I ask Alaskans to stand with me?”
Senator Mitt Romney said the House managers proved their case, adding that Trump incited an insurrection “despite the obvious and well known threats of violence that day. President Trump also violated his oath of office by failing to protect the Capitol, the vice president, and others in the Capitol. Each and every one of these conclusions compels me to support conviction.”
Senator Ben Sasse said he had promised his constituents he would “always vote my conscience even if it was against the partisan stream” and “speak out when a president — even of my own party — exceeds his or her powers.”
And Senator Pat Toomey, who like Burr is set to retire in 2022, framed his decision in a historical context. “A lawless attempt to retain power by a president was one of the founders’ greatest fears motivating the inclusion of the impeachment authorities in the U.S. Constitution,” he said in a statement. “His betrayal of the Constitution and his oath of office required conviction.”
Raskin accepts responsibility for Saturday’s witness-calling walk-back
At a press conference after the verdict, the lead House impeachment manager said he made the decision to cut a deal to avoid calling witnesses in the impeachment trial — after the Senate voted to do so at his urging. It wouldn’t have mattered, he concluded. “We could have had 500 witnesses and it would have not have overcome the kinds of arguments being made by Mitch McConnell and other Republicans who were hanging their hats on the claim that it was somehow unconstitutional,” Raskin explained.
Mitch McConnell gives a post-trial speech suggesting he thinks Trump was guilty — after voting to acquit him
McConnell — who refused to proceed with Trump’s impeachment trial while he was still in office, then called the post-presidency trial unconstitutional, voted to prevent it, and voted to acquit the former president (ostensibly on the same grounds) — delivered a long speech following the verdict in which he condemned Trump. It was the kind of speech he would have been expected to give if he had voted to convict Trump — which he didn’t.
In addition to defending his vote as a matter of constitutionality, McConnell said that there was “no question, none, that President Trump is practically and morally responsible for provoking” what happened on January 6, and that the former president’s “actions that preceded the [Capitol] riot were a disgraceful, disgraceful dereliction of duty.”
The Capitol rioters “believed they were acting on the wishes and instructions of their president,” who “seemed determined to either overturn the voters’ decision, or else torch our institutions on the way out.”
And the rioters “having that belief was a foreseeable consequence of the growing crescendo of false statements, conspiracy theories and reckless hyperbole which the defeated president kept shouting into the largest megaphone on planet earth.”
McConnell also indicated that he believed Trump would still face legal consequences, explaining that “impeachment was never meant to be the final forum for American justice,” and “President Trump is still liable for everything he did while he’s in office. He didn’t get away with anything yet.”
“We have a criminal justice system in this country,” he continued. “We have civil litigation. And former Presidents are not immune from being held accountable by either one.”
Watch the full speech below:
Celebrating the win of a fixed game
Trump releases defiant statement
Following his (partisan preordained) acquittal, the ex-president released a statement in which he thanked those who defended him, reiterated that the impeachment was “another phase of the greatest witch hunt in the history of our country,” and made it clear that he, at least, believes his political career is not over (now that he is not barred from holding office again):
In the months ahead I have much to share with you, and I look forward to continuing our incredible journey together to achieve American greatness for all of our people. … We have so much work ahead of us, and soon we will emerge with a vision for a bright, radiant, and limitless American future.
Here’s the whole statement:
It’s over. Trump has been acquitted.
As expected, not enough Republicans voted to convict Trump to make up the two-thirds majority needed. The final vote was 57-43 to convict.
The seven Republicans who voted “guilty”
Senator Richard Burr (NC)
Senator Bill Cassidy (LA)
Senator Susan Collins (ME)
Senator Lisa Murkowski (AK)
Senator Mitt Romney (UT)
Senator Ben Sasse (NE)
Senator Pat Toomey (PA)
Burr and Cassidy were the surprises.
The Senate is rendering its verdict
ED KILGORE: The vote is on. Senate standing rules stipulate that at the end of an impeachment trial, the roll is called, and each senator stands in her or his place and announces “guilty” or “not guilty” without further elaboration.
Preaching whataboutism for the Mar-a-Lago choir
ED KILGORE: The reliance of Team Trump on whataboutism was underlined one more time by Michael van der Veen, who in the religious-observance absence of David Schoen and the questionable effectiveness of Bruce Castor, seems to be handling the entire closing argument for Trump’s defense. In trying to point fingers everywhere other than at his client, van der Veen cited summer racial justice protests allegedly supported by Democrats as the cause of the January 6 Capitol Riot — a sort of “climate of violence” argument in which the attack on the Capitol was in fact blamed on its victims.
Van der Veen appears determined to end his closing argument with a whine, calling the trial a “circus” and a “show trial” carried out by Democrats “obsessed” with silencing Donald Trump and his supporters. It’s another example of how Team Trump is aiming its words not at the Senate or at persuadable watchers but at MAGA Nation and at Trump himself, giving them fresh evidence for their belief in their own persecution by Democrats and “elites.” Even as he defends Trump’s right to a comeback, he is working to make it more likely.
Flare-ups during closing arguments
There have been some histrionic objections during the House managers’ closing arguments — possibly meant to break up the presentation (and if so, that’s working):
The ex-president is reportedly pleased
No witnesses will be called, following deal
Senators reached a deal to avoid calling witnesses, opting instead to admit Representative Herrera Beutler’s account of the Trump-McCarthy call during the riot — and resume the trial. After the Senate reconvened, lead House impeachment manager Jamie Raskin read Beutler’s statement into the record:
They are now onto closing arguments — and it seems likely they will vote today.
Senate Democrats were blindsided by call for witnesses, too — and may now back down
While Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and his members had prepared for the possibility of voting on witnesses, they got no warning that the lead House prosecutor of former President Donald Trump was about to force a vote that sent the trial spiraling into chaos. The impeachment managers spent Friday night and Saturday morning wrestling with the question themselves, according to Democratic sources.
Then Senate Democrats held a 9 a.m. Saturday conference call where members still indicated they were in the dark about House Democratic managers’ plans. The managers didn’t make the final call to force a Senate vote until minutes before the Senate gaveled in at 10 a.m., Democrats said. …
Schumer had long deferred to the managers: If they wanted to call witnesses, he said Democrats would support it. But he too was personally surprised when the Senate quickly moved to a bipartisan 55-45 vote to consider possible witnesses, Democrats said.
In the end, a deal may be cut to skip witnesses after all, with Democrats settling instead for admitting a statement from Representative Herrera Beutler, per the Associated Press:
Leaders were considering an arrangement that would move the trial back toward a final vote, without live witnesses. …
An agreement was being negotiated that would end the standoff and avoid a prolonged trial. Under the pending deal, Herrera Beutler’s information would be entered into the record in exchange for Democrats dropping their planned deposition. That would allow the trial to resume Saturday with closing arguments and a vote on the verdict. No witnesses would be called under the deal.
With Senate still in recess, Trump’s lawyers and allies are pushing a witness-pocalypse
Since the Senate will have to vote to approve the witnesses, the threats aren’t worth much.
He and other GOP senators also making it clear no gloves are going to fit enough to make a difference:
And then there is the specter of revenge:
Trouble in Trumpland
The calling of witnesses caught everyone by surprise, including the Trump team:
Senator Ron Johnson immediately confronted Romney over his vote to call witnesses
After Raskin says he wants to call Rep. Herrera Beutler, Senate votes 55-45 to allow witnesses
The impeachment trial took a dramatic turn on Saturday. Lead House impeachment manager Jamie Raskin opened the day’s proceedings by referencing Friday night’s news reports that Trump and House minority leader Kevin McCarthy got into a shouting match on the phone while the Capitol riot was underway, and that during that conversation, Trump had not just refused to call off the rioters, but tried to leverage the riot to his benefit. In light of that news, Raskin said House managers wanted to call Washington State Representative Herrera Beutler — the impeachment-supporting GOP congresswoman who had confirmed the call happened and said she had contemporaneous notes recording the details — as a witness.
Trump lawyer Michael van der Veen opposed the request, and threatened to call for countless witnesses himself and drag out the trial as much as possible:
It also led to this embarrassing moment:
Regardless, Senator Lindsey Graham made the same threat:
The Senate then voted on whether to call witnesses, approving the move 55-45. Now they are figuring out how that will work. GOP senators Collins, Murkowski, Romney, and Sasse all supported the call — and Graham later changed his vote to “aye” as well.
McConnell says he’ll vote to aquit
Ahead of Saturday’s proceedings, Senate minority leader told his GOP colleagues in a letter that he would vote to acquit Trump:
No evidence for this claim
Trump’s lawyers just said that the former president was concerned about the safety of Mike Pence during the Capitol riot. If so, it was an internal monologue:
This response may not come as a shock
ED KILGORE: It’s question time, and Senator Bernie Sanders just flatly asked both sides to affirm or deny whether Trump actually won the election by a landslide.
Representative Stacey Plaskett, responding for the House managers, summarized the uniform judgment of the courts, the states, the Justice Department, and Mitch McConnell (among others) that this was indeed a Big Lie.
Trump lawyer Michael Van der Veen contemptuously dismissed the question as irrelevant to the question of “incitement,” and then started down the whataboutism road of claiming that Democrats made challenges to the electoral vote count all the time.
Trump lawyers conclude their defense
As expected, Trump’s attorneys wrapped up their case on Friday afternoon, using only three of the allotted 16 hours. Taking cues from Trump’s playbook, they omitted facts and falsely equated their clients’ rhetoric to that of other elected officials, dismissing the claim that the former president incited the January 6 attack as a “preposterous and monstrous lie.”
Trump’s attorney Bruce Castor highlighted Trump’s call to “peacefully and patriotically” march to the Capitol during the “Stop the Steal” rally. “All of these facts make clear the January 6th speech did not cause the riots. The president did not cause the riots. He neither explicitly or implicitly encouraged the use of violence or lawless action,” Castor said.
Castor failed to mention that Trump invited his supporters to attend the rally on December 19 by tweeting: “Be there, will be wild.”
Trump’s attorneys begin their (brief) defense
Attorneys for former president Donald Trump began their arguments on Friday following two days of presentations from Democratic impeachment managers. Though the defense has 16 hours to make their case, they reportedly plan to use only four hours – which would clear the way for the trial to end as early as Saturday.
Trump’s attorneys argued on Friday that the impeachment trial is “an unjust and blatantly unconstitutional act of political vengeance,” as he is no longer in office.
Attorney David Schoen accused Democratic House managers of having “manipulated evidence and selectively” editing footage of Trump in their presentation – then the went on to play selectively edited clips of Democrats. One lengthy video, which was played more than once, featured Democratic celebrities and elected officials using the word “fight.” The aim was to undercut the accusation that Trump incited the Capitol riot when he told his supporters to “fight like hell” and march down Pennsylvania Avenue to stop the certification of Biden’s win. But the clips omitted the context of Democrats’ remarks, which in many cases were about policy fights.
House managers rest their case
Representative Jamie Raskin wrapped up House Democrats’ case against Trump, saying the evidence clearly shows that he laid the groundwork for the Capitol riot throughout his presidency, instigated the attack in the days leading up to January 6, and then showed no remorse once it happened.
Raskin quoted from Thomas Paine, urging senators to use “common sense” when deciding whether to convict.
“Senators, America, we need to exercise our common sense about what happened,” he said. “Let’s not get caught up in a lot of outlandish lawyers theories here. Exercise your common sense about what just took place in our country.”
Raskin concluded: “Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered, but we have this saving consolation: The more difficult the struggle, the more glorious in the end will be our victory. Good luck in your deliberations.”
Don’t forget that Trump’s January 6 conduct was also incredibly stupid
New York’s Ed Kilgore notes that Trump had an opportunity to save himself from a second impeachment, but he chose to “go fully nuclear at the precise moment when it no longer made any sort of sense.”
It would have been much, much smarter for Trump to have told his people going into the electoral vote count that having been betrayed by Pence, he had no viable options left, and was looking to the future for vindication, while MAGA militants kept their powder dry and focused on waging holy war against the Biden administration and the Democratic Congress. But he went the other way. It’s actually fitting that a president who represented a constant threat to constitutional governance for four long years made his final act another demonstration of his complete recklessness and irresponsibility.
Read the full piece here.
If Trump goes unpunished, we’ll “have no one to blame but ourselves”
Representative Jamie Raskin argued that Trump’s actions on January 6, were a “culmination of the president’s actions, not an aberration from them.” He described how Trump encouraged violence against his political enemies for years, and even continued attacking Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer following a foiled plot to kidnap her in the weeks before the 2020 election.
“My dear colleagues, is there any political leader in this room who believes that if he is ever allowed by the Senate to get back into the Oval Office, Donald Trump would stop inciting violence to get his way?” Raskin asked. “Would you bet the lives of more police officers on that? Would you bet the safety of your family on that? Would you bet the future of your democracy on that?”
Raskin noted that even after the January 6 attack, Trump “declared his conduct totally appropriate.”
“So, if he gets back into office and it happens again, we’ll have no one to blame but ourselves,” he said.
“The attack was done for Donald Trump”
House Democrats began wrapping up their case against Donald Trump on Thursday by countering the defense’s claim that the insurrectionists were acting on their own. “The attack was done for Donald Trump, at his instruction and to fulfill his wishes. Donald Trump had sent them there,” said Representative Diana DeGette.
Democrats presented social media posts and court records to show that many insurrectionists echoed Trump’s messaging during the attack, and said their commander in chief had urged them to gather in Washington.
“We know who lit the fuse,” DeGette said. “They came because he told them to.”
The outlook for the remainder of the trial
ED KILGORE: So the two big questions for the remainder of the impeachment trial are (a) whether Trump’s attorneys bother to try to rebut the massive January 6 evidence the House managers have displayed (with more to come today), or instead stipulate it as irrelevant to their constitutional arguments (post-presidential impeachments are impermissible, Trump’s speech and tweets are protected by First Amendment). They suggested in their brief that they might engage in a massive whataboutism exercise with video of every Democrat who has ever waxed indignant over losing an election. As I’ve noted elsewhere, if they go down that road it will likely bring out the racial dynamics of this fight even more. Question (b) is whether the prosecution feels the need for live witnesses, which could prolong the trial by several days.
The “stay peaceful” tweet
ED KILGORE: Castro then addresses a big data point that’s been cited in Trump’s defense: a tweet well into the attack when Trump finally urged people to respect the police and “stay peaceful.” It was long after things had turned violent, and as Castro notes, multiple Trump allies publicly and privately begged him to condemn the rioters and tell them to stop the attack without ambiguity. A clip of Congressman Mike Gallagher on Fox News comparing the violence to what he had seen in Iraq was shown. Even then, Trump would just tweet a reminder that “WE are the party of Law & Order” and ask the mob to be peaceful. To the extent that Trump was willing to upbraid the people he had riled up for months, it sounded like a tactical tip from the coach rather than an order to stand down. After noting Trump’s lack of involvement in the decision to bring in National Guard units to back up the police, Castro addresses his tweet four-and-a-half hour after the attack began telling the mob to “go home,” after reminding them of the righteousness of their causes and telling them “I love you.” And with their description of Trump’s conduct, the impeachment managers wrapped for the day.
Democrats keep pressing the Pence point
ED KILGORE: Joaquin Castro has returned to the threat to Mike Pence — “a patriot” — showing a clip of the mob at the Capitol chanting “Hang Mike Pence! Hang Mike Pence.” Yet during the attack Trump tweeted about Pence’s lack of courage — in words a mob leader is shown repeating through a bullhorn.At this rate, House impeachment managers are going to wind up giving Pence a good lift towards a future race for office — as a Democrat.
Trump called about stopping the steal, not stopping the attack
ED KILGORE: In a clever move, Cicilline juxtaposed Trump’s first comment on the speech — a tweet with a clip from his inflammatory Ellipse speech earlier — with images of the violence that was unfolding at the Capitol at the time this tweet appeared. This was happening as advisors in the White House and Republican members of Congress were frantically trying to reach him to get him to say something to influence the mob. Like earlier speakers, Cicilline sardonically referred to Trump as the “Commander-in-Chief” in connection with his refusal to defend the Capitol or Congress from his bravos. He also cited reports from the White House that Trump was “borderline enthusiastic” about the chaos in the Capitol and very happy the mob had interrupted the electoral vote count, as he wanted them to do. Trump’s first call to Capitol Hill, says Cicilline, was to Senator Tommy Tuberville, the slack-jawed ultra-MAGA freshman from Alabama, asking him to make sure to further delay the electoral vote count. In another juxtaposition, Cicilline shows that as Trump was talking to Tubs, the mob forced a suspension of the count.
‘The only person he condemned was … Pence’
ED KILGORE: David Cicilline, picking up the impeachment managers’ presentation, is focusing on Trump, and again, is hammering in the point that at a time when he should have been condemning the riot and the rioters, did nothing. “The only person he condemned that day was his own vice president, Mike Pence, who was hiding in the Capitol with his family.”
Swalwell wraps up before a dinner break
The next phase of Swalwell’s presentation focuses on “the experience of the police,” beginning with another tape of police dispatch audio in which a panic-stricken officer is calling for backup as the rioters overwhelm him. Swalwell ended with video of Capitol Police officer Daniel Hodges screaming in agony as he was crushed between rioters who had pushed their way past and over him while entering the building.
More harrowing footage
ED KILGORE: Shifting to the scene in the Senate during the attack, Swalwell shows security footage of senators sprinting towards safety as Capitol police hold back the mob within view of the camera. Another piece of footage showed Chuck Schumer running rapidly from a near-encounter with the rioters. And then he shifted to the familiar images of mob members on the Senate floor, going through desks (again, this is a direct appeal to senatorial pride) as their compatriots bellowed barbarically.
Swalwell shows footage from rioters’ perspective
ED KILGORE:Swalwell has taken over, and is taking the narrative to the point where House members were being advised they were under attack, and were preparing for evacuation, as they could hear the swelling noise of the mob just outside the door. In an interesting twist, Swalwell switches to video taken by the rioters, who were chanting “We Want Trump!” and “Stop the Steal” as they overwhelmed Capitol police. And he then showed previously-released footage of House members in the gallery (where they had been waiting to speak under the House’s social distancing protocols) cowering under their chairs before being evacuated.
In a moment that will likely raise some questions later, Swalwell showed video of rioter Ashli Babbitt being fatally shot by a Capitol police officer after she broke through a window near where Members of Congress were being evacuated. (edited)
Swalwell presents video of Ashli Babbitt’s death
ED KILGORE: Swalwell has taken over, and is taking the narrative to the point where House members were being advised they were under attack, and were preparing for evacuation, as they could hear the swelling noise of the mob just outside the door. In an interesting twist, Swalwell switches to video taken by the rioters, who were chanting “We Want Trump!” and “Stop the Steal” as they overwhelmed Capitol police. And he then showed previously-released footage of House members in the gallery (where they had been waiting to speak under the House’s social distancing protocols) cowering under their chairs before being evacuated.
In a moment that will likely raise some questions later, Swalwell showed video of rioter Ashli Babbitt being fatally shot by a Capitol police officer after she broke through a window near where Members of Congress were being evacuated.
ED KILGORE: Plaskett is playing very directly on the institutional self-esteem of Congress in documenting in detail the “desecration” of Capitol offices by the MAGA mob, including a brief video of the now-infamous rioter Richard Barnett boasting that he left the Speaker a note calling her a “bitch” after lolling around at her desk (with, Plaskett noted, a stun gun on his hip).
Senators are watching the new footage closely
ED KILGORE: The reaction to the new video footage within the Senate chamber is described by New York Times reporter Luke Broadwater on the paper’s live-blog:
Senators of both parties sat in rapt attention as the impeachment managers played videos and never-before-heard audio of radio communications from Capitol Police on the day of the insurrection. Many Senators strained to get a better view. In the back row on the Democratic side, Senators Mark Warner of Virginia and Michael Bennett of Colorado got out of their seats and stood up to watch. Warner paced behind his.
On the Republican side, senators showed little emotion, but were paying close attention. Many turned their heads away from the video screens only to take notes.
Luke adds: The volume inside the chamber is downright deafening. Any senator not watching the video presentations is without question hearing it, very loudly.
The racial dynamic
ED KILGORE: While Plaskett is focusing on dramatic footage of Capitol police trying to distract the mob from the Senate chamber and of Pence being evacuated to safety as rioters looked for him, there’s a racial dynamic going on as well: a Black congressional delegate showing footage of a Black police officer battling white mob members, mostly wearing MAGA caps and one famously carrying a Confederate flag.
Previously unseen video of Pence evacuating the Capitol
Plaskett used a model to show that rioters were feet away from Pence as he was being evacuated
New security footage shows Officer Eugene Goodman directing Senator Mitt Romney to safety
Previously unheard audio introduced
ED KILGORE: Plaskett just played previously unreleased audio of Capitol Hill police in full panic as the mob broke down the security perimeter and injured officers, and then video of hand-to-hand combat between police and rioters. She’s using a model of the Capitol to show the mob’s progress towards the House and Senate chambers where Congress was reviewing electoral vote objections by Trump allies.
Using new security footage, Plaskett shows the mob breaking through the windows from inside the Capitol, noting some of the first rioters through the breech were in full tactical armors and/or riot shields. She then pauses in the video evidence to draw a parallel between the attacks and September 11. I would note myself that on 9/11 I was standing on Pennsylvania Avenue SE and watched members of Congress walk away from the Capitol (which many thought was about to be attacked) in scenes echoed by the January 6 evacuation.
New video imminent
ED KILGORE: In a long-awaited moment, Plaskett and Swalwell are about to unveil new, disturbing video of the attacks. Trigger warnings are being sent out to Hill staff.
A break in the proceedings
ED KILGORE: Jamie Raskin asked for another short break immediately after Dean closed her remarks with an emotional description of the breach of Capitol security as Trump’s voice rang in the ears of the mob. Now Dean’s words will ring in senators’ ears until the break ends.
Dean examines Trump’s words in the hours before the riot
ED KILGORE: Dean is back up to focus on January 6 itself, and notes that Trump fired off 34 tweets on the morning before the Ellipse rally, all of them inflammatory. As she explains, much of his anger was aimed at Pence, accompanied by blatant lies about Pence’s authority during the electoral vote count. And in addition to the tweets, Dean notes, 12 speakers preceded Trump in urging the crowd to “stop the steal,” followed by Trump’s own 70-minute speech. Hard to imagine all these furious words somehow fall short of incitement.
Dean also addressed the big defense argument that Trump told the “Stop the Steal” crowd to “peacefully and patriotically” protest the electoral vote count at the Capitol. As she pointed out, he said “peacefully” once and “fight” 21 times, and deployed video of the crowd listening to him and getting psyched up to storm the Capitol. She also noted that Trump in the same speech argued “very different rules” were available to fraud-fighters like those in the mob.
Trump’s failure to discourage election violence
ED KILGORE: Again and again, the House impeachment managers are stressing that Trump had an affirmative obligation under his oath of office to stop threats of violence related to his efforts to reverse the election returns. Obviously he failed to do that on more occasions than you can count, whether or not you accept the evidence showing he actively encouraged the Capitol attacks. He knew the attacks were imminent or likely, and that these were people who regarded themselves as his “cavalry.” So why did he never say a discouraging word? It’s a hard question for Trump’s attorneys to answer.
A reminder about the mob’s view of Republicans
ED KILGORE: Pretty clever of Plaskett to feature video of Million MAGA March participants chanting “Destroy the GOP! Destroy the GOP!” It makes the Republicans excuses for Trump look rather feckless.
Plaskett makes the case against Trump, though she couldn’t vote on it
ED KILGORE: The inclusion of U.S. Virgin Islands Delegate Stacey Plaskett in the House Impeachment Mangers team is interesting in part because her limited powers did not include the ability to vote on the article of impeachment that led to this trial.
Her job in today’s presentation is to focus on the immediate run up to January 6. She is placing special emphasis on Trump’s refusal ever to discourage — and his frequent words to encourage — violence on January 6 knowing it was in the works. Again, the idea is to undermine the argument that Trump was just expressing his opinion on and before January 6, just like the small and scattered groups of Democrats in past cycles who challenged electoral vote counts. Plaskett offered a detail that hasn’t been publicized much: the Proud Boys adopted Trump’s instruction to them to “stand back and stand by” as an official slogan in preparation for their prominent role in the “stop the steal” effort.
Lieu looks at Trump’s efforts to pressure administration officials
ED KILGORE: Ted Lieu’s portion of the presentation focuses on Trump’s failed efforts to force members of his administration to validate his election fraud claims and to intervene to overturn the results, including loyalists like William Barr, Jeffrey Rosen, and finally Mike Pence. It’s all familiar territory, but it provides an implicit refutation of the claim David Schoen yesterday that the impeachment effort is strictly a partisan exercise.
Dean highlights Trump’s efforts to block state certification of Biden’s win
ED KILGORE: After a break, the House impeachment managers’ presentation continued with Pennsylvania’s Madeleine Dean, who is focusing on Trump’s direct efforts to intervene in the certification of Biden’s victory in key states (e.g., Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Georgia). A clever gambit was showing video of Georgia election official Gabriel Sterling warning back in November that Trump’s public attacks on vote-counters were dangerous: “Somebody’s going to get hurt. Somebody’s going to get shot. Somebody’s going to get killed.” Dean paused dramatically as the video ended, letting the implications for January 6 sink in.
Castro, Swalwell say MAGA mobs acted on Trump’s orders before Capitol riot
ED KILGORE: Joaquin Castro and Eric Swalwell, who are addressing Trump’s long preparations for January 6 beginning before the election, are carefully establishing a pattern of MAGA folk responding instantly and sometimes violently to Trump’s instructions to “stop the steal.” This began to manifest itself in the days immediately after the election when Trump was demanding that vote-counting be halted, and his supporters promptly showed up at election offices in key states, many of them armed, repeating Trump’s key-phrases verbatim in purpled-faced rage. Video of Trump fans shrieking “stop the count!” at beleaguered election officials are a good response to his attorneys’ claims he was just expressing his opinion on January 6. Trump speaks, and his “base” reacts in pavlovian manner. It’s a good way to establish he was practicing “incitement” then and earlier. And as Swalwell pointed out, Trump could have stopped the violence and intimidation any time he wanted — but never did.
Neguse: Trump incitement began before 1/6
ED KILGORE: In previewing the impeachment managers’ case, Joe Neguse is doing an impressive job of putting Trump’s January 6 speech in the context of Trump’s long campaign to delegitimize his election defeat, which began long before the election itself. He showed that the January 6 riot aimed at disrupting the confirmation of Biden’s win by Congress was simply the last stage in the process that began with his predictions that Democrats could only win by stealing the election, and continued with court challenges soon after the election, intimidation of state legislators to seek their intervention, communications with state election officials to change the returns, and then pressure on Mike Pence to refuse to recognize Biden electors. Neguse could have even begun his narrative of Trump’s consistent efforts to rig the election earlier, with the president’s attacks on voting by mail in the spring of 2020. But it’s clear the House managers won’t let Trump’s counsel simply focus on the January 6 speeches and tweets and treat them as one-off “opinions” protected by the First Amendment.
Raskin: Trump showed solidarity with mob
ED KILGORE: Jamie Raskin in his opening of the impeachment managers’ case went right at one of the stronger arguments made by Trump’s defenders: that his tweet after the attacks on the Capitol urging his supporters to go home peacefully undercut his solidarity with the mob. As Raskin noted, Trump chose to tell the rioters he loved them, rather than reassuring the country that Congress was safe and the insurrection had been quelled.
Raskin also quoted Liz Cheney’s famous framing of her vote for impeachment: “There has never been a greater betrayal by a President of the United States of his office and his oath to the Constitution.”
Trial expected to go late
ED KILGORE: There were rumors, and probably false hopes, that after yesterday’s rout, House impeachment managers might give up a big chunk of their 16 hours of argument time over the next two days, providing a more manageable schedule for all involved. Chuck Schumer’s notice at the beginning of today’s trial session that the Senate planned to take a 45-minute dinner break tonight was not a good sign for an early adjournment.
House managers to show new Capitol security footage
House impeachment managers plan to follow up their effective use of a Capitol riot video montage by unveiling previously unseen security footage of the attack during Tuesday’s proceedings. According to CNN, the new evidence will “demonstrate the extent of the violence that occurred and the threat the rioters posed to everyone in the Capitol.” Senior aides to the House impeachment team said it would be part of a presentation focused on the “extreme violence” that took place on January 6. They did not offer further details, or say whether the footage came from Capitol Police or Washington, D.C.’s Metropolitan Police.
Trump thought his defense team did a terrible job, too
Trump has been banned from social media, but as New York’s Benjamin Hart notes we still know he was angry about his attorneys’ performance thanks to various “well-sourced news reports about his rage.” Here’s a sample from the New York Times:
Mr. Trump, who often leaves the television on in the background even when he is holding meetings, was furious, people familiar with his reaction said.
On a scale of one to 10, with 10 being the angriest, Mr. Trump “was an eight,” one person familiar with his reaction said.
And while he was heartened that his other lawyer, Mr. Schoen, gave a more spirited performance, Mr. Trump ended the day frustrated and irate, the people familiar with his reaction said.
Read the rest of Trump’s reported reactions here.
The Republican reviews for Trump’s day-one defense are not good
Senator Bill Cassidy, the only Republican to flip on whether or not the trial was constitutional in Tuesday’s vote (from the last one, two weeks ago), made it clear afterwards that the House had made its case, unlike the Trump team:
Other Republicans lined up on Bruce Castor, the Trump attorney who led off the afternoon defense:
And the ex-president on trial was reportedly not pleased, either:
Only one additional GOP senator flips on vote to proceed
ED KILGORE: The vote on the constitutionality of the impeachment trial is 56-44; it only needed a simple majority to allow the trial to proceed. Six Republicans crossed the aisle to support the Democrats on this issue: Bill Cassidy, Susan Collins, Lisa Murkowski, Mitt Romney, Ben Sasse, and Pat Toomey. Cassidy was the only one of that group who flipped from the vote two weeks ago on a motion to dismiss the article of impeachment made by Rand Paul. This is still far short of the 17 Republican votes who would be necessary to secure a conviction, and we should not assume the six Republicans who voted to let the Senate try the case will ultimately vote “guilty.”
The Senate is now in recess until noon on Wednesday, when it will begin four long days of arguments over the article of impeachment on the merits now that jurisdiction has been established. Each day is supposed to last eight hours, unless today’s yield-back of time set a merciful precedent.
House managers don’t rebut
ED KILGORE: Representative Raskin, perhaps indicating that he’s pretty far ahead on points, yields back 33 minutes of the impeachment managers’ time, and suddenly the question has been called, at only 5:00 PM.
Schoen gets technical, then ends with odd unity call
ED KILGORE: As a corollary to the argument that you cannot impeach and convict a former president, Schoen is arguing that the impeachment represents a constitutionally prohibited “bill of attainder” against a private individual.
In another argument, that a bar on future office is inseparable from the penalty of removal in impeachment, Schoen relies heavily on one respected if rigidly conservative jurist, Michael Luttig, but also on Ken Starr, whose name doesn’t inspire awe and respect even in Republican circles these days. It’s a curious choice of authority.
Schoen concludes with a fairly incongruous unity pitch, quoting Lincoln and Longfellow. These are two people about as distant in spirit from his client as anyone you could find.
A due process rehash from Schoen
ED KILGORE: David Schoen is basically regurgitating the arguments made by House Republicans during the impeachment debate about a “snap impeachment,” and recasting them as violations of due process. It’s fascinating at this point how little time Trump’s lawyers are devoting to the issue of whether the constitutional impeachment power expires when a president leaves office.
About 25 minutes into his argument, and well over halfway through the time for Trump’s side, Schoen is finally transitioning to what most thought would be the primary controversy in today’s debate: the question of whether a former federal official can still be convicted on articles of impeachment. Perhaps since 45 Republican senators have already publicly endorsed Trump’s position, he didn’t feel much need to beat a dead horse.
This might not be the solid argument Schoen thinks it is
MATT STIEB: As part of his defense of the former president, defense attorney David Schoen argued that convicting Trump after he left office could establish a dangerous precedent and further divide the nation. “This trial will tear this country apart, perhaps like we have only seen once before in our history,” Schoen said, referring to the Civil War. However, that argument ignores the likelihood that most presidents will not incite their supporters to attack federal property as one of their final acts. And as Media Matter’s Zachary Pleat notes, “threatening that your client’s supporters will pursue even worse violence/domestic terrorism” may not be the right approach to defend against a count of inciting insurrection.
The Trump team unveils their own video
ED KILGORE: Schoen attempted to offer an equivalent to the House managers’ videos of January 6: a cavalcade of images of Democratic pols calling for Trump’s impeachment prior to his actual impeachment in 2019. The overwhelming majority of these images were of non-white Democrats, which probably had some Trump fans watching at home saying “Uh Huh,”
Trump’s other lawyer mercifully takes over
ED KILGORE: In what was undoubtedly the most inelegant segue in the history of impeachment trials, Castor spent about 10 minutes meandering into a conclusion, and then handed off the presentation to David Schoen, saying: “Mr. Schoen? Are you ready? Now that I’ve taken up most of his time….”
After Castor’s orotund Senate-o-philia, it was jarring to hear Schoen immediately, loudly denounce Democrats as partisans “seeking to remove Donald Trump from American political life” and trying to disenfranchise his voters. Schoen then goes directly into a comparison of the impact of the trial to the Civil War. No beating around the bush for Schoen.
Castor’s defense is an attack on attention spans
ED KILGORE: My earlier description of Castor’s style as “folksy” was too generous. He’s frankly pretty terrible, spending many minutes on irrelevant historical matters and strained compliments to the Senate and the opposition, pursuing arguments that sort of trail off, and stumbling over his own words.
Castor did sort of cut to the chase by claiming the whole trial was based on Democrats’ fear of a Trump comeback, but unfortunately, stopping a Trump comeback has not been raised by the impeachment managers. They have instead said it’s the sole remaining way to hold Trump accountable.
Star Trump attorney is not a fan of his successor
Castor defends Marjorie Taylor Greene, too?
ED KILGORE: In what is apparently an introduction of Team Trump’s first amendment argument, Castor twice objected to the idea that a member of Congress recently had to “walk back” her comments. This is apparently an allusion to Marjorie Taylor Greene. Don’t believe he should be bringing her up right now.
Trump lawyer responds with bizarre opening appeal
ED KILGORE: Bruce Castor is up first for Trump as “lead counsel,” and begins with a grace note about Raskin’s emotional presentation, and an assurance that Team Trump shares its opponents’ horror at the January 6 attacks. So even Trump’s lawyers aren’t going to stick strictly to the constitutional argument in this phase of the trial, and know they have to distance their client from what happened as much as is possible. Castor appeals to the lawyers in the Senate for recognition that the law sets a different standard of accountability than might be derived from normal human reaction to events. His style is folksy, as one might expect as a former elected official (a district attorney in suburban Philadelphia, and an acting state Attorney General), and he appears to be alternating between flattery of his senatorial audience and reminders that their responsibilities in the case militate against partisanship.
Not sure if Castor’s opening remarks are intended to set a calming tone, or are simply extended throat-clearing.
A representative example:
Not that any of it matters to nearly half of the jurors
CNN’s Manu Raju notes on Twitter:
[Republican Senator] Roger Wicker just told me that “Democrats sent a better team” this time than 2020, calling them “very eloquent.” But he told me “no” nothing changed his mind on the constitutionality question. He thinks it’s not constitutional to try a former president. Heading into the trial this afternoon, some GOP senators said no matter what they heard minds wouldn’t be changed. “No,” Ron Johnson said when asked if anything could change his mind. “Is there anything that could change Democrats’ minds about the whole thing? Probably not.”
Raskin almost breaks down recalling his family’s experience on January 6
ED KILGORE: Raskin closed the initial presentation of House impeachment managers (they are reserving some time for rebuttal) on an emotional note, with his own experience from January 6, the day after he buried a 25-year-old son who had died by suicide. He brought two of his surviving kids with him to the Capitol on January 6. After receiving visits from colleagues from both parties who expressed sympathy for his loss, he and his family experienced the fear and horror of the attack. Barely controlling his voice, Raskin accused Trump’s attorneys of “inventing” a “January exception” from the accountability normally afforded by impeachment in order to shield the former president.
Now it’s Rep. Cicilline’s turn
ED KILGORE: The third impeachment manager to speak today, David Cicilline of Rhode Island (one of the original cosponsors of the impeachment resolution in the House), has returned to the events of January 6 as compelling the Senate to hold a trial to guarantee accountability. Attributing murderous intent towards Members of Congress on the part of the mob, Ciccilline cites Trump’s tweets as evidence of his solidarity with the rioters he incited. And addressing the claim that Democrats are now persecuting a private citizen, he notes that Trump himself insists on being addressed as a former president, and is given significant privileges under the Former Presidents Act.
Rep. Neguse takes on Trump legal team’s argument against ban on future office
ED KILGORE: In discussing the Belknap case, Neguse is addressing a second argument Trump’s attorneys will raise: that the remedy the House is pursuing, a ban on future office, is only available after a conviction and removal from office. Quoting a Republican senator in the Belknap trial (“He was sitting where Senator Grassley is sitting today”), Neguse argues that the two remedies are alternatives, not successive steps. He describes “removal from office” as an analogous to a “mandatory minimum.” He’s sprinkling his argument with quotes from constitutional experts, most of them conservatives, and some of them cited in Trump’s brief.
How senators reacted to the video
TIME’s Lissandra Villa noted her observations in a Twitter thread:
[Senator Susan] Collins took notes. Rand Paul appeared not to watch, but appeared to be writing in a notepad as it played. Some folks sat stock-still, like McConnell and Romney. I didn’t see any visible reaction from Senators like McConnell and Lankford, who made appearances in the video.
On Dem side, Menendez and Reed sat on the edges of their seats, also perfectly still. Booker had a wrinkled brow and Gillibrand at one point had her head in one hand and just kind of looked in shock. …
[O]verall it was just a really bizarre and poignant video to see and hear play out, obviously on high volume in the chamber.
Rep. Neguse takes over
ED KILGORE: The second impeachment manager to appear, Joe Neguse of Colorado, is going into the precedents supporting the constitutionality of an impeachment trial after its target has left office. The most important is the trial of former Secretary of War William Belknap, impeached for corruption in 1876. Belknap resigned in order to avoid an impeachment and a trial, the House impeached him and the Senate went ahead with a full trial (he was ultimately acquitted, but after the Senate confirmed its power to convict him).
The quotable Rep. Raskin
After showing the video of the riot:
There was also this line:
The Trump team is responding on Twitter (yes, they still have a non-suspended account)
Rep. Raskin shows dramatic video evidence of the attack
ED KILGORE: Though the initial segment of the trial is focused on the constitutional question, Raskin began showing video and audio of the rioters and of Trump from January 6 to show why it’s important to hold Trump accountable, describing the other side’s argument as a “January exception” to the normal rules governing impeachment and conviction.
Here’s the full video:
The trial is underway
ED KILGORE: The Senate has now begun the first phase of the trial, the four-hour debate on the constitutionality of an impeachment trial for a president who is no longer in office. Impeachment manager Jamie Raskin is kicking off the argument for its constitutionality.
ED KILGORE: The first item of business in the impeachment trial was the final version of the resolution setting out the timeline under an agreement worked out by Chuck Schumer and Mitch McConnell. It resolves the one major timing mystery created by a planned but then rescinded break for Saturday to accommodate Trump’s attorney David Schoen’s religious observances. Now the trial will run through the weekend, with sessions on Saturday and on Sunday, and (if necessary) on Monday, which is President’s Day. The odds of a quick trial have gone up, in other words.
What today will look like
ED KILGORE: The first day of the second Trump impeachment trial is in many respects a rerun of the brief debate and vote on January 26 on a motion by Rand Paul to short-circuit the trial on grounds that it was unconstitutional to convict an ex-president. He was joined by 44 Republicans, including Mitch McConnell, in a gesture intended to show Democrats did not and would not have the votes to convict Trump, at a time when there was a lot of media buzz about McConnell possibly leading a Senate Republican exodus from the Trump camp. We’ll hear a lot of words from both sides today on the arcane constitutional law question of post-presidential punishment for presidential misconduct, and whether the desired sanction of a ban on future officeholding is possible in that case. But in the end the vote is unlikely to change from the 55-45 (all the Democrats and five Republicans) who voted against Paul’s motion. And so the trial will go on.
Trump is reportedly enjoying the silence
Anonymous Trump World sources keep claiming that our attention-seeking former president is actually loving his social media exile. Per Playbook:
As Republicans get ready to beat back a DONALD TRUMP impeachment conviction for the second time, sources close to the former president say he’s already imagining his comeback.
“He’s compared it to that time in between seasons of ‘The Apprentice,’ building anticipation and wonderment for what’s to come,” one adviser told us of the period between his White House exit, eventual acquittal and his second act.
Other Trump advisers said he has revelled in his silence on Twitter — expressing amazement at how much coverage his few public statements have garnered.
“He finally realizes less is more,” one of them said.
There’s little evidence of Trump ever coming to profound personal realizations, but who knows?
Senate leaders reach agreement on trial schedule
Politico has the details:
The agreement between Schumer and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, in conjunction with the House impeachment managers and Trump’s lawyers, will allow up to four hours of arguments on Tuesday about the constitutionality of putting a former president on trial. The Senate will then vote on whether the trial is constitutional. …
Beginning on Wednesday, each side will have up to 16 hours to lay out their case, spread out over two days per side. Senators will then have four hours to pose questions to the House managers and Trump’s attorneys.
The agreement also allows for the House managers to ask for a debate and subsequent votes on whether to call witnesses — a provision specifically requested by the managers, Schumer said. Later, each side will have two hours to present closing arguments.
The vote on whether or not to convict Trump could happen early next week.
Who will be watching?
On Monday, President Biden declined to state what result he hoped from the impeachment, only that the Senate should “work that out.” White House press secretary Jen Psaki also suggested the president’s schedule on Tuesday would be too packed for him to pay close attention.
On the other side of the aisle, many of Trump’s most ardent supporters have moved on from the historic event, according to Politico:
The biggest impeachment story on Breitbart’s home page tabloid spread on Monday wasn’t even about Trump: It was, instead, about Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) calling for the impeachment of Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.).
Against that backdrop — unlike with Trump’s initial impeachment trial — MAGA adherents are treating the second Senate trial as something of a sideshow, one that distracts from their ultimate goals.
Rank-and-file Trump supporters, for example, have pivoted away from voter fraud and are instead zeroing in on what they claim are Biden’s innumerable hypocrisies.
House managers call B.S. on Trump defense
ED KILGORE: In a response to the Answer to the article of impeachment filed by Trump’s lawyers last week, the House impeachment managers scornfully addressed the claim that the 45th president was encouraging peaceful protest in his remarks to the January 6 mob that would soon attack the Capitol: “When President Trump demanded that the armed, angry crowd at his Save America Rally ‘fight like hell’ or ‘you’re not going to have a country anymore,’ he wasn’t urging them to form political action committees about ‘election security in general.’”
Trump team files pre-trial brief
ED KILGORE: The formal pre-trial brief of Team Trump doesn’t break any new ground left unaddressed in their Answer to the impeachment article last week. But it does offer some heated rhetoric about Democrats’ “fevered hatred of Citizen Trump” (a term designed to constantly remind readers he is no longer president) and their alleged “Trump Derangement Syndrome,” which are the kind of language not often found in a legal brief.
The brief again argues that trying and convicting an ex-president is unconstitutional, and that the punishment the House seeks, of a bar on holding future office, is only available after an impeached and convicted president has been removed from office, not after his term ends. It further argues that conviction would violate Trump’s First Amendment right to protest the confirmation of his electoral defeat and urge others to protest as well.
If there’s anything new in the brief, it’s probably a detailed refutation of the charge that Trump was responsible for the Capitol riot. It relies on claims the Capitol protest was planned well before Trump spoke, and that Democrats are importing earlier Trump conduct to accuse him of specific acts he did not perform.
56 percent of Americans want conviction, says new poll
That level of narrow support, revealed in an ABC News/Ipsos poll released Sunday, is up from last month, per ABC:
Compared to public attitudes in the early days of his first impeachment trial, support for the Senate convicting Trump is higher now. In an ABC News/Washington Post poll published in late January 2020, when the first trial was ongoing but before senators had voted, 47% of Americans said the Senate should vote to remove Trump from office and 49% said he should not be removed.
But in this latest poll, 56% of Americans say Trump should be convicted and barred from holding office again, and 43% say he should not be. The new poll was conducted by Ipsos in partnership with ABC News using Ipsos’ KnowledgePanel.
Cell-phone data shows how Trump rally became Capitol riot
This revealing motion infographic, produced by the New York Times using purported smartphone location data from January 6, illustrates the link between the Stop the Steal rally Trump held near the White House and the subsequent attack on Congress:
Charlie Warzel and Stuart A. Thompson explained Friday in a Times op-ed that they received the data set from “a source” (presumably in the tech industry) who was outraged about the attack:
The data we were given showed what some in the tech industry might call a God-view vantage of that dark day. It included about 100,000 location pings for thousands of smartphones, revealing around 130 devices inside the Capitol exactly when Trump supporters were storming the building. Times Opinion is only publishing the names of people who gave their permission to be quoted in this article.
About 40 percent of the phones tracked near the rally stage on the National Mall during the speeches were also found in and around the Capitol during the siege — a clear link between those who’d listened to the president and his allies and then marched on the building.
They also note how troubling it is that the data exists at all, pointing to the need to regulate tech companies so they cannot collect it.
One of Trump’s lawyers asks for and gets potential Sabbath pause
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has approved a request from Trump attorney David Schoen to pause the impeachment trial for the Jewish Sabbath. That means there will be no impeachment proceedings from sundown Friday to sundown Saturday, should the trial not be concluded by then.
However, on Tuesday, as Ed Kilgore explains, Schoen asked the Senate to “rescind the Saturday break on grounds that other Trump lawyers can handle the load on the Sabbath. If they agree with this amended request, it’s unclear whether the trial will now break for Sunday as in past impeachment trials.”
Will there be witnesses?
That is still being determined, Politico reported Sunday:
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell are still haggling over how to organize the trial, so it’s not even certain whether the Senate will vote on the witness question at all, or if someone will force one at the start of the trial. But for the moment, the trial is not expected to last more than a week, though that could change if witnesses are brought in …
[Senate Democrats] will largely defer to the House impeachment managers on the question of witnesses. The managers have yet to publicly say whether they want to bring in outside witnesses to make their case against Trump, or whether they will simply rely on video and public comments from the former president as evidence. Lead impeachment manager Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.) called on Trump Thursday to testify but the ex-president rejected the request.
The New York Times noted Sunday that House managers seem to be leaning toward presenting evidence, instead:
Armed with lessons from the first impeachment trial of Mr. Trump, when even Democratic senators complained the arguments were repetitive and sometimes sanctimonious, the prosecutors managing his second are prepared to complete the proceeding in as little as a week, forgo distracting fights over witnesses and rely more heavily on video, according to a half-dozen people working on the case. …
This time, a new group of nine Democratic managers need reach back only a year to study the lessons of Mr. Schiff’s prosecution: Don’t antagonize Republicans, use lots and lots of video and, above all, make succinct arguments to avoid lulling the jury of lawmakers into boredom or distraction.
Impeachment or no, Biden aims to restrict Trump’s access to U.S. intelligence
In a CBS Evening News interview set to air after the Super Bowl on Sunday night, President Biden said he did not think he would allow his predecessor the classified intelligence briefings that former presidents traditionally have access to, citing Trump’s untrustworthiness. Calling Trump erratic, Biden suggested the ex-president “might slip and say something” about the information. The White House later clarified that they had not made a change in policy, and that whether or not Trump’s requests for intelligence briefings would be granted would be a decision left to intelligence officials if and when those requests are made.
This post will be updated to include new reporting and analysis.