The 5 biggest takeaways from the first day of Trump's Senate impeachment trial over the Capitol insurrection

  • There were five big takeaways from the first day of Trump’s impeachment trial.
  • Rep. Jamie Raskin gave an emotional speech recalling being trapped in the Capitol with his family.
  • Trump’s lawyer Bruce Castor Jr. was ridiculed online for his rambling opening statement.
  • Another Republican senator defected to vote with Democrats on the constitutionality of Trump’s trial.
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The first day of former President Donald Trump’s second Senate impeachment trial has officially wrapped.

Tuesday’s debate focused on determining the constitutionality of holding an impeachment trial in the first place, given that Trump is no longer in office.

The House of Representatives impeached Trump last month on a charge of incitement of insurrection related to the deadly Capitol siege on January 6. Several people died, and Trump is accused of spurring the violence on by peddling lies about the 2020 election and urging his fans to march to the Capitol to stop Congress from finalizing President Joe Biden’s victory.

Here are the 5 biggest takeaways from Day 1 of the Senate trial

  • The House managers’ argument: There is no “January exception” to impeachment because it would mean a president could do anything they wanted in their final days with absolute immunity. Trump’s actions are impeachable because he undertook them while in office, the House managers said. Removal from office is not the only objective of impeachment because being barred from holding office in the future is also a possibility.
  • The defense’s argument: Trump’s defense lawyers, meanwhile, argued that even holding a trial is unconstitutional because Trump is no longer in office and therefore cannot be removed via an impeachment trial. They also argued that Trump was deprived of due process in the proceedings and that the Senate is not the appropriate jurisdiction to “try” Trump.
  • A notable Republican defection: At the end of Tuesday’s debate, there was a vote to determine the constitutionality of Trump’s impeachment trial. In a previous motion on the matter, five Republican senators — Lisa Murkowski, Susan Collins, Mitt Romney, Pat Toomey, and Ben Sasse — broke ranks and voted with their Democratic colleagues to declare Trump’s trial constitutional. On Tuesday, another GOP senator, Bill Cassidy of Louisiana, defected to join Democrats and his colleagues. Fifty-six senators voted that the trial was constitutional, while 44 voted that it was not.
  • Lead impeachment manager Jamie Raskin teared up recounting being trapped in the Capitol: Raskin gave an emotional speech on the Senate floor during which he recalled what it was like being in the Capitol with his daughter and son-in-law during the siege. It was one day after Raskin and his family buried his son, Tommy, who died by suicide on New Year’s Eve.
    • He choked up as he described his “kids hiding under the desk, placing what they thought were their final texts and whispered phone calls to say their goodbyes. They thought they were going to die.”
  • Trump’s lawyer was brutally mocked for a long and meandering opening statement: Bruce Castor Jr.’s lengthy, rambling statement raised eyebrows across the internet as lawyers, constitutional experts, and members of the public questioned where he was going.
    • Alan Dershowitz, the conservative lawyer who defended Trump in his first impeachment trial, said on Newsmax that Castor had “no argument,” adding, “I have no idea what he is doing.”
    • The conservative lawyer Jonathan Turley, who testified for Trump during his first impeachment, tweeted, “This was not an auspicious start for the defense today. The House was more polished and effective. The defense will need to tighten the narrative and focus the points going forward.”
    • Steve Vladeck, a professor at the University of Texas School of Law, echoed that sentiment, tweeting, “Castor’s rambling, incoherent, and inaccurate opening speech is a perfect microcosm for this proceeding: The facts, law, and Constitution are all on the House’s side—and none of that’s going to matter because enough Republicans are nevertheless going to let Trump off the hook.”
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