Democratic lawmakers prosecuting Donald Trump are set to detail their case against him Wednesday, in a longshot bid to convince sceptical Republican senators they should impeach the former president.
Trump’s second impeachment trial opened Tuesday with Democrats showing harrowing video footage of his supporters’ January 6 assault on the US Capitol, where they smashed down doors, broke into the Senate chamber and led riots that left five people dead.
Trump faces a single charge of inciting the insurrection after he told enraged Republican supporters near the White House to “fight like hell.”
Securing a conviction is highly unlikely, as the Democrats would need 17 Republican senators to vote with them to make a two-thirds majority.
So far, only six Republicans have agreed that the trial is even constitutional in the first place.
Following Tuesday’s opening statements from Democratic “impeachment managers” and Trump’s lawyers, both sides will flesh out their cases starting Wednesday, with the Democrats going first.
Under impeachment rules, each side is allowed up to 16 hours over two days to present their case, starting at noon (1700 GMT).
Senators will also be given a total of four hours for questioning.
– Narrowly bipartisan vote –
On Tuesday, senators voted 56-44 in favor of the constitutionality of the historic trial, rejecting a bid by Trump’s lawyers to throw it out on grounds that a former president cannot be tried by lawmakers.
Earlier, both sides presented their opening cases, with Democrats arguing that Trump broke his oath in a naked bid to retain power after losing the November election to Joe Biden.
Refusing to accept his defeat, Trump spread lies about vote-rigging and repeatedly pressured officials, including then vice president Mike Pence, to try and stop the transfer of power.
“If Congress were to just stand completely aside in the face of such an extraordinary crime against the Republic, it would invite future presidents to use their power without any fear of accountability,” Democratic impeachment manager Joe Neguse said.
Video from the mayhem played back inside the ornate Senate packed Tuesday’s biggest punch.
Senators — who witnessed the events firsthand when they had to be rushed to safety — watched raw footage of Trump’s speech and the crowd’s ensuing assault on the Capitol.