Political

Trump impeachment trial live updates: Senate votes to continue trial

Elisank79/iStockBy LIBBY CATHEY and MICHELLE STODDART, ABC News

(WASHINGTON) — Former President Donald Trump’s historic second impeachment trial is taking place in the Senate. He faces a single charge of incitement of insurrection over his actions leading up to the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol.

Here is how events are unfolding. All times Eastern:

Feb 09, 5:16 pm
Senators vote 56-44 to continue trial

The Senate voted 56-44 to proceed with the impeachment trial.

Six Republican senators voted with Democrats that the trial is constitutional. Last month, 45 Republican senators voted to dismiss the trial in an effort led by Republican Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky.

Before the Senate began voting, Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md., waived the House impeachment managers’ remaining time and said, “nothing could be more bipartisan than the desire to recess.”

The trial is adjourned until noon Wednesday.

Feb 09, 5:11 pm
Trump defense calls trial ‘irretrievably flawed process’ that ‘we all will regret forever’

In an intense, gloom-filled presentation, Trump attorney David Schoen called the trial of the former president an “irretrievably flawed process” that “we all will regret forever” and leave a lasting “stain” on the Senate.

Multiple times, he called the impeachment proceedings “a dangerous snap impeachment.”

Schoen warned that Democrats were intent on going after Trump to deprive him from office “in the name of the Constitution.”

“But this is an affront to the Constitution, no matter who they target today. It means nothing less than the denial of the right to vote and the independent right for a candidate to run for elected political office guaranteed by the First and 14th Amendments to the United States Constitution, under the guise of impeachment as a tool to disenfranchise,” he said, at one point holding up a copy of the document.

In arguing against the House managers’ claim that the trial is constitutional, Schoen continued a line of argument that Trump attorney Bruce Castor started — that if Trump had done anything wrong, like incitement, then a criminal court proceeding is the correct remedy.

“The risk to the institution of the presidency and to any and all past officers is limited only by one’s imagination. The weakness of the managers’ case is further demonstrated by the reliance of unproven assertion that if President Trump is not impeached, future officers who are impeached will evade removal by resigning, either before impeachment or Senate trial,” he said. “We have a judicial process in this country. We have an investigative process in this country to which former office holder is immune. That’s the process that should be running his course.”

Schoen suggested that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi intentionally delayed the article — and in doing so, did harm to Trump, since the Chief Justice, an impartial arbiter, cannot preside, making the trial unconstitutional, he said.

Instead, Schoen said, a partisan Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., is judging Trump — a partisan who Schoen noted has taken a position on impeachment already.

-ABC News’ Trish Turner

Feb 09, 5:04 pm
Arguments wrap up, Senate set to vote on constitutionality of trial

Both Trump’s legal defense and the House managers have wrapped up their arguments over the constitutionality of the impeachment.

The Senators are voting on whether or not the trial is constitutional.

Feb 09, 4:26 pm
Trump lawyer Schoen rebuts Democratic arguments

David Schoen, a member of Trump’s legal team, rebutted the arguments by Democratic House managers. He insisted that the trial proceedings lacked due process from the beginning and said that the trial was rushed by the House for partisan reasons.

 

 

Schoen also attacked a claim by House managers that the impeachment would unite the nation.

“They say you need this trial before the nation can heal, that the nation cannot heal without it. I say, our nation cannot possibly heal with it,” Schoen said. “With this trial, you will open up new and bigger wounds across the nation, for a great many Americans see this process for exactly what it is, a chance by a group of partisan politicians, seeking to eliminate Donald Trump from the American political scene and seeking to disenfranchise 74 million plus American voters, and those who dare to share their political beliefs and vision of America.”

Schoen also argued that the proceedings are partisan and showed a video featuring Democratic lawmakers calling for the impeachment of Trump over the past four years.

“They’ve called their fellow Americans who believe in their country and their constitution ‘deplorables’. And the latest talk is that they need to deprogram those who supported Donald Trump and the Grand Old Party,” Schoen said. “But at the end of the day, this is not just about Donald Trump or any individual, this is about our constitution and abusing the impeachment power for political gain.”

Feb 09, 4:19 pm
Trump team spins Castor speech as ‘deliberative strategy’

A Trump adviser told ABC News’ Chief Washington Correspondent Jonathan Karl there was “very clear, deliberative strategy” behind Castor’s speech and that the intention was to lower the temperature from Democrats’ emotional opening.

 

 

Wrapping up his 45 minutes of speaking time, Castor said the defense “changed” their presentation because the House case was so “well done” and vowed to answer the House arguments later.

“I’ll be quite frank with you, we changed what we were going to do on a count that we thought that the House managers’ presentation was well done, and I wanted you to know that we have responses to those things,” he said. “We have counter arguments to everything that they raised and you will hear them later on in the case.”

Feb 09, 4:13 pm
Castor opens arguments against Trump’s impeachment

Bruce Castor opened arguments for the defense team in a wide-ranging speech in which he first praised the arguments of the House impeachment managers and then took issue with — arguing the nation’s Founders didn’t intend for former officials to face trial and, citing the First Amendment, that Trump should not be held accountable for his political speech.

“That’s what we broke away from Great Britain in order to do,” Castor said. “To be able to say what we thought.”

“This trial is about trading liberty for security from the mob? Honestly, no. It can’t be. We can’t be thinking about that,” he continued. “We can’t possibly be suggesting that we punish people for political speech in this country. And if people go and commit lawless acts as a result of their beliefs and they cross the line, they should be locked up.”

Castor said that none of the rioters have been charged for conspiring with Trump and called Democrats’ argument that Trump violated the 14th Amendment “absolutely ridiculous.”

One overarching point of Castor’s was an argument heard in Trump’s first impeachment trial — that the Senate must reject this impeachment to prevent future trials or else, “The pressure will be enormous to respond in kind.”

“The political pendulum will shift one day,” Castor continued. “And partisan impeachments will become commonplace.”

 

 

He also took issue with the House passing a single article of impeachment, which he deemed casting too wide of a net, rather than breaking it into parts.

“The article of impeachment is indivisible and the reason why that’s significant is you have to agree that every single aspect of the entire document warrants impeachment because it’s an all-or-nothing document. You can’t cut out parts that you agree with,” Castor said.

“We are really here because the majority of the House of Representatives does not want to face Donald Trump as a political rival in the future,” he added. “Nobody says it that plainly, but unfortunately I have a way of speaking that way.”

Feb 09, 3:28 pm
Trump defense team begins arguments

Trump attorney Bruce Castor opened by praising the “outstanding presentation” from House impeachment managers, noting what Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md., and his family endured “during that terrible day.”

“You will not hear any member of the team representing former President Trump say anything but in the strongest possible way denounce the violence of the rioters and those that breached the Capitol, the very citadel of our democracy, literally the symbol that flashes on television whenever you’re trying to explain that we’re talking about the United States, instant symbol,” Castor said.

 

 

Notably, Castor referred to Trump as “the former president,” a term the Trump team has avoided using in their press releases.

Castor, a former Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, district attorney faced criticism in that role for declining to prosecute Bill Cosby in 2005.

Feb 09, 3:09 pm
Senate returns for Trump defense team rebuttal

The Senate returned from a 10-minute break following the arguments from the House impeachment managers.

Trump’s legal team has taken the floor with Bruce Castor opening with his argument that it’s unconstitutional to put a former president on trial.

Feb 09, 3:08 pm
House manager addresses arguments expected from Trump’s legal team

House impeachment manager Rep. Jim Cicilline, D-R.I., offered an early rebuttal to arguments expected from Trump’s legal team, beginning by arguing that the former president is not merely a private citizen, saying that he “he can and should answer” for his use of power.

 

 

Cicilline also read a tweet from Trump that was posted hours after the attack and once again falsely claiming the election was “stripped” from him. Cicilline said that tweet “chills him to the core.”

“The president of the United States sided with the insurrectionists, he celebrated their cause, he validated their attack, Cicilline said. “He told them, ‘remember this day forever,’ hours after they marched through these halls looking to assassinate Vice President Pence, the speaker of the house and any of us they could find.”

Cicilline also pushed back on the expected argument that the impeachment is partisan and could enflame partisan tensions.

“They’ll assert that this impeachment is partisan and that the spirit of bipartisanship and bipartisan cooperation requires us to drop the case and march forward in unity. With all due respect, every premise and every argument of that conclusion is wrong. Just weeks ago, the president of the United States literally incited an armed attack on the capitol, our seat of government, while seeking to retain power by subverting an election he lost and then celebrated the attack,” Cicilline said. “People died, people were brutally injured. President Trump’s actions endangered every single member of Congress.”

-ABC News’ Benjamin Siegel

Feb 09, 3:04 pm
Raskin shares personal story from Jan. 6 attack

Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md., the lead House impeachment manager, bookended the Democrats opening’ arguments on the constitutionality of the trial by recalling how the day impacted him personally, and, fighting back tears, directly called on his colleagues to “not let this be our future.”

“Senators, Mr. President, to close I want to say something personal about the stakes of this decision whether President Trump can stand trial and be held to account for inciting insurrection against us,” Raskin said. “I hope this trial reminds America how personal democracy is and how personal is the loss of democracy too.”

He explained that his youngest daughter, Tabitha, was with him at the Capitol on Wednesday, Jan. 6. because it was the day after they buried her brother, his son, Tommy, “the saddest day of our lives,” Raskin said.

“Also there was my son-in-law Hank, who’s married to our oldest daughter Hannah, and I — I consider him a son too, even though he eloped with my daughter and didn’t tell us what they were going to do,” Raskin joked, and got a laugh, before pivoting into his emotion-filled recollection of the rest of the day.

“The reason they came with me that Wednesday, Jan. 6, was because they wanted to be together with me in the middle of a devastating week for our family,” he said. “They said they heard that President Trump was calling on his followers to come to Washington to protest and they asked me directly, ‘Would it be safe? Would it be safe?’ I told them, ‘Of course it should be safe. This is the Capitol.'”

Raskin was separated from them for electoral business when rioters breached the building.

“And all around me people were calling their wives and their husbands, their loved ones to say goodbye. Members of Congress in the House were removing their congressional pins so they wouldn’t be identified by the mob as they tried to escape the violence. Our new chaplain got up and said a prayer for us, and we were told to put our gas masks on,” he said.

Raskin said the sound he’ll never forget, the “most haunting sound I’ve ever heard” is one of “pounding on the door like a battering ram.”

He said his staff, hiding, “thought they were going to die,” and when he finally reunited when his daughter and son-in-law, a comment she made hit him, perhaps, hardest.

“I told her how sorry I was, and I promised her it would not be like this again the next time she came back to the Capitol with me. You know what she said? She said, ‘Dad, I don’t want to come back to the Capitol,'” Raskin said, fighting back tears. “Of all of the terrible, brutal things that I saw and that I heard on that day, and since then, that one hit me the hardest.”

“That and watching someone use an American flag with the flag still on it, to spear and pummel one of our police officers ruthlessly, mercilessly tortured by a pole with flag on it that he was defending with his very life,” he added, emphasizing the deaths and injuries from that day.

“We cannot have presidents inciting and mobilizing mob violence against our government and our institutions because they refuse to accept the will of the people under the Constitution of the United States. Much less can we create a new January exception in our precious, beloved constitution that prior generations have died for and fought for, so that corrupt presidents have several weeks to get away with whatever it is they want to do,” he said to close his time.

Feb 09, 2:45 pm
Senate takes short break

The Senate is taking a 10-minute break following the arguments from the House impeachment managers. Trump’s legal team will take the floor next.

-ABC News’ Benjamin Siegel

Feb 09, 2:31 pm
Rep. Neguse cites history, legal experts

House manager Rep. Joe Neguse, D-Colo., discussed a precedent debated among conservative legal experts about the Senate holding a trial for Secretary of War William Belknap in 1876.

Belknap resigned his post days before a House vote in an unsuccessful attempt to avoid impeachment.

 

 

“And when his case reached the Senate, this body, Belknap made the exact same argument that president Trump is making today. That you all lack jurisdiction, any power to try him, because he’s a former official. Now, many senators at that time when they heard that argument, literally they were sitting in the same chairs you all are sitting in today. They were outraged by that argument, outraged. You can read their comments in the record,” Neguse said. “They knew it was a dangerous, dangerous argument with dangerous implications.”

Neguse also cited comments from a co-founder of the conservative Federalist Society and Republican lawyer Charles Cooper arguing that a former president can be impeached. Neguse also cited Jonathan Turley’s writings about impeachment during the impeachment trial of former President Clinton, which he has since disavowed, given that he now opposes impeaching Trump as a former president.

“What you experienced that day, what we experienced that day, what our country experienced that day, is the framers’ worst nightmare come to life. Presidents can’t inflame insurrection in their final weeks and then walk away like nothing happened,” Neguse said. “And yet, that is the rule that president Trump asks you to adopt.”

-ABC News’ Benjamin Siegel

Feb 09, 2:30 pm
Framers intended Congress to convict former officials: Raskin

Breaking the silence in the chamber after playing out the managers’ first video, lead House impeachment manager Rep. Jamie Raskin said, “If that’s not an impeachable offense, then there is no such thing.”

Raskin also made an appeal to senators’ interest in defending the prerogatives of the legislative branch: If they acquit Trump, they will be ceding power to the executive branch.

“If the president’s arguments for a January exception are upheld, then even if everyone agrees that he’s culpable for these events, even if the evidence proves, as we think it definitively does, that the president incited a violent insurrection on the day Congress met to finalize the presidential election, he would have you believe there is absolutely nothing the Senate can do about it. No trial, no facts. He wants you to decide that the Senate is powerless at that point. That can’t be right,” he said.

 

 

Citing the impeachment of Warren Hastings in the Parliament of Great Britain, Raskin said the Framers of the Constitution supported impeaching former officials. He also said the power of Congress to impeach, convict and disqualify a president from holding future office are needed the most during a transfer of power, Raskin argued, adding, “That’s precisely when we need them the most, because that’s when elections get attacked.”

“Given the Framers’ intense focus on danger to elections and the peaceful transfer of power, it is inconceivable that they designed impeachment to be a dead letter in the president’s final days in office when opportunities to interfere with the peaceful transfer of power would be most tempting and most dangerous, as we just saw,” he said.

Rep. Joe Neguse, D-Colo., took the floor after Raskin.

-ABC News Benjamin Siegel

Feb 09, 2:20 pm
A look inside the Senate chamber

Inside the Senate’s first impeachment trial of a former president — and the first during a global pandemic — a pool of reporters were permitted to cycle inside, one at a time to witness the floor activity not necessarily captured by cameras stationed there.

ABC News’ Trish Turner noted that every senator was in the chamber for the start. Republicans could be seen handing in their electronics as they entered the chamber though the GOP cloakroom as phones are not allowed during the trial.

At the Trump legal team desk, closest to the lectern, sat Trump’s four attorneys: David Schoen, Bruce Castor, Michael van der Veen and Julieanne Bateman, along with a legal aide. At the House managers table sat Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md., with counsel Barry Berke and a legal aide.

Schoen and Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., the president pro tempore presiding over the trial, made small talk before the trial started.

All senators were masked up but a handful including Sen. Cynthia Lummis, R-Wyo., Sen. James Risch, R-Wis., and Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky.

Van der veen was the only lawyer at the Trump table reading and marking up documents. The others each sat with a blank, yellow legal pad.

When asked if they were an opponent or proponent of the constitutional question, Raskin and then Castor said, “We’re a proponent” and “We’re an opponent,” respectively.

Another reporter from the pool described the atmosphere in the chamber as “incredibly tense” while senators watched the video compilation from Raskin of the assault on the Capitol.

Almost every senator was watching the video, most wearing frowns, the reporter noted, and the sounds of the video appeared to echo in the chamber, “filling it with the screams and yells of the mob.”

-ABC News’ Trish Turner

Feb 09, 2:17 pm
Lead House manager argues constitutionality of impeachment

Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md., argued for the historical precedent of impeachment, arguing that the Framers had impeachment of a person no longer in office in mind when drafting the Constitution.

“President Trump may not know a lot about the Framers, but they certainly knew a lot about him,” Raskin said. “Given the Framers’ intense focus on danger to elections and the peaceful transfer of power, it is inconceivable that they designed impeachment to be a dead letter in the president’s final days in office when opportunities to interfere with the peaceful transfer of power would be most tempting and most dangerous, as we just saw.”

 

 

Feb 09, 1:39 pm
Raskin plays powerful video of attack in opening argument

Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md., tapped by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to serve as the lead House impeachment manager, opened arguments at Tuesday’s trial, laying out the constitutionality of the Senate trial.

“You will not hear a lecture here because our case is based on cold, hard facts. It’s all about the facts,” Raskin said, before warning of the “dangerous” precedent it would set, if the Senate allowed a president to “get away with” committing an impeachable offense in the last few weeks of office, as he argues Trump did.

“This would create a brand new January exception to the Constitution of the United States of America. A January exception. And everyone can see immediately why this is so dangerous. It’s an invitation to the president to take his best shot at anything he may want to do on his way out the door, including using violent means to lock that door, to hang onto the Oval Office at all costs, and to block the peaceful transfer of power,” Raskin said.

“In other words, the January exception is an invitation to our Founders’ worst nightmare. And if we buy this radical argument that President Trump’s lawyers advance, we risk having Jan. 6 become our future. What will that mean for America? Think about it. What will the January exception mean to future generations if you grant it?” Raskin asked.

 

 

“I’ll show you,” he said, before playing a roughly 10-minute long video of inter-spliced footage of the Capitol attack, Trump’s speech leading up to it and aftermath.

Raskin, a Harvard-educated, former constitutional law professor serving in his third term in the House, was the lead author of the impeachment article and began writing it from inside the Capitol on Jan. 6.

Feb 09, 1:29 pm
House managers argue protection of Constitution

Impeachment manager Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md., argued in his opening statement that this case is a matter of protecting the Constitution, by pursuing high crimes.

“President Trump has sent his lawyers here today to try to stop the Senate from hearing the facts of this case. They want to call the trial over before any evidence is even introduced,” Raskin said. “Their argument is that if you commit an impeachable offense in your last few weeks in office, you do it with constitutional impunity. You get away with it.”

 

 

Trump’s legal team has argued the trial is unconstitutional because Trump is no longer in office. Trump’s team is denying he violated the oath of office. Its brief argues that Trump’s use of social media and comments made on Jan. 6 are protected by the First Amendment.

Feb 09, 1:20 pm
Senators vote on impeachment resolution

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer presented the trial’s organizing resolution — which he said was negotiated to and agreed on by leaders of both parties to govern the structure of Trump’s second impeachment trial — ahead of a full vote in the chamber.

“It’s our solemn constitutional duty to conduct a fair and honest impeachment trial of the charges against former President Trump, the gravest charges ever brought against a president of the United States in American history,” Schumer said from the Senate floor. “This resolution provides for a fair trial and I urge the Senate to adopt it.”

Senators participated in a roll call vote on the impeachment resolution, and it passed with bipartisan support: 89-11.

House impeachment managers and Trump’s defense team now have up to two hours each to argue the constitutionality of the trial before the Senate votes on whether to dismiss it.

Feb 09, 1:07 pm
Presiding senator gavels Senate to order

Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., has gaveled the Senate to order, officially convening the impeachment trial. Leahy is currently the most senior Democratic senator, the president pro tempore, and as such is presiding over the proceedings.

 

 

The Senate chaplain led senators in a prayer and then the Pledge of Allegiance. After the Senate completed its morning business, the acting Senate Sergeant at Arms Jennifer Hemingway issued a proclamation beginning with, “Hear ye! Hear ye!” to the Senate chamber.

-ABC News’ Trish Turner

Feb 09, 12:54 pm
House impeachment managers walk to Senate chamber

The House impeachment managers, who will act as the prosecutors during the trial, gathered to walk to the Senate chamber.

The House impeachment managers include Rep. Jamie Raskin D-Md., will serve as the primary prosecutor for the trial among other House managers, Rep. Madeleine Dean D-Pa., Rep. Diana DeGette D-Colo., Rep. Ted Lieu D-Calif., Rep. Stacey Plaskett D-Virgin Islands, Rep. David Cicilline D-R.I., Rep. Joaquin Castro D-Texas, Rep. Joe Neguse D-Colo., and Rep. Eric Swalwell D-Calif.

-ABC News’ Katherine Faulders

Feb 09, 12:48 pm
What does it take to convict?: VIDEO

As Trump faces an unprecedented second impeachment trial, here’s how the impeachment process works.

Feb 09, 12:45 pm
After personal tragedy, Raskin steps up to lead prosecution

Maryland Democratic Rep. Jamie Raskin will lead the House’s prosecution, tapped by Speaker Nancy Pelosi to serve as the top impeachment manager. Raskin, a Harvard-educated, former constitutional law professor serving in his third term in the House, was the lead author of the impeachment article in the wake of the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.

Days earlier, on New Year’s Eve, Raskin’s son Thomas, who was following his father’s footsteps at Harvard Law School, took his own life after battling depression. The Maryland lawmaker drew a standing ovation from his colleagues on the House floor as he thanked them for their “love and tenderness” over the loss of his son. He then proceeded with his remarks on the objections over accepting the election results. Less than an hour later, the Capitol was under siege and Raskin was sheltering under a desk with one of his two daughters and his son-in-law.

-ABC News’ John Parkinson

Feb 09, 12:36 pm
Trump’s defense team to argue trial is unconstitutional

The public should expect to see four attorneys on the Trump team during the trial: David Schoen, Bruce Castor, Michael van der Veen and Julieanne Bateman.

The newly appointed legal team submitted its first legal brief on Feb. 2, arguing the trial is unconstitutional because Trump is no longer in office. The trial’s legality has been called into question since the beginning but the Senate voted to proceed.

The brief also argues that Trump’s use of social media and comments made on Jan. 6 are protected by the First Amendment. There is a possibility that Trump’s defense may skirt into claims of election fraud, despite Trump and his allies losing dozens of court cases on the issue and the 2020 election results being certified by Congress.

Trump’s lawyers filed another brief on Feb. 8, further elaborating their argument against the trial’s constitutionality and asking the Senate to dismiss the charges. House impeachment managers followed with a five-page response to Trump’s legal team.

-ABC News’ Katherine Faulders and Tia Humphries

Feb 09, 12:26 pm
Dems to lay out ‘succinct and to the point’ argument: Aides

Democrats are preparing to argue that Trump constituted the “most grievous constitutional crime ever committed by a president” and is “singularly responsible” for the deadly riot at the Capitol on Jan. 6, and that the Senate can’t establish “a January exception to the Constitution,” according to senior aides on the impeachment managers’ team.

The managers, led by Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md., have been meeting every day — sometimes twice a day — since they were named to work on the case, mostly virtually given the pandemic.

They promised a “succinct and to the point and non-repetitive” argument laying out how the attack happened in “plain sight” and left behind “overwhelming evidence.”

“This is not about politics,” the aides said, adding that they won’t touch any senators’ support of Trump.

“This is personal for them. They experienced the attack, their staff experienced the attack,” one aide said. “They’re not taking this lightly, they find no joy in this.”

On the constitutional question of trying a former president, aides said, “This will not be like a constitutional convention,” and likened it instead to a “violent criminal prosecution.”

They called the argument that the trial is unconstitutional “just not common sense.”

“It is unthinkable that the framers would say that that a president could not be impeached, no matter what he or she did in the final days of office would allow the president to misuse power at the most dangerous time right when a president wants to hold on to power, that the president can do whatever that president wants without fear of losing office or be barred from running again. That cannot be,” one aide said.

-ABC News Congressional Corespondent Rachel Scott, Katherine Faulders, Benjamin Siegel, Trish Turner and Allison Pecorin

Feb 09, 11:26 am
House Dems to present never-before-seen evidence at trial

House impeachment managers will use evidence that hasn’t been seen before during the imminent trial, according to senior aides on the team.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer reaffirmed the development in a press conference Tuesday morning.

“I believe the managers will present a very strong case the evidence will be powerful the evidence some of it will be new,” Schumer said.

Feb 09, 11:26 am
Ga. election officials formally launch investigation into Trump phone calls

The Georgia Secretary of State’s office has formally launched an investigation into former President Donald Trump’s phone calls to state election officials in which he sought help to overturn the results of the election after President Joe Biden’s narrow victory was certified twice.

The investigation, which follows a series of formal complaints filed by a law professor alleging that Trump violated the law during those calls, marks the first formal investigation into Trump’s efforts to overturn the results of the election in the state.

Investigations by the secretary of state’s office can take months to complete, but it marked a major development on the eve of Trump’s second impeachment trial. The single article of impeachment against the president, which accuses him of inciting the deadly riot at the Capitol on Jan. 6, briefly mentions the phone call with the secretary.

Trump’s impeachment lawyers defended Trump’s actions on the call in a brief submitted to the House the last week and “denied that President Trump acted improperly in that telephone call in any way.”

In a statement sent to ABC News on Monday, Jason Miller, Trump’s senior adviser, said, “There was nothing improper or untoward about a scheduled call between President Trump, Secretary Raffensperger and lawyers on both sides. If Mr. Raffensperger didn’t want to receive calls about the election, he shouldn’t have run for Secretary of State. And the only reason the call became public was because Mr. Raffensperger leaked it in an attempt to score political points.”

Trump also defended his call while speaking at a rally in D.C. on Jan. 6.

“I thought it was a great conversation,” he said. “People loved that the conversation.”

Feb 09, 11:23 am
‘Because President Trump said to’: Over a dozen Capitol rioters say they were following Trump’s guidance

Senate Democrats are focused on trying to tie a direct line between Trump’s rhetoric and the deadly attack on the U.S. Capitol by his supporters.

An ABC News investigation into the nearly 200 accused rioters facing federal charges for their alleged involvement at the Capitol — based on court filings, military records, interviews and available news reports — found that at least 15 individuals who stormed the building have since said that they acted based on Trump’s encouragement, including some of those accused of the most violent and serious crimes.

Trump’s lawyers have defended his comments at the Jan. 6 rally as ones that “fall squarely within the protections of the First Amendment.”

“Mr. Trump, having been elected nationally, was elected to be the voice for his national constituency,” his lawyers wrote in a brief last week.

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Related Articles

Back to top button