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How Trump's Impeachment Trial Is Expected to Play Out

4 hours of debate on Tuesday set the stage for opening arguments on Wednesday
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 9, 2021 6:35 AM CST
Updated Feb 9, 2021 7:00 AM CST

(Newser) – It's impeachment, take II. The Senate on Tuesday begins the second impeachment trial of Donald Trump. Barring surprises, the smart money points to a short trial, maybe lasting a week, that results in Trump's acquittal. Democrats (and a few Republicans) accuse Trump of inciting the Jan. 6 Capitol riot, but Trump's lawyers say he didn't encourage violence, was just exercising his First Amendment rights about the election results, and can't be impeached anyway because he's out of office. How things are expected to play out:

  • Tuesday: At 1pm Eastern, the Senate will begin a four-hour debate on whether the trial is constitutional given that Trump is a former president. As Vox notes, this holds little suspense because Democrats have the numbers to prevail. The vote will set the stage for Wednesday's opening arguments.

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  • Arguments: House impeachment managers will go first, beginning at noon Wednesday, and their arguments are expected to last into Thursday. The House team is led this time by Rep. Jamie Raskin of Maryland, per USA Today, which has a look at him and the eight other impeachment managers.
  • The defense: Trump's legal team is expected to begin their arguments on Friday and run into Saturday, per the AP. Originally, the Senate was going to skip Saturday to honor the Jewish Sabbath, as requested by one of Trump's lawyers, but that request has been withdrawn, reports CNN. This late development was throwing the weekend schedule into flux.
  • Questions: After the arguments wrap up, senators get four hours of questions, a big reduction from the allotted two days in the first trial, notes the Hill.
  • Wild card: Will witnesses be called? If so, this could delay the trial beyond a week. As of Tuesday morning, however, witnesses looked unlikely. Instead, the final vote is expected to happen early next week, after closing arguments.
  • Biden: As all this is happening, don't expect to hear much from President Biden, reports Politico. The White House strategy appears to be to keep Biden as far removed from the developments as possible. His spokesperson isn't even saying whether he will receive daily updates.
(Read more Trump impeachment stories.)

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