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SECOND UPDATE, 3:36 PM PT: The Q&A session of the trial has ended, but one of the most perplexing moments came when Donald Trump’s legal team was asked when the then-president was made aware that Vice President Mike Pence in danger.
The question from Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT) is one that has been on the minds of many at the trial.
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On the day of the siege, Trump send out a tweet at 2:24 p.m., as the Capitol siege was in full swing, attacking Pence for not “having the courage” to overturn the results of the electoral vote. But Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-AL) has told reporters that he talked to Trump that afternoon and informed him that Pence had just been evacuated from the Senate chamber. Pence was evacuated at about 2:15 p.m.
Trump’s lawyer Michael van der Veen said that Trump did not know that Pence’s life was in danger. But Democratic impeachment managers have been adamant that the timeline suggests that the then-president was informed when he sent the disparaging tweet.
Earlier, Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) and Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) asked exactly when Trump learned of the breach at the Capitol and what actions he took to stop it.
But Van der Veen didn’t answer and instead complained that there has “been absolutely no investigation into that.” He did not say whether he had asked Trump that question himself.
UPDATE, 12:24 PM PT: Donald Trump’s legal team wrapped up their defense after about three hours, far short of their allotted time, meaning that the impeachment trial is moving at a brisk pace and could even end up with a final vote over the weekend.
Attorney Bruce Castor said that the Democratic impeachment managers this week “chose to spend 14 plus hours showing you pictures of how horrific the attack on the United States Capitol was. They spend no time at all in connecting legally the attack on the Capitol to the 45th President of the United States.”
Castor also challenged the notion that the attack on the Capitol was an “insurrection,” but the term was used by even then-Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell later in the evening on Jan. 6.
Among other arguments, Trump’s team maintains that evidence showing that the attack on the Capitol was preplanned actually exonerates the president, as he couldn’t have incited violence that was already in the works.
The trial next will move on to questions posed by senators. It remains doubtful that witnesses will be called, meaning that there will be up to four hours of closing statements before a final vote.
PREVIOUSLY: Donald Trump’s lawyers argued today that Democrats have often used the same kind of provocative rhetoric that Democrats say the former president employed to incite the Jan. 6 Capitol siege. One clip package his legal team showed interspersed “fight” remarks made by Nancy Pelosi, Elizabeth Warren and Joe Biden with anti-Trump pronouncements made by Madonna and Johnny Depp.
Depp was shown saying, “When was the last time an actor assassinated a president?” That was from an event in 2017, and Depp later apologized.
Another snippet was from the Women’s March that year, in which Madonna was shown telling the crowd, “I have thought an awful lot about blowing up the White House.” She later said that the remark was taken out of context.
Trump’s attorney David Schoen also accused the House impeachment managers of selectively editing Trump’s words in their video-heavy presentation. The Democrats’ case is focused in part on what Trump said at a rally earlier in the day on Jan. 6, when he told supporters, “We fight like hell and if you don’t fight like hell, you’re not going to have a country anymore.”
The defense presented a video montage, lasting nearly 10 minutes, of Democrats using the word “fight” in speeches and statements, including Rep. Jamie Raskin (R-MD). But just as Trump’s team accuses impeachment managers of taking his words out of context, the video snippets also did not provide the setting or situation in which the “fight” remarks were made.
WATCH: President Trump's Attorney David Schoen plays video montage of Democrats saying the word "fight."
Once it concludes: "You didn't do anything wrong. It's a word people use, but please stop the hypocrisy."
— CSPAN (@cspan) February 12, 2021
Earlier, another Trump lawyer, Michael van der Veen, said that the article of impeachment against Trump was a “blatantly unconstitutional act of political vengeance.” He also repeated early defenses of Trump’s Jan. 6 remarks, saying they were protected by the First Amendment.
“Mr. Trump was elected by the people,” he said. “He is an elected official. The Supreme Court said elected officials must have the right to freely engage in public speech.” He called the impeachment trial “constitutional cancel culture.”
Van der Veen also tried to pin the blame for the riot on more than Trump supporters. He said that the crowds included people of “different stripes” and that one of those arrested was a “leader of antifa.” But none of the charges against rioters so far have identified such a person.
He called it a “monstrous lie” that Trump encouraged violence.
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