Schumer then came back out to recess the Senate impeachment trial until Thursday, saying that each side of the dispute has put this matter aside for now and may debate it later if needed.
These fireworks on the Senate floor closed out the first full day of opening arguments in the impeachment trial of Trump in the Senate, the second such trial Trump has faced. He was acquitted last year in his first impeachment trial. While this mistake by House impeachment managers is unlikely to change any votes in either direction-it is pretty widely known Trump seems headed for another acquittal-this drew the attention away from the core facts of the case being offered by the managers and onto personal drama in the U.S. Senate, a clear boon to Trump’s legal case.
It draws attention to the fact that Leahy, not Roberts, is presiding over the trial while also serving as a juror-and a witness, since he is a senator and was there on Jan. 6-meaning that a Democrat senator and political opponent of the accused, Trump, is serving as judge, jury, and witness in a trial. That’s a point Trump’s lawyers attempted to drive home earlier on Tuesday when the constitutionality of whether there even should be a trial was debated in the impeachment court before a vote took place that allowed the trial to proceed. Six Republican senators joined all Democrats for a 56-44 vote to rule that it is constitutional to hold an impeachment trial of a former president, a positive sign for Trump given that that 56 votes is nearly a dozen less than the 67 votes needed to convict Trump in the trial. Also, just because a senator voted to proceed with the trial does not mean they will vote to convict Trump in the end, and it is increasingly unlikely Democrats will flip 17 GOP senators to back conviction.
Nonetheless, House Democrat impeachment managers and Senate Democrat leadership proceeded with the trial-despite its near-certain outcome-with opening arguments from the House Democrats beginning on Wednesday. They will continue their opening arguments on Thursday, and perhaps into Friday. After that, Trump’s lawyers will respond with their opening arguments.
It remains unclear if the Senate will hear from witnesses or have other trial parts beyond the opening statements. During Trump’s first impeachment trial, he was acquitted fairly quickly. This trial could proceed just as quickly, but it might take longer depending on what Democrats decide to do. Every day Democrats are spending on this they are wasting time that could be used on the floor of the U.S. Senate to pass legislation addressing the various crises the nation is facing like the coronavirus pandemic or confirming President Joe Biden’s appointees.
During their opening arguments on Wednesday, the House Democrat managers laid out their case against Trump by presenting tweets, news reports, videos, and photos that Delegate Stacey Plaskett from the U.S. Virgin Islands said proved he “fanned the flame of violence, and it worked.”
She and Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA) provided a timeline of the Capitol attack, showing models of the insurrectionists’ progress through the building alongside security, as well as cellphone and media footage of the scene.
In one previously unreleased security video, then-Vice President Mike Pence and his family can be seen being whisked away from an area near the Senate chamber by Secret Service officers as rioters entered the hallways nearby.
Plaskett’s presentation also showed a fresh angle of the scene as Capitol Police officer Eugene Goodman led a group of rioters away from the Senate chambers and toward a group of officers.