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Trump Impeachment Trial: Live Updates

Trump Impeached Because Democrats Don't Want To Face Him In 2024, Legal Team Argues

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Bruce Castor, a defense lawyer for former President Donald Trump speaks on the first day of Trump's second impeachment trial. Trump's legal team is arguing that the impeachment is politically motivated and must not move forward.
Handout, Getty Images

Bruce Castor, a defense lawyer for former President Donald Trump speaks on the first day of Trump's second impeachment trial. Trump's legal team is arguing that the impeachment is politically motivated and must not move forward.

Former President Donald Trump's legal defense team claims the House of Representatives moved to impeach him because the Democrats are afraid of facing Trump in 2024.

"Let's understand why we are really here," attorney Bruce Cantor said on the Senate floor Tuesday. "We are really here because the majority in the House of Representatives does not want to face Donald Trump as a political rival in the future."

Trump's legal team also argued that his historic second impeachment trial in the Senate should not move forward because their client is no longer president. Castor accused Democrats of ignoring jurisdictional and due process "in order to get to the part of the Constitution that allows removal."

"Why is the majority of the House of Representatives afraid of the American people?" Cantor asked, pointing to the fact that Biden is the current occupant of the White House, not his client.

"The reason why I'm having trouble with the argument [for a trial] is the American people just spoke and they just changed administrations."

Fellow Trump defense attorney David Schoen picked up on this theme, telling Senators that if House Democrats truly wanted to find out who was responsible for the attack on the Capitol, then they would wait for investigations to be completed.

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"A great many Americans see this 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," Schoen said, referring to the number of votes Trump received in the 2020 election.

"They hated the results of the 2016 election and want to use this impeachment process to further their political agenda," Schoen said.

Trump is facing a single article of impeachment, charging that he is directly responsible for inciting his supporters to attack the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6. Prior to the assault on the seat of the U.S. government, Trump addressed supporters at a "Stop the Steal" rally.

"You'll never take back our country with weakness," Trump said to the crowd the same day lawmakers were working to certify President Biden's electoral victory.

"You have to show strength and you have to be strong," he added.

House impeachment managers said the trial against Trump must continue, otherwise the Senate will create a so-called "January exception" precedent, which would essentially allow sitting presidents to commit impeachable acts with impunity in the final days before they leave office.

The Senate ultimately voted 56-44 to allow the impeachment trial to proceed, largely along party lines.

Though the Democrats control the chamber, they do not have enough votes to convict Trump. In order for that to happen, 17 Republican senators must join all Democrats to reach the required two-thirds, which is unlikely.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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Former President Donald Trump steps off Air Force One on the last day of his presidency on Jan. 20.
NPR
Trump Impeachment Trial: Live Updates
Bruce Castor is a member of Former President Donald Trump's impeachment defense team. He is seen in a 2015 photo in Norristown, Pa.
NPR
Trump Impeachment Trial: Live Updates
Bruce Castor, defense attorney for former President Donald Trump (center), departs the U.S. Capitol following the first day of the impeachment trial on Monday.
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Trump Impeachment Trial: Live Updates