Trump’s impeachment trial draws to close as final arguments get underway

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Closing arguments at former President Donald Trump’s second impeachment trial got underway Saturday morning — with each side granted two hours to make their final case to the US Senate before an expected vote on the verdict later in the day.

But Day 5 of the shorter-than-anticipated proceeding is likely to race toward its conclusion, with Trump lawyer Bruce Castor saying on Friday that the defense summation was already “roughed out” and would only take “about an hour.”

The unprecedented trial is widely anticipated to result in an acquittal after several Republican senators said the two-day presentation by Democratic impeachment managers from the House of Representatives had failed to persuade them that Trump incited his supporters to storm the US Capitol on Jan. 6.

In addition, 44 GOP senators voted on Day 1 to block the trial on grounds that it’s unconstitutional because Trump is no longer in office, but they were thwarted by six colleagues who switched sides.

Under the US Constitution, conviction requires the consent of two-thirds of the Senate, meaning 17 Republicans would have to throw in with the 48 Democrats and two Independents who vote with them.

On Friday, Trump’s lawyers used just a fraction of the 16 hours they’d been allotted to argue against convicting Trump on a charge of “incitement to insurrection” in the rampage that killed Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick and four rioters.

Defense lawyers called the trial an “act of political vengeance” and maintained that the Democrats’ case against Trump relied heavily on news reports.

“The House managers did zero investigation and the American people deserve a lot better than coming in here with no evidence  — hearsay, on top of hearsay on top of reports that are of hearsay,” defense lawyer Michael van der Veen said.

The defense played video of speeches last year during which Trump promoted support for cops and “law and order” to rebut unconfirmed allegations that he was pleased by the violence.

Trump’s lawyers also attacked the claim that Trump riled up his supporters by repeatedly saying “fight” in a speech before the riot by showing a lengthy montage of prominent Democrats — including Vice President Kamala Harris and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York — uttering the same word.

Defense lawyer David Schoen then pointed at the House managers and the senators and told them to “stop the hypocrisy.”

Trump became the only president impeached twice when the Democrat-controlled House approved the single article of impeachment against him on Jan. 13.

He was first impeached in 2019 on charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress over a phone call in which he asked Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to announce an investigation of now-President Joe Biden and his son, Hunter.

But he was acquitted last year in a near-party-line decision, with Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) switching sides to vote against Trump on just the abuse of power charge.

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