March 4, 2021

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Impeachment managers: Trial is referendum on Trump ever holding office again – POLITICO

4 min read

“The Constitution, of course, talks about conviction, removal and disqualification from holding further public office,” Raskin told CNN’s Jake Tapper on “State of the Union.”

Raskin described Trump’s actions — the president falsely claimed for months that the election was stolen from him and even sought to pressure elections officials to overturn the results before encouraging a mob of supporters to march to the Capitol as Congress was set to certify the electoral count — as “the most serious presidential crime” in American history and “the most dangerous crime by a president ever committed against the United States.”

He argued that Congress shouldn’t set a precedent allowing outgoing presidents to incite insurrections to become dictators and avoid impeachment and conviction if the coup attempts are unsuccessful “because we just want to let bygones be bygones.”

“I’m not gonna lose my son at the end of 2020 and lose my country and my republic in 2021,” said Raskin, whose 25-year-old son, Tommy, died by suicide late last year. “It’s not gonna happen.”

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), a top Trump ally, challenged Biden to call off Democrats’ pursuit of a conviction. Graham warned that the effort would further divide the country and show that Biden is “an incredibly weak figure.”

“And to my Republican colleagues in the Senate,” he told Fox News host Maria Bartiromo, “if we embrace an unconstitutional impeachment of Donald Trump after he’s out of office, it will destroy the party.”

Democrats said it wasn’t clear when Pelosi would send the impeachment article to the Senate, and the impeachment managers wouldn’t reveal whether they planned to call witnesses.

Pelosi is still communicating with the Senate, Castro said, “but we’ll be ready to go when it starts.”

Asked about the possibility of witnesses, Castro said, “We’re going to do whatever it takes to lay out the case.”

Raskin, however, maintained that all members of Congress were “witnesses” — and “victims.”

“Every senator who is a juror in this case is also a witness to these events,” he said. “I’m not gonna get into trial strategy, but I guess what I’m saying is, if you invade a police headquarters and you ransack and rampage the place and you kill officers and people working in the police headquarters, you don’t need a six-month investigation to determine what happened.”

Convicting Trump in the Senate will require a two-thirds vote. Once a trio of incoming Democrats are sworn in — Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff of Georgia and Alex Padilla of California — the chamber will be split 50-50, giving Democrats the majority with Vice President-elect Kamala Harris serving as the tiebreaker in split votes. That means it would take 17 Republican votes to convict Trump, assuming every Democrat supported conviction.

Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) said he didn’t know where every member of the caucus stood on conviction or acquittal.

“We haven’t whipped it,” he said of Democratic leaders. “I would agree with Sen. [Mitch] McConnell in this respect: It is an issue of conscience. We will, of course, try to find out how members feel, but in terms of arm-twisting, when it comes to impeachment, we don’t do that.”

McConnell (R-Ky.), the majority leader, told his GOP colleagues in a note last week that he hadn’t determined how he would vote. “I intend to listen to the legal arguments when they are presented to the Senate,” he said.

Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), another Trump ally, has said he wouldn’t vote to convict Trump because in his view it’s unconstitutional to convict a former president.

Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) told NBC’s Chuck Todd on “Meet the Press”: “I think that there is a lot of people who are going to express opinions with a great degree of certainty. We have policies and procedures, as well as a — one whole branch of government to be the referee on these things. I believe it is constitutionally dangerous not to proceed.”

Castro recognized the “high bar” required to convict a president — or, in this case, a soon-to-be former president.

“But our plan is to go after every single vote,” he said. “We want to make sure that every senator is standing up for this country, that every senator is considering the evidence against President Trump, and the fact that he incited a deadly insurrection. And so, we’re optimistic that when we lay out our case, we’ll be able to convince folks that, in fact, President Trump is responsible for inciting this deadly insurrection and that the Senate should convict.”

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