Trump’s legal team plans to use only one day for arguments and to wrap its presentation by Friday evening, Trump adviser Jason Miller told NBC News. Trump lawyer David Schoen said his team’s arguments could be as short as three to four hours, meaning that the trial could move to its question-and-answer phase as early as Friday afternoon.
In that phase, senators are able to question the two sides for four hours by submitting written questions to Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., the Senate president pro tempore, who is preside over the trial and who will read them aloud.
The short allotment used by Trump legal team means the trial is likely headed to a quick conclusion. And because neither side is expected to request witnesses, closing arguments — and a final vote on conviction — could happen before the weekend is over.
Trump’s defense team has said they plan to dispute the claims made by the managers, and will claim that Democrats have used the same rhetoric that they are accusing Trump of using to incite the insurrection. Part of their arguments will be centered around their claim that if Trump can be held responsible for what he said at the “Stop the Steal” rally on Jan. 6, then Democrats can face those same consequences.
Senior aides on the impeachment manager team told reporters Friday that they expected to see a “distraction campaign” from Trump’s lawyers.
On Thursday, Democratic House impeachment managers concluded their case against Trump by focusing on the damage his supporters caused at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 and that he could incite further violence if he is not convicted.
That marked the end of two days of methodical and at times emotionally wrenching presentations from Democrats that included the showing of graphic and devastating never-before-seen footage from inside the Capitol during the riot.
It would take 67 senators — including at least 17 Republicans — to convict Trump.
Already this week, 44 of the 50 Republicans in the Senate have voted to declare the entire proceedings unconstitutional because Trump is no longer president, making it unlikely that any evidence would persuade them.
However, the question-and-answer phase of the trial later Friday could indicate more clearly what some Republican senators are thinking.
Trump is the first president to have been impeached twice by the House, and he is the first former president to be put on trial in the Senate. He was impeached Jan. 13 on an article charging him with “incitement of insurrection” for his role in the riot.
Frank Thorp V and Alex Moe contributed.