Wednesday briefing: ‘If that’s not impeachable there is no such thing

Wed, 10 February 2021, 6:26 am

<img src="https://s.yimg.com/ny/api/res/1.2/.z9U9ewxRlxdAaih3ypRYw–/YXBwaWQ9aGlnaGxhbmRlcjt3PTk2MDtoPTU3Ng–/https://s.yimg.com/uu/api/res/1.2/lvIyuY69oWeBj_81AtqqIw–~B/aD02MDA7dz0xMDAwO2FwcGlkPXl0YWNoeW9u/https://media.zenfs.com/en/theguardian_763/04c0e03a6919f7122772059e4602bc61&quot; alt="<span>Photograph: Erin Scott/Reuters
Photograph: Erin Scott/Reuters

Top story: Democrats damning, Trump team rambles

Good morning, Warren Murray dropping the latest news into your lap this Wednesday morning.

A divided US Senate has voted to proceed with the second impeachment trial of Donald Trump. On the opening day, the prosecution argued the former president was singularly responsible for inciting the deadly assault on the US Capitol while the defence warned of further dividing the nation. The Senate voted 56 to 44 that it is constitutional to put an impeached former president on trial. Six Republicans joined with the Democrats to reach that determination.

House Democrats opened the trial with a chilling and dramatic video of the Capitol siege. Congressman Jamie Raskin of Maryland, the Democrat prosecuting the case, told the chamber: “If that’s not an impeachable offence, then there is no such thing.”

Trump’s legal team, Bruce Castor and David Schoen, appeared to adopt the rambling speaking style of their client as they sought to have the Senate dismiss the trial on constitutional grounds. Castor’s performance drew criticism as waffling and lacking in focus. The Louisiana Republican senator Bill Cassidy said the defence was “disorganised”, “random” and “did everything they could but to talk about the question at hand”. Susan Collins, another Republican senator, said she was “perplexed” by Castor – “he did not seem to make any arguments at all, which was an unusual approach to take”. Even Senator Ted Cruz, one of Trump’s staunchest allies, said he didn’t think the lawyers did “the most effective job” while praising Raskin, the Democrats’ lead prosecutor, as “impressive”.