Speed Reads

Trump impeachment trial II

Democrats are split on Trump's impeachment trial: Brief or comprehensive?

Former President Donald Trump's second impeachment trial begins Tuesday, but "details of the proceedings are still being negotiated by the Senate leaders," The Associated Press reports. "So far, it appears there will be few witnesses called," in part because the senator-jurors are themselves witnesses to the Jan. 6 Capitol siege at the center of Trump's sole "incitement of insurrection" charge.

"Several of the House impeachment managers wanted firsthand testimony to help prove their case that Trump incited the Jan. 6 riot," calling either Capitol Police officers to testify about their experience battling pro-Trump rioters, White House officials who witnessed Trump's actions and inaction during the assault, or Georgia officials Trump pressured to overturn the election, Politico's Playbook team reports. "But Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and Biden administration officials have been eager for the process to move quickly," privately frustrating some Democrats who want a detailed public rendering of Trump's perceived malfeasance.

On the whole, Trump's trial "has Democrats and Republicans in rare agreement: Most senators want to get it over with, and they want the former president to go away," Politico's Andrew Desiderio reports. But "Democrats see the best way to achieve that goal as voting to convict Trump," while "Republicans, particularly those nervous about Trump's continued stranglehold on the GOP, just don't want to poke the bear." Trump "does a pretty good job of being a victim," one GOP senator told Politico. "If he were to be convicted, there would be an uproar among his supporters. And it would probably energize them."

But Democrats and numerous Trump allies agree that a detailed public discussion of the pro-Trump mob storming the Capitol will probably weaken Trump long-term, Politico says. And while Schumer and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) haggle over the trial's parameters, "the House impeachment managers will likely be permitted to use videos and other visuals to make their case — a serious advantage for Democrats given that much of their case relies on Trump's public statements and other available footage from the riots at the Capitol."

Democrats could also try to compel Trump to testify, but that would be "a simply terrible idea," Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.) argues. "He will perjure himself, so he's the one at risk. But I cannot tell you how much I have enjoyed my first full Trump-free week of the last five years."