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Wake Up To Politics - February 12, 2021

Wake Up To Politics: Time for the defense
Wake Up To Politics - February 12, 2021

Good morning! It’s Friday, February 12, 2021. Today is Day 4 of the Trump impeachment trial. Election Day 2022 is 634 days away. Election Day 2024 is 1,362 days away. And it’s Abraham Lincoln’s birthday. Thanks for waking up to politics!


The House impeachment managers wrapped up their case against former President Donald Trump on Thursday, warning senators of the potential consequences if they vote to acquit him:

  • Rep. Joe Neguse (D-CO): “We humbly, humbly ask you to convict President Trump for the crime for which he is overwhelmingly guilty of. Because if you don’t, if we pretend this didn’t happen, or worse, if we let it go unanswered, who’s to say it won’t happen again?”
  • Rep. Ted Lieu (D-CA): “You know, I’m not afraid of Donald Trump running again in four years. I’m afraid he’s going to run again and lose, because he can do this again.”
  • Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-MD): “If you don’t find this a high crime and misdemeanor today, you have set a new, terrible standard for presidential misconduct in the United States of America.”

As he rested their case, Raskin turned to address Trump’s attorneys, who will have their turn to make their arguments starting today. Raskin urged the defense team to “answer the overwhelming, detailed, specific, factual and documentary evidence we’ve introduced” and not to focus on arguing whether the trial itself is constitutional.

“We’ve put that jurisdictional constitutional issue to bed,” Raskin said, referring to the 56-44 vote on Tuesday that affirmed the legality of holding an impeachment trial for a former president, which has never taken place before in U.S. history.

However, according to Axios, Trump’s team is planning to do exactly what Raskin urged against and “focus entirely on process.” According to the report, the defense team will specifically seek to make four key points:

  • The trial is unconstitutional, because conviction must be accompanied by removal, which cannot happen if the official is already out of office.
  • Trump was denied due process, because of the speedy process conducted in the House.
  • The impeachment violates the First Amendment, because Trump’s language doesn’t meet the standard for incitement adopted in Brandenburg v. Ohio.
  • And it is too divisive, arguing that the trial contradicts President Joe Biden’s promise to unify the country.

Although the defense team is able to use up to eight hours today and up to eight hours tomorrow, Punchbowl News reported that they are expected to close their case after about four hours today. (CNN also reported that they will finish up in one day.)

That will put the trial on track to end as soon as Saturday, after the Senate questions both sides. As long as the chamber doesn’t then vote to allow the two sides to call witnesses, they could then move to a final vote on conviction or acquittal — making this the shortest impeachment trial in American presidential history.

Bruce Castor and David Schoen, Trump’s lead attorneys, have good reason to close their case after only a few hours. With the vast majority of Senate Republicans embracing their argument that the entire trial is unconstitutional, there is little reason to believe that 17 — the number needed to convict — will ultimately break with Trump.

Castor’s performance on Tuesday was widely panned by Republicans, who have been complimentary of the House managers’ presentation — even if clearly unmoved by it. Still, the defense team received a boost from some of the jurors on Thursday: Sens. Ted Cruz (R-SC), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), and Mike Lee (R-UT) huddled with Schoen and Castor to help prepare their arguments.

Sens. John Boozman (R-AR) and John Cornyn (R-TX) watch the impeachment trial on Thursday. (Sketch by Bill Hennessy for CNN)

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CORONAVIRUS: “The U.S. has finalized a previously announced deal with Pfizer and Moderna for 200 million more coronavirus vaccine doses, which should provide enough to vaccinate nearly every American [by the end of July, President Joe Biden said Thursday.” — NBC News

  • “‘Overwhelm the problem’: Inside Biden’s war on COVID-19” — Associated Press
  • “The coronavirus is going to stick around forever. Get ready for the new normal.” — Business InsiderCAPITOL RIOT: “Mounting evidence emerging as former president Donald Trump’s impeachment trial unfolds in the Senate this week indicates Trump may have been personally informed that Vice President Mike Pence was in physical danger during the Jan. 6 Capitol siege, just moments before denigrating him on Twitter.” — Washington Post
  • “Military officials were unaware of potential danger to Pence’s ‘nuclear football’ during Capitol riot” – CNN
  • “Prosecutors Say A Member Of The Oath Keepers Conspiracy Was ‘Awaiting Direction’ From Trump Before The Capitol Attack” — BuzzFeed News
  • “Officers’ Injuries, Including Concussions, Show Scope of Violence at Capitol Riot” — New York Times

INSIDE THE BELTWAY: “The Lincoln Project was plunged into even deeper turmoil Thursday, with the anti-Trump group tapping an outsider to investigate its handling of sexual misconduct allegations against a co-founder, and former employees demanding to be released from non-disclosure agreements.”

  • “The organization fanned the flames by tweeting out what appeared to be private messages between a co-founder who left in a rancorous split and a journalist who was hoping to interview her. The Lincoln Project later deleted the tweet — which was cited by the ex-staffers as an example of retaliation.” — The Daily Beast


President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris will receive the President’s Daily Brief at 9:30 a.m. They will then meet with a bipartisan group of governors and mayors at 11:15 a.m. to discuss the coronavirus relief package. Attendees of the meeting will include Govs. Andrew Cuomo (D-NY), Asa Hutchinson (R-AR), Michelle Lujan Grisham (D-NM), and Larry Hogan (R-MD), and Mayors Keisha Lance Bottoms (D-Atlanta), Latoya Cantrell (D-New Orleans), Mike Duggan (D-Detroit), Francis Suarez (R-Miami), and Jeff Williams (R-Arlington, TX).

At 12:45 p.m., Biden and Harris will have lunch together. At 1:30 p.m., they will receive an economic briefing from Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen. At 5:30 p.m., Biden will depart for Camp David, where he will spend the weekend in his first visit to the presidential retreat since taking office.

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki will hold her daily press briefing at 12:30 p.m.

The Senate will convene at 12 p.m. to continue the impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump. Following the prayer and Pledge of Allegiance, defense attorneys Bruce Castor and David Schoen will present their arguments. They have up to eight hours to make their case, although they are expected to finish in about four hours.

The House is not in session.

  • The House Oversight and Reform Committee will meet at 12 p.m. to mark up its section of the coronavirus relief package.

The Supreme Court is not in session.