New York Prosecutors Obtain Trump’s Tax Records – Spokesman

(FILES) In this file photo former US President Donald Trump speaks during a briefing at the White House September 27, 2020, in Washington, DC. (Photo by Brendan Smialowski / AFP)

 

New York prosecutors investigating former president Donald Trump’s finances have received his tax returns following a marathon legal battle, a spokesman said Thursday.

“Our office obtained the records on Monday,” Danny Frost, a spokesman for Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance, told AFP.

Vance’s office obtained the returns after the Supreme Court on Monday rejected a last-ditch bid by Trump’s lawyers to block the release of the records.

The prosecutor is investigating hush payments made to two women who allege they had affairs with Trump and possible fraud.

Vance, a Democrat, fought for over a year to obtain the eight years of returns.

He issued a subpoena to Trump’s accountants Mazars USA in August 2019 ordering the company to furnish documents stretching back to 2011.

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Vance’s probe was initially focused on payments made before the 2016 presidential election to two women who claim they had affairs with Trump, including porn star Stormy Daniels.

But the state-level investigation is also now examining possible allegations of tax evasion, and insurance and bank fraud.

Trump, who left the White House last month, called the investigation “a continuation of the greatest political witch hunt in the history of our country.”

US presidents are not required by law to release details of their personal finances but every US leader since Richard Nixon has done so.

Trump repeatedly said he would release them pending an audit but ultimately broke with the tradition.

Vance’s investigators have interviewed Trump’s former personal lawyer Michael Cohen, who received a three-year prison term after admitting making hush payments to the two women.

In this file photo taken on December 7, 2020 -ex-US President Donald Trump looks on during a ceremony presenting the Presidential Medal of Freedom to wrestler Dan Gable in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, DC. AFP

 

The ex-lawyer had testified to Congress that Trump and his company artificially inflated and devalued the worth of their assets to both obtain bank loans and reduce their taxes.

If Trump were charged and convicted he could face a possible jail term. Unlike federal offenses, state crimes are not subject to presidential pardons.

Investigators also recently interviewed employees of Deutsche Bank, which has long backed the former president and the Trump Organization, US media reported.

They spoke to staff at Trump’s insurance broker Aon, too.

Vance’s investigation is taking place behind closed doors in front of a Grand Jury.

It is unclear if and when it will lead to a prosecution, which would be the first of a former US president.

In July, the Supreme Court rejected Trump’s argument that as a sitting president he was immune from prosecution.

Trump’s lawyers then challenged the scope of the requested documents, saying it was too broad.

AFP

US Supreme Court Allows Release Of Trump Tax Records To Prosecutors

A file photo of a court gavel.

 

The US Supreme Court on Monday rejected a bid by Donald Trump to prevent his tax records from being handed over to prosecutors in New York.

The nation’s highest court denied the request filed by lawyers for the former president without comment.

Trump has been waging a protracted legal battle to prevent his tax records from being handed over to Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance.

The prosecutor has been fighting for months to obtain eight years of Trump’s tax returns as part of an investigation into the ex-president’s finances.

READ ALSO: WHO Slams Rich Countries For Hogging COVID-19 Vaccines

The ruling concerns a subpoena that Vance had issued to Trump’s accountants Mazars USA ordering it to hand over documents stretching back to 2011.

“The work continues,” Vance said in a three-word statement issued after the ruling.

Vance’s probe was initially focused on payments made before the 2016 presidential election to two women who claim they had affairs with Trump, including porn star Stormy Daniels.

But the state-level investigation is also now examining possible allegations of tax evasion, and insurance and bank fraud.

Trump, who left the White House last month, did not immediately respond to Monday’s ruling.

In the past, he has called the investigation “the worst witch hunt in US history.”

US presidents are not required by law to release details of their personal finances but every US leader since Richard Nixon has done so.

Trump broke with this tradition.

Vance’s investigators have interviewed Trump’s former personal lawyer Michael Cohen, who received a three-year prison term after admitting making hush payments to the two women.

The ex-lawyer had testified to Congress that Trump and his company artificially inflated and devalued the worth of their assets to both obtain bank loans and reduce their taxes.

READ ALSO: WHO Slams Rich Countries For Hogging COVID-19 Vaccines

If the allegations are true and Trump was charged and convicted then he could face a possible jail term. Unlike federal offenses, state crimes are not pardonable.

Investigators also recently interviewed employees of Deutsche Bank, which has long backed the former president and the Trump Organization, US media reported.

They spoke to staff at Trump’s insurance broker Aon, too.

In July, the Supreme Court rejected Trump’s argument that as a sitting president he was immune from prosecution.

Trump’s lawyers then challenged the scope of the requested documents, saying it was too broad.

New York’s Attorney General Letitia James is also investigating allegations of bank fraud and insurance fraud through civil proceedings.

Ahead of the November 3 election, the New York Times reported that Trump paid just $750 in federal income taxes in 2016 and 2017, a claim the former president denies.

Trump Impeachment Trial Nears End With Verdict Expected

 

The US Senate was expected to deliver a verdict in Donald Trump’s impeachment trial this weekend after his lawyers argued Friday that the former president bears no responsibility for an attack by supporters on Congress after he failed to win reelection.

Defence lawyers wrapped up their presentation in just three hours, accusing Democrats of persecuting Trump.

This followed two days of evidence from Democratic impeachment managers, centred around harrowing video footage of the mob assault against the Capitol on January 6.

The Senate was due to reconvene Saturday at 10:00 am (1500 GMT) for debate on whether to allow witness testimony, then closing arguments. Expectations were that a verdict could be voted the same day, with indications so far that Democrats will not get enough Republican support for a conviction.

In their arguments Friday, defence lawyer Michael van der Veen called the impeachment unconstitutional and an “act of political vengeance.”

“The Senate should promptly and decisively vote to reject it,” he said.

But Democratic impeachment managers charge that Trump deliberately stoked national tension after losing to Joe Biden on November 3 with a campaign of lies claiming there had been mass voter fraud.

On January 6 he staged a fiery rally near the White House, calling on the crowd to march on Congress, which was in the process of certifying Biden’s victory.

The mob then charged the Capitol building, disrupting the certification. Five people, including a police officer and a woman shot during the unrest, died as a result of the mayhem.

Impeachment managers say, Trump, who has never expressed remorse for his encouragement of the violent crowd, is so dangerous that he should be barred from holding office again.

It would take a two-thirds majority to convict, meaning 17 Republicans would need to join the Senate’s 50 Democrats.

Although Trump looks set for acquittal, even a few Republican votes against him would leave a historic mark on his presidency, fueling civil war within his party over whether to pursue his populist, divisive vision or return to more moderate values.

– ‘Hypocrisy’ from Trump’s accusers –

The former president’s lawyers argued that his rally speech on January 6, when he told supporters to “fight,” was merely rhetorical.

They also argue that the Democrats’ true aim is to remove him from the political scene.

“Let us be clear: this trial is about far more than President Trump,” defence lawyer Bruce Castor said.

“It is about cancelling 75 million Trump voters and criminalizing political viewpoints. That is what this trial is really about.”

Seeking to turn the table on the Democrats’ powerful use of video evidence, defence lawyers played their own compilations showing Democratic lawmakers at different times using the word “fight.”

Democratic senators, along with Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris were among those shown using the word in past speeches and on television.

“Please, stop the hypocrisy,” Trump’s lawyer David Schoen said.

– Trump ‘inflamed’ and ‘incited’ –

The video footage at the heart of the impeachment managers’ case showed the crowd in the Capitol on January 6 hunting down opponents of Trump as senior figures, including then vice president Mike Pence, fled for safety.

Schoen mocked the video as “an entertainment package” and said Trump could not possibly be held responsible for the actions of the demonstrators.

But lead impeachment manager Jamie Raskin pointed out that the Republican leader had been encouraging extremism even in the lead-up to Election Day by constantly undermining public faith in the election process.

“This pro-Trump insurrection did not spring out of thin air,” Raskin said. “This was not the first time Donald Trump had inflamed and incited a mob.”

He said it was imperative the Senate convict Trump and bar him from running for the White House again in 2024 or face the risk of the same kind of behaviour being repeated.

“Would you bet the future of your democracy on that?”

– Biden ‘anxious’ –

Earlier, Biden told reporters at the White House that he was “anxious to see what my Republican friends do, if they stand up,” when it comes to the verdict.

There was little sign of an impending breakdown in the Trump firewall, but the verdict will make many in the party uncomfortable whichever way it goes.

Republican Senator Bill Cassidy of Louisiana said evidence shown by House managers was “powerful,” but reporters spotted a draft statement from him on Friday that indicated he would be voting for acquittal.

Other Republican senators have clearly already made up their minds and do not intend to break with Trump, who has threatened to derail their careers should they back impeachment.

“The ‘Not Guilty’ vote is growing,” tweeted Republican Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina.

Republican Senator Josh Hawley of Missouri told Fox News the trial was “totally illegitimate.”

-AFP

Trump Critics Call For Permanent Facebook Ban Of Ex-President

 

Calling Donald Trump a “clear and present danger,” a group of scholars and civil rights advocates on Friday urged Facebook to permanently ban the former US president from the platform.

The group, which includes prominent longtime critics of the social media company, called on Facebook’s oversight board to remove Trump from the omnipresent platform after the ex-president’s account was frozen in the aftermath of the January 6 attack on the US Capitol.

Facebook’s oversight board has the final say on what is removed or allowed to remain on the world’s biggest social network, but the group warned of the dangers of allowing Trump to return.

“Overturning the Trump ban is an invitation to violence, hate and disinformation that will cost lives and undermine democracy,” the group said in a letter to the board. “Don’t strike the match.”

They described Trump as a serial abuser of social media rules who poses a danger “to democracy and human life.”

Rival social media giant Twitter banned Trump after January 6 and on Wednesday announced the former president will not be permitted back on the network he used constantly, even if he runs for office again.

“Our policies are designed to ensure that people are not inciting violence,” Twitter Chief Financial Officer Ned Segal said on CNBC.

Conservatives on Capitol Hill and beyond say the moves by Facebook and Twitter to “deplatform” Trump demonstrate political bias and inhibit free speech.

In the letter to Facebook’s board, the group also lambasts the social media company for employing the board as a “fig leaf” to evade responsibility for tough decisions.

“More than ever, this demonstrates why we need independent, democratically accountable oversight,” the group said.

They also called for “laws that change financial incentives for big tech, heavy regulation and a reckoning with the algorithms that are laying waste to democratic society.”

Signers of the letter include Rashad Robinson, president of Color of Change; Anti-Defamation League head Jonathan Greenblatt; and Harvard professor Lawrence Tribe.

Facebook and its Instagram platform suspended Trump after his supporters stormed the US Capitol on January 6, an attack on the seat of democracy that led to Trump’s second impeachment by lawmakers.

Members of Facebook’s oversight board come from various countries and include jurists, human rights activists, journalists, a Nobel peace laureate and a former Danish prime ministe

Trump Can’t Run Again, Says Former UN Envoy Nikki Haley

 

Photo Credit ; The Hill

 

Donald Trump cannot run for the presidency again and Republicans were wrong to support his campaign to reverse the 2020 election results, his former ambassador to the UN and a longtime loyalist Nikki Haley said in an interview published Friday.

Haley, a fervent backer of the ex-president now on trial in the Senate for encouraging insurrection, told Politico Magazine that she is “deeply disturbed” by what has happened to Trump since his election defeat to Joe Biden.

“He’s not going to run for federal office again,” Haley, who served as Trump’s envoy to the United Nations from 2017-2018, said.

The former South Carolina governor dismissed speculation that, to avenge his defeat and second impeachment, Trump will return to seek the presidency in 2024.

“I don’t think he’s going to be in the picture,” she said.

“I don’t think he can. He’s fallen so far.”

Haley also criticized the Republican Party for supporting Trump’s campaign to reverse the election, which led to the shocking January 6 attack on Congress by his supporters.

“We need to acknowledge he let us down,” she told Politico.

“He went down a path he shouldn’t have, and we shouldn’t have followed him, and we shouldn’t have listened to him,” she said.

“And we can’t let that ever happen again.”

Haley confirmed to Politico that she is considering her own run for the presidency in 2024, and said she had not spoken to Trump since January 6.

She suggested that Trump’s legions of followers, who believed his claims of election fraud and who blame the Capitol attack on the left, need reeducation.

“They’ve been lied to by everybody,” she said.

The comments came out as Trump’s Senate trial for inciting insurrection entered its fourth day, with his defence lawyers preparing to rebut scathing evidence presented by Democratic prosecutors that the January 6 attack was the culmination of a deliberate campaign by the former president to foment violence.

With Trump still a heavyweight influence in their party, most Republican senators — including several themselves already setting the groundwork for a 2024 run — are expected to remain loyal, assuring he will not be convicted.

But eyes are on just how many will accept the evidence and vote to convict him, siding with Democrats to condemn his behaviour.

-AFP

Impeachment Case Against Trump Based On ‘Cold, Hard Facts’- Prosecutor

Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-MD) and House impeachment managers walk to the Senate to begin the first day of former US President Donald Trump’s trial on Capitol Hill on February 9, 2021, in Washington, DC. Brendan Smialowski / AFP

 

The lead prosecutor in the impeachment trial of former US President Donald Trump said Tuesday his case was based on “cold, hard facts,” and proceeded to present extensive video evidence that Trump incited violence on January 6.

The historic second impeachment trial of Trump began with a debate on whether trying an ex-president is indeed constitutional.

“You will not be hearing extended lectures here from me because our case is based on cold, hard facts,” lead House impeachment manager Jamie Raskin, a lawmaker from Maryland, told senators.

He dismissed the argument of Trump’s lawyers that he should not be tried at all.

“Their argument is that if you commit an impeachable offense in your last few weeks in office, you do it with constitutional impunity. You get away with it,” Raskin said.

“In other words, conduct that will be a high crime and misdemeanor in your first year as president and your second year as president and your third year as president, and for the vast majority of your fourth year as president, you can suddenly do in your last few weeks in office without facing any constitutional accountability at all,” he said.

“This would create a brand new January exception to the constitution of the United States of America.”

Raskin then presented a lengthy video montage of scenes from the January 6 storming of the Capitol by Trump supporters, after the former president gave a fiery speech urging them to contest Joe Biden’s election victory.

The video footage included scenes from Trump’s pre-riot speech, and then scenes of violence as his supporters broke into the Capitol.

-AFP

Trump Committed ‘Most Grievous Constitutional Crime’ – Prosecutors

In this file photo taken on December 7, 2020 ex-US President Donald Trump looks on during a ceremony presenting the Presidential Medal of Freedom to wrestler Dan Gable in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, DC.

 

Donald Trump committed the “most grievous constitutional crime” of any US president when he incited supporters to storm the Capitol last month, Democratic prosecutors said Monday on the eve of his Senate impeachment trial.

In their final filing before the Senate’s 100 members sit in judgment of Trump, the nine House impeachment managers prosecuting the Republican leader also insisted the case should not be dismissed.

Trump’s lawyers pushed for a dismissal in a document released hours earlier, saying the Senate “lacks jurisdiction” to try Trump, who left office on January 20, because he is no longer a sitting president.

File photo: Outgone US President Donald Trump waves as he boards Marine One at the White House in Washington, DC, on January 20, 2021. (Photo by MANDEL NGAN / AFP)

 

The Democratic managers directly rejected the argument and said there is “overwhelming” evidence of impeachable high crimes and misdemeanors.

“His incitement of insurrection against the United States government — which disrupted the peaceful transfer of power — is the most grievous constitutional crime ever committed by a president,” they said.

“The article of impeachment properly alleges an impeachable offense under the Constitution, is not subject to a motion to dismiss (and) is within the jurisdiction of the Senate sitting as a Court of Impeachment,” they wrote.

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The five-page filing came as Republicans prepare to circle the wagons around the former president and ensure he is acquitted of the single article of impeachment for “incitement of insurrection.”

There is also mounting pressure for a rapid conclusion to the trial so that the Senate can turn to legislative priorities including President Joe Biden’s massive coronavirus relief package.

AFP

Trump Refuses To Testify In ‘Unconstitutional’ Impeachment Trial

File photo of former US President Donald Trump. PHOTO: SAUL LOEB / AFP

 

Former President Donald Trump refused Thursday to testify in his looming impeachment trial after being called by House prosecutors to give evidence, branding the process “unconstitutional.”

Trump’s lawyers ridiculed the request in a letter by lead House prosecutor Jamie Raskin to answer questions over the January 6 attack on the US Capitol as a “public relations stunt.”

“Your letter only confirms what is known to everyone: you cannot prove your allegations” against Trump, attorneys Bruce Castor and David Schoen said in their reply.

READ ALSO: Impeachment Trial: Lawmakers Ask Trump To Testify

While the attorneys did not say whether he would testify, a senior advisor to Trump, Jason Miller, said flatly that he would not.

“The president will not testify in an unconstitutional proceeding,” Miller told AFP.

 

– Trial opens Tuesday –

The refusal came five days before the trial of the former US leader on one charge of “incitement to insurrection” opens in the US Senate.

In his unprecedented second impeachment trialTrump is accused of fomenting the attack by his supporters on the US legislature one month ago, forcing a halt to proceedings to certify opponent Joe Biden’s victory in the November presidential election.

Raskin said the trial will prove “Trump’s conduct was indefensible.”

“His immediate refusal to testify speaks volumes and plainly establishes an adverse inference supporting his guilt,” he said in a statement.

Raskin had asked Trump, who has maintained without evidence that Biden won by massive fraud, to testify sometime next week, before or during the trial.

He said Trump, who now lives in his Florida Mar-a-Lago resort, had little excuse to avoid testifying, and could no longer claim he was too busy overseeing the country, as was the White House position when he was still president.

 

– Assault on the Capitol –

Raskin’s letter and the response set out the battle lines for the never-seen impeachment trial of an ex-president.

The Democratic House prosecutors, or impeachment managers, say the Republican leader was “singularly responsible” for the Capitol attack, which left five dead.

“In a grievous betrayal of his oath of office, President Trump incited a violent mob to attack the United States Capitol,” they said.

Trump’s team argued in a filing Tuesday that whatever he said in the days and hours before the attack to encourage supporters to reject Biden’s election win amounted to constitutionally protected free speech.

They declared it unconstitutional to put a former president on trial in the Senate.

 

– ‘Fight like hell’ –

The January 6 violence continues to reverberate in Washington. Prosecutors have charged some 180 people in the attacks, according to a tally by the George Washington University Program on Extremism, and hundreds more are under investigation.

The Justice Department has suggested it could build a case for seditious conspiracy by some Trump-supporting extreme-right groups in the attack.

In a White House rally just before the attack, Trump encouraged supporters to reject the election results and to “fight like hell.”

While Democrats will make such statements the focus of their case, Trump’s lawyers will hone in on the question of constitutionality.

Conviction requires the support of two-thirds of the 100 senators, who serve as judges and jury in the trial.

But last week 45 of 50 Republican senators made clear in a vote they think trying an ex-president is unconstitutional.

AFP

Impeachment Trial: Lawmakers Ask Trump To Testify

In this file photo ex-US President Donald Trump speaks following a section of the border wall in Alamo, Texas, on January 12, 2021.  MANDEL NGAN / AFP

 

 

Democratic lawmakers leading the impeachment case against Donald Trump on Thursday requested the former president to testify in his trial for allegedly inciting insurrection in the attack on the US Capitol last month.

“I write to invite you to provide testimony under oath, either before or during the Senate impeachment trial, concerning your conduct on January 6, 2021,” chief impeachment manager Jamie Raskin wrote in a letter to Trump, ahead of the February 9 opening of the trial.

Raskin made the request after Trump’s lawyers filed a pre-trial brief denying the allegations that he encouraged the violent assault by his supporters on the US Congress, which left five people dead.

“You have thus attempted to put critical facts at issue, notwithstanding the clear and overwhelming evidence of your constitutional offense,” Raskin said.

 

File photo: Outgone US President Donald Trump waves as he boards Marine One at the White House in Washington, DC, on January 20, 2021. (Photo by MANDEL NGAN / AFP)

 

Trump will go on trial in the Senate for the second time in a year beginning next week.

Raskin proposed that Trump provide testimony, and face cross-examination on it, between February 8 and February 11, “at a mutually convenient time and place.”

Raskin said Trump had little excuse to avoid testifying, saying he could no long claim that he was too busy overseeing the country, as was the White House position when he was still president.

READ ALSO: Red Cross To Help 500 Million Get COVID-19 Shots

“We therefore anticipate your availability to testify.”

If Trump, who now lives in his Florida Mar-a-Lago resort, declines to testify, Raskin warned, the impeachment prosecutors could cite that as evidence supporting his guilt.

Raskin gave Trump until 5 pm Friday to respond to the letter.

AFP

Trump Accused Of ‘Grievous Betrayal’ In Impeachment Trial Brief

FILES) In this file photo US President Donald Trump speaks following a section of the border wall in Alamo, Texas, on January 12, 2021. US impeachment managers denounced Donald Trump’s alleged incitement of insurrection as “a betrayal of historic proportions” on February 2, 2021 as they unveiled their arguments against the former president one week before the Senate begins hearing his case. MANDEL NGAN / AFP

 

US impeachment managers denounced Donald Trump’s alleged incitement of insurrection as “a betrayal of historic proportions” Tuesday as they unveiled their arguments against the former president one week before the Senate begins hearing his case.

“In a grievous betrayal of his oath of office, President Trump incited a violent mob to attack the United States Capitol during the Joint Session, thus impeding Congress’s confirmation of Joseph R. Biden, Jr. as the winner of the presidential election,” the Democratic lawmakers, led by congressman Jamie Raskin, said in their pre-trial brief to the Senate.

“Failure to convict would embolden future leaders to attempt to retain power by any and all means — and would suggest that there is no line a President cannot cross,” they said, adding that the American people should be protected “against a President who provokes violence to subvert our democracy.”

-AFP

Trump Names Defense Lawyers As Impeachment Trial Looms

In this file photo taken on December 3, 2020 US President Donald Trump speaks before awarding the Presidential Medal of Freedom to retired football coach Lou Holtz in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, DC. Brendan Smialowski / AFP
In this file photo taken on December 3, 2020 Ex-US President Donald Trump speaks before awarding the Presidential Medal of Freedom to retired football coach Lou Holtz in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, DC. Brendan Smialowski / AFP

 

 

Former US President Donald Trump announced Sunday he had picked two lawyers to head his defense team days before his historic second impeachment trial, as Republicans braced for a battle over the future of their party.

Trump’s Senate trial is due to start on February 9, but he had reportedly parted ways with several members of his initial legal team just a day ago.

His lead lawyers, David Schoen and Bruce L. Castor, Jr, are “highly respected trial lawyers” with backgrounds in criminal law and defense, according to a statement from Trump.

Schoen has represented Trump ally Roger Stone, and said he was in discussions to join the legal team for Jeffrey Epstein in 2019 days before the disgraced US financier killed himself while in jail on allegations of trafficking underage girls for sex.

Castor previously served as as the district attorney for Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, where he declined to push forward with a case when US comedian Bill Cosby was accused of sexual assault by Andrea Constand.

The case moved forward under Castor’s successor and Cosby was convicted in 2018.

READ ALSO: Libyan Election Vow Must Be Honoured ‘At All Costs’ – UN

Schoen had already been working with the defense team, and both he and Castor “agree that this impeachment is unconstitutional,” Trump’s statement said.

The trial of the former president for alleged “incitement of insurrection” over the storming of the Capitol by his supporters has exposed a rift between Trump loyalists who dominate the Republican Party, and its moderate wing.

“The Senate trial… is going to call all Republicans to take a position more clearly,” Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson told ABC’s “This Week.”

He added: “We’ve got to have a regard for those people that supported Donald Trump… But at the same time, we don’t want to gloss over the terrible actions that happened at the Capitol.”

 

File photo: US Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi presides over Resolution 755, Articles of Impeachment Against ex-President Donald J. SAUL LOEB / AFP

 

Trump looks increasingly likely to avoid conviction due to party support in the Senate — where all but five Republicans already backed an attempt to throw out the case on constitutional grounds.

But the trial is still sure to see battle lines drawn over who controls the party following Trump’s first-term defeat.

On January 6, Trump gave a fiery speech outside the White House exhorting his supporters to march on the US Capitol to overturn the election results.

– Still Trump’s party? –
The protesters then violently stormed the Capitol building in scenes that shocked the world.

“The president’s comments that day were partly responsible for what happened, for the horrible violence,” Republican Senator Rob Portman told CNN’s “State of the Union.” “What he did was wrong and inexcusable.

“I am a juror. I’m going to keep an open mind as we go through this (trial). But I do think that this constitutionality issue has to be addressed. We would be convicting a private citizen, someone who’s out of office. That sets up a precedent.”

Adam Kinzinger, one of 10 Republicans in the House of Representatives to vote for impeachment earlier this month, said Sunday that Trump was “desperate to continue to look like he’s leading the party.”

“We need to quit being the party that even an iota defends an insurrection, a dead police officer and other dead Americans on the Capitol,” Kinzinger told NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

Kinzinger has launched a new political action committee seeking to raise funds to challenge the Trump wing of the party.

File photo: Ex-U.S. President Donald Trump speaks to the press in the James Brady Press Briefing Room at the White House on November 20, 2020 in Washington, DC. U.S. Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images/AFP

 

While signaling opposition to Trump’s trial, Republican senators are instead fueling efforts to censure him over his role in the Capitol assault.

But, while a conviction would lead to a simple-majority vote on whether to bar Trump from holding future public office, a censure resolution carries no such trigger.

Republican divisions have been further exposed in recent days by the newly-elected lawmaker Marjorie Taylor Greene, who has promoted the unhinged conspiracy theories pushed by the QAnon far-right movement, and has backed Trump’s false claims of election fraud.

Party leaders are under pressure to take action against the lawmaker, whose past online posts have indicated support for executing Democrats and claimed school shootings were staged to undermine backing for gun rights.

But Taylor Greene has remained defiant, tweeting Saturday that she had had a “GREAT call” with Trump as she casts herself as a new champion of the party’s Trumpist wing.

AFP

Trump Impeachment Defense Lawyers Leave Team Days Before Trial

In this file photo taken on December 3, 2020 US President Donald Trump speaks before awarding the Presidential Medal of Freedom to retired football coach Lou Holtz in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, DC. Brendan Smialowski / AFP
In this file photo taken on December 3, 2020 Ex-US President Donald Trump speaks before awarding the Presidential Medal of Freedom to retired football coach Lou Holtz in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, DC. Brendan Smialowski / AFP

 

Several of former US President Donald Trump’s impeachment lawyers have left his team a little over a week before his trial, US media reported Saturday.

CNN cited unnamed sources as saying that five lawyers — including two who were thought to be leading the team — had parted ways with the Republican billionaire after disagreeing over his legal strategy.

Trump had wanted the lawyers to continue his baseless claims of mass election fraud rather than focus on the legality of convicting a president after he has left office, CNN said, adding that he was “not receptive” to discussion.

The lawyers included Butch Bowers and Deborah Barbier, expected to lead Trump’s defense, CNN and other outlets reported, saying it had been a “mutual decision.”

“We have done much work, but have not made a final decision on our legal team, which will be made shortly,” tweeted Trump advisor Jason Miller in response to the reports.

READ ALSO: EU Relaxes State Aid Rules As COVID-19 Crisis Drags On

The development leaves Trump, who has reportedly been struggling to form a defense ahead of his historic second impeachment trial over the ransacking of the US Capitol this month, facing new hurdles with just days to go.

However, even with his legal team in chaos he looks increasingly likely to dodge conviction.

Nearly all senators from his party have signaled opposition to his trial and fueled efforts to censure him instead.

The trial — in which Trump faces a charge of “incitement of insurrection” — will begin on February 9.

 

File photo: Ex-U.S. President Donald Trump speaks to the press in the James Brady Press Briefing Room at the White House on November 20, 2020 in Washington, DC. U.S. Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images/AFP

 

But with just five Republicans joining all 50 Democrats this week in agreeing that the trial should go forward, it appears unlikely that 17 Republicans would vote against Trump, the minimum number needed to reach the two-thirds threshold for conviction.

A censure would be less severe than expulsion but is a formal statement of disapproval.

It would still need 10 Republicans to go along in order to overcome any blocking tactics set out by Trump loyalists.

While a conviction would lead to a simple-majority vote on whether to bar Trump from holding any future public office, a censure resolution carries no such trigger.

That would leave the door open for Trump to run again in 2024, a prospect that a significant portion of Republicans now support, despite the deadly storming of the Capitol on January 6 by a mob of pro-Trump extremists in an effort to overturn the results of the election.

AFP