Senators and impeachment managers: The trial is over but the work isn’t done

Senators may disagree on the validity of former President Donald Trump's impeachment, but they seem on the same page about one thing: This chapter hasn't closed just quite yet.

Speaking on a host of Sunday shows, senators from both parties agreed that there should be a 9/11-style investigation into the Jan. 6 Capitol riots and that Trump had spewed falsehoods relating to the 2020 election. From the lack of law enforcement on the Capitol grounds that day to the seemingly coordinated maneuvers of the rioters, senators pushed to probe into the events that culminated in the attack that left seven people dead.

"We need a 9/11 commission to find out what happened and make sure it never happens again, and I want to make sure that the Capitol footprint can be better defended next time," Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) told Fox News' Chris Wallace.

The comments came after a tumultuous final day in the Senate trial, where Democrats voted to have witnesses speak at the trial — then backtracked. Seven Republicans ended up voting with the Democrats to convict Trump — two more than during the Tuesday vote on the constitutionality of trying a former president.

Democratic senators and House impeachment managers defended the flip-flop Sunday, arguing that drawing out the Senate trial with witnesses would not have been necessary to prove their point.

"We didn't need more witnesses," Pennsylvania Rep. Madeleine Dean, one of the House managers, told ABC's George Stephanopoulos on "This Week." "America witnessed this. We were in a roomful of witnesses and victims."

"When you look at what people said after the trial, it wasn't more witnesses that were going to change their mind," Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) told Wallace on "Fox News Sunday." Klobuchar added that Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell did not vote to convict even though he acknowledged in a scathing statement Saturday that Trump was "practically and morally responsible" for provoking the events of Jan. 6. McConnell disagreed with the constitutionality of trying a former president.

"We could have had 1,000 witnesses, but that could not have overcome the kinds of silly arguments that people like McConnell and [West Virginia Sen. Shelley Moore] Capito were hanging their hats on," lead impeachment manager Jamie Raskin (D-Md.) told NBC's Chuck Todd on Sunday's "Meet the Press."

Graham, one of Trump's fiercest allies in the Senate, wasn't the only lawmaker who wanted the Jan. 6 riots investigated. Others, including Delaware Sen. Chris Coons, a protégé of President Joe Biden, and Dean, agreed that there should be a 9/11-style investigation into the Jan. 6 insurrection.

Sen. Bill Cassidy, one of the few Republicans to vote to convict Trump, told Stephanopoulos that there "should be a complete investigation about what happened on 1/6, both why wasn't there more law enforcement, National Guard already mobilized, what was known, who knew it, all that, because that builds the basis so this never happens again in future." But the Louisiana Republican added he wanted to look forward and not have Jan. 6 define the future of the Republican Party.

Coons defended the move not to have witnesses at the impeachment trial by bringing up further possible investigations against Trump outside of the formal impeachment. The Delaware Democrat said an investigation into Jan. 6 could justifiably stretch for months, but added the Senate had to focus on pressing legislative priorities.

"I'm also focused on moving forward with delivering the urgent pandemic relief, the revitalization and strengthening our economy that President Biden has been focused on since becoming president, even during this week of the impeachment trial," Coons said on ABC.

Sen. Dick Durbin, the No. 2 Democrat in the Senate, said he was happy the impeachment trial provided an accounting of the Jan. 6 events.

"I wanted to make sure that the Soviet-style revisionists on the Republican side who are trying to blame everybody but Donald Trump had a record in front of the American people that was clear," the Illinois Democrat said on "Meet the Press." "I think Jamie Raskin and the House managers made that record with clarity."

Graham demanded an investigation into what leadership in the House and Senate knew in advance of the riots, insisting there was a "pre-planned element to the attack." But he stood by Trump, refusing to assign sole responsibility to the former president. He dismissed Democrats' claims that Trump's bellicose language on Jan. 6 led to the Capitol riots, repeating the former president's defense that fight-like language is common in political parlance.

Though Senators agreed on the future shadow cast by the Jan. 6 insurrection, less clear was the political future of Trump himself. Graham disagreed with McConnell's Saturday statement, calling the minority leader an "outlier" in his party. But Coons contended that had the conviction vote been conducted secretly, the chamber would have obtained the 67 votes necessary to convict.

Graham also said Trump remained a major force in the Republican Party and that he had his eyes set on the 2022 midterm elections. The South Carolinian said that in a party where support for Trump remains high, McConnell's damning statements about Trump would put the minority leader "center stage" as Republicans vie to take back control of the Senate. Graham added he plans to meet with Trump next week, calling him "the most vibrant member of the Republican Party."

"The Trump movement is alive and well," Graham said.

But a number of his Republican peers have voiced skepticism on that front. Former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley told POLITICO Magazine that Trump "let us down" and "went down a path he shouldn't have, and we shouldn't have followed him." And McConnell has been trying to push the party away from Trump ever since Jan. 6.

Cassidy told Stephanopoulos on Sunday that he felt Trump's "force wanes" and "the Republican Party is more than just one person."

"The Republican Party is about ideas," Cassidy said. "The American people want those ideas, but they want a leader who's accountable and a leader they can trust. I think our leadership will be different going forward."

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan also said he expected the GOP to move forward once members overcome their fear of Trump. "A lot of Republicans are outraged, but they don't have the courage to stand up and vote that way because they're afraid of being primaried, or they're going to lose their careers," he said on CNN's "State of the Union."

Klobuchar suggested Trump's future legal woes would seriously degrade his hold on the GOP. He is under investigation in Georgia for his attempt to flip the 2020 election results in that state and in New York for alleged financial misdeeds related to the Trump Organization.

"The American people have now seen clear out what he did. He violated his oath of office in what [Rep.] Liz Cheney called the greatest betrayal of a president's oath of office in history, and those memories and those police officers‘ screams will be forever etched in the memories of Americans," Klobuchar said. "He is done."

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Trump defense lawyer thinks impeachment trial will wrap up on Saturday

David Schoen, one of former President Donald Trump’s defense attorneys, said the Senate impeachment trial could wrap up on Saturday.

Speaking with reporters on Thursday evening, Schoen said the defense team would likely take three to four hours on Friday to present its arguments. He added that the trial was “moving much more quickly” than anticipated.

Schoen had initially requested to pause the trial from sundown Friday till Sunday so he could observe the Sabbath. But he withdrew the request, adding that he would simply not participate in the trial during that time.

Jason Miller, a Trump senior adviser, had already announced on Thursday that the defense team planned to finish its arguments on Friday, making it likely the trial would finish over the weekend.

Schoen and his trial partner, Bruce Castor, faced frustration from Republicans and bemusement from Democrats after giving winding opening statements on Tuesday on the constitutionality of the trial. Their remarks, which touched issues ranging from Ancient Greek democracy to the upstanding nature of U.S. senators, were a stark contrast to the dramatic video montages used by House impeachment managers to recreate the Jan. 6 Capitol riots.

Even Sean Hannity of Fox News, a Trump loyalist, asked Schoen about the team’s opening remarks on Tuesday. Schoen defended the team by saying it would be “very well prepared in the future.”

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Mike Lee objects to anecdote, prompting a confusing end to 2nd day of Trump trial

Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) on Wednesday night objected to the portrayal of an accidental phone call from then-President Donald Trump, plunging the Senate chamber into confusion on the second day of Trump’s impeachment trial.

Rising as Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.), the lead House manager, moved to end discussion until Thursday, Lee asked that a characterization of the call be stricken from the record, contending that it was inaccurate.

Trump called Lee on Jan. 6, the day of the Capitol insurrection, but had meant to call Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-Ala.) to corral support for his election disputes. Lee himself recounted the call to the Deseret News last month and said he had passed off the phone to Tuberville when he realized Trump had dialed him by mistake.

House impeachment managers cited the call during their presentation on Wednesday, but Lee said the characterization they provided was untrue.

The chamber grew tense as Lee and Democratic leadership began heatedly arguing over the nature of Lee’s request and how to proceed according to Senate rules.

Eventually, Raskin returned to the lectern and agreed to withdraw the anecdote. He added that Rep. David Cicilline (D-R.I.), one of the managers, was merely reading from a media report of the call when he brought it up, but that the anecdote was not worth defending further.

“This is much ado about nothing because it’s not critical in any way to our case,” Raskin said.

The Senate then adjourned for the evening.

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Cassidy defends his vote for impeachment trial

Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) on Wednesday defended his vote on the Senate impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump, saying the House impeachment managers had soundly defended its constitutionality the previous day.

“They did such a great job that the president’s lawyers got up and said, wow, they did a great job!” Cassidy said in a video statement. “They effectively conceded the point.”

Cassidy was one of just six Republicans siding with Democrats in Tuesday’s vote to proceed with the trial. But Cassidy’s support surprised members of his party and prompted condemnation from the Louisiana GOP.

In his statement on Wednesday, Cassidy said he was upholding his duty with his vote, calling himself a “constitutional conservative who took an oath to support and defend the Constitution.

“There are those that think I should put President Trump above the Constitution,” Cassidy said. “That’s not conservatism. That’s not Republicanism. And I reject it.”

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‘We’ve lost the line’: Police describe Capitol chaos

Police officers defending the Capitol were subjected to bear spray, tasers and blows from metal rods during the Jan. 6 riots, according to testimony shared by Rep. Eric Swalwell.

Swalwell (D-Calif.) played a series of police radio calls and videos showing officers in panicked voices asking for backup as rioters breached the Capitol complex.

"We've been flanked and we've lost the line!" cried one Metropolitan Police officer heard in a radio recording.

Swalwell, one of the House impeachment managers, also showed video of MPDC officer Michael Fanone being attacked by rioters as they stole his badge and equipment. Fanone was also tased, triggering a heart attack, Swalwell said.

In a video clip of Fanone describing the scene, the officer said: "It was like a medieval battle scene."

"It was some of the most brutal combat I've ever encountered," Fanone said.

Swalwell also played a video of MPDC Officer Daniel Hodges as he was crushed under a door by rioters, with blood dripping from his face. Hodges cried out after a rioter ripped off his mask and pinned him in a heavy doorway.

"May we do all we can in this chamber to make sure that never happens again," Swalwell said.

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Trump lawyer denounces Capitol riot as ‘repugnant’ in winding opening argument

Bruce Castor, former President Donald Trump's defense lawyer, opened his impeachment trial remarks Tuesday by condemning the Capitol riot as "repugnant" while also praising senators as "extraordinary people."

"You will not hear any member of the team representing former President Trump say anything but in the strongest possible way denounce the violence of the rioters and those that breached the Capitol," Castor said.

In a meandering statement, Castor also denied Trump's culpability in the Capitol riot by evoking the former president's right to free speech. Castor said if the Senate were to convict Trump, "the floodgates will open."

His comments included a wide range of philosophical musings, evoking democracy's origins in Ancient Greece and claiming an impeachment conviction would lead to a "slippery slope." Castor said only the Senate could stop the "bitter infighting" from decaying the country's republic and denounced the trial as an "attack on the Constitution."

Castor spent a large portion of his remarks heaping praise on senators, saying they are "extraordinary people" and personally calling out Sens. Pat Toomey and Bob Casey of Pennsylvania. He also offered modest praise to the House impeachment managers, saying they delivered an "outstanding presentation" and calling them "clever fellows."

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‘Politics isn’t about the weird worship of one dude’: Sasse shoots down Nebraska censure motion

Sen. Ben Sasse of Nebraska on Thursday became the latest prominent Republican to face home-state backlash following criticism of former President Donald Trump.

Sasse denounced the Nebraska Republican Party State Central Committee in a biting video statement after local news reports revealed the committee was considering a censure motion for the senator’s rebuke of Trump following the Capitol insurrection last month. The motion, first reported by News Channel Nebraska, cited Sasse’s refusal to back Trump’s challenge of the 2020 election results and the senator’s openness to convicting the former president on an impeachment charge of inciting an insurrection.

In the five-minute video directed at the members of the party’s State Central Committee, Sasse defended himself as holding Trump accountable for his actions and denounced blind loyalty to a single person.

“Politics isn’t about the weird worship of one dude,” Sasse said. “The party can purge Trump skeptics. But I’d like to convince you that not only is that civic cancer for the nation, it’s just terrible for our party.”

A handful of big-name Republicans have faced outcries from their home states in the wake of Trump’s impeachment. The Arizona Republican Party voted to censure Cindy McCain, widow of Sen. John McCain, and former Sen. Jeff Flake after both criticized Trump. Rep. Liz Cheney, the No. 3 Republican in the House, has faced blowback in Wyoming after she voted to impeach Trump for inciting the Capitol riots, and Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) even went to her home state to campaign against her to a crowd of more than 800 people.

In his video statement, Sasse cast himself as a loyal conservative and differentiated between his constituents and members of the State Central Committee. He said very few Nebraska voters “are as angry about life as some of the people on this committee.”

“Political addicts don’t represent most Nebraska conservatives,” Sasse said.

The senator added that his criticisms of Trump after the riots were in line with his past actions against Trump, including declining to vote for him in 2016 and 2020. He also said the party’s anger against him was not about his ideology, noting that he is one of the most conservative members of the Senate. Rather, he said, his party was dissatisfied with his “not bending the knee” to Trump.

Sasse also used the video to reiterate his disdain for Trump’s behavior between Election Day and his departure from office, when Trump continuously spread false claims that the election was stolen from him. Sasse said the Capitol riot “happened because the president lied to you” and because Trump “riled a mob that attacked the Capitol — many chanting ‘hang Pence.’”

“If that president were a Democrat, we both know how you’d respond,” Sasse said. “But, because he had Republican behind his name, you’re defending him.”

The censure motion isn't the only one Sasse faces in the state. The Scotts Bluff County GOP indicated on Wednesday that it would move to censure Sasse, and wrote an open letter decrying the senator after its members were unable to get in touch with him, according to The Scotts Bluff Star Herald.

The chair of the Scotts Bluff county party, Kolene Woodward, told Star Herald: “We’re terribly frustrated that he’s just ignoring us, so we thought if we put an open letter, perhaps someone on his staff would read it and let him know, we have introduced a resolution for our state central committee meeting next weekend at the county level to censure him.“

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Ignoring calls to pull back, Gaetz slams Cheney in her home state

Rep. Matt Gaetz fired off a barrage of insults against his colleague Liz Cheney during a rally in her home state of Wyoming on Thursday — a raw embodiment of the cleavage across the Republican Party following President Donald Trump's exit from office.

Gaetz's rally flouted Republican leadership's appeal to temper the intraparty conflict. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy urged members of his caucus Wednesday to lay off the attacks on each other.

But Gaetz held back no punches as he attacked his colleague.

"Defeat Liz Cheney in this upcoming election, and Wyoming will bring Washington to its knees," he told a group of hundreds of spectators, many of whom did not wear masks. "How can you call yourself a representative when you don't represent the will of the people? That's what all the neocons ask about the Arab dictators. I figure maybe we ought to ask the same question of a beltway bureaucrat turned fake cow girl that supported an impeachment that is deeply unpopular in the state of Wyoming."

Gaetz revealed his intention to campaign against Cheney after she and nine other House Republicans voted to impeach Trump for inciting an insurrection on the Capitol. The measure was the most bipartisan impeachment in U.S. history. But the move against a president who has become a rousing figure for his party sparked vitriol, with calls for Cheney's ouster from her leadership position among the caucus' right flank.

But talk of impeachment made only a glancing appearance in Gaetz's rally Thursday. The congressman mostly opted to portray Cheney as in cahoots with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and Democrats like President Joe Biden and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to sustain a status quo that works for Washington at the expense of main street America. He accused Cheney of being out of touch with the cowboy values of her home state of Wyoming, calling himself a supporter of "prairie populism."

"The truth is that the establishment in both political parties have teamed up to screw our fellow Americans for generations," Gaetz said. "The private insider club of Joe Biden, Mitch McConnell, Mitt Romney, Nancy Pelosi and Liz Cheney, they want to return our government to its default setting: enriching them."

The claim that Cheney and her Democratic counterparts are batting for the same team came in contrast with the congresswoman's simultaneous introduction Thursday of legislation challenging Biden's recent executive order on energy production.

Gaetz also attacked Cheney for the role her father, former Vice President Dick Cheney, played in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. He disparagingly called Liz Cheney a "neocon," saying she advocated unnecessary wars in the Middle East.

"The neocons say we got to fight them abroad so we don't have to fight them at home," Gaetz said. "I was going to say that maybe we ought to fight the neocons at home so we don't have to fight them in Washington, D.C. But that's problem, isn't it, because the neocons are home at Washington, D.C."

"The real cowboys, I guess, fought the Indians so they could use the land, but what are America's soldiers even fighting for that Liz Cheney sends around the world?" he added. "Places that most Americans couldn't even point to on a map."

Much of the event followed Trump's rally playbook, with talking points mirroring the former president's bombastic public comments. Trump frequently expressed his contempt for Cheney while he was president, telling his supporters shortly before they stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6: "We’ve got to get rid of the weak congresspeople, the ones that aren’t any good, the Liz Cheneys of the world."

At one point, Gaetz even echoed Trump's disdain for developing countries in a dig at Congress, saying: "A nation that sends its best to fight in the worst nations in the world should not send its worst to be its representatives in the United States Congress."

Cheney's team has largely brushed off Gaetz' attacks, with one member of her office telling CNN this week: "Rep. Gaetz can leave his beauty bag at home. In Wyoming, the men don't wear make-up." (The dig is an apparent reference to Gaetz's use of makeup in an HBO documentary about his time in office).

In a statement to POLITICO, former Wyoming State Rep. Amy Edmonds put it equally bluntly Thursday: "Wyoming doesn’t like it when outsiders come into our state and try to tell us what to do."

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Sen. Brian Schatz deplores Capitol security ‘failure’

Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) bemoaned the state of the Capitol’s security on Wednesday after violent rioters broke into restricted parts of the building and prompted the implementation of emergency measures.

“U.S. Capitol security needs a total overhaul,” Schatz tweeted. “The physical breaching and desecration of our temple of democracy must never happen again. This was plainly a failure.”

Rioters were able to push past Capitol police, causing substantial property damage and forcing members to be hidden and evacuated. The police presence on the Hill appeared considerably lighter Wednesday than during other major, contentious events, such as President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial. D.C. police announced they had arrested a few dozen people by Wednesday night following the riots.

Acting Attorney General Jeff Rosen said on Wednesday afternoon that the Justice Department was coordinating with other federal agencies and law enforcement to take control of the situation. The FBI also posted on Twitter that it was looking for help identifying people involved in the Capitol riots.

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Schiff hopes ousted U.S. attorney testifies before Congress

House Intelligence Chair Adam Schiff said Sunday he hopes the ousted U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York testifies before Congress, saying his removal revealed a mismanagement of the Justice Department.

U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman stepped down from his position Saturday after getting into a public stand-off with Attorney General William Barr, who had previously stated that Berman had resigned, to Berman’s apparent surprise. Barr's call for his departure was seen as a major interference in the prosecutor's office.

Barr did not give a reason for Berman removal, but many felt it sent a sign that President Donald Trump would not hesitate to purge those who weren't totally loyal to him. Berman’s office has investigated Trump and his associates.

Schiff (D-Calif.) said Sunday: "I certainly hope that [Berman] will come and testify before Congress."

It's "the most disastrous management of the Justice Department in modern memory," Schiff told host Chuck Todd on NBC’s “Meet The Press.“ "And like so much of what we have seen in this administration, it doesn't come as a surprise anymore, but yet it's completely demoralizing to the people in the department and dangerous to the rule of law."

House Judiciary Chair Jerry Nadler has already announced his intention to investigate the matter, but the New York Democrat dismissed the idea of launching an impeachment investigation against Barr, saying it would be a "waste of time" due to the Senate majority in the Senate.

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