WASHINGTON (AP) — Donald Trump’s lawyers have a simple objective as they open their defense at the former president’s impeachment trial: Don’t lose any Republican votes.
Most Senate Republicans have indicated that they will vote to acquit Trump on the House charge of incitement of insurrection. They argue that the trial is unconstitutional and that Trump didn’t incite supporters to lay siege on the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 when he told them to “fight like hell” against the certification of President Joe Biden’s victory. If Republicans hold the line, Democrats will fall well short of the two-thirds of the Senate needed for conviction.
Trump’s two top lawyers, Bruce Castor and David Schoen, risked losing one Republican vote on Tuesday after Louisiana Sen. Bill Cassidy said they did a “terrible” job arguing that the trial is unconstitutional. Cassidy, who had voted with his party two weeks prior to stop the trial, switched his vote to side with Democrats.
Including Cassidy, six Republicans sided with Democrats on that vote that the trial is constitutional — far from the minimum of 17 Republican votes that would be needed to convict.