With Republican positions hardening and President Biden’s agenda slowed by the proceedings, Democratic senators began signaling that they had seen enough, too, and members of both parties were coalescing around a plan to bring a quick end to the trial with a vote on guilt or innocence as early as Saturday.
- A trial is being held to decide whether former President Donald J. Trump is guilty of inciting a deadly mob of his supporters when they stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6, violently breaching security measures and sending lawmakers into hiding as they met to certify President Biden’s victory.
- The House voted 232 to 197 to approve a single article of impeachment, accusing Mr. Trump of “inciting violence against the government of the United States” in his quest to overturn the election results. Ten Republicans joined the Democrats in voting to impeach him.
- To convict Mr. Trump, the Senate would need a two-thirds majority to be in agreement. This means at least 17 Republican senators would have to vote with Senate Democrats to convict.
- A conviction seems unlikely. Last month, only five Republicans in the Senate sided with Democrats in beating back a Republican attempt to dismiss the charges because Mr. Trump is no longer in office. Only 27 senators say they are undecided about whether to convict Mr. Trump.
- If the Senate convicts Mr. Trump, finding him guilty of “inciting violence against the government of the United States,” senators could then vote on whether to bar him from holding future office. That vote would only require a simple majority, and if it came down to party lines, Democrats would prevail with Vice President Kamala Harris casting the tiebreaking vote.
- If the Senate does not convict Mr. Trump, the former president could be eligible to run for public office once again. Public opinion surveys show that he remains by far the most popular national figure in the Republican Party.
Confident of acquittal, Mr. Trump was spotted on a golf course in Florida while his defense team prepared a truncated presentation to offer on Friday rather than take the full two days for arguments permitted by trial rules.
After a much-panned preliminary appearance earlier this week, Mr. Trump’s lawyers planned to argue that he was being prosecuted out of partisan enmity, never overtly called for violence and was not responsible for the actions of his supporters.
Republican senators exhibited little eagerness to defend Mr. Trump’s actions, instead explaining their likely acquittal votes by maintaining that it is unconstitutional and unwise to put a former president on trial and accusing Democrats who sometimes use fiery speech themselves of holding a political foe to a double standard. The Senate rejected the constitutionality argument on Tuesday on a 56-to-44 vote, allowing the trial to proceed, but Republicans said they were not obliged to accept that judgment.
“My view is unchanged as to whether or not we have the authority to do this, and I’m certainly not bound by the fact that 56 people think we do,” said Senator Roy Blunt, Republican of Missouri. “I get to cast my vote, and my view is that you can’t impeach a former president. And if the former president did things that were illegal, there is a process to go through for that.”
Senator Marco Rubio, Republican of Florida, offered similar reasoning. “What happened on Jan. 6 — I said it the moment it started — was unpatriotic, un-American, treasonous, a crime, unacceptable,” he said. “The fundamental question for me, and I don’t know about for everybody else, is whether an impeachment trial is appropriate for someone who is no longer in office. I don’t believe that it is.”