The fast-moving impeachment trial of former President Donald J. Trump will turn on Friday to his defense, with his legal team seeking to persuade senators that he should be acquitted of inciting an insurrection.
Mr. Trump’s lawyers will make their oral arguments after the House impeachment managers, who are acting as the prosecution, laid out their case against the former president over two days. They relied partly on chilling footage of the Capitol assault that was intended to convey the deadly consequences of the president’s behavior after his election defeat.
During its presentation on Friday, the defense team is expected to argue that contrary to the portrayal offered by the prosecution, Mr. Trump did not encourage the violence that took place at the Capitol on Jan. 6 as Congress met to certify the election results.
The former president’s lawyers are expected to assert that his remarks to supporters that day are protected under the First Amendment, an argument that the House managers sought to pre-emptively rebut as they addressed senators on Thursday.
Mr. Trump’s lawyers may also return to the matter of whether it is constitutional to hold the trial in the first place, since he is no longer in office. They got off to a shaky start on Tuesday during a debate over the trial’s constitutionality, delivering a performance that enraged Mr. Trump. After hearing arguments on that issue, the Senate voted 56 to 44 for the trial to proceed.
The trial is moving rapidly, which has advantages for Republicans and Democrats. Democratic lawmakers want to move forward with President Biden’s proposed coronavirus relief package, and impeachment will consume much of the oxygen on the Senate side of the Capitol for as long as the trial lasts. Republicans are grappling with deep divisions over the party’s future now that Mr. Trump is out of office, and the proceedings are centering a floodlight on his conduct.
Mr. Trump’s defense team has up to 16 hours over two days for oral arguments, but one of his lawyers, David I. Schoen, said they may use only three to four hours. Once they are finished, senators will have up to four hours to question the two sides.
A final vote on whether to convict Mr. Trump could take place on Saturday, a time frame that would make it the fastest impeachment trial for a president in American history.
Lawyers for former President Donald J. Trump will have their first chance on Friday to counter the claim that Democratic House impeachment managers have sought to establish this week: that he was personally responsible for inciting the mob that stormed the Capitol on Jan 6.
As House prosecutors wrapped up their arguments on Thursday, they gave no indication that they planned to call witnesses. Mr. Trump’s lawyers have also shown little interest in prolonging the proceedings. One of them, David I. Schoen, said on Thursday that he expected his team might use as few as three or four hours to mount its defense on Friday.
The Senate will reconvene at noon.
What will Trump’s defense look like?
From the outset, Mr. Trump’s lawyers have contended that impeaching a former president is improper and unconstitutional, and a number of prominent Republican senators have echoed that stance. That argument may continue to be the keystone of the defense team’s case on Friday.
Mr. Trump’s lawyers may also seek to argue that the former president was never in control of his supporters’ actions, and that his expressions of frustration about the election were not overt calls to violence but opinions protected as free speech under the Constitution.
Anticipating this defense, House prosecutors sought to pre-empt that line of reasoning on Thursday.
“Absolutely nobody in America would be protected by the First Amendment if they did all the things that Donald Trump did,” said Representative Jamie Raskin, the lead House impeachment manager.
Mr. Trump’s lawyers have so far avoided repeating or defending Mr. Trump’s more outlandish claims of widespread election fraud, and they are not expected to make that part of their arguments.
What is the mood among senators?
If Mr. Trump’s lawyers do complete their presentation quickly, senators, who act as jurors in the case, may have time on Friday to begin questioning each side. Trial rules allow four hours for senators to do so.
A number of Republican senators reiterated concerns on Thursday about the constitutionality of the trial and the precedent that impeaching a former president could set. Many said they expected to see questioning finished by Friday night.
A final vote to either convict or acquit Mr. Trump could follow as early as Saturday, allowing senators to avoid a Sunday session that was approved in trial rules set this week.
How can I follow the trial?
The New York Times will continue following the trial, with live updates, video and analysis throughout.
The House impeachment managers wrapped up their case against former President Donald J. Trump on Thursday, warning senators that if they did not vote to convict, it would set a dangerous standard for the country in the future.
Here are some takeaways from the third day of the trial.
The angry, violent mob came to Washington at Trump’s invitation, the prosecution concludes.
The impeachment managers used their final day of arguments to try to convince senators that Mr. Trump invited the rioters to Washington on Jan. 6. They argued that the “insurrectionists” who attacked the Capitol were not acting on their own, as his defense lawyers have said and will most likely assert when they present their case.
The managers again used video footage of Mr. Trump and his supporters to make their points, interspersed with clips of the chaos to remind the senators of how they felt as the Capitol was under assault. They asserted that such violence would not have occurred without Mr. Trump.
Even after the attack, managers say Mr. Trump showed a ‘lack of remorse.’
The impeachment managers stressed that despite the five deaths and dozens of injuries among law enforcement officers alone, including cracked ribs and smashed spinal disks, Mr. Trump never apologized for what happened on Jan. 6.
“President Trump’s lack of remorse and refusal to take accountability during the attack shows his state of mind,” said Representative Ted Lieu of California, one of the managers. “It shows that he intended the events of Jan. 6 to happen. And when it did, he delighted in it.”
Vice President Mike Pence’s presence looms large as a traitor, victim and hero.
Throughout the impeachment trial, the House managers have praised former Vice President Mike Pence for standing up to Mr. Trump and refusing to do his bidding of rejecting Electoral College votes to grant him re-election.
“Vice President Pence showed us what it means to be an American,” Mr. Lieu said on Wednesday. “What it means to show courage. He put his country, his oath, his values and his morals above the will of one man.”
It was unusual praise to hear from Democrats after four years of Mr. Pence going along with his combustive boss, which critics have said only enabled Mr. Trump.
The managers emphasized that the rioters wanted to assassinate Mr. Pence, the second in command of the country, in what appeared to be an appeal to Republican senators’ respect for the sacred chain of command.
Mr. Pence, a former congressman and governor of Indiana, has been largely out of sight since he left office.
Trump still appears to have enough votes to be acquitted.
The House impeachment managers closed three days of emotional footage of the attack. They showed senators just how close they were to the violent mob of Trump supporters as they ducked and ran to safety that day. At times, the videos and recordings appeared to strike a chord with the Republicans in the room. Some of them even praised the work of the House managers. But it has not been enough to change their minds.
To secure a conviction, Senate Democrats would need 17 of their Republican peers to side with them, and that has never been an expected outcome.
“The impeachment trial is dead on arrival,” Senator Rand Paul, Republican of Kentucky, predicted last month.
Sabrina Tavernise, Luke Broadwater and Glenn Thrush contributed reporting.
President Biden said Friday that he is watching to see whether Republican senators will “stand up” to former President Donald J. Trump in his impeachment trial, but Mr. Biden said he is not lobbying them about how to vote.
“I’m just anxious to see whether — what my Republican friends do. Whether they stand up,” Mr. Biden said during a brief, impromptu walk on the North Lawn of the White House early Friday morning.
The president has largely avoided providing commentary on the trial, in which the House managers spent two days using graphic video to reconstruct the Jan. 6 assault on the Capitol and Mr. Trump’s role in it. On Thursday, he said he thought the gripping video might have changed some minds.
Friday’s comments appeared to go slightly further toward pressuring Republican senators to convict the former president. But Mr. Biden was quick to say that he is not calling Republican senators directly to lobby them.
“No. No, I’m not,” he said.
Mr. Biden’s comments came as he prepared to meet later Friday morning with a bipartisan group of mayors and governors in the Oval Office to discuss efforts to pass the president’s $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package. A news release from the White House said the president would make the case to the local leaders that passage of the legislation would “get more support to their communities and those on the front lines of the fight against Covid-19.”
The president is scheduled to meet privately with Janet Yellen, the secretary of the Treasury, for an update on the economic situation facing the country. In the early evening, Mr. Biden is expected to leave for Camp David, the presidential retreat in the nearby Maryland mountains. It will be his first weekend there as president.
The Biden administration is preparing to resume processing migrants who were forced back to Mexico and have been stuck in limbo under a Trump-era policy that blocked access to the United States, administration officials said Thursday evening.
Under the policy, the Trump administration returned tens of thousands of asylum-seeking migrants to Mexico to wait for their day in immigration court. Many of them have been in squalid tent camps for months, or longer. Moreover, immigration hearings were suspended as the coronavirus pandemic closed immigration courts in the United States, leaving many migrants vulnerable to muggings, kidnappings, sexual assault and other crimes.
President Biden had already directed the government to suspend returning migrants to Mexico under the program, more commonly known as the “Remain in Mexico” policy. On Feb. 19, the administration will begin bringing some of those migrants to the United States, with a focus on those who have waited in Mexico the longest, administration officials said.
Migrants “with particular vulnerabilities” will be a priority, one official said, adding that the administration would work with international organizations to help provide coronavirus testing.
The Biden administration has repeatedly sought to discourage migrants from rushing to the southwestern border as Mr. Biden looks to make good on his pledge to roll back Donald J. Trump’s immigration policies. Still, Mr. Biden will keep in place a pandemic emergency rule that has empowered Border Patrol agents to rapidly turn away border crossers without providing the opportunity to ask for protection.
“Especially at the border, however, where capacity constraints remain serious, changes will take time,” Alejandro N. Mayorkas, the homeland security secretary, said in a statement. “Individuals who are not eligible under this initial phase should wait for further instructions and not travel to the border.”
Instead, the migrants who were processed under the Remain in Mexico program will be able to register online for their case to resume and will be told when and where to arrive at the border, officials said.
The asylum seekers who had been stuck in Mexico will not enter long-term detention, but will be processed through initiatives that track migrants after they are released into the United States, in some cases with ankle monitors, to ensure they appear at immigration court. During his campaign, Mr. Biden said that he would rely on such initiatives and cut funding used to jail migrants.
The officials said they expected to be able to eventually process 300 migrants a day, but it was unclear when the new system would start.
Many of the more than 60,000 migrants who had been sent back to Mexico under the program had returned to their home countries. But more than 25,000 migrants still have active asylum cases in the program, administration officials said.
Twitter on Thursday said it had suspended the official account of Project Veritas, a conservative activist group, because the account posted private information.
The social media company also temporarily locked the account of James O’Keefe, the founder of Project Veritas.
Mr. O’Keefe will have to delete a tweet that violated Twitter’s rules before he can tweet again, Twitter said.
The tweets that Twitter said violated its policies against posting private information showed a Project Veritas staffer questioning a Facebook executive, Guy Rosen, outside his home.
“The account, @Project_Veritas, was permanently suspended for repeated violations of Twitter’s private information policy,” a Twitter spokeswoman said.
Mr. O’Keefe said Project Veritas had appealed Twitter’s decision.
“It would be unconscionable for me to take down our reporting where it didn’t violate anyone’s privacy rights,” he said.
Nikki Haley, the former United Nations ambassador in the Trump administration, criticized Donald J. Trump in an interview published by Politico on Friday, saying that she was “disgusted” by the former president’s conduct on Jan. 6 and believed he had “lost any sort of political viability.”
Ms. Haley, who is widely believed to be considering a run for president in 2024, also said that she does not think the former president will run himself. “I don’t think he’s going to be in the picture,” she told Politico, adding, “I don’t think he can. He’s fallen so far.”
Ms. Haley’s comments may cost her some support among Mr. Trump’s base, a constituency that will be important to any future Republican nominee and one that she had worked hard to avoid offending since leaving his administration in 2018.
But the Capitol riot last month and Mr. Trump’s role in inciting it appears to have been Ms. Haley’s breaking point. Her tone changed markedly between interviews with Politico in December and January. Initially, she refused to acknowledge that the former president was doing anything reckless by refusing to concede election defeat. She said that because he genuinely believed his defeat was rigged, his actions since November were not irresponsible.
She wrongly predicted that he would “go on his way” once his legal options were exhausted.
In the series of interviews, Ms. Haley then went on to say “he let us down.”
“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.
Ms. Haley’s remarks suggest that she has made a political bet that many other Republicans who have eyes on the White House have not: That Mr. Trump’s hold over the Republican base will loosen and he will not be the kingmaker many predict.
In contrast, Senator Josh Hawley of Missouri has ignored calls to apologize for advancing Mr. Trump’s voter fraud claims. Former Vice President Mike Pence has said nothing publicly since being forced to flee the Senate chamber on Jan. 6 as pro-Trump rioters chanted, “Hang Mike Pence.”