The Hill's 12:30 Report: Trump's second impeachment trial begins

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The Hill’s 12:30 Report: Impeachment trial about to begin | Today’s proceedings focus on trial legality | Primer on what to expect | Trial could finish next week if no witnesses are called | Impeachment managers go for emotional impact | To avoid abstract legal analysis | Trial poses risks for Dems & GOP | Sights and sounds | COVID variants worrisome to progress | Biden announces first official domestic trip | National Pizza Day deals



Round two: ding, ding:



The second impeachment trial of former President TrumpDonald TrumpRomney blasts end of filibuster, expansion of SCOTUS McConnell, GOP slam Biden's executive order on SCOTUS US raises concerns about Iran's seriousness in nuclear talks MORE kicks off this afternoon, with senators first debating the legality of impeaching a former president. 

Watch the trial live — here’s the livestreamhttps://bit.ly/36WkVxm 

What time the trial starts: 1 p.m. EST

How long should we expect the trial to last: Because the outcome of Trump’s acquittal is all but guaranteed, neither party wants to drag it out. The trial could last just a few days. Why both parties want it to be quickhttps://bit.ly/2LxYeYI 

If no witnesses are called, the trial could finish next week: Senate Majority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerThe first Southern state legalizes marijuana — what it means nationally H.R. 1/S. 1: Democrats defend their majorities, not honest elections McCarthy asks FBI, CIA for briefing after two men on terror watchlist stopped at border MORE (D-N.Y.) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellRomney blasts end of filibuster, expansion of SCOTUS McConnell, GOP slam Biden's executive order on SCOTUS Overnight Defense: Biden proposes 3B defense budget | Criticism comes in from left and right | Pentagon moves toward new screening for extremists MORE (R-Ky.) reached an agreement on the framework of the trial. If both sides agree not to call witnesses, it could conclude next week. https://bit.ly/3p5eONs 

The strategy for the nine House impeachment managers: “The team of Democrats prosecuting former President Trump for his role in last month’s assault on the U.S. Capitol are prepping their argument for maximum emotional impact. [They] plan to avoid any long or abstract legal analysis in favor of efforts to tell the ‘gripping and spellbinding story’ of how Trump incited the deadly insurrection at the Capitol on Jan. 6. The advantages to this strategy, via The Hill’s Scott Wong and Mike Lillis: https://bit.ly/3aLfNgI


First, a debate on whether the trial itself is constitutional: Expect up to four hours of debate on whether the trial of a former president is constitutional. https://bit.ly/2LxYeYI

Followed by a vote on the constitutionality of the trial — this is important: Senators will then vote on whether the trial is constitutional. It will send a clear signal of how the trial will ultimately end, as Republicans will have to publicly vote. 

^ Keep in mind: Sen. Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulThe Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by ExxonMobil - World mourns the death of Prince Philip The Hill's Morning Report - Biden assails 'epidemic' of gun violence amid SC, Texas shootings Trump faces test of power with early endorsements MORE (R-Ky.) forced a similar vote last month, which gives good insight into how the trial will play out. 45 Republican senators voted to dismiss the trial, while five Republicans voted to continue. Notice today whether that vote is the same (!)

It’s Tuesday — Mardi Gras is a week away! I’m Cate Martel with a quick recap of the morning and what’s coming up. Send comments, story ideas and events for our radar to cmartel@thehill.com — and follow along on Twitter @CateMartel and Facebook.

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At noon: Oral arguments begin. 

The impeachment managers and former President Trump’s legal team will each have 16 hours to present their cases.


Flags are half-staff: For the late Rep. Ron WrightRon WrightGOP candidate sues Texas Tribune amid uproar over comments on Chinese immigrants GOP lawmakers pull support of candidate following comments about Chinese immigrants Democrats bet on stimulus bill to boost them in 2022 MORE (R-Texas), who passed away on Sunday. Photohttps://bit.ly/2MRNtRA

Rearranging the furniture: “Additional desks and lectern are back on the Senate floor for the impeachment trial ... The desks are different this time to account for social distancing.” (Via Politico’s Andrew DesiderioPhotohttps://bit.ly/2NeEoC8

Senators can move around: “Per person familiar, senators won't be required to stay at their desks during arguments. The galleries and the Marble Room behind the chamber will be available to senators for social distancing. They'll have to be on the floor to vote, though.” (Via The Washington Post’s Mike DeBonishttps://bit.ly/3rzAm6o  

Schumer on the importance of the trial: “When you have such a serious charge, sweeping it under the rug will not bring unity,” Schumer said at a morning news conference. Photo from the press conference, via NBC’s Garrett Haakehttps://bit.ly/3aLOxi5


Comparing the two trials — because we’re all impeachment trial experts by now:



Hyperlink https://bit.ly/3rAqJEz


Via a powerhouse of New York Times reporters Jim Rutenberg, Jo Becker, Eric Lipton, Maggie HabermanMaggie Lindsy HabermanThe Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by ExxonMobil - Pence sets the stage for 2024 Trump frustrated with pace of super PAC Media stumbles: Its bias shows in covering Biden v. Trump MORE, Jonathan Martin, Matthew Rosenberg and Michael S. Schmidthttps://nyti.ms/370fNIC

The ultimate question that is likely to be the center of the trial:

Can Congress’s power to impeach presidents extend to former presidents? 

The impeachment managers, Democrats and five Senate Republicans argue: Yes, it is legal.

How the Trump team is fighting: “In pretrial briefs, Trump’s lawyers argued that the Senate’s jurisdiction over Trump ended when he left the White House and resumed life as a private citizen, and they are expected to make this claim central to Trump’s defense.”

^ This argument works well for Republicans: Republicans can focus on the legality of the trial, instead of Trump’s actions themselves. 

More on the legality from The Hill’s John Kruzelhttps://bit.ly/3tHc0cL


Via The Times’s Aishvarya Kavi and Zachary Montaguehttps://nyti.ms/3rBVjhc

Fascinating investigation — a look at who was arrested on Jan. 6:

NPR’s Monika Evstatieva tweeted, “For the past 3 weeks we read through hundreds of court documents, statements and releases to give you a full list of the people charged on January 6th.”  

Here’s a breakdown of the defendants and their motivationshttps://n.pr/3q3MxIg

BTW, the trial is risky for Democrats and Republicans:

The danger for Republicans: “Republicans will be confronted with graphic scenes of violence during the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection and will not relish the idea of having to defend the inflammatory rhetoric from Trump that preceded it.” 

The danger for Democrats: “Democrats … run the risk of distracting from President BidenJoe BidenBiden taps California workplace safety leader to head up OSHA Romney blasts end of filibuster, expansion of SCOTUS US mulling cash payments to help curb migration MORE’s agenda, just as momentum appears to be building behind his crucial COVID-19 relief package.” 

And the trial outcome is all but decided anyway: “Adding to the frustration on both sides, the outcome of the trial is a foregone conclusion. The chances are essentially zero that at least 17 Republicans will vote to convict the former president, the threshold likely needed to secure a conviction.” 

Full reasoning from The Hill’s Niall Stanagehttps://bit.ly/3p1JYFj


The new variants are worrisome:

Via The Hill’s Peter Sullivan, “The rise of more contagious variants of the coronavirus are threatening an encouraging trend of falling COVID-19 cases across the country.” https://bit.ly/3pd2TNL 

The takeaway: “Health officials are urging the public and governors not to ease up on precautions despite the somewhat improved situation, given that measures like wearing a mask and distancing from others are even more important when the virus is more contagious.”


Coronavirus cases in the U.S.: 27,100,086 

U.S. death toll: 465,186 

Breakdown of the numbershttps://cnn.it/2UAgW3y


Total number of vaccinations administered in the U.S.: 43.1 million shots have been given 

Seven-day average of doses administered: An average of 1.47 million doses. 

For context: The U.S. population is roughly 331 million 

Breakdown of the numbers: https://bloom.bg/3iVTPLH


Moderates have da powah:

Via The Hill’s Alexander Bolton, “The new strength of Democratic moderates in the Senate may temper just how aggressively Democratic leaders can push for President Biden’s $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package and other priorities, including climate change legislation.” https://bit.ly/3a5Ente

Strengthening the centrist wing of Senate Democrats: Two new Democratic moderates in the Senate, Sens. John HickenlooperJohn HickenlooperOn The Trail: How marijuana went mainstream Senators press for answers in Space Command move decision Senate rejects Cruz effort to block stimulus checks for undocumented immigrants MORE (Colo.) and Mark KellyMark KellyThe Hill's Morning Report - Biden assails 'epidemic' of gun violence amid SC, Texas shootings Democrats see opportunity as states push new voting rules Democratic county official joins race for Pennsylvania Senate seat MORE (Ariz.)

What this means for Biden’s agendahttps://bit.ly/3a5Ente


Getting traction on Twitter — WOW:



Hyperlink https://bit.ly/2Z0TE8I

My jaw actually dropped watching this:





The Senate is in. The House is out. President Biden and Vice President Harris are in Washington, D.C.

9:30 a.m. EST: President Biden and Vice President Harris received the President’s Daily Brief. 

Noon: Vice President Harris ceremonially swears in Denis McDonoughDenis Richard McDonoughCongress must address the toxic exposure our veterans have endured Veterans shouldn't have to wait for quality care The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by the National Shooting Sports Foundation - CDC news on gatherings a step toward normality MORE as the secretary of veterans affairs. 

1:45 p.m. ESTPresident Biden, Vice President Harris and Treasury Secretary Janet YellenJanet Louise YellenFive takeaways from Biden's first budget proposal Biden defense budget criticized by Republicans, progressives alike Biden proposes .2B increase in IRS budget MORE meet with business leaders to discuss the economic amid the COVID pandemic.  

Tuesday: The Hill is hosting a virtual event on “Complex Generics & The Prescription Drug Landscape.” Details and how to RSVPhttps://bit.ly/2YIZyLh

Thursday: The Hill is hosting an event, “COVID-19 & The Opioid Epidemic.” Details and how to RSVP: https://bit.ly/2N2tlfs 

JUST ANNOUNCED — Feb. 16: President Biden travels to Milwaukee, Wis. This is his first official domestic trip as president. What we knowhttps://bit.ly/36X7InW


This morning: A House subcommittee hearing on a president’s clemency power. Livestreamhttps://bit.ly/2MGIJOY 

12:45 p.m. EST: White House press secretary Jen PsakiJen PsakiMcConnell, GOP slam Biden's executive order on SCOTUS Five takeaways from Biden's first budget proposal Overnight Defense: Biden proposes 3B defense budget | Criticism comes in from left and right | Pentagon moves toward new screening for extremists MORE holds a press briefing. Livestreamhttps://bit.ly/3cZStOP 

1 p.m. EST: The second impeachment trial of former President Trump begins. Livestreamhttps://bit.ly/36WkVxm 

8 p.m. EST on Feb. 16: CNN hosts a town hall with President Biden. CNN’s Anderson Cooper will moderate.


Today is National Pizza Day! It’s also National Bagel and Lox Day.  

To celebrate the national holiday that is National Pizza Day, here’s a list of pizza deals and specials across the country today: https://bit.ly/3aO9OYn

And to make you laugh, here are dogs dealing with their new puppy sibling — are we sure this puppy isn’t Simba?: