Feb 13, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Trump thrilled with "full Trump" defense as impeachment end nears

Lawyer Michael van der Veen walks through a Senate doorway with his mask in his hands and a masked man behind him.
Michael van der Veen, one of the lawyers for former President Trump, walks to the Senate floor. Photo: Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images

Donald Trump directed his own defense via speakerphone on Friday, repeatedly calling his lawyers in the Lyndon Baines Johnson Room on the Senate side of the Capitol to relay his feedback, sources tell Axios.

What we're hearing: In contrast to Tuesday's widely panned start of his defense, the Trump was said to be thrilled with his lawyers' performances on Friday — particularly by Michael van der Veen and David Schoen, both of whom "went full Trump," one person familiar with the situation told Axios.

Driving the news: The Senate reconvenes at 10 a.m. A final vote could come by 3 p.m., three Democratic congressional aides told Axios. Democrats are not expected to have the 17 Republican votes needed for a conviction.

Behind the scenes: Trump has been closely watching the trial from Mar-a-Lago with his former social media director Dan Scavino and other advisers.

  • The defense spent a total of 2 hours and 32 minutes of the 16 hours they were allotted to make their case, The Washington Post's Mike DeBonis tallied.
  • Trump's lawyers embraced his aggressive rhetoric and attacked Democrats for what they argued was a political hit job.
  • This came after a reorganization of the defense's presentation, including giving lawyer Bruce Castor Jr. a smaller speaking role, after Trump made clear he was displeased with the opening arguments.
  • During a break in the defense on Friday, Trump called and said he thought the team was doing "a great job" and told his lawyer to keep it up, a source familiar with the meeting told Axios.
  • The Senate wrapped up the trial's question-and-answer section Friday evening.

What's next: Neither side is expected to call witnesses. If that holds, they'll proceed to closing arguments.

  • The Democratic leadership told its caucus on Friday that a final vote could come around mid-afternoon, sources said.
  • Senators will vote on whether to convict or acquit the 45th U.S. president for "incitement of insurrection" for the deadly Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol by supporters of Trump seeking to block Joe Biden from becoming president.
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