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White House Deputy Press Secretary Hogan Gidley and Trump's personal lawyer Jay Sekulow return from a dinner recess Thursday night at the Senate impeachment trial. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

President Trump's team is considering using just a portion of the 24 hours they're given for arguments in his impeachment trial.

Why it matters: A truncated defense would likely reflect a decision not to contest facts or defend Trump point by point, but rather to try to diminish the legitimacy of Democrats' overall case and end the trial as quickly as possible.

  • But if the White House moves too abruptly, it risks angering the small group of Republican senators Democrats have been courting to cross party lines to allow new witnesses and evidence in the trial.

What we're hearing: Just because Trump's team can use up to three days to present their case doesn’t mean they will. Trump lawyer Jay Sekulow himself appeared to tease the idea it could wrap as early as Saturday — though other White House and Senate GOP aides later downplayed the notion they would cut back to just one day.

  • "We’re not going to try to run the clock out," Sekulow told reporters Thursday, adding that whether the defense concludes “Saturday or Monday or Tuesday,” he is confident “the case will be made defending the president."
  • Meanwhile, two sources familiar with the Trump team's plans told Axios they don't anticipate using all 24 hours.
  • Instead, the team plans to adjust their arguments to what some of the more vulnerable Senate Republicans need to get them over the acquittal line.
  • "They'll use their time to get their facts out there, however long that may be," one of the sources said, adding that Trump's team recognizes that some Republicans are eager to hear a full-throated defense of Trump that wipes away any doubts about his culpability.
  • Another aide added that even if Trump's lawyers only use half of the time they're allotted, they'll likely split it up over at least two days — in part because of TV ratings. "No one wants to watch this on their Saturday."

But one thing they all agree on is they don't need to fill the hours just for the sake of it, with the sources noting that both House prosecutors and former President Bill Clinton's defense team each used fewer than 12 hours during the 1999 trial.

The bottom line: When your strategy is "concede nothing, admit nothing, apologize for nothing," it doesn't have to take very long.

Go deeper

Off the Rails

Episode 7: Trump turns on Pence

Photo illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios. Photos: Elijah Nouvelage, Alex Wong/Getty Images

Beginning on election night 2020 and continuing through his final days in office, Donald Trump unraveled and dragged America with him, to the point that his followers sacked the U.S. Capitol with two weeks left in his term. Axios takes you inside the collapse of a president with a special series.

Episode 7: Trump turns on Pence. Trump believes the vice president can solve all his problems by simply refusing to certify the Electoral College results. It's a simple test of loyalty: Trump or the U.S. Constitution.

"The end is coming, Donald."

The male voice in the TV ad boomed through the White House residence during "Fox & Friends" commercial breaks. Over and over and over. "The end is coming, Donald. ... On Jan. 6, Mike Pence will put the nail in your political coffin."

Big Tech's post-riot reckoning

Photo illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photo: Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

The Capitol insurrection means the anti-tech talk in Washington is more likely to lead to action, since it's ever clearer that the attack was planned, at least in part, on social media.

Why it matters: The big platforms may have hoped they'd move to D.C.'s back burner, with the Hill focused on the Biden agenda and the pandemic out of control. But now, there'll be no escaping harsh scrutiny.

34 mins ago - Technology

Why domestic terrorists are so hard to police online

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Domestic terrorism has proven to be more difficult for Big Tech companies to police online than foreign terrorism.

The big picture: That's largely because the politics are harder. There's more unity around the need to go after foreign extremists than domestic ones — and less danger of overreaching and provoking a backlash.