As Donald Trump‘s impeachment trial moves ahead in the Senate, the former president’s allies are justifiably concerned that he could face a “PR nightmare” if the trial spends too much time focusing on the deadly January 6 assault on the U.S. Capitol building following a Trump rally. Considering that’s the entire reason Trump was impeached in the first place, it’s going to be very difficult to avoid the topic, which is why his former advisor Steve Bannon has cautioned Trump’s supporters in the Senate.
“The Democrats have a very emotional and compelling case,” Bannon said to Politico. “They’re going to try to convict him in the eyes of the American people and smear him forever.” Obviously, the Capitol riot looks very bad for Trump considering it took place after he spoke to the crowd and told them to “fight like hell” while continuing to push the lie that the 2020 election was stolen. That’s why Trump’s current crop of lawyers will attempt to avoid the subject altogether, and instead, question the constitutionality of impeaching a president after he’s left office. Via Politico:
They also plan to argue that he did not engage in insurrection, saying his fiery speech on the ellipse of the White House was protected by the First Amendment, without indulging a lengthy discussion about what happened on Jan. 6.
“We don’t need to focus on Jan. 6 because this is unconstitutional,” said a person familiar with the strategy, who was not authorized to speak publicly. “There’s a lot of legal technical arguments that are going to be discussed.”
Despite the events of the Capitol riot implicating Trump, it is very likely that he will escape conviction in the Senate. Four Republican senators voted against having the trial, and at least 17 of them would have to vote with the Democrats to convict Trump. At this stage, the main goal for Trump’s team is to get the whole thing over with as quickly as possible.