On Thursday night, Trump asked associates whether it was too late to add or remove lawyers from his defense team after Schoen quit over a dispute over how to use the videos the team presented on Friday, people briefed on the events told the New York Times.
Trump then called Schoen and persuaded him to rejoin the team, the people said. The nature of the disagreement about the videos was not immediately clear.
Trump’s team, defending him against a charge of inciting the January 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol, relied heavily on a series of videos that they presented in three hours of arguments on Friday.
Trump defense attorney David Schoen reportedly briefly quit the team on Thursday night over a dispute over how to use the videos the team presented on Friday
Trump had to call Schoen and plead with him to rejoin the team, sources say, on the night before the defense team presented its case
But the chaos on the defense team, consisting of Schoen, Bruce Castor, and Michael T. van der Veen, continued until the last minute on Friday, with the attorneys debating the order they should speak in before the Senate, according to the Times.
In the end, van der Veen spoke first. The confusion apparently stemmed from Castor’s disastrous opening statement on Tuesday, a rambling one-hour soliloquy that enraged Trump, who was watching from Mar-a-Lago.
The Democrats are unlikely to gain a conviction, as few Republican senators have come out against Trump, who remains popular among Republican voters. At least 17 Republicans would have to defect to secure a conviction.
On Friday, Trump’s defense team breezed through their arguments in just three hours, in comparison to the Democrat House managers who used their full 16 hours over two days to make arguments.
Both sides relied heavily on videos, with Trump’s team presenting videos that purported to show that the House managers’ videos had been selectively edited and manipulated.
Video presented by the House managers earlier in the week was a vital part of their case, starting with a sobering, 13-minute clip with violence and explicit language that made the actions of the mob of Trump supporters chillingly personal.
Trump’s team presented videos (above) that purported to show that the House managers’ videos had been selectively edited and manipulated
On Wednesday, Democrats presented newly unearthed video from inside the Capitol that showed then-Vice President Mike Pence and Senators Mitt Romney and Chuck Schumer hustling to safety and gave a more dramatic view of the day’s danger than had been seen before.
On Friday, Trump’s team played extended clips of the former president speaking at a rally before the riot and at a news conference following a racial confrontation in Charlottesville, Virginia, suggesting that shorter versions presented by the House managers had been deceptively edited.
The defense team also presented a lengthy montage of Democrats vowing in political speeches to ‘fight’, a phrase Trump uttered in his January 6 speech that led in part to the incitement charge.
‘You didn’t do anything wrong,’ Trump lawyer Schoen said, addressing Democrats. ‘It’s a word people use, but please stop the hypocrisy.’
Trump’s team found video of participants in the impeachment trial calling past elections into question, even digging back to find a 2005 speech by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
Lawyer Michael van der Veen attacked the impeachment as a ‘sham’ process and brought up favorite targets of former President Donald Trump during the start of defense arguments on behalf of Trump Friday
Using arguments frequently made on cable television, complete with their own vivid images taken during civic unrest last summer, the lawyers tried to depict Democrats as being more understanding of violence when it supported causes they were sympathetic with.
In a trial without witnesses, the House managers relied heavily on media reports and interviews. Trump´s defenders, in turn, suggested a reliance on journalists was unreliable and, again, used video to drive home that point, airing clips of House managers referring to ‘reports.’
Van der Veen said there was a double standard at the heart of the prosecution’s case, arguing that some Democrats had ‘encouraged and endorsed’ violence that erupted at some anti-racism protests across the United States last summer without facing any legal consequences.
‘They have clearly demonstrated that their opposition to mobs and their view of using the National Guard depends upon their political views,’ said van der Veen, a last-minute addition to the defense team who sued Trump in August in a separate case about mail voting.
If Trump is acquitted, the Senate could decide to censure him or even vote to bar him from holding public office again. Asked on Thursday about pursuing the latter option, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said that decision would have to wait until the end of the trial.
Senator John Thune, the No. 2 Republican in the chamber, indicated that a censure motion could be in the cards.
‘I’ve seen a couple of resolutions at least that I think could attract some support,’ Thune told reporters. He added that he did not think an effort to bar Trump from holding office again under the 14th Amendment would go anywhere.
Final arguments and a vote in the Senate trial are expected as soon as Saturday.