Former President Donald Trump attorney David Schoen warned senators on Tuesday that allowing the impeachment trial to go ahead could “tear the country apart.”
Schoen, who is defending the former president in the trial, made the remarks as part of his opening statement urging the Senate to dismiss the article of impeachment against Trump.
On Tuesday, House managers and Trump’s lawyers debated for four hours in an attempt to convince senators not to continue with the proceedings. The first day of arguments focused on the constitutionality of the trial since Trump is no longer in office.
Democrats argued that the Constitution gives the Senate full authority to preside over the impeachment even if Trump isn’t president, while Trump’s defense team framed the Democrats’ push to proceed with the trial as an abuse of impeachment power for political gain.
“With this trial, you will open up new and bigger wounds across the nation, for a great many Americans see this process for exactly what it is: a chance by a group of partisan politicians seeking to eliminate Donald Trump from the American political scene and seeking to disenfranchise 74 million-plus American voters and those who dare to share their political beliefs and vision of America,” Schoen said in his opening remarks.
“They tell us that we have to have this impeachment trial, such as it is, to bring about unity. But they don’t want unity and they know the so-called trial will tear the country in half, leaving tens of millions of Americans feeling left out of the nation’s agenda,” he added.
Schoen also attempted to pick apart the Democrats’ case, arguing their claim that the proceedings are to seek accountability for the Jan. 6 Capitol breach is false.
“Anyone truly interested in real accountability for what happened at the Capitol on … January 6, would insist on waiting for a full investigation to be completed. Indeed one is underway in earnest already,” he said.
He added that evidence that is emerging daily could exonerate Trump as the new information shows the violence was a result of “pre-planning” by people who had an agenda “bearing no relationship to the claims made here.”
“At the end of the day this is not just about Donald Trump or any individual, this is about our Constitution and abusing the impeachment power for political gain,” he said.
Following the presentation by both sides, the Senate returned a 56-44 vote to authorize the proceedings. Although the trial will move forward, it indicates the Democrats are likely to fall short of the necessary two-thirds, or 67 votes, needed to convict Trump.
Several senators told reporters following the first day that they thought the performance of Trump’s attorneys was “weaker” than the House manager’s team, and that Trump’s other attorney Bruce Castor spent too much time focusing on extraneous arguments before addressing the core of the defense.
Schoen addressed the criticism with Fox News’ Sean Hannity, saying that his defense partners “seem to be very capable people” and that Caster hadn’t planned on attending the arguments on Tuesday.
“So, I’m sure they will be very well prepared in the future and do a great job in the case,” Schoen said. “There’s a lot to say, and I know they feel very strongly about fighting against what they are seeing.”