Furious Republicans turn on Trump’s lawyers, denouncing ‘laughable’ performance on day 1 of impeachment trial

Furious Republicans turn on Trump’s lawyers, denouncing ‘laughable’ performance on day 1 of impeachment trial

Donald Trump’s legal team has faced a backlash from Republicans following the opening of the former president’s second impeachment trial in the US Senate.

The case was prompted by the attack on the US Capitol by rioters on 6 January, with Trump accused of inciting the violence in a speech to supporters earlier that day.

Speaking after the Senate voted that the trial of the ex-president was constitutional, Republican senator Bill Cassidy told CNN the legal team’s speech “speaks for itself”. 

“It was disorganised, random, they talked about many things, but they didn’t talk about the issue at hand.

“If I’m an impartial juror, and I’m trying to make a decision based upon the facts as presented on this issue, then the House managers did a much better job,” he said.

Senator Cassidy was one of six Republicans to vote with the Democrats, with 56-44 voting that the trial should continue.

Meanwhile, fellow Republican senator John Cornyn said the ex-president’s lawyer, Bruce Castor, “rambled on and on” in his speech, adding that he has seen “a lot of lawyers and a lot of arguments and that was not one of the finest I’ve seen”. 

US commentators also piled on the legal team, with Fox News host Sean Hannity saying their speech got off on a “weak start”.

He told Texas senator Ted Cruz: “I’m not being critical, just a little lacklustre, meandering to me – needed a little more focus.”

Slate’s National Correspondent Will Saleton added: “Bruce Castor conducted a brilliant experiment to determine how many Republican senators would turn against Donald Trump based on an almost completely empty defense presentation.  

“The answer is one.”

Elsewhere, one Twitter user responded saying they "had to laugh" at the defence's argument:

According to CNN’s Chief White House Correspondent Kaitlan Collins, the former president himself is also reported to have been unhappy with his team’s performance, with Trump “borderline screaming” over what was unfolding in the Senate.

The trial continues later today, with opening arguments beginning at noon local time.

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