Bruce Castor, former President Donald Trump‘s lawyer, wrapped up the defense’s arguments at the impeachment trial Friday by telling senators to protect free speech and not bow to “cancel culture.”
“This trial is about far more than President Trump. It is about silencing and banning the speech the majority does not agree with. It is about canceling 75 million Trump voters and criminalizing political viewpoints. That is what this trial is really about,” Mr. Castor said.
“It asks for constitutional cancel culture to take over in the United States Senate” he added. “To the Democrats who view this as a moment of opportunity, I urge you instead to look to the principles of free expression and free speech.
He said Democrats promised to unify the country and provide COVID-19 relief, but instead they impeached a president who is no longer in office on purely partisan motivations.
“The goal is to eliminate a political opponent, to substitute their judgment for the will of the voters,” Mr. Castor said.
After about three hours of arguments, Mr. Trump‘s legal team rested their case, allowing senators to pose questions to both the House impeachment managers prosecuting the case that the former president incited an insurrection, and Mr. Trump‘s lawyers arguing his political speech was protected by the First Amendment before deliberations.
The timeline suggests a verdict could be reached on Saturday.
Mr. Trump‘s legal team did not use their allotted 16 hours of argument, opting to tell the senators to use the extra time to focus on COVID-19 relief.
A conviction in the impeachment trial requires a two-thirds majority vote by the Senate, which both sides agree won’t be reached.
Democrats were hoping to proceed after Mr. Trump‘s conviction to a vote on disqualifying Mr. Trump from office. But with most Republicans opposed to convicting Mr. Trump, Democrats have been looking for alternative resolutions that would bar him from running in 2024.
The House impeached Mr. Trump on Jan. 13 on a charge of inciting the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol. Five people died in the attack, including Capitol police officer Brian Sicknick and four Trump supporters, one of whom was shot by police.
More than 140 police officers were injured in the attack, and there have been more than 200 arrests.
Democrats argue that Mr. Trump sent the mob of his supporters to stop Congress from counting the Electoral College results that certified the victory of President Biden.