Impeachment trial arguments begin

ABC News' Kate Shaw compares the arguments presented by the House impeachment managers and the Trump legal team and discusses how Republicans against the trial might handle a forthcoming vote.
5:17 | 02/10/21

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Transcript for Impeachment trial arguments begin
And Alice bringing Cardozo law professor at NBC news legal contributor Kate shot thank you so much for your time tonight Kate help us break all of this down you listened all the arguments this afternoon that were presented both sides cited the constitution repeatedly the general consensus seems to be that the house managers were more effective at making their argument today would you agree with that assessment and if so what could trumps team have done better. I do route that assessment Wendy you know the house managers landed by Jamie raskin. I think we're really effective in taking what could be the sort of dry jurisdictional argument right does the senate have the power to hold this trial now. And to breathe life into it writes of course they played a thirteen minute video. That you know either reminded people are in some some cases probably at informed people for the first time of what actually transpired on January 6. And you know they took on some of the consequences of the argument that president Trump's lawyers are making which is at this trial can't happen now. And basically suggested that the upshot of that argument is that presidential misconduct even of the most egregious source. Can't be addressed through the impeachment process but it happens late enough in the president's term so raskin in particular repeatedly underscored that the president. Takes the oath of office and is accountable from the first day from his first day in office until his last day in office. And he repeatedly about reminded listeners that their come January exception. From the oath of office I did think that he very effectively. You know used the kind of constitution but also talked about the stakes and about accountability in. The president's team was pretty modeled and meandering. Around the of course did make reference to the constitution. But it wasn't points typical to have to really trap with the arguments. Were it seemed at many points as though the argument was that. Impeachment in general is constitutionally suspect and of course impeachment as a constitutional process. It can't itself of the violate the constitution so. There was repeated suggestion that because what the disqualification. Remedy to us remember impeachment can remove an official from office. But it can also disqualify an official from future office holding and that's what the managers here are seeking to do what. So the president's team seemed to be suggesting that disqualification. Was inconsistent with democracy because it took from the people the choice whom to lead them. But again it's a remedy the constitution itself creates. So it seemed as though they were simply arguing that the constitution shouldn't make this remedy possible but of course it dies. Looking old now to what comes next each senator has committed to be a juror in this trial which will of course. Now move forward for the 44 Republicans who voted that the trial is not constitutional are they obligated to now consider the evidence and vote on the merits of the k.s or can Republicans still say listen. We didn't think that this trial is constitutional for many getting so legally it does not matter what trump did and what his role once. You know I do think that they should it is consistent with their oath to do impartial justice remember they take a different oath when they sit as jurors in impeachment trial. So consistently that I do think that they should proceed to listen to the evidence. The jurisdictional arguments were made and the senate as a body. Rejected the argument that it didn't have the power to hold this trial so it seems to need be should then proceed to actually consider what the evidence shows as to whether. A former president trump committed high crimes and misdemeanors committed incited an insurrection and should be convicted and potentially disqualified. But you know there aren't any clear rules of the road here so and definitely the senators want to say. We are gonna vote to acquit feast on these procedural concerns based on the timing concern. There's nothing that prevents them from doing yet. But I do think it would be more faithful to the kind of duties that they can get to their duty as you know both kind of you know judge and jury in this instance to actually listen to the evidence because the senate has spoken as to -- stability of the trial happening now. And lastly some legal scholars are suggesting a Republicans may have another tool in their arsenal to potentially avoid a very politically challenging vote. They could simply not show up to vote thus allowing a conviction was far fewer than 67 votes what is a constitution say with regard to that. You know it's an interesting question the constitution says conviction requires a two thirds vote of the senators present. So it's not it's certainly is seems to actually possible. That if the denominator is reduced because a lot of senators don't show up to vote. Well certainly seems to follow that the new operator would be reduced so you could convict say just the Democrats show up into third Reno probably all of them vote to convict them that is you know well above the two thirds threshold. And so I don't they're certainly no precedent for that I'm aware of and I don't know that any senators have you know indicated any interest in this approach. But it isn't interesting possibility and I think it does speak to. Do you know the desire probably on the part of some Republican senators. To avoid a typical vote but also to avoid appearing. To condone or even endorse this kind of conduct and he really didn't hear anything to that effect today really was sure of condemnation of the riots. And then sort of a suggestion that he was independent of president trumps conduct and his words. But I do think that you know is there could be surprised this sort of around the corner as we head into this week's I'm not sure anything's off the table at this point. Kate shot thank you so much as always for your insight.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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