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Three Republican senators meet with Trump impeachment legal team ahead of first day of defense

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Former President Trump will have his day in court Friday as his legal team presents his case to the Senate. But after a meeting with several Republicans, there are new questions about whether some senators are acting as impartial jurors. Nikole Killion reports.

Video Transcript

GAYLE KING: We've heard from the prosecution in the second impeachment trial of former President Trump, and now it's time for the defense. This is after two days of very intense arguments by House impeachment managers, linking Mr. Trump to the deadly violence at the Capitol on January 6, and suggesting he may still be dangerous.

Three Republican senators, Ted Cruz, Mike Lee, and Lindsey Graham met with the Trump legal team yesterday. Now, that is very unusual. Why? Because they are also jurors in the trial. Nikole Killion is on Capitol Hill. Nikole, the last time the ex-president's lawyer spoke to the Senate on Tuesday, it was not well received at all. So what do you expect today?

NIKOLE KILLION: Well, Gayle, the president's legal team will argue that this trial is unconstitutional and denies him due process. They described that meeting last night with Republican senators as friendly, even though technically, those same senators are supposed to be impartial jurors.

Last night, three of the trial's jurors, senators Ted Cruz, Lindsey Graham, and Mike Lee met with former President Trump's legal team to talk strategy.

TED CRUZ: We were discussing their strategy for tomorrow, and we were sharing our thoughts in terms of where the argument was, and where it should go.

NIKOLE KILLION: When asked if he was comfortable with the team's legal strategy, Cruz said the end result of the trial is already clear. Mr. Trump will be acquitted. But other senators are keeping an open mind.

- You don't make a decision as a juror until you hear both sides. Period. End of story.

NIKOLE KILLION: House impeachment managers rested their case, declaring the evidence against former President Trump is clear.

JAMIE RASKIN: If you don't find this a high crime and misdemeanor today, you have set a new, terrible standard for presidential misconduct in the United States of America.

NIKOLE KILLION: The managers allege the former president had a pattern of inciting violence, pointing in part to his lack of condemnation after supporters swarmed Michigan's State Capitol, and the later uncovering of an alleged plot to kidnap the governor.

DONALD TRUMP: We got to get her going. I don't think she likes me too much.


NIKOLE KILLION: And asked senators if they would risk giving Mr. Trump the opportunity to incite violence again.

JAMIE RASKIN: Would you bet the lives of more police officers on that? Would you bet the safety of your family on that?

NIKOLE KILLION: Today, former President Trump's legal team will counter by showing video of prominent Democrats allegedly making inciting statements to bolster their argument, that the language Mr. Trump used during his rally is protected.

DONALD TRUMP: We fight like hell.

DAVID SCHOEN: It's a powerful speech, but when he uses the word fight, most of the times during the day, it's clear he's talking about legislators fighting for our rights.

NIKOLE KILLION: Mr. Trump's lawyers are only expected to take a few hours for their presentation, and could wrap their case today, which means it's possible there could be a vote in this trial as early as this weekend. Anthony?

ANTHONY MASON: Nicole, thank you.