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House managers cite Gianforte body slam during Trump impeachment trial

Trump Impeachment
Posted at 10:30 AM, Feb 12, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-12 12:30:04-05

Montana Gov. Greg Gianforte’s assault on a reporter in 2017 was used as evidence Thursday in the impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump.

Lead House impeachment manager Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md., used the May 2017 incident as proof Trump encouraged violent action.

Raskin played a video of Trump at a 2018 campaign rally in Missoula giving approval of Gianforte's actions.

Gianforte’s office was not aware the incident would be referenced in the impeachment trial.

“Gov. Gianforte is focused on leading Montana's comeback,” a spokesperson said.

The House impeachment managers used their final day of arguments in the Senate impeachment trial to show how the insurrectionists who carried out the attack on the Capitol last month said they did it at Trump's direction. The managers focused on Trump's history of celebrating violence among his supporters leading up to the attack, and his claims that his conduct was "totally appropriate" as a warning he could try to do it again if given the chance.

Trump's lawyers get their turn to present to the Senate on Friday. They're expected to finish their presentation in a single day and plan to argue that Democrats glorified violence in their presentation, that the trial is unconstitutional and that Trump's speech is protected by the First Amendment.

The team plans to include video presentations showing Democratic leaders using similar language to Trump, including one clip of Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer outside the US Supreme Court, saying, "I want to tell you, Gorsuch, I want to tell you, Kavanaugh, you have released the whirlwind, and you will pay the price. You won't know what hit you if you go forward with these awful decisions," referring to Trump-appointed Supreme Court Justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh.

After Trump's team concludes, the Senate will have up to four hours to ask written questions of the legal teams, and then the House managers could seek a vote on hearing from witnesses. But it's not clear yet whether they plan to do so.

If there is no effort to seek testimony from witnesses, the trial is likely to wrap up with a vote on conviction sometime this weekend. Democratic senators said Thursday that they don't see a need for witnesses because the managers made their case -- another sign it's unlikely witnesses will be called.