WASHINGTON — The last three days of arguments by the Democratic impeachment managers boil down to this simple question: Is political violence — in support of a president, provoked by a president, never vociferously condemned by a president — ever acceptable in a democracy?
As it turns out, we were asking this very question five years ago during the 2016 GOP presidential race.
“We love American politics because of its excitement, its unpredictability, and its clash of ideas and policies. But we’ve never seen this in our lifetimes until now — when politics becomes scary,” said our March 14, 2016 newsletter. “And that has been the overarching political story over the past 96 hours, as Donald Trump rallies have featured sucker punches, scuffles, unrest, and even a protester trying to jump on the stage.”
And here was our colleague Benjy Sarlin’s story just two days later: “Donald Trump warned on Wednesday that his supporters would respond with ‘riots’ if he fails to secure the nomination at July’s convention in Cleveland. ‘I think you’d have riots,’ Trump told CNN on Wednesday. ‘I think you’d have riots. I’m representing a tremendous many, many millions of people.’”
In the end, fights at rallies and threats of “riots” became acceptable to most of Trump’s voters and allies.
So did what happened in Charlottesville. So did Trump cheering on a Republican congressman (now a governor) who body-slammed a reporter. So did Trump tweeting “when the looting starts, the shooting starts.” So did Trump supporters trying to run the opposition’s campaign bus off the road, and so did Trump siding with armed protestors threatening a Democratic governor in Michigan.
Here’s what Democratic impeachment managers asked yesterday: Is what happened on Jan. 6 — the lead-up to the rally, Donald Trump’s words at the rally, his kind words about the rioters, and his failure to admit he did anything wrong — acceptable to GOP voters and politicians?
Because if it is, there will almost certainly be a next time.
Trump’s defense takes its turn
The impeachment trial reconvenes at noon ET, with Donald Trump’s lawyers taking their turn.
Trump lawyer David Schoen told reporters on Thursday that he expects his side will use “maybe three to four hours” total today, per NBC’s Monica Alba, Hallie Jackson and Kristen Welker.
And that means, as NBC’s Capitol Hill teams points out, that we’re headed to a quick conclusion to this impeachment trial.
If the defense takes only three to four hours, then the Q&A phase could happen as soon as today — and closing arguments and a vote on conviction could take place as early as Saturday.
Tweet of the day
How 13 senators voted 22 years ago
With the vote on whether or not to convict Trump coming as soon as this weekend, it’s worth reminding you that 13 U.S. senators were around during Bill Clinton’s impeachment trial in 1999.
Here’s how they voted, per NBC’s Ed Demaria (on perjury and obstruction):
Sen. Leahy (D-Vt.): Not guilty, not guilty
Sen. Grassley (R-Iowa): Guilty, Guilty
Sen. McConnell (R-Ky.): Guilty, Guilty
Sen. Shelby (R-Ala.): Not guilty, guilty
Sen. Feinstein (D-Calif.): Not guilty, not guilty
Sen. Murray (D-Wash.): Not guilty, not guilty
Sen. Inhofe (R-Okla.): Guilty, guilty
Sen. Wyden (D-Ore.): Not guilty, not guilty
Sen. Durbin (D-Ill.): Not guilty, not guilty
Sen. Reed (D-R.I.): Not guilty, not guilty
Sen. Collins (R-Maine): Not guilty, not guilty
Sen. Schumer (D-N.Y.): Not guilty, not guilty
Sen. Crapo (R-Idaho): Guilty, guilty
Data Download: The numbers you need to know today
200 million: The number of additional vaccine doses from Pfizer and Moderna that the federal government has secured after finalizing a previously announced deal yesterday
27,508,270: The number of confirmed cases of coronavirus in the United States, per the most recent data from NBC News and health officials. (That’s 106,084 more than yesterday morning.)
477,240: The number of deaths in the United States from the virus so far, per the most recent data from NBC News. (That’s 3,515 more than yesterday morning.)
74,225: The number of people currently hospitalized with coronavirus in the United States.
333.1 million: The number of coronavirus tests that have been administered in the United States so far, according to researchers at The COVID Tracking Project.
43,643,157: Total vaccine doses administered in the U.S.
10,462,217: People fully vaccinated
76: The number of days left for Biden to reach his 100-day vaccination goal.
$10,000: The amount spent on customized pens ordered from China for guests at former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s “Madison Dinner” events
200 million more vaccine doses
During remarks at the National Institutes of Health yesterday, President Biden announced that the U.S. has now purchased enough Covid-19 vaccines to vaccinate 300 million Americans by the end of July.
Here was Biden on Thursday:
“We signed the final contracts for 100 million more Moderna and 100 million more Pfizer vaccines. And we’re also able to move up the delivery dates with an additional 200 million vaccines to the end of July — faster than we expected. And in further good news, both companies agreed — and we’re now contractually obligated — to expedite delivery of 100 million doses, that were promised by the end of June, to deliver them by the end of May. That’s a month faster. That means lives will be saved. That means we’re now on track to have enough supply for 300 million Americans by the end of July.”
Of course, that’s before FDA approval of Johnson & Johnson’s one-dose vaccine that is currently going through the emergency use authorization process
ICYMI: What else is happening in the world
The New York Times reports that Trump was sicker than the White House acknowledged when he was transported to Walter Reed with Covid-19 last October.
Here’s everything you need to know about getting a Covid-19 vaccination.
Next on Joe Biden’s priority list: Infrastructure.
The country’s federal debt is set to be larger than the entire economy this year for only the second time since the end of World War II, CBO says.
The Biden DHS plans to expand grants to address domestic extremism.
Nikki Haley is positioning herself for what’s next, POLITICO writes. But which version of herself will be on the ballot in 2024?
China has banned BBC World News from airing in the country.