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Sen. Romney's question at impeachment trial raises issue of what Trump knew and when

mitt romney getty.jpg

Sen. Mitt Romney issued a statement calling the riot in the nation's capitol "insurrection, incited by the President of the United States." (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Something Sen. Mitt Romney asked at Friday’s impeachment trial is raising questions over what and when former President Donald Trump knew about the Capitol riot.

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The Senate Clerk read Romney’s question verbatim:

When President Trump sent the disparaging tweet at 2:24 p.m. regarding Vice President Pence, was he aware that the vice president had been removed from the Senate by the Secret Service for his safety?"

House manager, Congressman Joaquin Castro answered, “Live TV had by this point shown that the insurgents were already inside the building and that they had weapons and that the police were outnumbered, and Senator Tuberville said he specifically told the president, 'Mr. President, they just took the vice president out, I've got to go.'"

One of Trump’s lawyers, Michael van der Veen, said Trump did not know Pence was in danger.

“Because the House rushed through this impeachment in seven days with no evidence, there's nothing at all in the record on this point," he said.

Immediately following Friday’s session, that question about specific timing during the insurrection has left even more questions about who knew what and when.

Tim Chambless, a University of Utah political science professor, says that's an important point as the defense tries to raise reasonable doubt.

They're not concerned with defending the president's words or actions, but criticizing the facts as presented by the House managers,” Chambless said.

The timing is also key for the House managers as they try to convince 67 senators, including 17 Republicans, of a chronological narrative.

“This is what the House managers did, they pointed out the persuasive campaign that was under way for over half a year right up to the election,” Chambless said.

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A spokesperson for Romney says he is not doing media interviews during the trial. The following questions have been submitted by Senator Romney, his staff said:

  • (Counsel to the former President): When did President Trump first learn that the Capitol was breached and what specific actions did he personally take to defend the Capitol, Vice President Pence, and the others inside?
  • (House Managers): Is it necessary to the House Managers’ case to prove that President Trump intended for the mob to enter the Capitol and cause mayhem?
  • (Counsel to the former President): When President Trump sent the disparaging tweet at 2:24PM regarding Vice President Pence, was he aware that the Vice President had been removed from the Senate by the Secret Service for his safety?
  • (Counsel to the former President): Is it the position of Counsel to the former President that President Trump’s call to the Georgia Secretary of State was not an attempt to have him falsify the election results?
  • (Counsel to the former President): Did President Trump personally approve the deployment of the National Guard to the Capitol and if so, at what time?