The US Senate said that the impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump is constitutional, allowing full proceedings to begin.
The defence team of former President Trump argued that he could not face trial after leaving the White House.
But a 56-44 majority voted in favour of continuing, with a handful of Republicans backing the measure.
Former President Donald Trump was unhappy with his impeachment lawyer Bruce Castor’s opening argument on the Senate floor Tuesday, two people familiar with his reaction told CNN.
Castor, who is representing Trump alongside attorney David Schoen, delivered a meandering argument during the first day of the Senate impeachment trial, including praise for the House impeachment managers for a presentation that he said was “well done.”
An adviser to Trump’s team offered a candid assessment of the messy opening day, asking pointedly, “What the hell is going on?”
The adviser said the former President could be in serious jeopardy if he finds himself charged in criminal court, given his inability to attract a high-powered legal team for the impeachment trial.
“Trump is f–ked if anyone ever charges him. No one wants to work with him,” the adviser said.
Schoen was supposed to present first, not Castor, two people familiar with the plan told CNN. But Castor told the Senate that Trump’s legal team “changed what we were going to do on account that we thought that the House managers’ presentation was well done.
“After Castor yielded to Schoen, the tone of the defense team changed starkly. Schoen charged that Democrats were using impeachment as a political “blood sport” to try to keep Trump from running for office again, accusing them of trying to disenfranchise pro-Trump voters.
Though the former President was displeased by his defense team’s early performance, his staff remained confident that he was headed for acquittal and it would not change the outcome of the trial. Two separate sources close to Trump say he’s lying low through the end of the trial but talking with aides about how to reemerge and help Republicans around the midterm elections.
Mr Trump is accused of “inciting insurrection” when Congress was stormed last month.
Thousands gathered in support of false claims that widespread electoral fraud denied Mr Trump victory in the US presidential election.
However Mr Trump is almost certain to be acquitted because only 6 Republican senators voted to move forward with impeachment, well short of the 17 Republicans whose votes would be needed to convict Mr Trump.
Democrats prosecuting the case opened the proceedings by showing a dramatic video montage of Mr Trump’s 6 January speech and the deadly rioting by some of his supporters.
“That’s a high crime and misdemeanour,” Representative Jamie Raskin of Maryland said of the footage. “If that’s not an impeachable offence, then there’s no such thing.”