One of the lawyers leading Donald Trump’s defense during his historic second impeachment trial has conceded that Joe Biden won the presidential election - in stark contrast to the insistence of the former president.
Mr Trump infamously continually refused to concede the 2020 presidential election in an escalating challenge to the electoral system that culminated in the brutal attack on the US Capitol on 6 January, during which five people died.
However, as the former president’s impeachment trial unfolded on Tuesday, Mr Trump’s lawyer Bruce Castor offered an admission of defeat distinctly different from any indication by Mr Trump.
“The American people just spoke, and they just changed administrations,” Mr Castor said, while adding that Americans are “smart enough to pick a new administration if they don’t like the old one, and they just did.”
The lawyer, who has faced criticism over his initial performance during the impeachment trial, acknowledged more than once that Mr Trump lost the election.
“President Trump no longer is in office. The object of the Constitution has been achieved. He was removed by the voters,” Mr Castor also said.
The former president has repeatedly disputed the results of the election, falsely claiming he won in a “landslide” and failing to acknowledge his departure was the voters’ will even in his final days as president.
“We will stop the steal,” he said at the rally on 6 January preceding the insurrection during which he encouraged his supporters to march on the Capitol.
“Today I will lay out just some of the evidence proving that we won this election, and we won it by a landslide. This was not a close election,” Mr Trump said.
There was no widespread fraud in the election, as has been confirmed by election officials across the country and former Attorney General William Barr.
Dozens of legal challenges to the election put forth by Mr Trump and his allies were dismissed.
The president issued a statement asserting that there would be “an orderly transition” to Mr Biden’s new administration on 7 January but maintained that he disputed the result.
“Even though I totally disagree with the outcome of the election, and the facts bear me out, nevertheless there will be an orderly transition on January 20th,” he declared.
“I have always said we would continue our fight to ensure that only legal votes were counted. While this represents the end of the greatest first term in presidential history, it’s only the beginning of our fight to Make America Great Again!”
The former president watched Tuesday’s proceedings from his Mar-a-Lago club in Florida, where he was said to have been furious about his lawyers’ performance.
A person familiar with his thinking told the Associated Press that Mr Trump was impressed with a video compilation of the riot presented by Democrats in their opening presentation and thought his team paled in comparison.
However, since the former president remains permanently suspended from Twitter, Mr Trump could not give his signature real-time public review of both his lawyer's performance.
According to a report, Mr Trump was "screaming" at his TV during Mr Castor's meandering opening statement at his impeachment trial.
"Multiple people tell me Trump was basically screaming as Castor made a meandering opening argument that struggled to get at the heart of the defense team's argument," said CNN's chief White House correspondent Kaitlin Collins.
Alan Dershowitz, who joined Donald Trump's legal team during the former president's first impeachment trial in 2020, said he had “no idea” what the lawyer was doing.
“There is no argument. I have no idea what he’s doing. I have no idea why he’s saying what he’s saying,” he said during an interview on Newsmax.
On Tuesday, the Senate ruled that the impeachment of a president no longer in office was constitutional, allowing full proceedings to begin on Wednesday.
Additional reporting by the Associated Press
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