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December 4, 2022
Senate leaders reach agreement on impeachment trial rules

Live coverage and news from the Senate

The last-minute letter former President Donald Trump’s attorney sent to top lawmakers informing them he would no longer seek a suspension of the trial if it continued through the Sabbath was prompted by Trump’s own desire to complete the trial without delay.

Hours before the former president’s second impeachment trial was slated to begin, his attorney David Schoen wrote that he would no longer seek a suspension of the trial if it continued through the Sabbath. He explained that he would not participate those days and instead other members of the legal team would handle.

Schoen wrote that he was withdrawing his request because he was “concerned about the delay in the proceedings in a process that I recognize is important to bring to a conclusion for all involved and for the country.”

That goes for his client, too.

Two people familiar with what happened told CNN that Trump – holed up in Florida and ready to move onto a more relaxed and potentially lucrative phase of his post presidency – did not want the trial to be delayed any further and believed if they paused it for the Sabbath it would extend the matter by several days.

The Senate was initially going to recess but now the trial will not break for the Sabbath, and is expected to continue Friday evening and Saturday. The Senate has also scheduled a session for Sunday afternoon, if the trial is still going.

Trump shares his distaste for a lengthy trial with practically everyone involved in the proceedings. Democrats, including President Joe Biden, see acquittal as the assured outcome and don’t want the trial to further impede the new president’s agenda. Republicans are similarly not eager for a drawn out recitation of Trump’s role in last month’s insurrection attempt.

Trump himself, who has revolved through multiple legal teams as he prepares for the trial, is more concerned about the effect the trial may have on his public image, according to one person who has discussed the matter with him, rather than the potential outcome. Since leaving office, Trump has had multiple conversations with business partners overseas about future projects.

The former president has kept a low profile since making a dramatic exit from Washington in the hours before Biden was sworn in, and has been eager for his trial to end so he can start his post-presidency life, which people close to him have said is likely to include paid speeches overseas and domestic rallies targeting those who crossed him politically. Trump, who is expected to stay in Florida during the trial, has repeatedly told people he believes he will be acquitted for a second time and is ready to move on.

He has alternated between evenings at Mar-a-Lago and his nearby golf club, where one recent evening he was taped handing out cash to onlookers.

His defense team was assembled a little more than a week ago after the five attorneys initially brought on to represent him all left days before legal briefs were due, which one person described as a mutual decision while another said it was over a difference in strategy. Now, Trump is relying on Schoen and Bruce Castor to help him secure acquittal for a second time.

Read more about Trump’s defense strategy here.

CNN’s Kaitlan Collins reports: