Former President Donald J. Trump will offer his first formal impeachment defense on Tuesday, when his legal team is scheduled to deliver to the Senate a written answer to the House’s charge that he incited a deadly insurrection last month when a mob of his supporters assaulted the Capitol.
The former president is all but certain to wave off the bipartisan charge as illegitimate, but the exact shape of his defense remains to be seen after a last-minute shake-up of his legal team. While Mr. Trump is said to have wanted the trial to include a full defense of his bogus election fraud claims that helped ignite the attack, his advisers and Republican senators are pushing a less inflammatory argument that trying a former president is simply unconstitutional.
The filing is scheduled to arrive alongside a lengthier written brief from the House impeachment managers preparing to prosecute Mr. Trump for “incitement of insurrection” that outlines their own theory of the case. Taken together, the two documents should provide the clearest preview yet of how Mr. Trump’s second impeachment trial will play out when it begins in one week.
Though Republican senators appear to be lining up to once again to acquit Mr. Trump, the arguments could determine the difference between a near-party-line verdict like the one that capped the former president’s first trial or a bipartisan rebuke.
Few facts in the case are in serious dispute. TV news broadcasts carried live video on Jan. 6 of Mr. Trump encouraging thousands of his supporters outside the White House to go to the Capitol and “fight like hell” to overturn the election by confronting lawmakers who were meeting there with Vice President Mike Pence to formalize his loss. Rioters dressed in Trump garb and chanting “hang Pence” violently clashed with the police and ransacked the Capitol, sending lawmakers and the vice president fleeing.
The House managers, led by Representative Jamie Raskin, Democrat of Maryland, plan to vividly highlight that course of events in their pretrial brief. They will argue that the Jan. 6 assault was the climax of a monthslong campaign by Mr. Trump to sow doubts about the election, spread false claims that he won and then finally use Congress to try to overturn President Biden’s victory.
People familiar with the prosecution said the filing would also include a detailed argument that the framers of the Constitution intended impeachment to apply to officials who had committed offenses while in office.
Mr. Trump sharply criticized the impeachment push in the waning days of his presidency and argued that the remarks he gave on Jan. 6 to thousands of supporters he summoned to Washington were “totally appropriate.” The House moved within a week of the riot to impeach him.
His lawyers, Bruce L. Castor Jr. and David Schoen, will have to walk a fine line to placate both Mr. Trump and Republican senators, many of whom have disavowed Mr. Trump’s false claims to have won the election and criticized his actions on Jan. 6.
Senator John Cornyn, Republican of Texas, warned the president’s team on Monday to steer away from rehashing his grievances and debunked theories about election fraud. Better, he said, to focus on rebutting the particulars of the House’s charge.
“It’s really not material,” Mr. Cornyn told reporters in the Capitol. “As much as there might be a temptation to bring in other matters, I think it would be a disservice to the president’s own defense to get bogged down in things that really aren’t before the Senate.”
President Biden plans to sign three executive orders on Tuesday aimed at further rolling back his predecessor’s assault on immigration.
In one order, the president will direct the secretary of homeland security to lead a task force that will try to reunite several hundred families that remain separated under former President Donald J. Trump’s “zero tolerance” policy, which sought to discourage migration across the country’s southern border. More than 5,000 families were separated.
The Senate is expected to confirm Mr. Biden’s nominee to run the Homeland Security Department, Alejandro N. Mayorkas, on Tuesday.
Under Mr. Biden’s order, the federal government will seek to either bring parents to the United States or return children to parents who are living abroad, depending on the wishes of the families and the specifics of immigration law.
In two other orders, Mr. Biden will authorize a review of Mr. Trump’s immigration policies that limited asylum, stopped funding to foreign countries, made it more difficult to get green cards or be naturalized, and slowed down legal immigration into the United States
Mr. Biden is to formally announce the three orders on Tuesday afternoon at the White House. They help satisfy some of his campaign promises but underscore the difficulty the new president faces in unraveling scores of individual policies and regulations.
Senator Mitch McConnell said on Monday that the “loony lies and conspiracy theories” embraced by Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene amounted to a “cancer” on the Republican Party, issuing what in effect was a scathing rebuke to the freshman House Republican from Georgia.
In a statement reported earlier by The Hill, Mr. McConnell of Kentucky, the minority leader, never named Ms. Greene, but he referred to several of the outlandish and false conspiracy theories she has espoused and warned that such statements were damaging the party.
“Loony lies and conspiracy theories are cancer for the Republican Party and our country,” Mr. McConnell said. “Somebody who’s suggested that perhaps no airplane hit the Pentagon on 9/11, that horrifying school shootings were pre-staged, and that the Clintons crashed J.F.K. Jr.’s airplane is not living in reality. This has nothing to do with the challenges facing American families or the robust debates on substance that can strengthen our party.”
House Republican leaders in the past week have been mostly silent as pressure mounted to respond to the cascade of Ms. Greene’s problematic social media posts and videos that have surfaced in the past week, in which she endorsed a seemingly endless array of conspiracy theories and violent behavior, including executing Democratic leaders.
Mr. McConnell’s comments intensified pressure on Representative Kevin McCarthy of California, the minority leader, who is to meet with Ms. Greene later this week amid calls from outside Republican groups and some members of his own party to revoke the Georgia freshman’s committee assignments.
Ms. Greene offered her own retort in response to Mr. McConnell on Twitter, saying “the real cancer” on the party was “weak Republicans who only know how to lose gracefully.”
As Republicans splinter over how to deal with Ms. Greene, Democrats are seizing on the infighting to make her the avatar for an array of G.O.P. lawmakers.
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee on Tuesday began a $500,000 advertising campaign on television and online tying eight House Republicans, including Mr. McCarthy to Ms. Greene and QAnon, an effort to force them to make a public affirmation about Ms. Greene.
“Congressman Don Bacon,” an ominous-sounding voice intones in the ad targeting the Nebraska Republican, “he stood with Q, not you.”
The strategy is similar to the one Republicans employed against Democrats last summer during the protests over racial injustice, when they sought to paint all Democrats as in favor of defunding the police, including President Biden, who repeatedly said he did not favor it.
Democrats in Washington have adopted Ms. Greene as the symbol of the post-Trump Republican Party, aiming to elevate her profile as part of an effort to divide the G.O.P. while seeking to force Republicans to vote on whether to allow her to remain on House committees. On Saturday, Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s press office issued a news release under the headline “Minority Leader McCarthy (̶G̶O̶P̶)̶ (QAnon) Embraces Marjorie Taylor Greene.”
House Democrats on Monday indicated that they were prepared to unilaterally remove Ms. Greene from her committees if Mr. McCarthy does not act, advancing a measure to strip her of assignments that will be considered by the House Rules Committee on Wednesday.
Nearly a dozen people who the authorities said made politically motivated threats by social media or phone have been charged with federal crimes — most of them were nowhere near Washington on the day of the Jan. 6 riot.
In recent weeks, law enforcement has arrested a Proud Boys supporter in New York accused of posting violent threats on the social media network Parler; a Colorado man charged with sending a text about “putting a bullet” in Speaker Nancy Pelosi; and a man near Chicago implicated in a voice mail message about killing Democrats on Inauguration Day.
Even though they were not physically present during the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, they have become part of its sprawling fallout, as investigators scour the country to track down hundreds of rioters and examine whether right-wing extremist groups were involved in organizing the attack.
Law enforcement agencies have long struggled to decipher whether online statements could lead to real danger, wary of bringing cases hinged largely on speech that could be protected by the First Amendment. But the volume of tips about threats has skyrocketed since the Capitol assault, compelling some officials to decide not to wait to see if violent language developed into action.
When law enforcement officials are concerned about a violent social media threat that has not led to any real-world action, that person will often get a knock on the door from the F.B.I. with a warning. But former officials have called the Capitol riot a “9/11 moment” for domestic violent extremism, a catalyzing event that has pushed local and federal resources around the country to focus on one top priority, with a much lower tolerance to wait and see if threats materialize.
The Biden administration has moved aggressively to undo former President Donald J. Trump’s policies and dislodge his loyalists from positions on boards and civil-service jobs, but it has hesitated on a related choice: whether to remove two inspectors general appointed by Mr. Trump under a storm of partisan controversy.
At issue is whether the new administration will keep Eric Soskin, who was confirmed as the Transportation Department’s inspector general in December, and Brian D. Miller, a former Trump White House lawyer who was named earlier in 2020 to hunt for abuses in pandemic spending.
Both were confirmed over intense Democratic opposition after Mr. Trump fired or demoted a number of inspectors general last year, saying he had been treated “very unfairly” by them.
By ousting or sidelining inspectors general who were seen as investigating his administration aggressively, Mr. Trump undercut a longstanding tradition that presidents refrain from firing inspectors general without cause.
Mr. Trump also named inspectors general who were overwhelmingly opposed by Democrats — breaking with another tradition that nearly all inspectors general since Congress created the independent anti-corruption watchdog positions in 1978 were confirmed unanimously or by voice vote without recorded opposition.
The Biden team wants to repair what it sees as damage to the government wrought by Mr. Trump through his many violations of norms. It also wants to restore and reinforce those norms, according to people briefed on its internal deliberations about inspectors general dating back to the campaign and transition.
“It’s very possible — and it would be a real mistake — for the Biden people to remove those I.G.’s because they were appointed by Trump,” said Danielle Brian, the executive director of the Project on Government Oversight, a government watchdog group.
Ms. Brian was one of the few outside observers to call attention to a little-noticed push by Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, then the majority leader, to get Mr. Soskin confirmed as the Transportation Department inspector general. The 48-to-47 vote to confirm Mr. Soskin made him the first such official to take office on a purely party-line clash.
The office Mr. Soskin now controls has been investigating whether Mr. Trump’s Transportation secretary, Elaine Chao, improperly steered grants to Kentucky as her husband, Mr. McConnell, was seeking re-election there. During the lame-duck session, Mr. McConnell used his power to prioritize getting Mr. Soskin confirmed over four other inspector general nominees who had been waiting for floor votes longer, raising the question of why he was trying to ensure that a Republican appointee would control that post even after Mr. Biden took office.
Earlier in the year, only one Democrat voted to confirm Mr. Miller, who had worked in the Trump White House. Others rejected him on the grounds that he was seen as too close to the Trump administration to aggressively hunt for waste or fraud in pandemic spending during an election year.
The Biden team appears not to have reached any decision about what, if anything, to do about Mr. Soskin and Mr. Miller.