Lawyers for Donald Trump said it over and over: Impeaching and convicting the former president would set a terrible new precedent ripe for abuse.
Before the trial began, Trump lawyer Bruce Castor laid out his team's arguments.
"We will argue that the entire proceeding is unconstitutional, bad public policy, and is setting a bad precedent for the nation," Castor said. "We will argue that every person in the United States is entitled to due process of law, even if it is the president of the United States. And the president of the United States during the House impeachment was afforded no due process of law."
Sen. Lindsey Graham agrees that the trial set a bad precedent.
"I don't know how Kamala Harris doesn't get impeached if the Republicans take over the House, because she actually bailed out rioters, and one of the rioters went back to the streets and broke somebody's head open," the South Carolina Republican said. "So we've opened Pandora's box here, and I'm sad for the country."
In June, Harris and other Democrats urged people to contribute to the Minnesota Freedom Fund (MFF), which was posting bail for people arrested during protests over the death of George Floyd, who died while in the custody of Minneapolis police.
"If you're able to, chip in now to the @MNFreedomFund to help post bail for those protesting on the ground in Minnesota," she wrote on Twitter on June 1.
Republicans have hit Harris for her endorsement of the group. "Kamala Harris helped violent rioters in Minnesota get out of jail to do more damage," Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) wrote in an Aug. 30 tweet. "Don't believe her when she says she 'condemns the violence' — look at her record, not her words."
"Thirteen members of Biden's campaign staff donated to bail and — rioters — they're getting them out of jail. Looters — they got them out of jail. And his running mate, Kamala, urged their supporters to do the same thing," Trump said at a press conference on Aug. 31.
The group cashed in big time after Harris' endorsement. "MFF's 2018 tax filing shows it raised only about $100,000 that year," the Washington Post reported in September. "Just weeks after Floyd's death, it raised an astonishing $35 million, in part because of tweets such as the one by Harris, who is now the Democratic vice-presidential nominee."
Just this month, a Minnesota man twice bailed out by the Harris-backed group was arrested a third time on felony drug charges, according to WCCO-TV.
"In both cases, he was freed with the help of the Minnesota Freedom Fund — which fronted his $5,000 bail in the October case and $60,000 in the December case, Fox News reported, citing a criminal complaint," the TV station reported.
Thomas Moseley, 29, was released from jail the first time on a $5,000 bond paid by the MFF following an October protest outside "where the officers involved in George Floyd's death were making a court appearance."
He was also arrested during a "New Year's Eve melee," where rioters graffitied "Down with America," "Kill all cops," "Crimewave 2021" and "America's last year," the Washington Examiner reported.
The bail fund also helped release an accused child abuser, documents obtained by Fox News indicate.
"Timothy Wayne Columbus, a 36-year-old-man, is charged with first-degree criminal sexual conduct for allegedly penetrating a girl in 2015 when she was about 8 years old," Fox reported. "A warrant was issued for his arrest on June 25. But he was later bailed out of jail and according to a court document, filed to have his bail money returned to Minnesota Freedom Fund (MFF), the organization Harris and many Biden staffers asked their followers to donate to during the rioting in Minneapolis earlier this year."
Meanwhile, one of the former president's lawyers said the process sets a dangerous precedent that could lead to other former officials being impeached even after leaving office.
In a question and answer period during Trump's trial on Friday, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) asked lawyer Michael van der Veen if the current trial of Trump "would create a new precedent" for other former officials — including former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
"Is it not true that under this new precedent, facing calls to 'lock her up,' a future House could impeach a former Secretary of State and potentially disqualify her from any future office?" Rubio asked.
"If you see it their way, yes," van der Veen said, referring to the House Democratic impeachment managers. "This could happen to … the former secretary of state. It could happen to a lot of people. That's not the way this is supposed to work."
But Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.), the lead impeachment manager, said the hypothetical question "has no bearing on this case."
"This official was not impeached in office for conduct while in office," he said without mentioning Clinton's name.