Trump's impeachment team argues case is unconstitutional, falsely says there's 'insufficient evidence' about his election claims
- Trump's defense team on Tuesday filed their first brief about the former president's upcoming impeachment trial.
- His lawyers argue that Trump being put on trial after leaving office is unconstitutional.
- They also claim that Trump's speech before the Capitol riot is protected by the First Amendment.
Former President Donald Trump's impeachment lawyers argued in a 14-page brief filed Tuesday that putting Trump on trial after he's left office is unconstitutional and that his controversial speech before the January 6 Capitol riot is protected under the First Amendment.
Trump's attorneys, Bruce L. Castor Jr. and David Schoen, said in the brief that it's "moot" to try and convict Trump for incitement of insurrection "because the Senate lacks jurisdiction to remove from office a man who does not hold office."
Earlier Tuesday, the nine House impeachment managers who will act as prosecutors in Trump's Senate trial filed their first brief arguing for his conviction after he was impeached on a charge of incitement of insurrection.
"In a grievous betrayal of his Oath of Office, President Trump incited a violent mob to attack the United States Capitol during the Joint Session, thus impeding Congress's confirmation of Joseph R. Biden, Jr. as the winner of the presidential election," the brief said. "As it stormed the Capitol, the mob yelled out 'President Trump Sent Us,' 'Hang Mike Pence,' and 'Traitor Traitor Traitor.'"
The House managers also addressed the question of whether Trump's second impeachment is constitutional, writing, "There is no 'January Exception' to impeachment or any other provision of the Constitution. A president must answer comprehensively for his conduct in office from his first day in office through his last."
Trump had falsely argued for months before the insurrection that the 2020 election was fraudulent, "rigged," and illegally stolen from him. His campaign and Republican officials across the country filed dozens of lawsuits after the election seeking to overturn the results in battleground states he lost. Nearly all of them were rejected by courts from the local level all the way up to the Supreme Court.
In Tuesday's brief, the former president's lawyers said he has a right to express his opinion that the election results were "suspect" and that his January 6 rally counts as constitutionally protected speech.
Trump told thousands of his supporters at the "Save America" rally that if they didn't "fight like hell," they wouldn't "have a country anymore."
His defense team said in its brief that his words were not related to any specific action he wanted protestors to take at the Capitol and were "clearly about the need to fight for election security in general."
"Insufficient evidence exists upon which a reasonable jurist could conclude that the 45th President's statements were accurate or not, and he therefore denies they were false. Like all Americans, the 45th President is protected by the First Amendment," the brief said.
Trump specifically referenced the Capitol and Congress' plans to formalize Joe Biden's victory at his January 6 rally.
"We're going to walk down to the Capitol, and we're going to cheer on our brave senators and congressmen and women, and we're probably not going to be cheering so much for some of them," he said as Congress was convening. "I know that everyone here will soon be marching over to the Capitol building to peacefully and patriotically make your voices heard."
Throngs of pro-Trump fanatics subsequently converged on the Capitol, breaching barricades, attacking law enforcement, ransacking offices, vandalizing property, and hunting down lawmakers and Mike Pence, who was then the sitting vice president.
The deadly riot resulted in five deaths, including a US Capitol Police officer who died of brain injuries sustained after Trump supporters beat him with a fire extinguisher.
More than 100 people have since been charged with felonies connected to the insurrection, and Justice Department prosecutors have said in court filings that some of the defendants explicitly stated their desire to execute prominent Democrats and Republicans who they believed had betrayed Trump.
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