Published: Wed, February 03, 2021

President Trump's legal team says impeachment trial unconstitutional, calls for acquittal

President Trump's legal team says impeachment trial unconstitutional, calls for acquittal

Still, Republicans have signaled that acquittal is likely, with many saying they think Congress should move on and questioning the constitutionality of an impeachment trial - Trump's second - now that he has left office.

And more: "If provoking an insurrectionary riot against a Joint Session of Congress after losing an election is not an impeachable offense, it is hard to imagine what would be", it continues.

Nine impeachment managers on Tuesday filed a brief with the Senate, arguing the former president is "singularly responsible" for last month's deadly attack on the Capitol building and describing his actions as a "betrayal of historic proportions", The Washington Post reports. Trump is still making false claims that his election loss to Democratic President Joe Biden was the result of widespread voting fraud and irregularities.

In any event, they said, the trial was unconstitutional now that Trump has left the White House.

Although Trump was impeached on January 13, his term ended a week later - before the beginning of the Senate trial. They also criticized Democrats for not allowing Mr. Trump to have a lawyer present during the House impeachment process.

President Trump -- who has come into a new legal team after his attorneys abruptly quit because they refused to lie on Trump's behalf -- is now being represented by attorneys David Schoen, longtime advisor of Roger Stone, and Bruce Castor, a former Pennsylvania district attorney who refused to prosecute Bill Cosby.

Trump's lawyers responded with their own filing that denied that he had incited the riot by disputing the election results or by exhorting his followers to "fight like hell".

The House managers say Trump took the stage after Rudy Giuliani had called for "trial by combat", and Trump's son had warned Republican lawmakers not to finalize the election results.

Republican Senator John Cornyn said that making an argument regarding alleged election fraud would be "really not material" to the charge that Trump's remarks urging supporters to "fight" on January 6 led to the attack on the Capitol that left five dead.

"It was obvious and entirely foreseeable that the furious crowd assembled before President Trump at the "Save America Rally" on January 6 was primed (and prepared) for violence if he lit a spark", the managers wrote.

But impeachment managers argued that Trump's constant promoting of unfounded voter fraud accusations fueled his supporters into backing efforts to overturn the election. It did cite a phone call Mr Trump placed to Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger urging him to "find" just enough votes to undo Mr Biden's victory in that state.

Mr. Trump's filing acknowledged the call but said he "was expressing his opinion that if the evidence was carefully examined one would 'find that you have many that aren't even signed and you have many that are forgeries.'" His lawyers said he hadn't acted improperly.

Enough Republican senators have signalled opposition to impeachment to indicate that the chamber nearly certainly will fall short of the two-thirds majority needed to convict him. "But every single court to consider the President's attacks on the outcome of the election rejected them". The trial is expected to last about one week.

Throughout the speech, Trump invited his supporters to march to the Capitol and repeatedly made calls to "fight" - although he once used the word "peacefully".

"If you open up that can of worms [by calling witnesses], we'll want the Federal Bureau of Investigation to come in and tell us about how people actually pre-planned these attacks and what happened with the security footprint at the Capitol", Graham said. In the 14-page document, the lawyers question the Senate's jurisdiction to try Trump, deny that he incited the Capitol riots, and assert that his statements about the election were protected by the First Amendment.

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