Former President Donald Trump’s legal team accused House Democrats of impeaching Trump for “political theater” as they argued that the upcoming Senate impeachment trial is unconstitutional because Trump is no longer President.
“This was only ever a selfish attempt by Democratic leadership in the House to prey upon the feelings of horror and confusion that fell upon all Americans across the entire political spectrum upon seeing the destruction at the Capitol on January 6 by a few hundred people,” Trump’s lawyers wrote in a pre-trial brief filed Monday. “Instead of acting to heal the nation, or at the very least focusing on prosecuting the lawbreakers who stormed the Capitol, the Speaker of the House and her allies have tried to callously harness the chaos of the moment for their own political gain.”
The 75-page legal brief from Trump’s attorneys expands upon their initial response to the House’s impeachment last week, in which they argued that the trial was unconstitutional, that Trump didn’t incite the rioters and that his speech spreading false conspiracies about widespread election fraud is protected by the First Amendment.
The brief filed Monday also claims that Trump’s speech on Jan. 6 did not incite the rioters, arguing that he urged those gathered to be peaceful.
“Despite the House Managers’ charges against Mr. Trump, his statements cannot and could not reasonably be interpreted as a call to immediate violence or a call for a violent overthrown of the United States’ government,” Trump’s lawyers say.
In his speech on Jan. 6, Trump’s told the crowd to “fight like hell.”
“And if you don’t fight like hell, you’re not going to have a country anymore,” Trump said.
In their brief, Trump’s lawyers argued that Trump’s speech about fighting was metaphorical and he did not call for any violence.
“To characterize this statement alone as ‘incitement to insurrection’ is to ignore, wholesale, the remainder of Mr. Trump’s speech that day, including his call for his supporters to ‘peacefully’ making their ‘voices heard.,” the lawyers claim.
The House impeachment managers will file their response to Trump’s arguments in a brief that’s due at noon today.
Read the legal brief of Trump’s defense team here.