Former President Donald Trump denied Tuesday that he encouraged his supporters to storm the US Capitol last month — and argued that the Senate doesn’t have the authority to hold a trial over his impeachment by the House of Representatives.
In a 14-page answer to the sole article of impeachment against him — incitement of insurrection — Trump’s lawyers in the filing reject the idea that he “incited the crowd to engage in destructive behavior” when he spoke near the White House shortly before the January 6 riot.
“It is denied that the phrase ‘if you don’t fight like hell you’re not going to have a country anymore’ had anything to do with the action at the Capitol as it was clearly about the need to fight for election security in general, as evidenced by the recording of the speech,” lawyers Bruce Castor Jr. and David Schoen wrote.
The filing further says that Trump didn’t intend “to interfere with the counting of Electoral votes” during the joint session of Congress that later certified President Biden’s victory and and had the right “to express his belief that the election results were suspect.”
“Like all Americans, the 45th President is protected by the First Amendment,” his lawyers wrote.
“Indeed, he believes, and therefore avers, that the United States is unique on Earth in that its governing documents, the Constitution and Bill of Rights, specifically and intentionally protect unpopular speech from government retaliation.”
The filing further claims that the Senate “lacks jurisdiction over the 45th President because he holds no public office from which he can be removed.”
Removal from office is the only “active remedy allowed…under our Constitution,” making Trump’s impeachment “moot and a non-justiciable question,” his lawyers wrote.
Trump’s formal response to his second impeachment came as the House managers filed a pre-trial brief outlining their case against him.
“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 House Democrats wrote.
“As it stormed the Capitol, the mob yelled out ‘President Trump Sent Us,’ ‘Hang Mike Pence,’ and ‘Traitor Traitor Traitor.’”
They also rejected the contention that because Trump is no longer president, his impeachment trial is an exercise in futility.
“There is no ‘January exception’ to the Constitution that allows a President to organize a coup or incite an armed insurrection in his final weeks in office,” they wrote.
“The Senate must convict President Trump, who has already been impeached by the House of Representatives, and disqualify him from ever holding federal office again. We must protect the Republic from any future dangerous attacks he could level against our constitutional order.”
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