The legal team defending former President Donald Trump in the upcoming Senate impeachment trial denied that Trump incited the crowd to violence in the Capitol building at his Jan. 6 rally and denied that the former president attempted to pressure state election officials to overturn President Joe Biden's electoral victories.
In legal documents filed Tuesday, Trump's lawyers responded to arguments put forth by the nine Democratic House impeachment managers who will prosecute the case against Trump next week when the unprecedented second impeachment trial of a former U.S. president begins. House Democrats filed impeachment articles for the second time against President Trump last month, this time on charges that he incited an insurrection against the U.S. government by falsely claiming the 2020 election was fraudulent.
According to CNBC, Democrats argue in their 80-page trial briefing that Trump was "personally responsible" for the violence at the Capitol building, which left five people dead and dozens of police officers injured after an unruly mob stormed the building in an attempt to prevent Congress from certifying the results of the Electoral College.
"President Trump's conduct offends everything that the Constitution stands for," the Democratic brief said.
"The Senate must make clear to him and all who follow that a President who provokes armed violence against the government of the United States in an effort to overturn the results of an election will face trial and judgment."
Before the mob stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6, President Trump spoke to the crowd, blasting "weak" Republicans who he said had failed to stand up to the Democratic Party's policy agenda and repeating his allegations that the 2020 election was "rigged"
"You can't vote on fraud. And fraud breaks up everything, doesn't it? When you catch somebody in a fraud, you're allowed to go by very different rules," Trump said.
"If you don't fight like hell you're not going to have a country any more," Trump also told the crowd.
Democrats claim that statement and others the president made were "calculated to incite violence."
Trump's defense lawyers, Bruce Castor Jr. and David Schoen, dispute this in their filing. They deny that Trump's comments "had anything to do with the action at the Capitol as it was clearly about the need to fight for election security in general."
"It is denied that President Trump incited the crowd to engage in destructive behavior," they wrote. "It is denied that President Trump intended to interfere with the counting of Electoral votes."
Trump's lawyers also defended the president's claims of widespread voter fraud, which were never proven in a court of law or confirmed by the Department of Justice.
"The 45th President exercised his First Amendment right under the Constitution to express his belief that the election results were suspect," Trump's lawyers state.
"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," they added.
They further denied claims that President Trump told Georgia election officials to illegally overturn Biden's victory.
From the Washington Post:
Trump's defense team also denied that the president sought to pressure state election officials to overturn President Biden's victory, addressing an episode cited in the House impeachment article in which he called Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger early this year to discuss that state's election results.
They argued that Trump's exhortation during the Jan. 2 phone call that Raffensperger "find" the votes to overturn President Biden's victory was simply an expression of the president's belief that a careful examination of the evidence would produce a more accurate vote count that favored Trump.
Trump's lawyers also argue that the process of impeaching a president after he has already vacated office is unconstitutional, a claim that 45 Republican senators agreed with by voting for an amendment offered by Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) to declare it as such.
Democrats vigorously argued that the impeachment trial is constitutional.
"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. 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," Democrats said in the brief.