The defense of former President Donald Trump asked Monday to dismiss the impending impeachment trial against him as a partisan and unconstitutional “theatre” and denied that the former president incited his followers to violence before the assault on the Capitol in January.
A day before the start of the second impeachment trial against Trump, his lawyers laid out their position in a lengthy 78-page document, in which they again insisted that it is unconstitutional to subject a leader who is no longer in power to an “impeachment.”
“The Senate should summarily reject this blatant political act (…) Giving in to the Democrats’ hunger for this political theatre is a danger to our republic,” said the former president’s lawyers, Bruce Castor, David Schoen and Michael van der Veen.
“The Senate is being asked to do something patently ridiculous: try a private citizen in a process designed to oust him from an office he no longer holds,” they added.
This will be the first time in U.S. history that a former president who is no longer in office has been impeached, but numerous experts on the country’s Constitution, including several conservatives, have asserted that such a process is legitimate.
The insistence of Trump’s lawyers on that issue will cause the impeachment trial to open Tuesday with a four-hour debate followed by a vote on whether or not the process is constitutional, according to congressional sources cited by several media outlets.
In its document, Trump’s defense also denied that the former president “incited the insurrection” of his most radical followers last January 6, when he was still in power and harangued them in a long speech in Washington, just before hundreds of them stormed the Capitol by force.
“Of the more than 10,000 words he said, Mr. Trump used the word ‘fight’ a little more than a handful of times, and always in a figurative sense (…); it was not and could not be construed as an encouragement of acts of violence,” the lawyers indicated.
“The only reference to force was that he took pride in his administration’s creation of the Space Force,” they added.
Trump is the first president in U.S. history to be subjected to two political trials, following the one a year ago for his pressure on Ukraine, which resulted in his acquittal.
This second impeachment is unlikely to result in his conviction since it would require a minimum of 67 votes (two-thirds of the Senate), and the Democrats control only 50 seats in the chamber.
Only after a hypothetical conviction could there be a vote in the Senate on a measure that would actually have consequences for Trump, since he cannot be impeached: his disqualification from holding future political office.