NATIONAL NEWS

Key Arguments By Trump’s Lawyers Ahead Of Impeachment Trial

Feb 9, 2021, 7:06 AM | Updated: 7:07 am

The exterior of the U.S. Capitol building is seen at sunrise on February 8, 2021 in Washington, DC....

The exterior of the U.S. Capitol building is seen at sunrise on February 8, 2021 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Sarah Silbiger/Getty Images)

(Photo by Sarah Silbiger/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON (AP) — Former President Donald Trump stands trial before the Senate this week on an impeachment charge that accuses him of inciting the deadly Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol.

His lawyers in a 78-page memorandum on Monday detailed a range of legal and factual arguments that they intend to make at trial.

Some of the highlights:

___

Argument: Trump Did Not Incite The Insurrection

Defense lawyers are adamant that Trump did not incite the riot when he addressed a huge crowd of supporters at a rally that preceded it.

They accuse House impeachment managers of cherry-picking Trump’s statements from an hourlong speech by highlighting only those that Democrats see as helpful to their case, pointing out repeatedly that he had told his supporters to “peacefully and patriotically make your voices heard.”

They argue that even the statement that has attracted the most notoriety — “If you don’t fight like hell, you’re not going to have a country anymore” — was figurative in the general context of election security, not an invocation to violence. And they suggest Trump couldn’t have himself incited the riot given the indications law enforcement had before Jan. 6 of the potential for violence that day.

But for Democrats, the focus on those specific statements at the rally on the Ellipse ignores the cumulative impact of Trump’s baseless, weekslong efforts to call into question the results of the presidential election, and his urging of supporters to come to Washington on the day that the Senate was set to certify the results of Joe Biden’s victory.

There was no widespread fraud in the election, as Trump claimed falsely over several months and again to his supporters just before the insurrection. Election officials across the country, and even then-Attorney General William Barr, contradicted his claims, and dozens of legal challenges to the election put forth by Trump and his allies were dismissed.

____

Argument: His Speech Is Protected

The Trump legal team plans to lean on the Constitution in multiple ways, including by arguing that Trump enjoyed First Amendment protections in everything he said to his supporters.

“The fatal flaw of the House’s arguments is that it seeks to mete out governmental punishment — impeachment — based on political speech that falls squarely within broad protections of the First Amendment,” the lawyers say.

In a seminal Supreme Court case, Brandenburg v. Ohio, the justices held that the government can suppress speech that is designed to produce imminent lawless action and is likely to do so. But Trump’s lawyers say his words at the Ellipse don’t come close to meeting that standard.

In their own filing Monday, House Democrats say the First Amendment defense is lacking since Trump was not impeached for expressing an “unpopular political opinion” but rather because he “willfully incited violent insurrection against the government.”

“Rights of speech and political participation mean little if the President can provoke lawless action if he loses at the polls” the Democrats wrote.

____

Argument: The Trial Itself Is Unconstitutional

This is disputed among legal scholars, but Trump’s legal team plans to argue that the trial itself is unconstitutional because he is no longer in office. They say the Constitution does not extend the power of impeachment against a “private citizen.”

They insist that conviction at an impeachment trial requires the possibility of removing the defendant from office. Now that Trump is out of the White House, they say, there is no legal basis for such a trial.

Not so, say Democrats, who say there is indeed historical precedent — albeit not for a president — to conduct an impeachment trial for someone no longer in office for acts committed while that person was in office. They argue there is no “January exception” for a president’s final days in office.

Their argument got a boost Sunday when Charles Cooper, a conservative Washington lawyer with deep ties to the Republican legal community, wrote in a Wall Street Journal opinion piece that a trial of Trump did indeed pass constitutional muster.

____

Democrats Have Their Own Statements And Actions To Answer For

Trump’s lawyers signaled that they’ll look to defend Trump by invoking other examples of what they say is similar political rhetoric from Democrats.

They point to a statement that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi made at a 2018 news conference about the Trump administration’s zero tolerance policy on immigration. “I just don’t even know why there aren’t uprisings all over the country. Maybe there will be,” she said.

It’s unclear whether making a comparison with a statement like that, which did not result in violent uprisings aimed at the Trump administration, will actually resonate with a Senate audience, especially as Trump’s lawyers try to make the claim that their own client’s words are being taken out of context. Trump’s speech to supporters came after he falsely claimed for weeks that the election was being stolen from him and pressured state and local officials to change the outcome.

Beyond those statements, the legal filing suggests other Democrats may find themselves name-dropped in unexpected ways during the trial. Trump’s lawyers argue the trial creates a “dangerous slippery slope” for politically charged impeachments. It posits, for instance, that both Biden and Hillary Clinton could be impeached for actions during the Obama administration.

____

Due Process

Trump’s lawyers resurrect an argument raised during the first impeachment case against him — that House lawmakers rushed through the process without conducting a full investigation or evaluating all the evidence.

House Democrats note, though, that Trump was invited to testify in his own defense and refused. They say they plan to make note of that at trial to support an inference about his guilt.

Allegations of a hurried or incomplete investigation may be difficult to sustain given that the senators themselves bore witness to the insurrection and were in the chamber when the rioters entered the building.

KSL 5 TV Live

National News

Idaho State Police released aerial photos of a string of crash sties on Interstate 84 on March 4, 2...

Mary Culbertson

63 cars, semitrucks crash on I-84 following winter storm

Idaho State Police responded to a string of crashes on I-84 Monday morning, closing miles of the interstate for hours.

22 minutes ago

Tova Callender, left, and Christiane Keyhani of Hui O Ka Wai Ola, collect water samples at the Mala...

AUDREY McAVOY Associated Press

In Hawaii, coral is the foundation of life. What happened to it after the Lahaina wildfire?

For now, state officials are urging the public to limit their exposure to the ocean and seafood until scientists understand what might be making its way through the food chain.

2 hours ago

Cookie Monster has taken to X to express his frustration over shrinking products, aka: "shrinkflati...

Bryan Mena, CNN

Even Cookie Monster is complaining about the US economy now

Cookie Monster has taken a stance on a very real and controversial trend in the US economy — and he hates it.

2 hours ago

Thousands of pounds of Trader Joe's chicken soup dumplings have been recalled due to possible conta...

Jamie Gumbrecht, CNN

61,000 pounds of Trader Joe’s chicken soup dumplings recalled due to possible contamination with hard plastic

More than 61,000 pounds Trader Joe’s steamed chicken soup dumplings are being recalled due to possible contamination with hard plastic from a permanent marker.

2 hours ago

The Federal Aviation Administration has found multiple problems with Boeing’s production practice...

Pete Muntean, Gregory Wallace and Chris Isidore, CNN

FAA finds ‘multiple instances’ of Boeing quality control issues

The Federal Aviation Administration has found multiple problems with Boeing’s production practices following a six-week audit triggered by the January 5 door plug blowout on an Alaska Airlines’ Boeing 737 Max 9.

2 hours ago

FILE: The sun is seen in full eclipse over a park on Aug. 21, 2017, in Hiawatha, Kansas. Millions o...

Josh Ellis

Utahns will have to travel to catch the best part of April’s total solar eclipse

2023's eclipse gave thousands of Utahns a chance to see its "ring of fire," but the 2024 total solar eclipse will require some travel to get the full experience.

3 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Modern chandelier hanging from a white slanted ceiling with windows in the backgruond...

Lighting Design

Light Up Your Home With These Top Lighting Trends for 2024

Check out the latest lighting design trends for 2024 and tips on how you can incorporate them into your home.

Technician woman fixing hardware of desktop computer. Close up....

PC Laptops

Tips for Hassle-Free Computer Repairs

Experiencing a glitch in your computer can be frustrating, but with these tips you can have your computer repaired without the stress.

Close up of finger on keyboard button with number 11 logo...

PC Laptops

7 Reasons Why You Should Upgrade Your Laptop to Windows 11

Explore the benefits of upgrading to Windows 11 for a smoother, more secure, and feature-packed computing experience.

Stylish room interior with beautiful Christmas tree and decorative fireplace...

Lighting Design

Create a Festive Home with Our Easy-to-Follow Holiday Prep Guide

Get ready for festive celebrations! Discover expert tips to prepare your home for the holidays, creating a warm and welcoming atmosphere for unforgettable moments.

Battery low message on mobile device screen. Internet and technology concept...

PC Laptops

9 Tips to Get More Power Out of Your Laptop Battery

Get more power out of your laptop battery and help it last longer by implementing some of these tips from our guide.

Users display warnings about the use of artificial intelligence (AI), access to malicious software ...

Les Olson

How to Stay Safe from Cybersecurity Threats

Read our tips for reading for how to respond to rising cybersecurity threats in 2023 and beyond to keep yourself and your company safe.

Key Arguments By Trump’s Lawyers Ahead Of Impeachment Trial