WASHINGTON (AP) — Lawyers for Donald Trump on Monday blasted the impeachment case against him as an act of “political theater” by Democrats, whom they accused of exploiting for their own party’s gain the chaos and trauma of last month’s riot at the U.S. Capitol.
In a brief filed on the eve of the Senate impeachment trial, lawyers for the former president attacked the case on multiple grounds, foreshadowing legal and constitutional arguments they intend to present when the trial opens in earnest on Tuesday.
They suggest that Trump was simply exercising his First Amendment rights when he disputed the election results and argue that he explicitly encouraged his supporters to have a peaceful protest and therefore cannot be responsible for the actions of the rioters. They suggest the Senate is not entitled to try Trump now that he has left office, an argument that is contested by even some conservative legal scholars, and they deny that the goal of the case is about pursuing justice.
“Instead, 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 Jan. 6 by a few hundred people,” the lawyers wrote in a brief obtained by The Associated Press.
“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,” they added.