Trump lawyers argue he’s not responsible for Capitol riot; House Dems say evidence ‘overwhelming’

Trump Impeachment

US President Donald Trump boards Air Force One before departing Harlingen, Texas on January 12, 2021. (Photo by MANDEL NGAN / AFP) (Photo by MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images)

WASHINGTON (NewsNation Now) — Supporters of former President Donald Trump who stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6 to prevent the certification of President Joe Biden’s victory did so of their own accord, Trump’s lawyers argued in a brief filed on Monday ahead of his impeachment trial.

A speech made by Trump in the hours before the riot “was not an act encouraging an organized movement to overthrow the United States government,” his lawyers said.

They suggest that Trump was 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.

“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.

The 78-page brief was obtained by NewsNation. You can read it in the document below:

In a response filed Monday, House impeachment managers said that the evidence against Trump is “overwhelming,” and that he has “no valid excuse or defense for his actions.”

They called the alleged incitement of insurrection “the most grievous constitutional crime ever committed by a president.”

The legal response was obtained by NewsNation. You can read it in the document below:

Monday afternoon, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer announced the structure and timing of the impeachment trial. He said all parties agreed to the structure that will “ensure a fair and honest Senate impeachment trial”

Reuters and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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