Democrats fire back at Trump’s lawyers ahead of impeachment trial, saying he ‘betrayed the American people’

'He has no valid excuse or defence for his actions. And his efforts to escape accountability are entirely unavailing'

Chris Riotta
New York
Monday 08 February 2021 20:06
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Democratic impeachment managers have responded to a brief filed on Monday by former President Donald Trump’s attorneys which urged the Senate to drop the charges against him while calling into question the constitutionality of the upcoming trial. 

In a response filed within hours of the former president’s brief, the House lawmakers described evidence against Mr Trump as “overwhelming” and added: “He has no valid excuse or defence for his actions. And his efforts to escape accountability are entirely unavailing."

Democrats denied “each and every allegation” included in the president’s filing, which asserted his speech at a rally just before the Capitol riots last month did not lead to the deadly riots later that day, as Congress convened to certify his defeat in the 2020 elections. Mr Trump was impeached by the House of Representatives in January for fomenting the insurrection, which left at least five people dead, including United States Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick. 

“Presidents swear a sacred oath that binds them from their first day in office through their very last,” the Democratic response read. “There is no ‘January Exception’ to the Constitution that allows Presidents to abuse power in their final days without accountability.”

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With just one day before the start of the Senate impeachment trial, Mr Trump’s lawyers submitted a brief that appeared to lay out their defence strategy for the days ahead: rather than focusing on Mr Trump’s conduct, his team instead pointed fingers at Democrats and said they were using the impeachment for “political gain.” 

Mr Trump’s attorneys who filed the brief had just recently joined his team after five other lawyers fled the former president’s side amid reported disagreements over their trial strategy. While the attorneys were rumoured to have been focusing on the constitutionality argument behind the trial, Mr Trump was imploring them to instead highlight his false claims of rampant voter fraud. 

“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 former president’s attorneys wrote in their brief. “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."

The vast majority of Republican senators have already voted against conducting the trial, and it appeared unlikely the Democrats would receive the 17 GOP votes required to successfully convict Mr Trump — a move that could pave the way to barring the former president from ever holding elected office again. 

Democratic impeachment managers have not yet indicated whether they plan to call witnesses during the trial, and were expected to rely heavily on videos recorded during the former president’s rally and the following mob attacks on the Capitol throughout the proceedings. 

“As charged in the Article of Impeachment, President Trump violated his Oath of Office and betrayed the American people,” they wrote on Monday. “His incitement of insurrection against the United States government — which disrupted the peaceful transfer of power — is the most grievous constitutional crime ever committed by a President.”

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