The Democratic Party-held House of Representatives impeached former President Donald Trump last month on the charge of “inciting insurrection.” His Senate trial is set to commence on Tuesday. Trump is the first commander-in-chief to have been impeached twice, and will be the first to be tried by the Senate after leaving office.
Lawyers representing former President Donald Trump have filed a 78-page brief attacking Democratic lawmakers, demanding that what they say is an “unconstitutional” “political theater” of a case be dismissed.
“During the past four years, Democrat members of the United States House of Representatives have filed at least nine (9) resolutions to impeach Donald J. Trump…each containing charges more outlandish than the next,” the brief suggests.
Accusing the House of “obfuscating the facts” about the events of 6 January, the brief claims that Trump’s speech before supporters in Washington, DC that day did not not feature “any reference to or encouragement of an insurrection, a riot, criminal action, or any acts of physical violence whatsoever.”
The brief further alleges that “Democrat members of the House drafted the article of impeachment” against Trump “before any investigation into the riot had even started,” and that they “publicly admitted” to doing so.
No Precedent, Constitutional Authority
The brief goes mentions the case of William Belknap, the Ulysses S. Grant administration Secretary of War who was tried by the Senate on corruption charges after his impeachment and despite his resignation in 1876. Democratic lawmakers have argued that the Belknap case serves as precedent giving the Senate the right to try Trump. The former president’s lawyers call that case, as well as that of the 1797 impeachment of Senator William Blount, as “inappropriate” and insufficient to “provide any binding presidential authority for impeaching a former President,” given that neither of the men were convicted by a two-thirds majority.
The former president’s lawyers warn, citing legal opinions, that a trial of Trump would put the Senate on a “slippery slope” which could lead the party that controls Congress to move to impeach other former officeholders from the minority party in the future.
Finally, attorneys argue that House lawmakers’ case is a violation of Trump’s First Amendment Rights, which guarantees the right to freedom of speech and freedom of peaceful assembly.
The Senate impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump will begin on Tuesday. He is widely expected to be acquitted, with the 2/3 vote needed for conviction considered extremely unlikely in a Senate split 50/50 between Democrats and Republicans. Last year, in his Senate impeachment trial on charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, senators voted 52-48 and 53-47 to find Trump not guilty of the charges, respectively.