Donald Trump endangered the lives of all members of Congress when he aimed a mob of supporters ‘like a loaded cannon’ at the U.S. Capitol, House Democrats said Tuesday in making their most detailed case yet for why the former president should be convicted and permanently barred from office.
The legal brief forcefully links Trump’s efforts to overturn the results of the presidential election to the deadly January 6 riot at the Capitol. It claims the former president bears ‘unmistakable’ blame for actions that directly threatened the underpinnings of American democracy.
‘His conduct endangered the life of every single Member of Congress, jeopardized the peaceful transition of power and line of succession, and compromised our national security,’ the Democratic managers of the impeachment case wrote. ‘This is precisely the sort of constitutional offense that warrants disqualification from federal office.’
The legal brief lays out for the first time the arguments House lawmakers expect to present at the impeachment trial next week as the trial kicks off on February 9.
It not only explicitly faults Trump for his role in inciting the riot but also aims to preemptively rebut potential defense claims that Trump’s words were somehow protected by the First Amendment or that an impeachment trial is unconstitutional now that Trump has left office. It says Trump’s behavior was so egregious as to require permanent disqualification from office.
‘President Trump committed this high crime and misdemeanor amid his final days in office,’ the brief details in arguing why it is still appropriate to move forward with impeachment after the former president’s term has ended.
Democrats released a legal brief Tuesday arguing the case for impeaching Donald Trump for ‘incitement of insurrection,’ claiming his rhetoric before thousands of his supporters stormed the Capitol on January 6 was like him ‘aiming a loaded cannon’ at members of Congress
‘President Trump will argue that it serves no purpose to subject him to a trial and that the Senate lacks jurisdiction to do so. He is mistaken,’ the managers continue. ‘As we explain at length below—and as scholars from diverse viewpoints have long recognized—the text and structure of the Constitution, as well as its original meaning and prior interpretations by Congress, overwhelmingly demonstrate that a former official remains subject to trial and conviction for abuses committed in office.
‘Any other rule would make little sense. ‘
‘The Constitution governs the first day of the President’s term, the last day, and every moment in between,’ the brief reads. ‘Presidents do not get a free pass to commit high crimes and misdemeanors near the end of their term.’
The Constitution specifies that disqualification from office can be a punishment for an impeachment conviction.
‘This is not a case where elections alone are a sufficient safeguard against future abuse; it is the electoral process itself that President Trump attacked and that must be protected from him and anyone else who would seek to mimic his behavior,’ the legal brief states.
Lawyers for Trump are expected to file their own brief Tuesday. In a Fox News appearance Monday night, one of the attorneys, David Schoen, said he would argue that the trial was unconstitutional, that efforts to bar Trump from office were undemocratic. and that his words were protected by the First Amendment.
Democrats made clear that they disagree with all points.
‘The only honorable path at that point was for President Trump to accept the results and concede his electoral defeat. Instead, he summoned a mob to Washington, exhorted them into a frenzy, and aimed them like a loaded cannon down Pennsylvania Avenue,’ they wrote.
Meanwhile, Trump’s legal team is still scrambling to nail down its defense strategy as a deadline looms at noon on Tuesday for the former president to reply to a charge of incitement of insurrection brought by the House last month.
Over the weekend, Trump split with his previous team of lawyers, with reports indicating they were unwilling to center their legal strategy on election fraud claims. His new lawyers, which were announced Sunday, have not indicated what defense they have planned for the 45th president.
Those who will represent Trump in the Senate trial next week are David Schoen, a Fox News commentator and former counsel to the sex offender Jeffrey Epstein, and Bruce Castor, a former county prosecutor in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania – where Trump’s campaign sued over claims of fraudulently counting mail-in ballots.
The team shake-up and lack of legal strategy maintains as there’s just one week left before the former president’s impeachment trial is set to start in the Senate. On Monday, pre-trial briefs are due.
Democrats in the House voted to impeach Trump for a second time last month, claiming his actions and rhetoric on January 6 – and before – led to a violent mob storming the Capitol in the name of preventing Congress from certifying the election for Joe Biden.
During the trial next week, Democrats will continue to argue Trump ‘incited an insurrection,’ and therefore should be convicted.
Donald Trump’s impeachment lawyers, David Schoen (left) and Bruce Castor (right) have not yet outlined their legal defense for the former president as a deadline looms Tuesday at noon for them to respond to the charge for ‘incitement of insurrection’
Schoen said Monday that the former president had ‘nothing’ to do with the Capitol riot as he warned the trial threatened to tear the country apart and damage American democracy.
The Atlanta-based lawyer insisted that the trial of a former president was ‘unconstitutional’.
Neither Schoen nor Castor have expertise in constitutional law, which many see as the most promising path for Trump’s defense – and some argue the Constitution does not allow for an impeachment trial of a political figure who has already left office.
Acquittal of the former president is almost certain as 67 senators are needed to vote in favor of conviction, meaning 17 Republicans would need to cross the political aisle. And most Republicans voted last week that the impeachment trial is unconstitutional because Trump is no longer president.
Schoen argued further Monday that Trump was not to blame for the violent protests at the Capitol, which killed four people including a Capitol Police officer.
Schoen, a Fox News commentator and former counsel to the sex offender Jeffrey Epstein, appeared on Fox News on Monday night to discuss the impeachment trial with Sean Hannity
Schoen said that the storming of the Capitol after Trump’s January 6 rally was not the 45th president’s fault
At a ‘Stop the Steal’ rally on the morning of January 6, Trump told his followers: ‘We’re going to walk down to the Capitol, and we’re going to cheer on our brave senators and congressmen and women and we’re probably not going to be cheering so much for some of them. Because you’ll never take back our country with weakness. You have to show strength and you have to be strong.’
Schoen said: ‘He condemned violence at all times. Read the words of his speech. It calls for peacefulness.
‘This has nothing to do with President Trump and the country doesn’t need to just watch videos of riots and unrest. We need to heal now. We need to move forward.’
Schoen, who will represent Trump along with Bruce Castor, the former district attorney in Pennsylvania who declined to prosecute Bill Cosby, said the impeachment case was ‘the most ill-advised legislative action that I’ve seen in my lifetime.’
He added: ‘It is tearing the country apart at a time when we don’t need anything like that.’
Schoen, an Atlantabased lawyer, also told Hannity (right) that the January 6 riot ‘has nothing to do with President Trump’
Schoen said the the process was being made a mockery because those involved had already made up their minds, before it had even started, and strongly criticized the ‘awful bias and prejudgment shown.’
He continued: ‘Could you imagine any American citizen considered to be on trial, in which the judge and jury has already announced publicly the defendant must be convicted in this case?
‘It undercuts democracy. How could you possibly have a fair trial? Senator Schumer promised a fair and full trial. You can’t when you know that they are biased going in.’
Trump was impeached by the House on January 13.
He appears highly likely to be cleared, for a second time, by the Senate after a procedural vote showed that Republicans were unlikely to convict him.
On January 26 the Senate was asked whether they wanted impeachment to proceed.
The Senate voted 55-45, meaning that impeachment will go ahead.
But it showed that regardless of what happens in the trial, there almost certainly won’t be enough Republican support to convict Trump: conviction would require 67 votes, or two-thirds of the Senate.
Schoen insisted that the trial was designed to end Trump’s political future
Schoen said the trial was being held to damage Trump and bury him politically.
‘This is the political weaponization of the impeachment process,’ he told Sean Hannity on Fox News.
‘There was a rush to judgment. Once President Trump became president, on the day he was elected, there were calls for his impeachment.’
He said the ‘agenda’ from the Democrats was to ‘simply to bar President Trump from ever running for president again.’
Schoen added: ‘And that is about as undemocratic as you could get.
‘Can you imagine the slap in the face that is to the 75 million or more voters who voted for Donald Trump?’
This post was first published on DailyMail.