WASHINGTON — Lawyers representing former President Donald Trump and House impeachment managers filed dueling pre-trial briefings Monday.
Trump’s lawyers expanded on arguments they made last week. They also called on the Senate to dismiss the case. House impeachment managers rejected this call in a short brief they filed later in the day.
In their latest 75-page filing, Trump’s lawyers reiterated their argument that Trump’s comments ahead of the Jan. 6 storming of the U.S. Capitol building are protected by the First Amendment, and “simply called on those gathered to peacefully and patriotically use their voices.”
“Despite the House Managers’ charges against Mr. Trump, his statements cannot and could not reasonably be interpreted as a call to immediate violence or a call for a violent overthrow of the United States’ government,” Trump’s lawyers wrote in Monday’s filing.
They note Trump only used the word “fight” a handful of times in his speech ahead of the Jan. 6 violent riot at the Capitol, and that it was used “in the figurative sense that has long been accepted in public discourse.”
They also accused Senate Democrats of engaging in “political theater” and continue to call the upcoming Senate impeachment trial unconstitutional. This is a legal question that has not been resolved.
House impeachment managers contend there is precedence and it is constitutional for former President Trump to stand trial for actions that happened while he was president.
“Presidents swear a sacred oath that binds them from their first day in office through their very last,” the Democrats wrote in their filing.
In response to Trump’s lawyers’ arguments regarding his statements being protected speech, House impeachment managers point out the language used in his Jan. 6 speech to those gathered for a Save America rally.
“When President Trump demanded that the armed, angry crowd at his Save America Rally ‘fight like hell’ or ‘you’re not going to have a country anymore,’ he wasn’t urging them to form political action committees about ‘election security in general,’” the House impeachment managers wrote.
The Democrats also point to Trump’s call with Georgia’s Secretary of State that was widely reported last month, in which he can be heard asking for him to “find” enough votes to overturn the state’s election result, or face “a big risk.”
“The House did not impeach President Trump because he expressed an unpopular political opinion. It impeached him because he willfully incited violent insurrection against the government.”
Trump was impeached by the House of Representatives on Jan. 13 on one article, incitement of insurrection.
The impeachment trial is scheduled to begin Tuesday afternoon in the Senate. Trump has already rejected a request to testify during the trial.