Lawyers for former US president Donald Trump have rejected charges that he “incited insurrection” against the federal Government in an official response to the article of impeachment filed against him.
In a Tuesday briefing, the Trump lawyers argued that the US Senate has no constitutional authority to hold a trial on a former president facing impeachment, and said “insufficient evidence exists” to show whether Mr. Trump’s election fraud claims were accurate or not.
According to the former president’s defence team, not only does the Senate lack the authority to put him on trial as a private citizen, but the upper chamber also lacks the jurisdiction to prevent Mr. Trump from holding office again.
The claims came as Democratic politicians who would serve as prosecutors urged for Mr. Trump’s conviction.
Nine House of Representatives politicians said Mr. Trump pointed a mob “like a loaded cannon” at Congress and said he should be convicted and barred from holding public office in the future.
“President Trump’s conduct offends everything that the Constitution stands for,” the Democratic impeachment managers wrote in an eighty-page brief, noting that Mr. Trump had begun voicing his intention to contest an election loss months before the November 3 election was held.
“He summoned a mob to Washington, exhorted them into a frenzy, and aimed them like a loaded cannon down Pennsylvania Avenue. As the Capitol was overrun, President Trump was reportedly ‘delighted,’” they said.
During his January 6 speech, Mr. Trump had repeated unsubstantiated claims that the election was fraudulent and exhorted supporters to march on the Capitol, telling them to “stop the steal”, “show strength” and “fight like hell”.
The riot that ensued interrupted the formal congressional validation of Democrat Joe Biden’s election win and sent politicians into hiding for their own safety.
Mr. Trump will face a second impeachment trial on February 8.
He has already become the first US president to be impeached twice and the first to face trial after leaving office.
Convicting the seventy-four-year-old former president would require seventeen Republicans to join the Senate’s fifty Democrats in the vote.
Although ten House Republicans broke ranks with their colleagues to side with Democrats in voting for impeachment in January, getting enough GOP senators to convict Mr. Trump is highly unlikely.