Donald Trump’s defense team demands acquittal in ‘unjust’ impeachment trial

 Donald Trump’s defense team demands acquittal in ‘unjust’ impeachment trial

The former president’s lawyers argued that his speech on January 6 telling supporters to “fight” was merely rhetorical

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Attorney Michael van der Veen says that the article of impeachment now before the Senate is an unjust and blatantly unconstitutional act of political vengeance

WASHINGTON

US Senators should acquit Donald Trump, his lawyers said on Friday in his impeachment trial for inciting insurrection, arguing that Democrats’ real goal was taking “vengeance” and “canceling” the right-wing populist’s movement.
“The article of impeachment now before the Senate is an unjust and blatantly unconstitutional act of political vengeance,” attorney Michael van der Veen said.

“The Senate should promptly and decisively vote to reject it.” Democratic impeachment managers rested their case on Thursday after two days of often emotional presentations anchored by shocking video footage of a January 6 invasion of Congress by Trump’s supporters.

Trump’s lawyers wrapped up their case after just three hours. Senators, who act as jurors in impeachment trials, were next due to question the two sides, with a verdict expected to come by the weekend at the latest.

The impeachment team argues that Trump deliberately stoked national tension after losing reelection to Joe Biden on November 3 with a campaign of lies claiming there had been mass voter fraud.

On January 6 he staged a fiery rally near the White House, calling on the crowd to march on Congress, which was in the process of certifying Biden’s victory. The mob then charged the Capitol building, disrupting the certification. Five people, including a police officer and a woman shot during the unrest, died as a result of the mayhem.

Impeachment managers say Trump, who has never expressed remorse for his encouragement of the violent crowd, is so dangerous he should be barred from holding office again. It would take a two-thirds majority to convict, meaning 17 Republicans would need to join the Senate’s 50 Democrats. This is highly unlikely.

However, if even a handful of Republicans vote to convict, it would be a historic mark against Trump, fueling civil war within his party over whether to pursue his populist, divisive vision or return to more moderate values. The former president’s lawyers argued that his speech on January 6 telling supporters to “fight” was merely rhetorical.

They also argue that the trial itself is unconstitutional because Trump is now out of office and that Democrats’ true aim is to remove him from the political scene. “Let us be clear: this trial is about far more than president Trump,” defense lawyer Bruce Castor said.

“It is about canceling 75 million Trump voters, and criminalizing political viewpoints. That is what this trial is really about.”

Seeking to turn the table on the Democrats’ use of video evidence to link Trump to the mayhem, defense lawyers played their own compilations showing Democratic lawmakers at different times using the word “fight.” Democratic senators, along with President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris – when they were on the 2020 campaign trail – were among those shown using the word in speeches and on television.

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