First legal briefs filed in Trump’s Senate impeachment trial

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The Senate impeachment trial against former President Donald Trump over his role in last month’s Capitol riot is picking up pace Tuesday as his lawyers and House impeachment managers are filing their first legal briefs outlining their strategies.

The documents from House prosecutors led by Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.) and Trump’s legal team could shed light on who they plan to call as witnesses and their strategy on why Trump should be convicted despite no longer being in the White House.

The trial is expected to begin next Tuesday.

One of Trump’s lawyers, David Schoen, gave a preview of their line of defense during an interview with Fox News’ Sean Hannity on Monday. 

Schoen said he believes “this process is completely unconstitutional and it is a very, very dangerous road to take with respect to the First Amendment, putting at risk any passionate political speaker which is really against everything we believe in this country.”

“I think it’s also the most ill-advised legislative action that I’ve seen in my lifetime,” Schoen continued. “It is tearing the country apart at a time when we don’t need anything like that.”

He noted that Senate President Pro Tempore Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) will preside over the trial instead of Chief Justice John Roberts as an indication that Democrats have already decided on a verdict.

“Can you imagine any American citizen considering it to be a trial in which the judge and jury has already announced publicly that the defendant must be convicted in this case?” Schoen asked.

“And in fact, Senator Leahy called on, demanded that Senator McConnell vote for a conviction … how can we possibly have a fair trial? Chuck Schumer, Senator Schumer, promised a fair and full trial. You can’t, when you know that the jurors and the judge are biased going in,” he continued.

The House impeachment managers argue in their brief that Trump’s rousing his supporters during a Jan. 6 rally before a joint-session of Congress to certify the Electoral College vote for President Biden violated his presidential oath.

“In a grievous betrayal of his Oath of Office, President Trump incited a violent mob to attack the United States Capitol during the Joint Session, thus impeding Congress’s confirmation of Joseph R. Biden, Jr. as the winner of the presidential election,” the House Democrats wrote.  “As it stormed the Capitol, the mob yelled out ‘President Trump Sent Us,’ ‘Hang Mike Pence,’ and ‘Traitor Traitor Traitor.’”

They dismissed the contention that because Trump is no longer president the impeachment trial is an exercise in futility.

“There is no ‘January exception’ to the Constitution that allows a President to organize a coup or incite an armed insurrection in his final weeks in office. The Senate must convict President Trump, who has already been impeached by the House of Representatives, and disqualify him from ever holding federal office again. We must protect the Republic from any future dangerous attacks he could level against our constitutional order,” they say in the brief.

Failing to hold Trump accountable for his actions would embolden future presidents, they said.

“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 House voted on Jan. 13 to impeach Trump on a charge of “incitement of an insurrection” because of his comments about the election leading up to the Jan. 6 Capitol riot.

Ten Republicans, including Rep. Liz Cheney, the third-ranking Republican in the House, voted with all Democrats to impeach Trump.

Last week, 45 Republican senators voted to support a measure introduced by Sen. Rand Paul that the impeachment trial was unconstitutional.

It was the second time that the House voted to impeach Trump.

He was acquitted by the Senate last February for his telephone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

With Post wires

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