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Trump's impeachment trial lawyers aim to shift blame; Democrats say he has no defense


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Trump's impeachment trial lawyers aim to shift blame; Democrats say he has no defense

By Richard Cowan, David Morgan and Karen Freifeld

 

2021-02-08T202025Z_1_LYNXMPEH171IP_RTROPTP_4_USA-TRUMP-IMPEACHMENT.JPG

Former U.S. President Donald Trump looks on at the Trump International Golf Club in West Palm Beach, Florida, U.S., February 8, 2021. REUTERS/Marco Bello

 

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - On the eve of his impeachment trial on a charge of inciting the deadly U.S. Capitol attack, Donald Trump's lawyers on Monday denied he had encouraged the violence that they blamed on "a small group of criminals," while the Democrats who will prosecute the former president said he has no valid defense.

 

Trump's legal team, seeking to convince members of the 100-seat Senate not to convict the Republican or to bar him from again serving in public office, gave fresh insight into their defense strategy in a brief filed ahead of his unprecedented second impeachment trial.

 

The defense lawyers reiterated their argument that the Constitution does not allow for impeachment proceedings against a former president even as Democrats and many legal experts argued such a move - the first in U.S. history - is permissible. They called the trial a "brazen political act" by Democrats with a "hunger for this political theater" with the intention to "silence a political opponent and a minority party." Trump's four-year term ended on Jan. 20.

 

The charge of "incitement of insurrection" passed by the Democratic-led House of Representatives on Jan. 13 focused on Trump's speech to a crowd of supporters shortly before hundreds of them stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6, sending lawmakers into hiding and leaving five people dead including a police officer.

 

"The evidence of President Trump's conduct is overwhelming," the nine Democratic House impeachment managers, who will serve as prosecutors, wrote in their brief. "He has no valid excuse or defense for his actions. And his efforts to escape accountability are entirely unavailing."

 

Conviction requires a two-thirds majority, meaning 17 Republicans would need to join the Senate's 50 Democrats in the vote. Based on preliminary votes and public comments, there appears to be little chance of that occurring.

 

Trump's lawyers said he was speaking only in a "figurative sense" when he told followers to go to the Capitol and "fight like hell" as Congress was formally certifying Democrat Joe Biden's election victory. Trump's use of the word "fight," the defense said, "could not be construed to encourage acts of violence."

 

"Notably absent from his speech was any reference to or encouragement of an insurrection, a riot, criminal action, or any acts of physical violence whatsoever," they wrote.

 

Trump's lawyers said he could not be held responsible for the actions of "a small group of criminals - who had come to the capital of their own accord armed and ready for a fight."

 

Several of the roughly 200 people charged following the riot have tried to shift at least some blame onto Trump as they defend themselves in court or in the court of public opinion.

 

The impeachment, Trump's lawyers wrote, "was only ever a selfish attempt by Democratic leadership in the House to prey upon the feelings of horror and confusion that fell upon all Americans across the entire political spectrum" on Jan. 6.

 

CONSTITUTIONAL CHALLENGE

The Democratic managers ridiculed Trump's defense argument that he was simply exercising his free speech rights under the Constitution's First Amendment.

 

"The House did not impeach President Trump because he expressed an unpopular political opinion," the Democrats wrote. "It impeached him because he willfully incited violent insurrection against the government."

 

Defense lawyers Bruce Castor, David Schoen and Michael van der Veen said the Constitution "does not provide for the impeachment of a private citizen who is not in office." A failed Jan. 26 bid to dismiss the case on that basis drew support from 45 of the 50 Senate Republicans.

 

A U.S. law professor and impeachment expert whose research Trump's lawyers cited said they misrepresented his work in Tuesday's brief.

 

Trump's false claims of a stolen election and his speech before the riot have left fissures in his party. Ten House Republicans voted to impeach him.

 

A source familiar with trial discussions said it will open on Tuesday with a four-hour debate and then a vote on whether the proceedings are unconstitutional because Trump is no longer president. Beginning on Wednesday at noon, there will be up to 32 hours of trial debate, and the Senate would vote on whether to allow witnesses if House prosecutors want any, the source said.

 

The Senate will pause from Friday evening to Saturday evening to honor a request by lawyer Schoen, who observes the Jewish Sabbath, and resume on Sunday.

 

Trump's first impeachment trial, on charges of abuse of power and obstructing Congress arising from his request that Ukraine investigate Biden and his son Hunter, ended in February 2020 in acquittal by the then-Republican-led Senate.

 

(Reporting by David Morgan and Rick Cowan in Washington and Karen Freifeld in New York; Additional reporting by Makini Brice, Susan Cornwell and Jan Wolfe; Writing by Will Dunham; Editing by Scott Malone and Grant McCool)

 

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-- © Copyright Reuters 2021-02-09
 
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We all saw what he did that was an attempted coup no more no less that beeing said the republicans are to spineless to convict there have been impeachements of out of office criminals it’s been done before 

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As I understand it, Trump watched the riot in real time on TV (his "executive time"?).  Yet, I have not heard that he took action, at that time, to call for a peaceful protest.  Maybe after the fact, he did so.  But, the Commander-in-Chief failed to do so while the action was taking place.    

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54 minutes ago, helpisgood said:

As I understand it, Trump watched the riot in real time on TV (his "executive time"?).  Yet, I have not heard that he took action, at that time, to call for a peaceful protest.  Maybe after the fact, he did so.  But, the Commander-in-Chief failed to do so while the action was taking place.    

 

During his speech trump on January 6th he did call for a "peaceful and patriotic"  demonstration which took up about 20 seconds of his time during approx 90 minutes of grievances, incitement by way of falsehoods concerning "stop the steal" including claims of the destruction of the US if Dems gained power. There is no doubt trump is guilty based on his rhetoric over many months culminating on 6th January; republican Senators are being specious.

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1 hour ago, Tug said:

We all saw what he did that was an attempted coup no more no less that beeing said the republicans are to spineless to convict there have been impeachements of out of office criminals it’s been done before 

Trump - 20 Sep 2020 - Stand back and stand by.

'Hate speech' a common theme of Trump's presidency, critics say (usatoday.com)

Pompeo - 10 N0v 2020 - There will be a smooth transition to second Trump term.

Pompeo promises ‘smooth transition to second Trump administration’ as world leaders congratulate Biden - POLITICO

Trump - 19 Dec 2020 - Big protest in DC on January 6th, be there, will be wild.

‘Be There. Will Be Wild!’: Trump All but Circled the Date - The New York Times (nytimes.com)

Protesters - 6 Jan 2021 - Kill Pence and Pelosi.

Proud Boys Intended To Kill Mike Pence and Nancy Pelosi, FBI Witness Says (newsweek.com)

US succession - Vice President (Pence) - Speaker of the House (Pelosi) - President Pro Tem of the Senate (Grassley) - Secretary of State (Pompeo).

 

Nothing to see here, all purely coincidence.  Don't worry, not from Qanon, I made up this conspiracy theory myself.

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9 minutes ago, wombat said:

Trump is so yesterday's news.

You and I both know this us going no where.

Sadly, those who believe the election could be overturn and when it couldn't storm the capital now people believe he could be impeach sure you can go on with the process but like the first time you aren't going to be able to put the (ed) after the word. Isn't going to happen!  Of course you and I will get heat for this with those going to reply and paste articles they read!   Let's move on Biden won now all we got to do is wait for 2022 and 2024?

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1 hour ago, Sujo said:

The defense is that you cannot believe what trump says. Brilliant.

Well, it's a defense that's worked before:

Fox News won a court case by 'persuasively' arguing that no 'reasonable viewer' takes Tucker Carlson seriously

https://www.businessinsider.com/fox-news-karen-mcdougal-case-tucker-carlson-2020-9

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He is undoubtedly guilty but to the delight of all the Trump fans on TVF, he'll get protected by a sycophantic Senate who have never called him to task in 4 years so are highly unlikely to start now.

Shame as they are probably making a rod for their own back when he starts his new Freedumb Party (correct spelling) and splits the GOP in 2.

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2 minutes ago, johnnybangkok said:

He is undoubtedly guilty but to the delight of all the Trump fans on TVF, he'll get protected by a sycophantic Senate who have never called him to task in 4 years so are highly unlikely to start now.

Shame as they are probably making a rod for their own back when he starts his new Freedumb Party (correct spelling) and splits the GOP in 2.

Trump's fate will be determined by the Senate. Common view now is he will be found not guilty

 

Trump has stated he is not going to start a new party.

 

Please try to keep up.

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Is anybody preparing already the lawsuits against all those GOP senators who will ignore any evidence and pretend what Trump did was alright?

All senators took an oath to uphold the constitution of the USA. If they don't convict Trump then they are clearly working against the USA and against the constitution. What is the punishment? I hope many year in jail.

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14 minutes ago, ExpatOK said:

Trump's fate will be determined by the Senate. Common view now is he will be found not guilty

 

Trump has stated he is not going to start a new party.

 

Please try to keep up.

Well, if we know one thing about Donald Trump is that when he makes a promise, he keeps it. Except when he doesn't.

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4 hours ago, webfact said:

Former U.S. President Donald Trump looks on at the Trump International Golf Club in West Palm Beach, Florida, U.S., February 8, 2021. REUTERS/Marco Bello

2021-02-08T202025Z_1_LYNXMPEH171IP_RTROP

It's also gonna be the FORMER Trump International Golf Club in West Palm Beach.

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38 minutes ago, ExpatOK said:

Trump's fate will be determined by the Senate. Common view now is he will be found not guilty

 

Trump has stated he is not going to start a new party.

 

Please try to keep up.

Err did I not say ' he'll get protected by a sycophantic Senate'?

And after 4 years of hearing what Trump says he will do and what he actually ends up doing, might lead some of us more cynical individuals to not believe a word that comes out of his mouth.

 

Please try to keep up.   

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5 hours ago, webfact said:

Trump's lawyers said he was speaking only in a "figurative sense" when he told followers to go to the Capitol and "fight like hell" 

 

Trump's lawyers said he could not be held responsible for the actions of "a small group of criminals - who had come to the capital of their own accord armed and ready for a fight."

Amazingly creative defense strategy: While Trump incites his low-browed followers to fight figuratively, "a small group of criminals" plainly couldn't read between the lines (probably because they can't read) well enough to understand (probably because understanding takes an effort) that their Leader was exhorting them on a metaphorical level to a metaphorical end with metaphorical means... Ghandi he is not (probably because Ghandi didn't play golf)

 

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trump is guilty! i mean it the use of "fight like hell"  is not incitement to violence, then i know what to tell my girlfriend when i want express my love to her!

one thing is sure, though, trump  will  be acquitted

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7 minutes ago, Pique Dard said:

trump is guilty! i mean it the use of "fight like hell"  is not incitement to violence, then i know what to tell my girlfriend when i want express my love to her!

one thing is sure, though, trump  will  be acquitted

You're half right. Yes, President Trump will be found not guilty on all charges. If you look at the facts, there is just no evidence President Trump did anything wrong.

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8 minutes ago, ExpatOK said:

You're half right. Yes, President Trump will be found not guilty on all charges. If you look at the facts, there is just no evidence President Trump did anything wrong.

lol! for sure, your facts aren't mine

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6 hours ago, helpisgood said:

As I understand it, Trump watched the riot in real time on TV (his "executive time"?).  Yet, I have not heard that he took action, at that time, to call for a peaceful protest.  Maybe after the fact, he did so.  But, the Commander-in-Chief failed to do so while the action was taking place.    

 

Chin up!  It doesn't matter much, DOJ will catch up with all this, as well as the rest of his blackguards.  He and his should be treated like any other criminals, nothing special. 

 

 

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22 minutes ago, ExpatOK said:

You're half right. Yes, President Trump will be found not guilty on all charges. If you look at the facts, there is just no evidence President Trump did anything wrong.

Sure. For instance when followers of his tweets threatened violence against members of Congress and other critics of Trump, he sternly shut them down. And when Qanon made bizarre claims about Trump secretly fighting a war against Democratic pedophiles that would result in their mass execution and a nationwide imposition of martial law, Trump did everything he could to disabuse them of their bizarre beliefs...

Just kidding.

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When President Trump told the mob to go to Capital Hill, was there tours being done in

the capital building. A President for as long as Trump was, he should have known if that

was the case.  In fact, I imagine with the ballots being counted etc, tours were not

being allowed at that time.  Trump is guilty, and should be held accountable.

  I do hope that if the GOP or Republicans do try to defend him at this time, they will 

be so despised by most Americans that they are a small dying party after today.

  Geezer

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21 minutes ago, Pique Dard said:

trump is guilty! i mean it the use of "fight like hell"  is not incitement to violence, then i know what to tell my girlfriend when i want express my love to her!

one thing is sure, though, trump  will  be acquitted

You are cherry picking 3 words completely out of context, and using it to promote a highly dubious narrative. He also said for the crowd to make their way peacefully and patriotically. Hardly sounds like he's guilty of premeditated murder and terrorism by that pathetic evidence. Hope this time they have real evidence that Trump planned violent terrorism unlike the divisive and failed Russia and Ukraine dingdongs of many allegations without evidence. 3rd time lucky.

 

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Just now, SunnyinBangrak said:

You are cherry picking 3 words completely out of context, and using it to promote a highly dubious narrative. He also said for the crowd to make their way peacefully and patriotically. Hardly sounds like he's guilty of premeditated murder and terrorism by that pathetic evidence. Hope this time they have real evidence that Trump planned violent terrorism unlike the divisive and failed Russia and Ukraine dingdongs of many allegations without evidence. 3rd time lucky.

 

And you're backing the wrong horse.

Stop watching Fox/Newsmax/OAN, they're NOT your friend.

 

How many times has it been shared on TV that, in a BIPARTISAN committee, Russia DID interfere in the election. Denying the Ukraine quid pro quo can only be done when wearing the Fox/Newsmax/OAN glasses.

 

Stop watching Fox/Newsmax/OAN, they're NOT your friend.

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A post with disallowed social media content and derogatory name calling has been removed, along with several replies.

 

Please note the forum's policy on acceptable use of social media content:

 

"18) Social Media content is acceptable in most social forums. However, in factual areas such as news, current affairs and health topics, it cannot be used unless it is from a credible news media source or government agency, and must include a weblink to the original source." [emphasis added]

 

Also removed was a post making an unsubstantiated and unattributed claim.

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Unfortunately this comes back to the 'I could shoot someone in Times Square and get away with it (sic)' comment.

 

The spineless Republican Senators are more concerned about their pork and mid-term elections than they are about responsibility and indicting someone who created the grounds for an  invasion of the Capitol resulting in 5 deaths on the day(and at least one connected suicide). Look how quickly Graham flip-flopped. McConnell now engaging in doublespeak as well.

 

Is Trump guilty? Yes-its as clear as the nose on your face.

 

Will Trump get away with it? Yes- because spineless people care more about their vested interests than 'democracy' and 'justice'.

 

MAGA (Making America Grimace Again).

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