Former President Donald Trump is “personally responsible” for inciting the deadly invasion of the U.S. Capitol by a swarm of his supporters, a team of House Democrats argued Tuesday in a brief ahead of Trump’s impeachment trial.
The nine impeachment managers, led by Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md., also rebutted Republicans’ contention that it is unconstitutional to try a president for high crimes and misdemeanors after he has left office.
The team laid out its case against Trump in an 80-page brief Tuesday morning, one week before the former president’s unprecedented second impeachment trial is set to begin.
They argue that Trump should not only be convicted by the Senate, but disqualified from ever holding federal office again.
“President Trump’s responsibility for the events of January 6 is unmistakable,” the managers wrote, decrying the former president for conduct that “offends everything that the Constitution stands for.”
President Donald Trump looks on at the end of his speech during a rally to contest the certification of the 2020 U.S. presidential election results by the U.S. Congress, in Washington, U.S, January 6, 2021.
Jim Bourg | Reuters
“The Senate must make clear to him and all who follow that a President who provokes armed violence against the government of the United States in an effort to overturn the results of an election will face trial and judgment.”
Trump was impeached in the House shortly before leaving office for inciting the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol, which left five dead, including a U.S. Capitol police officer, and forced a joint session of Congress into hiding.
Trump at a rally outside the White House shortly before the riot began urged a crowd of his supporters to march to the Capitol and pressure GOP lawmakers, as well as then-Vice President Mike Pence, to overturn Joe Biden’s electoral victory.
The impeachment team’s brief accuses Trump of attempting “to extend his grip on power by fomenting violence against Congress.”
“His conduct resulted in more than five deaths and many more injuries. The Capitol was defiled. The line of succession was imperiled. America’s global reputation was damaged. For the first time in history, the transfer of presidential power was interrupted,” the trial brief said.
Much of the document is dedicated to preemptively addressing the anticipated arguments from Republican senators and Trump’s legal team, which is scheduled to submit its own filing by noon Tuesday.
Last week, 45 Republican senators voted in support of a motion declaring it unconstitutional to hold a trial to convict a president who has left office — a view that one of Trump’s new lawyers, David Schoen, echoed in a Monday night interview on Fox News.
“Many have suggested that we should turn the page on the tragic events of January 6, 2021. But to heal the wounds he inflicted on the Nation, we must hold President Trump accountable for his conduct and, in so doing, reaffirm our core principles,” the brief said.
Democrats, who hold 50 seats in the Senate, will have to convince at least 17 Republicans to vote to convict Trump. No GOP senators have come out in favor of conviction, but a handful, including Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said they have not yet made up their minds.
Some of Trump’s most vocal allies in Congress have been reluctant to defend him from criticism in the wake of the riot. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., said on the floor of his chamber last month that Trump “bears responsibility” for the attack.
But Trump, who left office on Jan. 20 after one term, still holds strong support among a vast number of Republicans, and has made clear his intention to remain active in politics.
Last week, McCarthy traveled to Palm Beach, Florida, to meet with Trump. Following their meeting, the House GOP leader announced in a statement that Trump had “committed to helping elect Republicans in the House and Senate in 2022.”
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