Trump lawyers call impeachment trial unconstitutional in laying out defense


Lawyers representing former President Trump on Tuesday detailed the defense they’ll lay out at next week’s impeachment trial, arguing that it is unconstitutional to impeach a former president and that Trump’s speech did not directly lead to the deadly siege on the U.S. Capitol building on Jan. 6.

The defense brief argues that Trump’s speech before a group of supporters, some of whom later sacked the Capitol, was protected under the First Amendment. And it accuses Democrats of depriving Trump of due process by rushing impeachment through the House.

“It is denied that the 45th president of the United States ever engaged in a violation of his oath of office,” the defense attorneys wrote. “To the contrary, at all times Donald J. Trump fully and faithfully executed his duties as the president of the United States and at all times acted to the best of his ability to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States while never engaging in any high crimes or misdemeanors.”

Fundamental to Trump’s defense is the idea that the Senate has no jurisdiction to impeach Trump or bar him from running for office again because the trial will take place after he has already left office.

“The constitutional provision requires that a person actually hold office to be impeached,” Trump’s lawyers wrote.

In their own filing, Democrats detailed the way they say the Constitution “vests the Senate with full jurisdiction to hear any valid impeachment case brought by the House for high crimes and misdemeanors.”

Trump’s attorneys also made the case that the president’s speech was protected under the First Amendment, even if the rioters violated the First Amendment with their deadly siege on the Capitol.

“If the First Amendment protected only speech the government deemed popular in current American culture, it would be no protection at all,” Trump’s attorneys wrote.

They also deny that he was in any way responsible for the actions of rioters… (Read more)