Former President Donald Trump’s legal team on Tuesday filed its response to the House article of impeachment ahead of next week’s trial, denying wrongdoing and calling for the Senate to acquit Trump of the charge.
The answer denies that Trump violated his oath of office while also saying that he was protected by the First Amendment in response to claims he incited an insurrection.
“It is denied that the 45th President of the United States ever engaged in a violation of his oath of office,” the Trump legal team brief says. “To the contrary, at all times, Donald J. Trump fully and faithfully executed his duties as 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.”
Trump’s legal team also argues that a Senate trial against him would be unconstitutional.
“Donald John Trump, 45th President of the United States respectfully requests the Honorable Members of the Senate of the United States dismiss Article I: Incitement of Insurrection against him as moot, and thus in violation of the Constitution, because the Senate lacks jurisdiction to remove from office a man who does not hold office,” the brief says.
The argument from Trump’s counsel that the trial is constitutionally impermissible is one that is supported by the vast majority of the Republicans in the Senate. Last week Sen. Rand Paul raised a point of order, claiming that it is unconstitutional for the Senate to hold an impeachment trial of a former president.
It was defeated by a 55-45 vote, with five Republicans joining all 50 Senate Democrats in what is likely to be the final word on whether or not the trial may proceed — it’s highly unlikely any court would step in and tell the Senate how to run the trial.
But it would take 17 Republicans joining all 50 Senate Democrats to convict Trump on the impeachment article, meaning a dozen Senate Republicans would have to change their mind about the trial’s constitutionality for Democrats to even have a chance of convicting the former president.
The brief also doubles down on the false claims that Trump won the election.
“To the extent Averment 5 alleges his opinion is factually in error, the 45th President denies this allegation,” the brief reads, referencing the House’s allegation that Trump at his Jan. 6 rally “reiterated false claims that ‘we won this election, and we won it by a landslide.'”
“Insufficient evidence exists upon which a reasonable jurist could conclude that the 45th President’s statements were accurate or not, and he therefore denies they were false,” the brief also says.
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