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Donald Trump impeachment trial | Trump lawyers demand acquittal in 'unjust' impeachment trial

In this image from video, Michael van der Veen, an attorney for former President Donald Trump, speaks during the second impeachment trial of Trump in the Senate at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Friday, Feb. 12, 2021.   | Photo Credit: AP

Senators should acquit former U.S. President Donald Trump, his lawyers said on Friday in his impeachment trial for inciting insurrection, arguing that the Democrats’ real goal was taking “vengeance” and “canceling” the right-wing populist’s movement.

“The article of impeachment now before the Senate is an unjust and blatantly unconstitutional act of political vengeance,” attorney Michael van der Veen said. “The Senate should promptly and decisively vote to reject it.”

Democratic impeachment managers rested their case on Thursday after two days of often emotional presentations anchored by shocking video footage of a January 6 invasion of Congress by Mr. Trump’s supporters. Mr. Trump’s lawyers wrapped up their case after just three hours.

Senators, who act as jurors in impeachment trials, were next due to question the two sides, with a verdict expected to come by the weekend at the latest.

The impeachment team argues that Mr. Trump deliberately stoked national tension after losing reelection to Joe Biden on November 3 with a campaign of lies claiming there had been mass voter fraud.

On January 6 he staged a fiery rally near the White House, calling on the crowd to march on Congress, which was in the process of certifying Mr. Biden’s victory.

The mob then charged the Capitol building, disrupting the certification. Five people, including a police officer and a woman shot during the unrest, died as a result of the mayhem.

Impeachment managers say Mr. Trump, who has never expressed remorse for his encouragement of the violent crowd, is so dangerous he should be barred from holding office again. It would take a two-thirds majority to convict, meaning 17 Republicans would need to join the Senate’s 50 Democrats. This is highly unlikely.

The former President’s lawyers argued that his speech on January 6 telling supporters to “fight” was merely rhetorical.

They also argued that the trial itself is unconstitutional because Mr. Trump is now out of office and that Democrats’ true aim is to remove him from the political scene.

“Let us be clear: this trial is about far more than President Trump,” defence lawyer Bruce Castor said. “It is about cancelling 75 million Trump voters, and criminalising political viewpoints. That is what this trial is really about.”

Seeking to turn the table on the Democrats’ use of video evidence to link Mr. Trump to the mayhem, defence lawyers played their own compilations showing Democratic lawmakers at different times using the word “fight”.

Mr. Trump’s lawyer David Schoen addressed the Senators and House members in charge of prosecuting the case against Mr. Trump, suggesting that “every single one of you” had also used the word in political discourse. “That’s OK, you didn’t do anything wrong. It's a word people use,” Mr. Schoen told them. “But please, stop the hypocrisy.”

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Printable version | Apr 16, 2021 2:41:39 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/international/donald-trump-impeachment-trial-trump-lawyers-decry-impeachment-case-as-political-vengeance/article33825135.ece

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