Impeachment managers: Trump aimed 'loaded cannon' at Capitol

Impeachment managers: Trump aimed 'loaded cannon' at Capitol

Rep. Jamie Raskin, the lead impeachment manager, told House Democrats on Wednesday that former President Donald Trump's legal filing responding to the House's impeachment amounted to "absurd constitutional arguments being offered by the President", according to a source on the call.

The House impeachment managers accuse Donald Trump of summoning a mob to Washington, D.C., on January 6, whipping the crowd "into a frenzy" and then aiming them "like a loaded cannon" at the U.S. Capitol, pinning the blame for the deadly violence that ensued directly on the former president.

Oral arguments in Trump's Senate impeachment trial will kick off next week, and the House impeachment managers who will act as prosecutors in the trial, as well as Trump's defense team, submitted initial briefs on Tuesday.

Donald Trump's words incited insurrection and the fringe thugs - who have attached to Trump's Republican branch - destroyed property, caused deaths, defiled our Capitol, terrorized our Congress with death threats, terrified our young people working for Congress, threatened to hang the vice president and terrified maintenance workers who proudly care for our Capitol.

Others close to the ex-president, such as Jason Miller, say that Democrats' claims that Trump "incited" the crowd on January 6 don't hold water since Trump was just exercising his right to free speech.

In his first formal answer to the "incitement of insurrection" charge against him, Mr Trump, through his lawyers, denied that he was responsible for the Capitol riot, or that he meant to interfere with Congress formalising President Joe Biden's election win.

For months leading up to his January 6 rally during which he told his base to "fight like hell" against the election results, Trump promoted wild and unhinged conspiracy theories alleging that Democrats colluded with voting-machine companies and dead Communist dictators to "steal" the general election.

His claim came hours after President Joe Biden went to the Capitol to view the body of slain Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick, who died in the riot, along with four Trump supporters, including one who was shot in the Capitol. At least two thirds of the 100-member Senate must vote in order to convict him. He had an opinion that he was entitled to express, they say, and if the First Amendment only protected popular speech, it'd be "no protection at all".

They say there is no January exception to the impeachment or any other provision of the U.S. Constitution.

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"Presidents do not get a free pass to commit high crimes and misdemeanors near the end of their term", they write.

Trump is the first president in American history to be impeached twice. His lawyers insist the ex-president never "intended to interfere with the counting of Electoral votes", when we know that for weeks he sought to do just that - in court, in tweets, in phone calls, in calls for Vice President Mike Pence to change the electoral count, in a meeting with MI state lawmakers and ultimately at the rally to incite the crowd.

If the ex-president's lawyers can not come up with even one excuse for his conduct, how will Senate Republicans avoid the impression that they are hopeless flunkies for a disgraced, seditious president? The Senate held it anyway.

Those in the line of succession for the presidency after Trump - then-Vice President Mike Pence, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Pro Tempore Chuck Grassley - were all in the Capitol and forced to flee for safety.

FILE - Supporters of U.S. President Donald Trump fight with members of law enforcement at a door they broke open as they storm the U.S. Capitol Building in Washington, Jan. 6, 2021.

Lawyers have not yet sought dismissal of charges or acquittal during a trial based on the idea that Mr Trump incited their clients, instead making the claim as part of efforts to spare them from pretrial detention.

Mr Trump's defence team said that not only did the Senate lack the authority to put him on trial as a private citizen but that the chamber also lacked the jurisdiction to prevent Mr Trump from holding office again.

Asked whether the Biden administration was concerned that Trump's defense team might incite further violence by continuing to argue his claim of election fraud, White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki was cautious.

Democrats also rejected the reasoning that Trump can not be tried once out of office. It did cite a phone call Mr Trump placed to Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger urging him to "find" just enough votes to undo Mr Biden's victory in that state. Trump initially commuted Stone's sentence before granting him a full pardon in his last week as president.

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