On Monday, ahead of his impeachment trial in the Senate, the legal team for ex-President Donald Trump released a sprawling new filing in which they took on the case that House impeachment managers have presented. Bizarrely, Trump’s lawyers — including Bruce Castor, David Schoen, and Michael T. van der Veen — characterized the impeachment proceedings as a Democratic attempt to “silence a political opponent” as though Trump himself hasn’t repeatedly gleefully presided over rallies where attendees chanted to “lock up” his own political opponents like Hillary Clinton. Trump’s legal team is in no position to speak with compelling authority about the rightful treatment of political opponents!
Besides the rally incidents, Trump also personally and repeatedly pushed the concept of jail time for his political opponents like Clinton and ex-FBI Director James Comey. Do jail sentences not count as silencing attempts to Trump’s lawyers? The lawyers ranted as follows:
‘In this country, the Constitution — not a political party and not politicians — reigns supreme. But through this latest article of impeachment now before the Senate, Democrat politicians seek to carve out a mechanism by which they can silence a political opponent and a minority party. The Senate must summarily reject this brazen political act.’
Trump’s side has claimed that the trial should not be proceeding at all because the ex-president is no longer in office, but the House members handling the impeachment case have pointed out in response that there is no “January exception” in the Constitution that allows presidents to escape accountability for impeachable offenses if they perpetrate the behavior in question without enough time left in their tenure to hold a Senate trial. Trump’s side has also pointed out that the January 6 attack on the Capitol was at least partly pre-planned, trying to use this info to undercut the claim that Trump incited the riot — but for months, he spread unhinged lies about the integrity of the election, which the rioters used as a pretext.
In their new filing, Trump’s lawyers claimed that the ex-president was “horrified” over the violence at the Capitol on January 6, but this claim is undercut by remarks from Trump himself!
As the lawyers put it, there “is no legitimate proof, nor can there ever be, that President Trump was ‘delighted’ by the events at the Capitol” on January 6, and they added that the then-president, “like the rest of the country, was horrified at the violence.” Actually, Trump openly justified the violence via his since-removed Twitter account, insisting that “these are the things and events that happen” when a presidential election victory is stolen — which, of course, did not actually happen. This sentiment isn’t the sign of someone horrified by what occurred — it’s an open justification for violence!
A conviction of Trump seems unlikely, because 17 Republican Senators would need to support the move for it to be enacted, but when a resolution on moving forward with the trial recently came up for a vote, only 5 Republican Senators voted in favor of moving forward with the trial at all.