Trump impeachment trial: Defense denounces trial as 'act of political vengeance'

WION Web Team
WASHINGTON Published: Feb 12, 2021, 11:28 PM(IST)

Donald Trump Photograph:( Reuters )

Story highlights

Democratic impeachment managers rested their case Thursday after two days of often emotional presentations anchored by shocking video footage of a January 6 invasion of Congress by Trump's supporters.

The advocates of former US President Donald Trump on Friday blasted the case against him as political vengeance and part of a yearlong Democratic “witch hunt.”

The lawyer opened his impeachment defense by strenuously denying he played any role in inciting the deadly riot at the US Capitol.

One of former President Donald Trump’s attorneys, Michael van der Veen, opened his impeachment defense by warning the Senate about “the precedent this case will set.”

"The article of impeachment now before the Senate is an unjust and blatantly unconstitutional act of political vengeance," attorney Michael van der Veen said.

"Like every other politically motivated witch hunt the left has engaged in over the past four years, this impeachment is completely divorced from the facts, the evidence and the interests of the American people," he said.

Also read | Convict Trump as he is overwhelmingly guilty: Prosecutors urge US Senate over Capitol attack

"The Senate should promptly and decisively vote to reject it."

Democratic impeachment managers rested their case Thursday after two days of often emotional presentations anchored by shocking video footage of a January 6 invasion of Congress by Trump's supporters.

But in a sign that they want to get to a Senate vote as quickly as possible, Trump's lawyers say they will use as little as three or four hours to state their own case, when under the rules they are allowed up to 16 hours spread across two days.

The impeachment team argues that Trump deliberately stoked national tension after losing re-election 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 Biden's victory.

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

Impeachment managers say Trump, who has never expressed remorse for his encouragement of the violent crowd, is so dangerous he should be barred from holding office again.

But the former president's lawyers are arguing that his speech was rhetorical and that he cannot be held responsible for the mob.

They also argue that the trial itself is unconstitutional because Trump is now out of office, although the Senate rejected this claim earlier this week.

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.

However, if even a handful of Republicans vote to convict, it would be a historic mark against Trump, fueling civil war within his party over whether to pursue his populist, divisive vision or return to more moderate values.

"I'm just anxious to see what my Republican friends do, if they stand up," Biden said earlier at the White House.

One prominent Republican voice and potential future presidential candidate, former UN ambassador Nikki Haley, told Politico it's time to renounce Trump, saying: "We can't let that ever happen again."

(With inputs from agencies)

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