House Impeachment Managers File Pretrial Brief Arguing Trump 'Singularly Responsible' For Capitol Riot

House Impeachment Managers File Pretrial Brief Arguing Trump 'Singularly Responsible' For Capitol Riot

Mona Salama
Mona Salama
February 2, 2021

House impeachment managers released their written brief Tuesday, laying out their formal argument to prosecute former President Donald Trump by accusing him of being "singularly responsible" for the "vicious January 6 insurrection" on the U.S. Capitol in an attempt to impede the peaceful transfer of power.

"In a grievous betrayal of his Oath of Office, President Trump incited a violent mob to attack the United States Capitol during the Joint Session, thus impeding Congress's confirmation of Joseph R. Biden, Jr. as the winner of the presidential election," the 80-page House brief said. "The facts are compelling and the evidence is overwhelming. After months of spreading his Big Lie that he won a landslide victory in the 2020 election, leading up to and on January 6, 2021, President Trump summoned, assembled, and incited a violent mob that attacked the Capitol, cost the lives of three police officers and four other people, threatened the Vice-President and Congress, and successfully halted the counting of the Electoral College vote."

The legal brief from the nine House impeachment managers led by Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-MD) offered a first glimpse of the main arguments they intend to make during next week's Senate impeachment trial. It also shot down GOP's main argument that it is unconstitutional to impeach a former president, rebutting by arguing that the Senate has jurisdiction in the case and that there is no "January Exception" for impeachment.

"There is no 'January Exception' to impeachment or any other provision of the Constitution," the brief said. "A president must answer comprehensively for his conduct in office from his first day in office through his last."

"Now, merely weeks later, President Trump will argue that it serves no purpose to subject him to a trial and that the Senate lacks jurisdiction to do so. He is mistaken. As we explain at length below and as scholars from diverse viewpoints have long recognized— the text and structure of the Constitution, as well as its original meaning and prior interpretations by Congress, overwhelmingly demonstrate that a former official remains subject to trial and conviction for abuses committed in office," the brief added.

Last week, 45 Senate Republicans voted on a motion to dismiss the trial on a point of order brought forward by Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY). The motion argued the impeachment proceeding unconstitutional since Trump is no longer in office. The vote in a show of party unity is a clear sign Trump will not be convicted by the Senate.

In a joint statement, the impeachment managers stated that Trump must be convicted in order to bar him from holding future office and for the "nation to move forward with unity."

“The Senate should convict President Trump and disqualify him from holding or enjoying 'any Office or honor, Trust, or Profit under the United States.' That outcome is not only supported by the facts and the law; it is also the right thing to do. President Trump has demonstrated beyond doubt that he will resort to any method to maintain or reassert his grip on power. A President who violently attacks the democratic process has no right to participate in it," the joint statement said. "Only after President Trump is held to account for his actions can the Nation move forward with unity of purpose and commitment to the Constitution. Failure to convict would embolden future leaders to attempt to retain power by any and all means—and would suggest that there is no line a President cannot cross. The Senate should make clear to the American people that it stands ready to protect them against a President who provokes violence to subvert our democracy."

Trump will be represented by defense attorneys David Schoen and Bruce Castor. In an interview with Fox News’ Sean Hannity, Schoen said the defense will focus on making the case that the riot was preplanned before Trump’s remarks at the rally and impeaching a former president is unconstitutional would also imperil free speech.

"Besides the fact that this process is completely unconstitutional and it is a very, very dangerous road to take with respect to the First Amendment, putting at risk any passionate political speaker, which is against everything we believe in this country," Schoen told Hannity Monday evening. "We know also that the agenda of Pelosi and others is simply to bar President Trump from ever running for president again, and that’s about as undemocratic you can get, a slap in the face to the 75 million people who voted for Donald Trump."

Trump’s defense team is scheduled to file their first formal response Tuesday to the House’s article of impeachment. The deadline for Trump’s legal team to submit their pretrial brief is Feb. 8 with oral arguments are set to begin the following day on Feb. 9.

Mona Salama

Mona Salama

Mona Salama is a political reporter for The Floridian covering Congress, the White House and Congressional elections.

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