Just one day before the second impeachment trial of Donald Trump was set to begin, the former president's lawyers on Monday laid out more details of his defense and how they plan to argue that Trump isn't responsible for the chaos at the Capitol on January 6th.
Trump's lawyers denied that Trump had encouraged violence in his fiery speech before the insurrection - during which he told his supporters to "stop the steal," "show strength" and "fight like hell." They argue that he used the word fight in a "figurative sense" that "could not be construed to encourage acts of violence."
In his speech, Trump repeated false claims that the election was fraudulent and urged supporters to march on the Capitol.
The rampage interrupted the formal certification of Biden's election victory, sent lawmakers into hiding for their own safety and led to the death of five people including a police officer.
But Trump's defense team pointed to a finding that the FBI confirmed the riot was planned several days ahead of Trump's speech, arguing it therefore had nothing to do with Trump’s speech.
The trial, they said, was a “brazen political act” by Democrats intended to “silence a political opponent and a minority party.”
Trump's lawyers also challenged the constitutionality of the trial now that he has left office.
In an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal over the weekend, conservative constitutional scholar Charles J. Cooper said that argument "defies logic" "given that the Constitution permits the Senate to impose the penalty of permanent disqualification only on former officeholders..."
In a new brief, House prosecutors say Trump's incitement is 'the most grievous constitutional crime ever committed by a president and that the evidence against him is overwhelming. They urge he be barred from seeking public office again to protect democracy, and to deter any other president who might consider provoking violence in the pursuit of power.
The Democratic impeachment managers will have to convince at least 67 Senators that without Trump, without his months of false claims and his refusal to concede and his ceaselessly pugilistic language -- there would have been no insurrection.
A source familiar with the discussions said the trial will open with a four-hour debate and then a vote on whether the proceedings are unconstitutional. The trial will then feature up to 32 hours of debate beginning Wednesday at noon.