Lawyers for Donald Trump on Tuesday denied that the former president incited a mob of his supporters to storm the U.S. Capitol, or that he tried to stop Congress from confirming President Joe Biden‘s Electoral College victory.
The arguments in a 14-page filing from Trump’s legal team came one week before his unprecedented second impeachment trial is set to begin in the Senate. Trump was impeached in the House last month on one article of inciting an insurrection.
Earlier Tuesday, nine Democratic House impeachment managers shared an 80-page trial brief laying out their case for convicting Trump in the Senate and barring him from ever holding federal office again.
Those impeachment managers argued that Trump was “personally responsible” for inciting the Jan. 6 assault on the Capitol, which left five dead and forced an evacuation by a joint session of Congress, derailing their efforts to confirm Biden’s election win.
Trump, during a rally outside the White House just before Congress convened, urged his supporters to march to the Capitol and pressure Republican lawmakers to object to the election results. Trump repeatedly called out then-Vice President Mike Pence, who was presiding over the proceedings, to take action to stop Biden’s win from being certified.
“If you don’t fight like hell you’re not going to have a country anymore,” Trump told the crowd. The House impeachment managers included that statement, and numerous others from the rally, as evidence of Trump using rhetoric that was “calculated to incite violence.”
But Trump’s lawyers, Bruce Castor Jr. and David Schoen, in their filing denied that that phrase “had anything to do with the action at the Capitol as it was clearly about the need to fight for election security in general.”
“It is denied that President Trump incited the crowd to engage in destructive behavior,” they wrote. “It is denied that President Trump intended to interfere with the counting of Electoral votes.”
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