Trump, accused of betrayal, rejects Senate trial

Washington, Feb 2 (efe-epa).- Former US President Donald Trump, via his legal team, on Tuesday rejected the impeachment trial he will be subjected to in the Senate as “unconstitutional,” arguing that he is already out of office and thus removing him from office if found guilty cannot be imposed upon him.

The House of Representatives presented one article of impeachment against Trump for “incitement to insurrection,” and the House managers of the proceedings against the ex-president on Tuesday filed a written brief providing the first look at their formal arguments, in which they called his alleged crimes “a betrayal of historic proportions.”

The article of impeachment filed against him charges that Trump incited the insurrection and invasion of the Capitol building on Jan. 6 by delivering a haranguing speech to a huge crowd of angry supporters at the White House, firing them up to march to the Capitol and to “fight like hell” there after which they burst through police lines into that building where lawmakers were in the process of certifying Joe Biden’s victory in the Nov. 3 presidential election, a defeat that Trump has never acknowledged.

“The only honorable path at that point was for President Trump to accept the results and concede his electoral defeat,” the impeachment managers said in their 80-page brief. “Instead, he summoned a mob to Washington, exhorted them into a frenzy, and aimed them like a loaded cannon down Pennsylvania Avenue.”

Trump had spent months both before and after the election claiming that if he lost it would only be because the vote had been “rigged” against him and – after the Nov. 3 – questioning the election’s legitimacy, claiming massive election fraud, filing dozens of lawsuits in various states (although virtually all of them were thrown out by the courts, mainly for lack of evidence) and begging Georgia election officials to “find” enough votes to allow him to win that state, even though that would not have handed him reelection.

In Trump’s response to the impeachment article, his newly crafted legal team claimed that “The constitutional provision requires that a person actually hold office to be impeached. Since the 45th President is no longer ‘President,’ the clause ‘shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for …’ is impossible for the Senate to accomplish.”

The House impeachment managers, however, in their own brief pushed back against this argument – which many Republican senators have backed as a reason why the trial should not be held – writing that “There is no ‘January Exception’ to impeachment or any other provision of the Constitution. A president must answer comprehensively for his conduct in office from his first day in office through his last.”

The riot and mayhem perpetrated by Trump’s enraged supporters on Jan. 6 resulted in five deaths, including a Capitol police officer.

The House managers also claimed that Trump was “singularly responsible” for inciting the mob of his supporters with the sole aim of keeping him in office despite his unequivocal electoral defeat.

They accused Trump of fomenting the violence against Congress in an attempt to prevent the peaceful transfer of power to the new administration, and argued that the ex-president should be convicted and banned from holding any political office in the future because he “threatened the constitutional system that protects the fundamental freedoms we cherish.”

“President Trump’s responsibility for the events of January 6 is unmistakable,” the impeachment managers wrote. “President Trump’s effort to extend his grip on power by fomenting violence against Congress was a profound violation of the oath he swore. If provoking an insurrectionary riot against a Joint Session of Congress after losing an election is not an impeachable offense, it is hard to imagine what would be.”

Trump, however, has denied that his aim in claiming election fraud and trumpeting that the election had been “stolen” by Democrats was an attempt to interfere with the counting of electoral votes to certify Biden’s win or that he put the security of the US and its government institutions at risk.

The impeachment trial is scheduled to begin next week in the Senate and the votes of 67 senators would be required to convict the ex-president, a threshold that appears impossible to achieve because it means that 17 Republican senators would have to break ranks – no doubt enraging the GOP base and endangering their own chances for reelection and perhaps their physical safety – to vote with the 50 Senate Democrats.

Trump is the first president in US history to be impeached twice during his term in office.

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