Impeachment Case Argues Trump Was ‘Singularly Responsible’ for Capitol Riot

“He summoned a mob to Washington, exhorted them into a frenzy, and aimed them like a loaded cannon down Pennsylvania Avenue,” the managers wrote.

Unlike the first impeachment case against Mr. Trump, which centered on his pressure campaign on Ukraine, this one has bipartisan support and the prosecutors appear poised to make frequent use of Republicans’ own criticisms of Mr. Trump. Their brief quoted Representative Liz Cheney of Wyoming, one of 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach, as well as Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the minority leader, who said publicly that Mr. Trump “provoked” the mob.

In making constitutional arguments in favor of Mr. Trump’s conviction, though, they reached hundreds of years further back, arguing that Mr. Trump had not only prompted violence but threatened the tradition of the peaceful transfer of power begun by Washington. They also cited debates by the founders about who would be subject to impeachment and when, as well as a 19th-century impeachment trial of a former war secretary, to assert that the Senate clearly had a right to try Mr. Trump even after he left office.

“There is no ‘January exception’ to impeachment or any other provision of the Constitution,” the managers wrote. “A president must answer comprehensively for his conduct in office from his first day in office through his last.”

They also insisted that the First Amendment right to free speech could not shield Mr. Trump from responsibility for inciting violence that would seek to do harm to the Constitution, undermining all the rights enshrined there, including free speech.

The president’s filing was narrower by design, with a lengthier, more detailed brief due from his lawyers early next week. Still, the contours of their defense were becoming clear.

The lawyers said Democrats had misinterpreted Mr. Trump’s actions and his intent, denying that he was responsible for the Capitol riot or that he intended to interfere with Congress’s formalizing of Mr. Biden’s win. They said his words to supporters on Jan. 6 — “if you don’t fight like hell, you’re not going to have a country anymore” — were not meant as a call to violent action, but were “about the need to fight for election security in general.”

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