USA: Impeachment lawyers defend statements by Donald Trump before the Capitol storm

In impeachment proceedings against Donald Trump the defense lawyers of the ex-president have the accusations of the prosecutors decidedly rejected. It is an unjust, unconstitutional and politically motivated process, said lawyer Michael van der Veen in the US Senate.

Trump said in his speech immediately before the Storming of the Capitol on January 6th not called for violence. The Democrats’ claims that the then president incited the demonstrators were “absurd and monstrous lies.” It is “clear” that the Democrats “hate” Trump, said van der Veen.

Trump’s lawyers would have had two daysto respond to the arguments of the House Prosecutors. However, they finished their lecture after three hours. The senators then had four hours to answer questions on Friday night (CET). The final vote on impeachment could take place as early as the weekend.

Lawyer does not want to confirm Trump’s election defeat

When asked by Democratic Senator Bernie Sanders whether the defense attorneys believed that Trump won the election, van der Veen said, “My assessment is irrelevant in this process.” Then he added, “I believe it is irrelevant for the question this institution deals with. ”Trump did not admit his defeat in the November 3rd election to this day.

The only relevant question is whether Trump’s statements were so inciting that they led to violence and riots, said van der Veen. The answer is no, Trump has campaigned for peaceful protests and, as president, has always campaigned for “law and order”. The criticized statements in his speech were “ordinary political statements” covered by the right to freedom of expression. The attempt to selectively restrict freedom of expression is illegal.

(Maintain an overview: every working day around 5 p.m., SPIEGEL authors answer the most important questions of the day. “The situation in the evening” – profound, compact, free. Here you can order your news briefing as an email.)

The Democratic chief prosecutor in the House of Representatives, Jamie Raskin, was stunned by the statements of the lawyers. “Get real,” said Raskin, which in German means something like: “Wake up” or “Get back to the bottom of the facts.” Trump had incited his supporters at a rally on January 6th that the election victory had been stolen from him. Among other things he said: “If you don’t fight like the devil, you will have no more land.”

In order to defend Trump’s alleged call to fight, the lawyers showed dozens of videos from the past few years in which prominent Democrats called for a “fight” against Trump and called for his impeachment. “Fight hard for the change,” said the Senator Elizabeth Warren in one video, “I’m not afraid of a fight” in another.

Lawyers compare statements made by Madonna

Even before the pop icon Madonna the lawyers didn’t stop. They showed two older videos from the music superstar in which she talks about blowing up the White House. “Any political utterance should be protected, equally for all of us,” said van der Veen. Madonna campaigned for Trump’s opponent in 2016 Hillary Clinton made.

Raskins said, “How gullible do you think we are? We saw it happen. “

Another defense attorney for Trump, David Schoen, accused the House of Representatives of relying on unconfirmed media reports and manipulated evidence to harm the ex-president. In their presentations, the prosecutors also relied on Trump quotes that were deliberately taken out of context, said Schoen.

Van der Veen again emphasized that the process was unconstitutional because Trump had already left office. The Democrats are only concerned with “trying to disqualify their political opponents.” The majority of the Senate decided on Tuesday that the procedure initiated during Trump’s term in office was constitutional. Van der Veen accused the Democrats of being driven only by “hatred” of Trump. “This kind of political hatred has no place in our political institutions,” he said.

Trump is accused of “inciting a riot”

The Democrats accuse Trump of “inciting a riot” in the impeachment process and have initiated impeachment proceedings in the House of Representatives. The impeachment process is managed and decided in the Senate. The Congress Chamber takes on the role of a court.

The prosecutors presented their allegations against Trump on Wednesday and Thursday, as well as dramatic video recordings and a meticulous retelling of the Attack on the Capitol utilized. They accuse Trump of having prepared the ground for the attack with his election fraud allegations for months and ultimately having deliberately instigated and orchestrated the outbreak of violence. The prosecutors also accused Trump of showing no remorse and of later calling his statements at the rally “perfectly appropriate.”

To be convicted, 17 Republicans would have to join the 50 Democrats in the Senate. At the vote about constitutionality only six Republican senators voted with the Democrats. So far it looks like an acquittal for the Republican Trump.

The Democrats want to lock Trump with a condemnation for future political offices at the federal level. They argue that Trump needs to be held accountable by the Senate so that he cannot call for violence again in the future. The threat from fanatical Trump supporters persists, they warned

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