WASHINGTON: Donald Trump is the target of unconstitutional “vengeance” and senators should reject his impeachment for inciting insurrection, the former president’s lawyer told the US Senate at the opening of the defense case on Friday.
“The article of impeachment now before the Senate is an unjust and blatantly unconstitutional act of political vengeance,” attorney Michael van der Veen said.
“Like every other politically motivated witch hunt the left has engaged in over the past four years, this impeachment is completely divorced from the facts, the evidence and the interests of the American people,” he said.
“The Senate should promptly and decisively vote to reject it.” Democratic impeachment managers rested their case Thursday after two days of often emotional presentations anchored by shocking video footage of a January 6 invasion of Congress by Trump’s supporters.
But in a sign that they want to get to a Senate vote as quickly as possible, Trump’s lawyers say they will use as little as three or four hours to state their own case, when under the rules they are allowed up to 16 hours spread across two days.
The impeachment team argues that Trump deliberately stoked national tension after losing reelection to Joe Biden on Nov 3 with a campaign of lies claiming there had been mass voter fraud.
On Jan 6 he staged a fiery rally near the White House, calling on the crowd to march on Congress, which was in the process of certifying Biden’s victory.
The mob then charged the Capitol building. Five people, including a police officer and a woman shot during the unrest, died as a result of the mayhem.
Impeachment managers say Trump, who has never expressed remorse for his encouragement of the violent crowd, is so dangerous he should be barred from holding office again. But the former president’s lawyers are arguing that his speech was rhetorical and that he cannot be held responsible for the mob.