Managers of the upcoming impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump are reportedly concerned about implicating Republican lawmakers in the D.C. insurrection. This comes from sources cited by The New York Times:
Several people familiar with the preparations said the managers were wary of saying anything that might implicate Republican lawmakers who echoed or entertained the president’s baseless claims of election fraud. To have any chance of making an effective case, the managers believe, they must make clear it is Mr. Trump who is on trial, not his party.
At least 17 GOP votes are necessary for impeachment managers to win, assuming every one of the 50 Democrats in the Senate votes to convict Trump. That’s going to be a tall order, as 45 Republicans already voted to dismiss the case outright. In other words, only five GOPers were open to seeing a trial.
Trump supporters raided the Capitol Building on January 6 as Congress was counting votes weighing in favor of winner Joe Biden. The incident followed a speech in which then-POTUS said they were going to go down to the Capitol (he didn’t join them). Rioters postponed but did not prevent the final result. Five people died amid the chaos, however: four Trump supporters, and one Capitol police officer. Another Capitol officer, a D.C. Metro officer, and an insurrection defendant died by suicide mere days after that.
Notice the wording:
Cruz does not even allege that voting fraud happened, only that U.S. democracy can be upended if enough people make those “allegations,” however meritless. https://t.co/IaNJN8kFuN
— Adam Klasfeld (@KlasfeldReports) January 2, 2021
Actual GOP Senate opposition to certifying certain state results was smaller than expected in the wake of the insurrection, but some like Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Josh Hawley (R-Missouri), and Ron Johnson (R-Wisconsin) kept pushing back.
Trump’s defense, led by attorneys David Schoen and Bruce L. Castor Jr., argue that his verbal attacks on the election were protected by the First Amendment, and the impeachment trial was moot because Trump was already out of office. From their filing:
Like all Americans, the 45th President is protected by the First Amendment. Indeed, he believes, and therefore avers, that the United States is unique on Earth in that its governing documents, the Constitution and Bill of Rights, specifically and intentionally protect unpopular speech from government retaliation. If the First Amendment protected only speech the government deemed popular in current American culture, it would be no protection at all. Since the 45th President is no longer “President,” the Constitutional clause at Averment 1 above ‘shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for…’ is impossible since the 45th President does not hold office and the current proceeding before the Senate is void ab initio as a legal nullity rendering Averment 4 irrelevant to any matter properly before the Senate.
In an open letter, almost 150 constitutional scholars dismissed the Free Speech aspect of the defense, saying the First Amendment did not apply to impeachment.
“The First Amendment is no bar to the Senate convicting former president Trump and disqualifying him from holding future office,” they wrote.
[Image via Pete Marovich – Pool/Getty Images]
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