WASHINGTON: Lawyers representing former president Donald Trump in his second Senate impeachment trial sought Friday to obscure any blame their client may have for the fatal January 6 assault on the US Capitol.
Making its sole arguments in the case, Trump’s team launched salvos at the team of Democratic House managers who laid out their case over the past two days, accusing them of being politically motivated, manipulating evidence, and selectively editing video presented during proceedings.
Trump is facing a sole count of “incitement of insurrection” approved by the House of Representatives in January for his alleged role in fomenting the mayhem that resulted in the Capitol being occupied for the first time in 200 years.
Five people died that day, including a Capitol police officer. Two other law enforcement officers took their lives in the aftermath of the siege.
Attorney Michael van der Veen said the impeachment proceedings against the ex-president are “about Democrats trying to disqualify their political opposition,” further describing the push to convict Trump as “constitutional cancel culture.”
“This hatred has led the House managers to manipulate and selectively edit Mr. Trump’s speech to make it falsely appear that he sought to incite the crowd to violently attack the Capitol,” van der Veen said. “He didn’t.”
At issue are Trump’s remarks to his supporters just minutes before they stormed the Capitol, telling them to “fight like hell” to stop the Constitutionally-mandated count of votes, continuing to allege that the election was “stolen” from him through widespread voter fraud.
“Our country has had enough and we will not take it anymore,” he told the gathering of supporters, many of whom later flooded the Capitol as lawmakers were certifying election results. “We will stop the steal.”
To diffuse criticism of the former president’s remarks, his attorneys played a video of prominent Democrats telling supporters to “fight”, though it was selectively edited in the same manner in which defense attorneys charged House managers of illicitly acting.
The proceedings are shifting to a question and answer phase where senators probe both teams.