Trump lawyers blast impeachment trial as Democratic witch-hunt

Andrew Cummings
February 13, 2021

"Let us be clear: this trial is about far more than president Trump", defence lawyer Bruce Castor said.

The Senate wrapped up its session at 6:29 p.m. The vote could come as early as Saturday.

They said he summoned the mob to Washington, gave the crowd its marching orders and did nothing to stop the violence as it played out on television. His one request to act peacefully did not absolve him, they said.

Mr. Trump's legal team was allotted 16 hours to make its case but used only three, setting up a final vote on the verdict as early as Saturday.

His lawyers argued that convicting their client would violate his right to free speech, and that the swift impeachment process had abrogated his right to a fair trial.

But Trump's lawyers say that goal only underscores the "hatred" Democrats feel for Trump.

Democratic senators, along with Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris were among those shown using the word in past speeches and on television.

In hours of arguments, the Trump legal team characterized the impeachment case as a politically motivated "witch hunt" - an outgrowth, they said, of years of efforts to drive him from office - and they sought to reduce the case to Trump's use of a single word, "fight", in a speech preceding the January 6 riot.

Senators sought to confirm whether Trump knew Vice President Mike Pence, who was presiding over the certification, was endangered by the Capitol attack when he sent a Twitter message criticizing him.

Schoen mocked the video as "an entertainment package" and said Trump could not possibly be held responsible for the actions of the demonstrators.

"I'm sure Trump was concerned", van der Veen said.

The defense case followed two days of video presentations by the nine House Democrats serving as prosecutors.

Trump lawyers framed the impeachment effort as a highly partisan attack that was really about Democrats' disdain for the former president. The defense arguments and the quick pivot to the Democrats' own words deflected from the central question of the trial - whether Trump incited the assault on the Capitol - and instead aimed to place impeachment managers and Trump adversaries on the defensive.

"If you see it their way, yes", Mr. van der Veen said, referring to the House Democratic impeachment managers.

Despite Collins and Murkowski urging Trump's lawyers to be "detailed" in their response, attorney Michael van der Veen cited one of Trump's public tweets from that day and complained that the House hadn't done sufficient investigation or afforded Trump "due process".

The Senate rejected that contention as it voted to proceed with the trial.

"The "Not Guilty" vote is growing", tweeted Republican Senator Lindsey Graham of SC.

He said it was imperative the Senate convict Trump and bar him from running for the White House again in 2024 or face the risk of the same kind of behavior being repeated.

When asked if it's appropriate to meet with senators during the trial, Schoen said, "Oh yeah, I think that's the practice of impeachment".

Other Republican senators have clearly already made up their minds and do not intend to break with Trump, who has threatened to derail their careers should they back impeachment.

"I dispute the premise of your facts, I dispute the facts that are laid out in that question, and unfortunately we're not going to know the answer to those facts in these proceedings because the House did nothing to investigate what went on" on January 6, van der Veen said in response to a question from Sen.

Other reports by iNewsToday