Former President Donald Trump’s legal team filed a brief on Monday in which they called the upcoming Senate impeachment trial unconstitutional and “political theater,” and accused Democrats of exploiting the violence and deaths of the Jan. 6 Capitol protests for their own benefit.
In the brief shown to Associated Press, Trump’s legal team said, “This was only ever a selfish attempt by Democratic leadership in the House to prey upon the feelings of horror and confusion that fell upon all Americans across the entire political spectrum upon seeing the destruction at the Capitol on Jan. 6 by a few hundred people.”
“Instead of acting to heal the nation, or at the very least focusing on prosecuting the lawbreakers who stormed the Capitol, the Speaker of the House and her allies have tried to callously harness the chaos of the moment for their own political gain,” the lawyers added.
The lawyers also argued that it is unconstitutional for the Senate to attempt to try Trump now that he is no longer president.
The trial begins on Tuesday, and it’s not yet clear what framework it will follow.
Last week, Democrat lead House impeachment manager Rep. Jamie Raskin had sent a letter to Trump inviting him to testify under oath during the trial. The letter came in response to Trump’s official rejection of the impeachment charge.
Raskin wrote, “In light of your disputing these factual allegations, I write to invite you to provide testimony under oath, either before or during the Senate impeachment trial, concerning your conduct on January 6, 2021. We would propose that you provide your testimony (of course including cross-examination) as early as Monday, February 8, 2021, and not later than Thursday, February 11, 2021.”
After Democrats’ request went public, Trump senior adviser Jason Miller told Fox News, “The President will not testify in an unconstitutional proceeding.”
Trump’s attorneys Bruce Castor and David Schoen also later replied to the letter, saying, “We are in receipt of your latest public relations stunt. As you certainly know, there is no such thing as a negative inference in this unconstitutional proceeding.”
“Your letter only confirms what is known to everyone: you cannot prove your allegations against the 45th President of the United States, who is now a private citizen,” they continued.
The article of impeachment against Trump alleges that he “engaged in high Crimes and Misdemeanors by inciting violence against the Government of the United States.”
On January 6, a protest at the Capitol building turned violent following a speech by Trump during which he said, “I know that everyone here will soon be marching over to the Capitol building, to peacefully and patriotically make your voices heard.”
Since then, top Democrats have accused him of inciting an insurrection against the federal government, ultimately impeaching him in the House for the second time.