On Tuesday, former President Donald Trump, via his lawyers, filed a 14-page response to the House’s impeachment effort, claiming that he cannot be convicted by the Senate because he is no longer in office, and that his speech about the election and before the January 6 riots is protected by the First Amendment.
“The constitutional provision requires that a person actually hold office to be impeached. Since the 45th President is no longer “President,” the clause ‘shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for…’ is impossible for the Senate to accomplish,” the document reads.
The legal filing also pushed the former President’s baseless and false claims that the election was stolen from him, disputing that his claims were false but arguing they were protected speech nevertheless.
“After the November election, the 45th President exercised his First Amendment right under the Constitution to express his belief that the election results were suspect, since with very few exceptions, under the convenient guise of Covid-19 pandemic ‘safeguards’ states election laws and procedures were changed by local politicians or judges without the necessary approvals from state legislatures,” Trump’s lawyers wrote. “Insufficient evidence exists upon which a reasonable jurist could conclude that the 45th President’s statements were accurate or not, and he therefore denies they were false.”
There was no evidence of widespread voter fraud, and Trump embraced conspiracy theories to falsely claim the election was stolen from him. The Justice Department confirmed it did not uncover evidence of widespread voter fraud. Trump’s filing Tuesday revives claims his campaign made about the voting process that were repeatedly thrown out of the courts, which is what led Trump to focus his efforts on the January 6 congressional certification of the election that was disrupted by the insurrectionists in the deadly riot.
The House impeachment managers, in their pre-trial brief filed Tuesday, pushed back directly on that point, which Senate Republicans have coalesced around as a reason to acquit Trump, arguing there is ample history and precedent to hold a trial and convict Trump, who was impeached by the House while still in office.
“There is no ‘January Exception’ to impeachment or any other provision of the Constitution,” the managers wrote. “A president must answer comprehensively for his conduct in office from his first day in office through his last.”
House Democrats noted that Trump was impeached while he still was president, pushing back on Senate Republican arguments that Congress cannot impeach a former official. Still, they argued there’s precedent for impeaching former officials, too, as there have been a handful of cases in US history.
Read the document below.