Dem impeachment managers target Trump lawyers’ First Amendment argument, calling it a ‘distraction’

Dem managers allege Trump would incite future violence if allowed to run again

Lead impeachment manager Rep. Jamie Raskin warns of future violence if Trump regains office

Lead House impeachment manager Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md., said that former President Trump’s lawyers’ argument that Trump was within his First Amendment rights when he made election fraud claims is a “completely irrelevant distraction.” 

“The whole First Amendment smokescreen is a completely irrelevant distraction from the standard of high crimes and misdemeanors governing a president who has violated his oath of office,” Raskin, a constitutional lawyer, argued on the Senate floor Thursday. 

“Incitement of a violent insurrection is not protected by free speech,” he said. 

“Now he argues that the Congress is violating his free speech rights when it was Donald Trump who incited an insurrectionist attack against us that halted speech and debate on the floor of the House and the Senate during the peaceful transfer of power?” 

Trump’s lawyers in their pre-trial brief Monday argued that Trump’s false claims the election was “stolen” were within his First Amendment rights, and he did not make any reference to physical violence. 

“Mr. Trump spoke for approximately one hour and fifteen minutes. Of the over 10,000 words spoken, Mr. Trump used the word ‘fight’ a little more than a handful of times and each time in the figurative sense that has long been accepted in public discourse when urging people to stand and use their voices to be heard on matters important to them; it was not and could not be construed to encourage acts of violence,” the brief says. 

It continues: “Notably absent from his speech was any reference to or encouragement of an insurrection, a riot, criminal action, or any acts of physical violence whatsoever … Mr. Trump never made any express or implied mention of weapons, the need for weapons, or anything of the sort. Instead, he simply called on those gathered to peacefully and patriotically use their voices.”


In addition to their First Amendment argument, Trump’s lawyers Bruce Castor and Doug Schoen will in their defense beginning Friday argue the entire proceeding is “unconstitutional, bad public policy, and is setting a bad precedent for the nation,” Castor told Fox News. 

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