Donald Trump holds a rally to contest the certification of the 2020 US presidential election results by the US Congress. File/Reuters
Gulf Today Report
Donald Trump endangered the lives of all members of Congress when he aimed a mob of supporters "like a loaded cannon” at the US Capitol, House Democrats said on Tuesday.
Donald Trump was “singularly responsible” for the deadly US Capitol riot last month and acquitting the former president could damage American democracy, lawmakers leading the impeachment case, a week before his Senate trial begins.
Trump became the first US president in history to be impeached twice when the House of Representatives charged him last month with inciting the mayhem inflicted by his followers when they invaded Congress on Jan.6, according to AFP.
Trump’s impeachment was triggered by a speech he delivered to a crowd on the National Mall just before the riot, telling them Joe Biden had stolen the presidential election and that they needed to march on Congress and “fight like hell.”
The mob stormed the Capitol, fatally wounded one police officer, wrecked furniture and forced terrified lawmakers and vice president Mike Pence to hide, interrupting a ceremony to put the legal stamp on Biden’s victory.
The nine impeachment managers, all Democrats, argued in their sweeping 77-page document that Trump’s speech had whipped the crowd into a “frenzy.”
Trump, they said, “is singularly responsible for the violence and destruction” during the riot that left five people dead.
“In a grievous betrayal of his oath of office, President Trump incited a violent mob to attack the United States Capitol,” wrote the lawmakers, led by congressman Jamie Raskin.
“If provoking an insurrectionary riot against a joint session of Congress after losing an election is not an impeachable offense, it is hard to imagine what would be,” the brief states.
Failure to convict Trump “would embolden future leaders to attempt to retain power by any and all means — and would suggest that there is no line a president cannot cross.”Although Trump was impeached on Jan.13, his term ended a week later — before the beginning of the Senate trial.
“The present proceedings are moot and thus a nullity since the 45th president cannot be removed from an office he no longer occupies,” Trump lawyers Bruce Castor and David Schoen wrote in their own brief outlining the case for the defense.They also said Trump’s speech in Washington, and his repeated refusal to accept the election results, amounted to protected free speech.
Senators voted 56-44 in favour of the constitutionality of the historic trial, rejecting a bid by Trump’s lawyers to throw it out on grounds that a former president cannot be tried by lawmakers.
A stunning end to Trump’s final 10 days in office was underway as lawmakers warned of the damage the president could still do before Joe Biden was inaugurated Jan. 20.
Trump’s lawyers ridiculed the request in a letter by lead House prosecutor Jamie Raskin to answer questions over the Jan.6 attack on the US Capitol as a “public relations stunt.”
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