Donald Trump’s lawyers said on Friday, Democrats had provided no evidence the former president incited last month’s deadly U.S. Capitol riot and had used his second impeachment trial to settle political scores.
Trump defense lawyer Michael van der Veen said during his arguments that “according to publicly available reporting it is apparent that extremists of various different stripes and political persuasions pre-planned and pre-meditated an attack on the Capitol. One of the first people arrested was the leader of Antifa. He added, “you can’t incite what was already going to happen.”
Trump is on trial in the U.S. Senate on a charge of inciting the Jan. 6 insurrection by supporters who stormed the seat of Congress in Washington to stop lawmakers from certifying Democratic President Joe Biden’s election victory, resulting in the deaths of five people, including a police officer.
Trump’s lawyers argued that his remarks, including a fiery speech that day urging supporters to "fight like hell" to stop the certification, were protected by the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, which ensures the right to free speech.
"To claim that the president in any way wished, desired or encouraged lawless or violent behavior is a preposterous and monstrous lie," said van der Veen.
A final up-or-down vote to convict could come as soon as Saturday.
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