Trump Legal Team: Impeachment Unconstitutional, Violates First Amendment
Attorneys say Democrats cannot impeach a private citizen
Donald Trump's legal team has said the Democrat-led effort to impeach him violates his First Amendment right to free speech and is unconstitutional.
A memo from Trump’s lawyers — Bruce L. Castor Jr., David Schoen, and Michael T. van der Veen — states:
“The Senate should dismiss these charges and acquit the President because this is clearly not what the Framers wanted or what the Constitution allows."
The 78-page memo, released Monday, detailed their case against the push to impeach Trump after leaving office.
“Conviction at an impeachment trial requires the possibility of a removal from office,” the lawyers wrote.
"Without that possibility, there cannot be a trial."
Trump’s lawyers made the case that the Senate did not have the authority to hold a trial of a private citizen, and cited Article 1 Section 9 of the Constitution prohibiting Congress from determining the guilt or punishment of a private citizen, or bill of attainder, a process reserved for the independent judicial branch.
“The Constitution only gives the Senate jurisdiction over the President, not the former President, of the United States,” the memo reads.
Trump's lawyers also argue that the First Amendment constitutionally protected his January 6th speech.
“President Trump’s speech at the January 6, 2021 event fell well within the norms of political speech that is protected by the First Amendment, and to try him for that would be to do a grave injustice to the freedom of speech in this country,” the memo reads.
The legal team also argues that the article of impeachment is based on a false analysis of his speech delivered on January 6, in which he urged his followers to protest the 2020 election.
They argued Trump also used the word “fight” a “little more than a handful of times and each time in the figurative sense” before he called on his supporters to “peacefully and patriotically use their voices” to protest the election.
The memo adds the Capitol Hill law enforcement was informed of a possible attack on the Capitol before Trump's speech.
“The real truth is that the people who criminally breached the Capitol did so of their own accord and for their own reasons, and they are being criminally prosecuted,” the memo reads.
The memo also argues Trump’s speech did not inspire the riots because the rioting began before he was finished speaking.
“Protesters, activists, and rioters had already breached Capitol Grounds a mile away and 19 minutes prior to the end of President Trump’s speech,” they noted.
Last week, Schoen warned that Trump would not get a fair impeachment trial because Senate Democrats have already decided he is guilty.
"This process is completely unconstitutional, and it is a very, very dangerous road to take with respect to the First Amendment, putting at risk any passionate political speaker which is really against everything we believe and in this country."
"I think it's also the most ill-advised legislative action that I've seen in my lifetime," he added.