The attorneys for former President Donald Trump will make procedural objections a focus during the Senate impeachment trial next week, including by questioning whether Trump can be tried as a private citizen, one of his attorneys said.
House Democrats, joined by 10 Republicans, impeached Trump on a single charge of inciting a mob that breached the Capitol on Jan. 6. In a trial memorandum, Trump attorneys denied the allegations and challenged the constitutionality of trying Trump after he had left office.
“This is ‘Law School 101’ stuff. This isn’t advanced legal treatises in bound volumes that are used in the Supreme Court as references,” Attorney Bruce Castor Jr. told Reuters. “We’re trying to win a case on a bunch of procedural objections.”
Challenging the constitutionality of the proceedings will likely be enough to exonerate the president considering that all but five Republican senators had already voted in favor of a resolution declaring the trial unconstitutional. Democrats need the support of at least 17 Republicans to secure a conviction.
In a speech on Jan. 6, Trump told a crowd of supporters to cheer on the lawmakers in Congress and make their voices heard peacefully. Democrats and establishment media outlets have instead misframed portions of his speech to falsely suggest that he told the crowd to “fight like hell.” Trump was addressing his own efforts in challenging the integrity of the election when he used the phrase “fight like hell.”
A crowd of people had already breached the perimeter of the Capitol while Trump was still speaking a roughly 45-minute walking distance away.
In a trial memorandum, Trump’s accusers argued that presidents who commit misconduct late in their terms should not be immune from the very process the U.S. Constitution created to hold them accountable.
Castor and his co-counsel David Schoen were hired on Sunday after Trump parted ways with his prior defense team. Trump is only the third U.S. president to be impeached and the first to be impeached twice and face trial after leaving office.
Castor on Thursday rejected a request for Trump to testify at the impeachment proceeding.
“Your letter only confirms what is known to everyone: you cannot prove your allegations against the 45th president of the United States, who is now a private citizen,” Castor wrote in a letter to the Democrats’ impeachment manager, Rep. Jamie Raskin (R-Md.) “The use of our Constitution to bring a purported impeachment proceeding is much too serious to try to play these games.”
The House members trying the case have yet to say whether they will call witnesses or how long the trial might run.
Reuters contributed to this report.