Donald Trump Impeachment Trial: Democrats Say He 'Threatened the Constitutional System'

As Congress prepares for former President Donald Trump's Senate impeachment trial later this month, House Democrats on Tuesday argued that Trump "threatened the constitutional system that protects the fundamental freedoms we cherish." The accusation came in an 80-page pre-trial brief filed Tuesday by House managers, which lays out their case against Trump, who the House impeached in January on a charge of "incitement of insurrection" in connection to the deadly Jan. 6 Capitol riot.

Calling his crimes "a betrayal of historic proportions," according to USA Today, the brief argued that "President Trump's responsibility for the events of January 6 is unmistakable" and his "effort to extend his grip on power by fomenting violence against Congress was a profound violation of the oath he swore." It added that the former president's "conduct must be declared unacceptable in the clearest and most unequivocal terms." The nine Democratic managers, led by Congressman Jamie Raskin, went on to outline the violence that occurred on Jan. 6 as lawmakers met on Capitol Hill to certify Electoral College votes and President Joe Biden's victory. In what they called "a grievous betrayal of his Oath of Office," the House managers said Trump incited a violent mob to attack" the Capitol, adding, "as it stormed the Capitol, the mob yelled out 'President Trump Sent Us,' 'Hang Mike Pence,' and 'Traitor Traitor Traitor.'"

"President Trump endangered the very constitutional system that protects all other rights, including freedom of expression," the managers wrote, CBS News reported. "It would be perverse to suggest that our shared commitment to free speech requires the Senate to ignore the obvious: that President Trump is singularly responsible for the violence and destruction that unfolded in our seat of government on January 6."

The brief, the first of several legal filings ahead of the start of the trial on Feb. 9, according to CNN, pushed back on claims from some Republicans that moving forward with the trial is unconstitutional. Last week, 45 of the 50 GOP senators voted to support dismissing the trial on constitutional grounds.

"There is no 'January Exception' to impeachment or any other provision of the Constitution. A president must answer comprehensively for his conduct in office from his first day in office through his last," the managers wrote, later adding, "Constitutional history, text, and structure, as well as prior Congressional practice, all confirm that the Senate has jurisdiction to try President Trump."

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The House voted to impeach Trump in a vote of 232 to 219 on Jan. 14. The Senate trial is scheduled to begin on Feb. 9, with a two-thirds majority of the split Senate needed to convict him. Trump's response to the trial summons is due at noon ET on Tuesday.