Donald Trump's lawyers say second impeachment is 'political theatre'

·2-min read

The second impeachment case against Donald Trump is a piece of "political theatre", the former president's lawyers have said.

Mr Trump's legal team have accused his Democrat opponents of exploiting the chaos and trauma of last month's riot at the US Capitol for their own party's gain.

A day before proceedings begin in the Senate, lawyers for Mr Trump filed papers attacking the case on many points.

They claimed that by disputing the results of November's election, Mr Trump was merely exercising his right to free speech under the First Amendment of the US Constitution.

What's more, when he spoke to his supporters beforehand, they say, he explicitly encouraged them to protest peacefully, meaning he cannot be held responsible for the disorder that followed.

The Senate, the papers add, is not entitled to try Mr Trump now that he has left office, something even some conservative legal scholars dispute, and they deny that the goal of the case is about pursuing justice.

Rather, they argue, Democrats are engaged in a "selfish attempt... to prey upon the feelings of horror and confusion that fell upon all Americans across the entire political spectrum upon seeing the destruction at the Capitol on 6 January by a few hundred people".

"Instead of acting to heal the nation, or at the very least focusing on prosecuting the lawbreakers who stormed the Capitol, the Speaker of the House and her allies have tried to callously harness the chaos of the moment for their own political gain," they added.

The first item on the agenda is a debate and vote on whether it is even constitutional to prosecute the former president.

Presuming that is passed, the evidence will begin but there will probably be no witnesses, and Mr Trump has declined a request to give evidence.

Mr Trump, who is facing only one charge, "incitement of insurrection", is the first president to be impeached twice, and the only one to face trial after leaving the White House.

Five people, including a woman shot by police inside the building and a police officer, died in the storming of the US Capitol, the most violent attack on Congress in more than 200 years.