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Impeachment Managers File Trial Brief, Explain Senate's Obligation to Hear Case against Donald Trump

The brief lays out the case for the conviction of former President Trump for “incitement of insurrection against the Republic he swore to protect.”

 

February 9, 2021



Washington, D.C. – Today, the House Impeachment Managers filed their Trial Memorandum of the United States House of Representatives in the Impeachment Trial of President Donald J. Trump. The brief lays out the case for the conviction of former President Donald J. Trump for “incitement of insurrection against the Republic he swore to protect.” As directed by the Senate, the memorandum also describes the Senate’s obligation to hear this case, affirming that “[t]he Constitution governs the first day of the President’s term, the last day, and every moment in between.”

After the brief was filed, House Managers Jamie Raskin, Diana DeGette, David Cicilline, Joaquin Castro, Eric Swalwell, Ted Lieu, Stacey Plaskett, Madeleine Dean and Joe Neguse issued the following joint statement:

“The facts are compelling and the evidence is overwhelming. After months of spreading his Big Lie that he won a landslide victory in the 2020 election, leading up to and on January 6, 2021, President Trump summoned, assembled and incited a violent mob that attacked the Capitol, cost the lives of three police officers and four other people, threatened the Vice-President and Congress, and successfully halted the counting of the Electoral College vote. Trump’s responsibility for the vicious January 6 insurrection is unmistakable. Moreover, given the plain text of the Constitution, the intent and understanding of the Framers, and Senate precedent dating back more than two hundred years, the Senate’s responsibility to hear this case is clear and unavoidable. There is no ‘January exception’ to the Constitution that allows a President to organize a coup or incite an armed insurrection in his final weeks in office. The Senate must convict President Trump, who has already been impeached by the House of Representatives, and disqualify him from ever holding federal office again. We must protect the Republic from any future dangerous attacks he could level against our constitutional order.”

In the brief, the House Impeachment Managers wrote:

“On January 6, 2021, with Vice President Michael Pence presiding, Congress assembled to perform one of its most solemn constitutional responsibilities: the counting of electoral votes for President of the United States. This ritual has marked the peaceful transfer of power in the United States for centuries. Since the dawn of the Republic, no enemy—foreign or domestic—had ever obstructed Congress’s counting of the votes. No President had ever refused to accept an election result or defied the lawful processes for resolving electoral disputes. Until President Trump.

“In a grievous betrayal of his Oath of Office, President Trump incited a violent mob to attack the United States Capitol during the Joint Session, thus impeding Congress’s confirmation of Joseph R. Biden, Jr. as the winner of the presidential election. As it stormed the Capitol, the mob yelled out ‘President Trump Sent Us,’ ‘Hang Mike Pence,’ and ‘Traitor Traitor Traitor.’”

“The Nation will indeed remember January 6, 2021—and President Trump’s singular responsibility for that tragedy. It is impossible to imagine the events of January 6 occurring without President Trump creating a powder keg, striking a match, and then seeking personal advantage from the ensuing havoc. In the words of Representative Liz Cheney, the House Republican Conference Chair: ‘The President of the United States summoned this mob, assembled the mob, and lit the flame of this attack. Everything that followed was his doing. None of this would have happened without the President. The President could have immediately and forcefully intervened to stop the violence. He did not. There has never been a greater betrayal by a President of the United States of his office and his oath to the Constitution.’ Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell recently affirmed that ‘[t]he mob was fed lies’ and ‘provoked by the president.’”

In explaining why the U.S. Senate still has jurisdiction over a former President, the House Managers wrote:

“President Trump committed this high crime and misdemeanor amid his final days in office. Given the clarity of the evidence and the egregiousness of his wrongdoing, the House approved an article of impeachment for incitement of insurrection. Now, merely weeks later, President Trump will argue that it serves no purpose to subject him to a trial and that the Senate lacks jurisdiction to do so. He is mistaken. As we explain at length below—and as scholars from diverse viewpoints have long recognized—the text and structure of the Constitution, as well as its original meaning and prior interpretations by Congress, overwhelmingly demonstrate that a former official remains subject to trial and conviction for abuses committed in office. Any other rule would make little sense.

“The Constitution governs the first day of the President’s term, the last day, and every moment in between. Presidents do not get a free pass to commit high crimes and misdemeanors near the end of their term. The Framers of our Constitution feared more than anything a President who would abuse power to remain in office against the will of the electorate. Allowing Presidents to subvert elections without consequence would encourage the most dangerous of abuses.”

Reiterating the central argument of the case, the House Managers wrote:

“…President Trump’s conduct must be declared unacceptable in the clearest and most unequivocal terms. This is not a partisan matter. His actions directly threatened the very foundation on which all other political debates and disagreements unfold. They also threatened the constitutional system that protects the fundamental freedoms we cherish. It is one thing for an official to pursue legal processes for contesting election results. It is something else entirely for that official to incite violence against the government, and to obstruct the finalization of election results, after judges and election officials conclude that his challenges lack proof and legal merit.

“To reaffirm our core constitutional principles—and to deter future Presidents from attempting to subvert our Nation’s elections—the Senate should convict President Trump and disqualify him from holding or enjoying ‘any Office or honor, Trust, or Profit under the United States.’ That outcome is not only supported by the facts and the law; it is also the right thing to do. President Trump has demonstrated beyond doubt that he will resort to any method to maintain or reassert his grip on power. A President who violently attacks the democratic process has no right to participate in it. Only after President Trump is held to account for his actions can the Nation move forward with unity of purpose and commitment to the Constitution. And only then will future Presidents know that Congress stands vigilant in its defense of our democracy.”

“Failure to convict would embolden future leaders to attempt to retain power by any and all means—and would suggest that there is no line a President cannot cross. The Senate should make clear to the American people that it stands ready to protect them against a President who provokes violence to subvert our democracy.”

Congressman Jamie Raskin will serve as Lead Manager in presenting the case against President Trump. He will be joined by Congresswoman Diana DeGette, Congressman David Cicilline, Congressman Joaquin Castro, Congressman Eric Swalwell, Congressman Ted Lieu, Congresswoman Stacey Plaskett, Congresswoman Madeleine Dean, and Congressman Joe Neguse.

 

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