A brief submitted by former President Donald Trump’s legal team defending him against “incitement to insurgency” charges in his upcoming Senate impeachment trial says he still considers himself president, claim which potentially puts Senate Republicans in a dead end, forcing them either to contradict Trump or to contradict their own claims that he is a former president and therefore unassailable.
Speaking on MSNBC, political commentator Rachel Maddow said Tuesday evening:
“The president’s defense brief has, in fact, supported Trump’s line that Joe Biden may not have been legitimately elected president. The brief as a whole, for its part, never once describes Donald. Trump as the former or the previous president … that the election results that voted Trump and Biden in, he argues that those results are, and I quote, “ suspect. ” He argues that when President Trump told his supporters on the day of the attack that he actually won the election in a landslide, well, they argue in their brief today that there is no evidence to say that it’s wrong. “
Why is this important
Trump’s defense partly states that he cannot be convicted of inciting an insurgency on January 6 because, according to the brief briefing, he was simply claiming he won the election in a landslide – even though over 60 lawsuits making similar claims most have been expelled from courts for lack of evidence.
As such, Trump’s defense potentially puts Republicans in the Senate in a difficult position.
On January 27, 45 Senate Republicans voted to declare the impeachment trial unconstitutional because, they said, you can’t impeach a former president. However, since Trump says he is still president, it means he believes he may in fact still be impeached, contradicting the 45 Senate Republicans who said otherwise.
If Senate Republicans claim Trump is not the legitimate president, that would directly contradict Trump and undermine a key part of his legal defense. It would also expose Republicans to possible harassment and death threats from some Trump supporters who also believe he won the election and that senior Republicans did not do enough to help him stay in the election. power.
Regardless of Trump’s legal defense, there aren’t enough votes in the Senate to impeach him in the Upper House. For impeachment to happen, 17 Senate Republicans would need to cross party lines and vote with Democrats to convict him, but only five Senate Republicans voted to hold the trial to begin.
While the impeachment trial could further weaken the public image of Republicans – especially if insurgents are called upon to testify and blame Trump’s words for inciting them to riot – he is unlikely to be convicted.
Republican South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham said calling witnesses would “open a box of worms,” prolonging trial for months as Senators question FBI agents about the many organizers behind the rally January 6 “Stop the Steal” where Trump hosted his comments.
However, Graham’s claim may be just a warning to Democrats: The longer the Senate is delayed in impeachment cases, the less time it will give to confirm President Biden’s political appointments or consider legislation to do so. move Biden’s agenda forward.