The second Senate impeachment trial for former President Donald Trump starts in one week and his legal team has released their initial defense against the proceeding. On January 13, 2021 the U.S. House of Representatives voted to impeach Trump on one article of impeachment for "inciting insurrection."
In a 14-page letter to the U.S. Senate, Trump's attorneys argue impeachment is blatantly unconstitutional given he is no longer in office. They also believe his January 6 speech at the Ellipse and prior statements about the 2020 election are protected by the First Amendment.
"The constitutional provision requires that a person actually hold office to be impeached. Since the 45th President is no longer 'President,' the clause ‘shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for...’ is impossible for the Senate to accomplish, and thus the current proceeding before the Senate is void ab initio as a legal nullity that runs patently contrary to the plain language of the Constitution," they wrote. "It is denied that the 45th President of the United States ever engaged in a violation of his oath of office. To the contrary, at all times, Donald J. Trump fully and faithfully executed his duties as President of the United States, and at all times acted to the best of his ability to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States, while never engaging in any high Crimes or Misdemeanors."
The legal team also denies Trump engaged in insurrection and that Senators do not have the authority to prevent him from running for public office in the future.
"It is denied that the 45th President engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the United States. The 45th President believes and therefore avers that as a private citizen, the Senate has no jurisdiction over his ability to hold office and for the Senate to take action on this averment would constitute a Bill of Attainder in violation of Art. I, Sec. 9. Cl. 3 of the United States Constitution," they wrote.
You can read the full defense below.