World

Trump's lawyers challenge legitimacy of impeachment trial

WASHINGTON: Former President Donald Trump's lawyers said on Tuesday the US Senate lacks authority to conduct his impeachment trial now that he has left office, while the Democratic lawmakers due to serve as prosecutors called him singularly responsible for the deadly Jan 6 attack on the Capitol.

Mr Trump's legal team and the nine House of Representatives Democrats set to prosecute him filed briefs with the Senate one week before the trial.

His lawyers focused on an argument that last week won the support of 45 of the 50 Republicans in the 100-seat Senate in a failed vote to dismiss the case - that Mr Trump has left office and is now a private citizen.

Mr Trump's team also denied he had fomented violence, saying that his remarks to supporters were protected under the US Constitution's First Amendment right to free speech.

The House Democrats anticipated that post-presidency argument and rejected it. The Democrats urged senators to convict Mr Trump - which would require a two-thirds majority - and then bar him from holding public office.

"Presidents do not get a free pass to commit high crimes and misdemeanours near the end of their term," they wrote.

The House impeached Mr Trump on Jan 13 on a single charge of inciting insurrection.

"He summoned a mob to Washington, exhorted them into a frenzy and aimed them like a loaded cannon down Pennsylvania Avenue. As the Capitol was overrun, President Trump was reportedly 'delighted'," impeachment managers wrote in their 80-page brief. - REUTERS

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