But at various points in their 75-page trial memorandum, Trump’s lawyers themselves twisted or omitted critical facts.
The lawyers — Bruce L. Castor, Jr., David Schoen and Michael T. van der Veen — made a series of constitutional arguments in the memorandum. Most notably, they argued that the Constitution does not allow the Senate to hold an impeachment trial of a former president. They also argued that it is unconstitutional to impeach Trump over “political speech” they say is protected by the First Amendment.
Trump’s lawyers wrote that, of over 10,000 words in Trump’s speech at The Ellipse park near the White House on the day of the insurrection, “Mr. Trump used the word ‘fight’ a little more than a handful of times and each time in the figurative sense that has long been accepted in public discourse when urging people to stand and use their voices to be heard on matters important to them; it was not and could not be construed to encourage acts of violence.”
There’s no firm definition of “handful,” so we can’t definitively declare the claim false, but 20 times is a lot. And while we’ll leave it up to others to determine how literal or figurative Trump was, some of the 20 references were quite pointed.
Near the end of the speech, Trump said, “And we fight. We fight like hell. And if you don’t fight like hell, you’re not going to have a country anymore.”
Early in the speech, he said, “Republicans are constantly fighting like a boxer with his hands tied behind his back. It’s like a boxer. And we want to be so nice. We want to be so respectful of everybody, including bad people. And we’re going to have to fight much harder. And Mike Pence is going to have to come through for us, and if he doesn’t, that will be a — a sad day for our country, because you’re sworn to uphold our Constitution.”
The insurrection timeline
Trump’s lawyers claimed that “a simple timeline of events demonstrates conclusively that the riots were not inspired by the President’s speech at the Ellipse.” The lawyers cited an article that noted the park is 1.6 miles away from the Capitol and that barriers around the Capitol were first breached before Trump had even finished speaking.
Who breached the Capitol and why
Trump’s lawyers argued, “The real truth is that the people who criminally breached the Capitol did so of their own accord and for their own reasons, and they are being criminally prosecuted.”
Trump’s video during the insurrection
Trump’s lawyers noted that during the insurrection, Trump “told rioters to go home.” In a footnote on the same page, the lawyers elaborated that “upon hearing of the reports of violence,” Trump tweeted a video “urging people to ‘go home’ and to do so in ‘peace.'”
And in a tweet nearly two hours after the video, which was quickly deleted by Twitter, Trump seemed to offer a rationalization for the violence while also repeating his lie about the election result: “These are the things and events that happen when a sacred landslide election victory is so unceremoniously & viciously stripped away from great patriots who have been badly & unfairly treated for so long. Go home with love & in peace. Remember this day forever!”
Trump’s reaction to the violence
Trump’s lawyers rejected media reports about the former President’s reaction to the riot. “There is no legitimate proof, nor can there ever be, that President Trump was ‘delighted’ by the events at the Capitol. He, like the rest of the Country, was horrified at the violence,” they wrote.
Facts First: This is disputed. Multiple media outlets reported in January that Trump was not horrified by the riot as he watched it unfold on television.
Trump’s behind-the-scenes actions
Trump’s lawyers said of the former President: “He and the White House further took immediate steps to coordinate with authorities to provide whatever was necessary to counteract the rioters.”
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