The supporters of US President Donald Trump gather in front of the Capitol on January 6, 2021.

Probal Rashid | LightRocket | Getty Images

Donald Trump’s attorneys denied Monday that he instigated the deadly riot in the US Capitol and accused Democrats of “political opportunism” in a fiery letter filed a day before Trump’s historic second impeachment trial began.

Trump’s three attorneys argued in the 78-page letter that the trial itself, which takes place almost three weeks after President Joe Biden took office, is unconstitutional and must be dismissed quickly.

“The House Democrats’ hunger for this political theater is a threat to our democracy in the republic and to the rights that are important to us,” the lawyers wrote.

The legal memo aggressively pushes back on the case brought up by the impeachment executives of the Democratic House last week to find Trump “personally responsible” for provoking the January 6 attack on the Capitol by a crowd of his supporters.

If convicted, the Democrats vow to forbid Trump from ever holding a federal office again.

However, Democrats are unlikely to convince two-thirds of the Senate, which is 50 percent split between Republicans and Democrats, to condemn Trump. Before the trial began, all but five Republican senators voted to reject him on the grounds that it was unconstitutional to convict a president after he left office.

Trump’s lawyers made this argument more concrete in their letter. “The Senate is being asked to do something obviously ridiculous,” the lawyers wrote. “Try a private individual in a lawsuit to remove them from an office they no longer hold.”

Impeachment managers called this view “dangerous” and said it was “unthinkable” that the drafters of the constitution “rendered us virtually defenseless against a presidential treason in its final days”.

“There is no ‘January exemption’ for impeachment or other constitutional provisions,” said the Democrats. “A president must respond comprehensively to his conduct in office from the first to the last day of his term of office.”

Some Republican senators have reportedly voted in favor of dismissing the process because they wanted to discuss the constitutionality issue.

The House indicted Trump on Jan. 13, a week before he left office, over an article that sparked the Capitol riot that killed five people and forced a joint congressional session to go into hiding. At a rally outside the White House shortly before the start of the uprising, Trump urged his supporters to march to the Capitol and put pressure on GOP lawmakers and then Vice President Mike Pence to undo Biden’s election victory.

“If you don’t fight like hell, you won’t have any more land,” Trump told the crowd, including what the Democrats have picked up.

His lawyers argued on the brief Monday that his speech at the pre-insurrection rally “fell well below the norms of political speech protected by the First Amendment.”

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