5 Key Things From Democrats' Impeachment Brief Ahead of Trump's Second Trial

An analysis on the constitutional basis to charge former President Donald Trump with incitement of insurrection was filed Tuesday by the House impeachment managers.

After submitting the 77-page pre-trial legal brief, House managers led by Jamie Raskin (D-MD) issued a statement that reiterated the "compelling" and "overwhelming" evidence that Trump was responsible for the attack on the Capitol Building on January 6, and that the Senate's duty to hear the case was "clear and unavoidable."

BREAKING: Impeachment Managers File Trial Brief, Explain Senate’s Obligation to Hear Case against Donald Trumphttps://t.co/r76dXBm0d6

— House Judiciary Dems (@HouseJudiciary) February 2, 2021

Here are five key takeaways from the briefing:

1. Trump's "unmistakeable" responsibility

The first 34 pages present an account of what occurred between Trump's refusal to accept the results of the 2020 election and the House approving articles of impeachment in January. The authors emphasize the timeline of Trump's actions make the "unmistakable" connection between the violent riot and his actions.

Following Election Day, Trump "echoed" misleading claims the election had been fraudulent, the briefing states, and "rhetoric" turned into "action." Dozens of lawsuits Trump and his allies filed in state and federal courts to challenge the final results were dismissed.

The authors recognize that Trump had the right to legally investigate the election results, but he "turned to improper and abusive means of staying in power." According to the briefing, he took steps such as pressuring state officials and charging former Attorney General William Barr to commence a failed investigation into "vote tabulation irregularities prior to the certification of elections."

After the Electoral College met to certify the vote on December 14, Trump "escalated," urging supporters to "stop the steal" on January 6 against what he called an "act of war." There was highly-public organizing on behalf of supporters across social media and news platforms to come to the capitol on certification day.

"It was obvious and entirely foreseeable that the furious crowd assembled before President Trump at the 'Save America Rally' on January 6 was primed (and prepared) for violence if he lit a spark," the authors write.

Impeachment Trial
House impeachment managers filed a legal briefing on Tuesday describing the basis for charging President Donald Trump with incitement of insurrection. Senator Patrick J. Leahy (D-VT), seen above on the Senate floor on February 2, will preside over the impeachment trial. OLIVIER DOULIERY/AFP via Getty Images)

2. Trump "meets the standard" of committing high crimes and misdemeanors

The basis for any president to be impeached, convicted and disqualified is high crimes and misdemeanors.

The briefing's authors write that Trump evidently violated his oath of office by leveraging the power of the presidency to protect personal political goals, ultimately threatening the sanctity of the democratic process, "imperiling" the lives of elected officials and risking a breach of national security that tarnished the nation's global reputation. This "thuggery" undermines the system of checks and balances the framers' designed to protect the Constitution from falling to tyranny, the briefing states.

"President Trump's pursuit of power at all costs is a betrayal of historical proportions," according to the briefing. "It requires his conviction."

3. "There is no defense" for President Trump

The House Managers argue that Trump deserves an immediate impeachment process because the "gravity" of Trump's actions warrant straightforward responses from Congress—not confusing stalemate. Hundreds of people have already been arrested for their actions on January 6, the authors note, therefore Trump should be made accountable immediately.

"Any process-based objections to this impeachment are wrong," the briefing states. "There is no reason for Congress to delay in holding accountable the president who incited the violent attack...because he believed such dereliction of duty might advance his political interest."

The briefing also addresses potential arguments on behalf of Trump's defense. On page 43 the authors state the question of whether Trump broke criminal law is not the main question of the impeachment trial—it's whether he will be convicted and disqualified from future service.

Secondly, Trump's mere belief that he won the election is not legal grounds for his defense—the authors cite previous candidates who have felt "cheated" out of victory but still conceded to their opponents.

If Trump tries to claim his actions were a form of free speech, the First Amendment is not a legitimate basis for defense, either, the authors write, arguing it would be "perverse" to use the civil right to free speech as an excuse for Trumps incitement of violence.

4. "All impeachments"

Trump must stand trial for his actions, the briefing states. However, the authors write he is expected to claim that the Senate does not have jurisdiction over him now that his term is over.

The opposite to his claim is, they argue, "obvious." Trump's argument is counteracted by Article I, Section 3, Clause 6 of the Constitution: "The Senate shall have the sole power to try all impeachments."

The word "all" is essential to the authors' claim that the Senate still has authority over Trump: "The text makes it clear that the Senate has power to try that impeachment."

Trump's case is also an opportunity for the Senate to set a precedent for future presidents, the authors write: Simply "moving on" from any impeachment "risks declaring to all future Presidents that there will be no consequences, no accountability" in the case they breach their oath of office.

5. "The only question here"

In a quote by Alexander Hamilton, the authors argue impeachment is not a matter of party politics but rather "injuries done immediately to the society itself." The question of Trump's criminality is one for prosecutors and courts to answer, they write, but a high crime has been committed to the nation, so Congress must step in as a united branch.

"The only question here is whether President Trump committed offenses justifying conviction and disqualification from future officeholding," the briefing states. To that question, the authors answer "yes."

The Senate is schedule to open the impeachment trial on February 9. Newsweek has reached out to the House Judiciary Committee for comment.