Trump ‘singularly responsible’ for riot, impeachment trial brief claims

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Donald Trump was “singularly responsible” for the deadly US Capitol riot last month and acquitting the former president could damage American democracy, lawmakers leading the impeachment case said Tuesday, a week before his Senate trial begins.

Trump became the first US president in history to be impeached twice when the House of Representatives charged him last month with inciting the mayhem inflicted by his followers when they invaded Congress on January 6.

In a pre-trial brief, the House impeachment managers made their case for the Senate to convict, saying the American people should be protected “against a president who provokes violence to subvert our democracy.”

Trump’s impeachment was triggered by a speech he delivered to a crowd on the National Mall just before the riot, telling them Joe Biden had stolen the presidential election and that they needed to march on Congress and “fight like hell.”

The mob stormed the Capitol, fatally wounded one police officer, wrecked furniture and forced terrified lawmakers and vice president Mike Pence to hide, interrupting a ceremony to put the legal stamp on Biden’s victory.

The nine impeachment managers, all Democrats, argued in their sweeping 77-page document that Trump’s speech had whipped the crowd into a “frenzy.”

Trump, they said, “is singularly responsible for the violence and destruction” during the riot that left five people dead.

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“In a grievous betrayal of his oath of office, President Trump incited a violent mob to attack the United States Capitol,” wrote the lawmakers, led by congressman Jamie Raskin.

“If provoking an insurrectionary riot against a joint session of Congress after losing an election is not an impeachable offense, it is hard to imagine what would be,” the brief states.

Failure to convict Trump “would embolden future leaders to attempt to retain power by any and all means — and would suggest that there is no line a president cannot cross.”