WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) — The second impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump continued Friday with his defense team putting forth their case, arguing he did not incite the riot at the U.S. Capitol and saying Democrats are only working to smear him.
“The Senate should reject this divisive and unconstitutional effort,” Trump attorney Michael Van Der Veen argued. “It is constitutional cancel culture.”
They accused House Democrats prosecuting Trump of manipulating the president’s rhetoric to suggest he was responsible for the Jan. 6 riot, which left five people dead.
“Words matter, they told you, but the selectively edited the president’s words over and over,” David Schoen, another of Trump’s attorneys, said.
The Trump team showed an edited video montage of Democrats using the word “fight” — a key phrase pointed two in Trump’s speech ahead of the riot — to accuse them of hypocrisy. They also insisted Trump’s speech is protected under the Constitution.
But Democrats say their evidence shows Trump’s words led to violence and they say he needs to be held accountable.
“Trump was perpetrating big lie,” Sen. Bernie Sanders, D-Vt., said.
He said he’s eager to question Trump’s attorneys about what he says is the core matter: Trump’s repeated lies that the election was stolen from him.
“That’s what Trump repeatedly told his supporters,” Sanders said. “Do they (the attorneys) believe that’s true?”
The majority of Republicans in the Senate are not expected to vote to convict.
“They’ve kind of lost their case already,” Sen. Roger Marshall, R-Kan., said. “This riot was going to happen regardless.”
President Joe Biden weighed in briefly Friday morning, saying he was “anxious to see what my Republican friends do.”
The trial will continue through the weekend.