Impeachment managers laid out their case against former President Donald Trump this week, who they say "provoked and incited" the deadly U.S. Capitol riot

By Sean Neumann
February 02, 2021 02:07 PM
Article of Impeachment
FHouse Clerk Cheryl Johnson and Acting House Sergeant at Arms Tim Blodgett lead the House managers procession to deliver the article of impeachment against former President Donald Trump from the House to the Senate
| Credit: Getty Images

The lawmakers presenting the impeachment case against Donald Trump will argue during the trial next week that the former president made "militaristic" demands to an angry mob, which went on to violently attack the U.S. Capitol building last month.

Impeachment managers from the House of Representatives, led by Rep. Jamie Raskin, and lawyers representing Trump both made their initial filings on Tuesday. The filings offer the first glimpse at what both sides will argue during the former president's unprecedented second Senate trial.

Trump, 74, was impeached for a second time last month on one charge of "incitement of insurrection," one week after he delivered an angry speech about his 2020 election loss and encouraged his disgruntled supporters to march to the U.S. Capitol building.

"Provoked and incited by President Trump, who told them to 'fight like hell,' hundreds of insurrectionists arrived at the Capitol and launched an assault on the building—a seditious, deadly attack against the Legislative Branch and the Vice President without parallel in American history," House lawmakers wrote in their filing Tuesday morning.

"It is impossible to imagine the events of January 6 occurring without President Trump creating a powder keg, striking a match, and then seeking personal advantage from the ensuing havoc," the House impeachment managers added.

Lawyers representing the former president responded to the House's filing and argued Trump shouldn't face impeachment now that he's out of office. (The defense filing misspelled "United States" several times as "Unites States.")

Trump's legal team also repeated his baseless claims about his 2020 election loss to President Joe Biden and said they "denied that the phrase 'if you don't fight like hell you're not going to have a country anymore' had anything to do with the action at the Capitol."

Article of Impeachment
The impeachment managers from the House of Representatives proceed through the Rotunda to deliver the articles of impeachment to the Senate
| Credit: Getty Images
Outgoing US President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump speak to the media depart the White House
Former President Donald Trump
| Credit: MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images

Five people, including a Capitol police officer, died during the Jan. 6 attack, which unfolded shortly after Trump rallied the crowd. Trump's speech came after he and a team of lawyers had failed to overturn the election results amid dozens of lawsuits filed across the country, including in the U.S. Supreme Court.

Inside the Capitol, members of Congress were meeting with then-Vice President Mike Pence to certify the election results when the pro-Trump mob broke into the building, forcing them to flee for their safety.

"It is one thing for an official to pursue legal processes for contesting election results," House impeachment managers wrote Tuesday. "It is something else entirely for that official to incite violence against the government, and to obstruct the finalization of election results, after judges and election officials conclude that his challenges lack proof and legal merit."

pro Trump protesters breach Capitol building
Rioters at the U.S. Capitol building on Jan. 6, 2021
| Credit: Tasos Katopodis/Getty
Capitol building coup
Rioters breach U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021
| Credit: Win McNamee/Getty

Six days after the attack, Trump said his remarks were "totally appropriate" and he denied any responsibility for the violence. Trump's supporters have since argued he shouldn't face impeachment now that he's no longer the president. (If convicted by two-thirds of the Senate, Trump could then be barred from holding office ever again.)

House lawmakers specifically responded to claims about the president being punished after his tenure, writing: "The Constitution governs the first day of the President's term, the last day, and every moment in between. Presidents do not get a free pass to commit high crimes and misdemeanors near the end of their term."

The impeachment managers added that Trump's pre-riot speech had "directly threatened the very foundation" of democracy, referring to the Capitol building.

A failure to convict Trump, they wrote, "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."