On January 13, the Democratic-led House of Representatives impeached then-President Donald Trump for a historic second time, citing the role his months-long smear campaign against the integrity of American elections played in the deadly riot on the United States Capitol by pro-Trump extremists on January 6.
With Trump's impeachment trial set to begin in the Senate next week and after trouble finding lawyers willing to represent him, Trump's legal team has finally filed its defense briefing, which lays out the case they intend to make on Trump's behalf in the trial.
Judging by a prominent typo on the very first page, things are not off to a great start.
Trump's formal answer to his impeachment starts off by misspelling "United States." It goes downhill from there. https://t.co/G2S0Bx50bt— Judd Legum (@Judd Legum) 1612292325.0
The briefing addresses the Senators with:
"To: The Honorable, the Members of the Unites States Senate:"
The proximity of the "S" key to the "D" key makes for an understandable typo when writing "the United States," but one would think lawyers filing an impeachment trial defense briefing on behalf of the former President of the United States would more carefully proofread their work.
Many saw the typo as a display of ineptitude par for the course of Trump's past legal defenders.
Classic. https://t.co/olpIHkYR3m— Jason Bergstrom (@Jason Bergstrom) 1612294032.0
We aren’t surprised https://t.co/nMrxepnR5U— Kaleb Miller (@Kaleb Miller) 1612294510.0
🤣😂🤣 it never ends!! Gift that keeps on giving! https://t.co/rnLbLeZCcX— The Walking D (@The Walking D) 1612296342.0
Sadly on brand... https://t.co/iwWW5FXtuM— Candace McCaffery (@Candace McCaffery) 1612294683.0
Well, I guess this is how we know it's a genuine high-quality product of the T***p team... https://t.co/xnEQ5IIvt2— True Blue Liberal (@True Blue Liberal) 1612296956.0
Seems appropriate. https://t.co/xsZfxYXRW3— Jeff Clatworthy (@Jeff Clatworthy) 1612292864.0
The briefing's actual contents were even more alarming. Last year, Trump's impeachment defense briefing clocked in at over 170 pages. For his second impeachment, the defense is only 14 pages.
Since November, Trump repeatedly lied that Democrats somehow orchestrated widespread election fraud to deliver a false victory to President Joe Biden.
The briefing argues that there isn't enough evidence to prove Trump wrong or right on these claims, and therefore should be taken as a simple exercise of his First Amendment rights:
"Insufficient evidence exists upon which a reasonable jurist could conclude that the 45th President's statements were accurate or not, and he therefore denies they were false."
The briefing applies the same logic to the President's speech on the morning of the Capitol siege, where he urged his followers to "fight" for him and make their views known at the Capitol.
As the Washington Post's Philip Bump writes:
"[S]peech that incites or is likely to incite lawless action is exempted from the First Amendment. Sort of a flaw in using the First Amendment to defend speech alleged to have incited lawless action."
People couldn't resist pointing out the rampant flaws in the defense.
Trump's brief today: "It is denied that President Trump intended to interfere with the counting of Electoral votes.… https://t.co/0wfQm4KfJv— Aaron Blake (@Aaron Blake) 1612288745.0
So, yes, former President Trump will continue to question the integrity of the election in his impeachment defense https://t.co/CxoGMATVi4— Scott MacFarlane (@Scott MacFarlane) 1612288555.0
Opening arguments in the impeachment of former President Trump will begin the week of February 8.