Trump aimed mob 'like a loaded cannon' at Capitol, Democrats argue in impeachment

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Nine Democrats from the U.S. House of Representatives who will prosecute former President Donald Trump in his impeachment trial will argue that he pointed a mob “like a loaded cannon” toward the Capitol shortly before a deadly Jan. 6 rampage, the lawmakers said in a brief filed on Tuesday.

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Trump also faced a Tuesday deadline to respond to the House article of impeachment, passed on Jan. 13, charging him with inciting insurrection in his speech to supporters before the rampage at the Capitol that left five people dead including a police officer.

The nine House Democrats, known as House impeachment managers, in their brief also rejected Republican claims that it would be unconstitutional to put Trump on trial in the Senate since he is a private citizen after leaving office on Jan. 20.

“There is no ‘January Exception’ to impeachment or any other provision of the Constitution,” the managers said in the brief.

“He summoned a mob to Washington, exhorted them into a frenzy, and aimed them like a loaded cannon down Pennsylvania Avenue. As the Capitol was overrun, President Trump was reportedly ‘delighted,’” they said.

Convicting Trump, who is just the third U.S. president to be impeached and the first to face trial after leaving office, would require a two-thirds vote, meaning that 17 Republicans would need to join the Senate’s 50 Democrats in voting to convict. That presents a daunting hurdle for Democrats.

The deadline comes just days after Trump parted ways with his initial legal team amid a reported dispute over how to respond to the charge. Trump is still making false claims that his election loss to Democratic President Joe Biden was the result of widespread voting fraud and irregularities.

The mob interrupted the formal congressional certification of Biden’s election victory.

One of Trump’s recently hired lawyers, David Schoen, called the impeachment process “completely unconstitutional” in an interview with Fox News on Monday but did not outline the former president’s legal strategy.

“I think it’s also the most ill-advised legislative action that I’ve seen in my lifetime,” Schoen said. “It is tearing the country apart at a time when we don’t need anything like that.”

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