What They’re Saying: Trump’s Impeachment Defense Arguments’ ‘Demonstrably False’

February 5, 2021

Earlier this week, former President Donald Trump’s legal team filed his Answer to the article of impeachment, a brief riddled with obvious falsehoods and dangerous legal theories unsupported by the Constitution or historical precedent.  And while Trump refuses to testify under oath – admitting he has no plausible defense for his conduct that could ever stand up to the evidence – his lawyers’ arguments are being torn apart as “demonstrably false,” “absurd,” and even “laughable.”

Excerpts from Reporting on Trump’s Defense Brief:

CNN Anchor Brooke Baldwin: “Why do they think they can continue to relitigate something that has been to everyone’s points, you know, proven to be false?”

Washington Post: “It specifically argues that his speech at the White House on the morning of Jan. 6 similarly was a reflection of his First Amendment rights. […] The first point is easily dismissed by anyone who has spent more than five minutes considering the First Amendment and its history.”

MSNBC Anchor Nicolle Wallace: “I don't want to spend a ton of time on the defense because I think in a real court of law, I'm not sure they’d mount statements like this because they're demonstrably false.”

CBS News Congressional Correspondent Kris Van Cleave: “His lawyers also plan to reference Mr. Trump's debunked claims of stolen election, a move criticized even by Senate Republican jurors.”

NPR Justice Correspondent Ryan Lucas: “They argued that there's insufficient evidence to conclude that what Trump said was actually false. They don't bring up the fact that one court after another shut down the Trump campaign's legal challenges to the vote, though.”

Washington Post Columnist Greg Sargent: “[T]he substantive denials offered by Trump’s lawyers are strikingly weak, and they show how vulnerable his defenses are to cross-examination.”

Reuters Legal Correspondent Jan Wolfe: “Just because your speech is protected by the First Amendment doesn’t mean you can’t be impeached, doesn’t mean you can’t lose your job. The First amendment, here in the US, protects all sorts of vile speech from racist slurs to denying the Holocaust, promoting fascism. No one really doubts that if the president did that everyday he could be impeached. So it’s sort of a non sequitur.”

MSNBC Anchor Kasie Hunt: “They also argue, ‘The Article of Impeachment violates the 45th President's right to free speech and thought guaranteed under the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. […] There is the First Amendment and, then, there is yelling fire in a crowded movie theater. One is protected, one is not.

CNN Anchor Jake Tapper: “So, obviously, this big lie about the election having been stolen is utter crap and it’s been found as such by dozens of courts, election boards – everyone who is credible.”

Washington Post Editorial Board: “Their theory – that impeachment applies only to sitting officials – is not beyond the pale. But it runs against the weight of scholarship, historical practice and common sense. Many Republicans may be embracing the theory nonetheless because it gives them an excuse to avoid any responsibility[.]”

CNN Fact Check: “‘The Trump team's response makes a third claim that is transparently false: ‘It is denied President Trump made any effort to subvert the certification of the results of the 2020 Presidential election.’ Subvert can mean overturn, overthrow, undermine – and whatever definition you choose, Trump clearly tried to do it.

CNN White House Correspondent Jeremy Diamond: “So this notion now that the President’s – the former President's attorneys are putting forward in this brief to say that, well, he's not responsible for the power of his words, is really absurd.”

HuffPost: “The brief also denies that Trump “intended to interfere with the counting of Electoral votes” ― a laughably false claim, given that he pushed for his vice president, Mike Pence, to reject electors in the very speech where he told supporters to march on the U.S. Capitol.”