Donald Trump's impeachment defence lawyers conclude after just three hours

12 February 2021, 20:55

Mr Trump's lawyer, Michael van der Veen, set out the case for the defence
Mr Trump's lawyer, Michael van der Veen, set out the case for the defence. Picture: PA

By Maddie Goodfellow

Donald Trump's lawyers have concluded their arguments in the impeachment trial, telling the hearing that the trial is "politically motivated" and "an unconstitutional witch hunt".

The Trump defence team concluded its arguments in just three hours.

Trump's team cut their rebuttal short because advisers wanted one of Trump's lawyers, David Schoen, to be present for the question-and-answer session before he leaves to observe the Sabbath, a person familiar says.

Senators will now submit written questions for both sides to answer to the floor.

Read more: Mike Pence evacuated from US Capitol as rioters 'called for him to be hanged'

Mr Trump is charged with "incitement of insurrection" over last month's violence when the US Capitol was stormed by his supporters, in which five people died.

Mr Trump's lawyer, Michael van der Veen, started the day with an attack on the trial, accusing Democrat politicians of bringing further divisions to America.

Those politicians from the House of Representatives have for the last three days made the case for his conviction in the Senate.

Mr van der Veen said: "The article of impeachment is an unjust and blatantly unconstitutional act of political vengeance.

"This appalling abuse of the constitution only further divides our nation when we should be trying to come together.

"Like every other politically-motivated witch-hunt the left has engaged in over the past four years, it is completely divorced from the facts, the evidence and the American people."

Read more: Prosecutors wrap up arguments in Donald Trump impeachment trial

Mr van der Veen also claimed Democrates were trying to "disqualify their political opposition, accusing them of "constitutional cancel culture."

He continued: "To litigate questions of election integrity is not incitement to insurrection, it is the democratic system working as the founders and lawmakers have designed."

Mr van der Veen also said to claim the former president "wished or encouraged lawbreaking was a preposterous and monstrous lie".

The defence team also showed the hearing a tweet from Donald Trump on 6 January that read: "Please support our Capitol police and law enforcement.

"They are truly on the side of our country. Stay peaceful!"

Mr van der veen therefore argued that the attack was pre-planned by extremists and said "you can't incite what was always going to happen".

He then highlighted the first amendment and claimed the "sham impeachment" posed a "serious threat" to free speech , saying the Senate "should be careful about the precedent this will set."

The trial marks he first time in history a US president has been tired for impeachment twice.

The first attempt to impeach Mr Trump in January 2020, for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, saw him acquitted by a majority of 52 votes to 48 for one charge and 53-47 for the second.