Trump Lawyers to File Pretrial Documents in Preview of Impeachment Defense

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -
President Donald Trump waves as he boards Marine One on the South Lawn of the White House, in Washington, en route to his Mar-a-Lago Florida Resort. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon, File)

Former President Donald Trump faces a deadline on Tuesday to respond to the House of Representatives’ impeachment charging him with inciting insurrection in a fiery speech to supporters before last month’s deadly assault on the Capitol.

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 contending, contrary to evidence, that his election loss to Democratic President Joe Biden was the result of widespread fraud.

The rampage by Trump followers was intended to stop the Senate from certifying Biden’s Nov. 3 election win.

Republican Senator John Cornyn – one of the 100 members of the Senate who will serve as jurors in Trump’s second impeachment trial – said that argument would be “really not material” to the charge that Trump’s remarks urging supporters to “fight” on Jan. 6 led to the attack on the Capitol that left five dead.

“I think it would be a disservice to the president’s own defense to get bogged down in things that really aren’t before the Senate,” Cornyn, a former Texas Supreme Court judge, told reporters on Monday.

One of Trump’s recently hired lawyers, David Schoen, called the 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.”

In addition to Trump’s deadline, the nine House Democrats serving as impeachment managers – essentially the prosecutors of the case – need to file their initial briefs on Tuesday, ahead of the trial getting started next week.

The impeachment managers could disclose on Tuesday whom they plan to call as witnesses, a list expected to be brief as the leaders of both parties have expressed a desire to keep the trial short to allow them to return to legislative business.