House impeachment managers, Capitol riot defense lawyers, federal prosecutors agree Trump is culpable

U.S. Capitol
(Image credit: Samuel Corum/Getty Images)

The House impeachment managers in former President Donald Trump's imminent Senate trial, federal prosecutors charging more than 185 people who participated in the Jan. 6 siege of the U.S. Capitol, and lawyers defending those suspects appear to agree that Trump bears singular responsibility for instigating the assault. If 17 Republican senators agree and vote to convict Trump of "incitement of insurrection," the former president will stand convicted and likely be barred from holding federal office again. The trial starts this week.

Trump's lawyers have indicated that they plan to argue he merely "exercised his First Amendment right under the Constitution to express his belief that the election results were suspect" — an argument 144 leading First Amendment and constitutional scholars from across the political spectrum called "legally frivolous" — did not tell his supporters to violently attack the Capitol in a fiery speech right before the assault, and cannot be impeached since he is no longer in office. That last argument is popular among Senate Republicans, but top conservative constitutional lawyer Charles Cooper urged them in a new Wall Street Journal op-ed to disregard that flawed, illogical view and "judge the former president's misconduct on the merits."

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Peter Weber, The Week US

Peter has worked as a news and culture writer and editor at The Week since the site's launch in 2008. He covers politics, world affairs, religion and cultural currents. His journalism career began as a copy editor at a financial newswire and has included editorial positions at The New York Times Magazine, Facts on File, and Oregon State University.