21:48 GMT04 March 2021
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    The Democrat-controlled House of Representatives' move to impeach Donald Trump in the twilight of his presidency last month has led to questions about whether his upcoming Senate trial will be constitutional. Trump is the first former president in US history to be impeached twice, and the first to face an impeachment trial after leaving office.

    The House of Representatives has filed a pretrial brief on the upcoming Senate impeachment trial against Donald Trump, with the memorandum accusing him of committing a "grievous betrayal" of his oath of office, and dismissing Republican concerns that the proceedings may be unconstitutional.

    "While sworn to faithfully execute the laws – and to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution –President Trump incited insurrection against the United States government. His conduct endangered the life of every single Member of Congress, jeopardised the peaceful transition of power and line of succession, and compromised our national security. This is precisely the sort of constitutional offence that warrants disqualification from federal office," the brief says.

    "President Trump has proven his willingness to break and brutalise the law in his quest for power. The Senate must establish beyond doubt, for all time, and for officials of all political parties that President Trump’s behaviour was intolerable," it continues.

    Saying that the prosecution expects Trump to try to "escape any reckoning" for his "constitutional offences" by arguing that it's unconstitutional to try a former president, the brief suggests this argument is "wrong" and "dangerous."

    "There is no 'January Exception' to impeachment or any other provision of the Constitution. A president must answer comprehensively for his conduct in office from his first day in office through his last," the brief stresses, saying there is ample precedent for a trial.

    "To protect our democracy and national security – and to deter any future President who would consider provoking violence in pursuit of power – the Senate should convict President Trump and disqualify him from future federal officeholding," the memo urges.

    Lawmakers are expected to use the arguments presented in the brief in the trial, which will begin on 8 February.

    Trump Lawyers Say Trial 'About as Undemocratic as You Can Get'

    Lawyers for the former president are expected to file their own brief later Tuesday. On Monday, David Schoen, one of the two lawyers Trump appointed to represent him at the upcoming trial, told Fox News that the trial of the former president is "unconstitutional" and sets a "very dangerous" precedent.

    "It's tearing the country apart at a time when we don't need anything like that," he said.

    "Besides the fact that this process is completely unconstitutional, and that this is a very, very dangerous road to take with respect to the first amendment, putting at risk any passionate political speaker...I think it's also the most ill-advised legislative action that I've seen in my lifetime," Schoen said.

    Accusing Democratic leaders of threatening Trump with impeachment ever since he stepped into office in 2017, the attorney suggested that "now we know also that the agenda of [House Speaker Nancy] Pelosi and others is simply to bar President Trump from ever running for president again. And that's about as undemocratic as you can get."

    House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of Calif., signs the article of impeachment against President Donald Trump in an engrossment ceremony before transmission to the Senate for trial on Capitol Hill, in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2021.
    © AP Photo / Alex Brandon
    House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of Calif., signs the article of impeachment against President Donald Trump in an engrossment ceremony before transmission to the Senate for trial on Capitol Hill, in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2021.

    Despite claims by both sides on the constitutionality or unconstitutionality of Trump's second impeachment trial, the jury is still out on whether the procedure is legal or not, with many high-profile GOP senators including Lindsey Graham, Ron Johnson, and John Cornyn marking their opposition and warning that they could set a precedent of similar trials against any president a party doesn't like in the years to come.

    No sitting president has ever been tried by the Senate twice, nor has a president ever been tried after leaving office. In 1876, the Senate tried Ulysses S. Grant administration Secretary of War William Belknap on corruption charges after his impeachment and despite his resignation. Some Democrats are using the Belknap case as a precedent for Trump' second trail.

    Trump was acquitted by the Senate in his first impeachment trial in February 2020, with the Republican-controlled chamber finding him not guilty of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, related to his alleged attempts to pressure the Ukrainian government to restart a probe into alleged corrupt activities of the Biden family in the Eastern European country between 2014 and 2019.

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