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READ: Trump's Impeachment Defense Brief

Former President Donald Trump's lawyers dismiss the impeachment case against him as "political theater," rejecting the premise that he incited the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6.

In a brief filed on Monday, the team said Trump did not encourage violence, as the House impeachment managers argue, and that his comments at the rally ahead of the riot were protected by the First Amendment. They also say that Trump should not be tried as a former president,a claim many constitutional scholars disagree with.

The impeachment managers say Trump's months of rhetoric falsely warning of widespread voter fraud fueled the actions on Jan. 6, where extremists breached the Capitol complex to disrupt the official Electoral College vote count.

The defense brief comes a day before the start of the trial. Read the brief in full below. (Read the prosecution's argument here.)

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Dana Farrington is a digital editor coordinating online coverage on the Washington Desk — from daily stories to visual feature projects to the weekly newsletter. She has been with the NPR Politics team since President Trump's inauguration. Before that, she was among NPR's first engagement editors, managing the homepage for NPR.org and the main social accounts. Dana has also worked as a weekend web producer and editor, and has written on a wide range of topics for NPR, including tech and women's health.