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Lawyers argue Trump, riot not 'legally' connected

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The defense attorneys for Donald Trump wrapped up their presentation in the former president’s impeachment trial and argued Friday that Trump didn’t incite the Jan. 6 rally crowd to riot at the U.S. Capitol. (Feb. 12)

Video Transcript

BRUCE CASTOR: Clearly there was no insurrection. Insurrection is a term of [? art. ?] It's defined in the law. It involves taking over a country, a shadow government, taking the TV stations over, and having some plan on what you're going to do when you finally take power. Clearly, this is not that.

What our colleagues here across the aisle meant is incitement to violence, to riot. So the word incitement is the critical case and the critical issue in the case. They spent no time at all in connecting, legally, the attack on the Capitol to the 45th President of the United States, which is the only question that needs to be answered is, was Donald Trump responsible for inciting the violence that came to this building on January 6th?

President Trump said, peacefully and patriotically, make your voices heard. And the House managers heard-- took from that, go down to the Capitol and riot. I don't know if we're under oath here. But when I walked into this room, I sure as heck felt I was under oath and that I was speaking not only to the Senators of the United States but before the entire world and with God watching.

And a House manager got up here and told you that the President of the United States on January the 6th 2021 told the crowd that they had to go and fight. And the implication that they wanted you to draw was that he was sending them down to Capitol Hill to go and breach the building and trash the very sacred halls of Congress.

So to answer the question of the House manager, does anybody believe that this would have occurred but for the speech from Donald Trump? I do. All of these facts make clear the January 6 speech did not cause the riots. The president did not cause the riots. He neither explicitly or implicitly encouraged the use of violence or lawless action but, in fact, called for peaceful exercise of every American's First Amendment rights to peacefully assemble and petition their government for redress of grievances.