Attorneys defending former President Donald Trump in his second impeachment trial called the proceeding "an unconstitutional act of political vengeance" and urged senators to promptly and decisively reject the article charging him with inciting the January 6 insurrection.
Using less than a quarter of their allotted 16 hours to make their case for acquittal on Friday, the lawyers told senators that claiming the president "wished, desired or encouraged violent behavior is a preposterous and monstrous lie."
"The hatred that the House managers and others on the left have for President Trump," said defense attorney David Schoen, "has driven them to skip the basic elements of due process and fairness."
Schoen spent considerable time trying to show how the House impeachment managers manipulated the president's words in his January 6 speech, as well as in other speeches and tweets, to make it appear that he was encouraging violence, when he was doing just the opposite.
"One of the House managers made much of the president's supposedly ominous words of, 'you have to get your people to fight,'" Schoen explained, "but you knew what the president really meant: He meant that the crowd should demand action from members of Congress, and support primary challenges to those who don't do what he considered to be right...I know what he meant, because I watched the full video. And so did the house managers. But they manipulated his words."
Other lines in the president's January 6 speech, they say, were taken out of context, in particular when he said, "If you don't fight like hell, you're not going to have a country anymore."
"This is ordinary political rhetoric that is virtually indistinguishable from the language that has been used by people across the political spectrum for hundreds of years," said Michael van der Veen, another member of the Trump's defense team.
The attorneys said the discovery by law enforcement that the uprising was premeditated is further proof of Trump's innocence, saying you can't incite what was already going to happen.
"Like every other politically motivated witch hunt the left has engaged in over the past four years," said van der Veen, "this impeachment is completely divorced from the facts, the evidence, and the interests of the American people. The Senate should promptly and decisively vote to reject it."
Following the conclusion of the defense counsel's arguments, senators had up to four hours to ask questions of both sides. The final vote on conviction or acquittal could happen as early as Saturday.