(AP) — After a prosecution case rooted in emotive, violent images from the Capitol siege, Donald Trump’s impeachment trial shifts on Friday to defense lawyers prepared to make a fundamental concession: The violence was every bit as traumatic, unacceptable and illegal as Democrats say.
But, they will say, Trump had nothing to do with it.
Stipulating to the horrors of the day is meant to blunt the visceral impact of the House Democrats’ case and quickly pivot to what they see as the core — and more winnable — issue of the trial: whether Trump can be held responsible for inciting the deadly Jan. 6 riot.
The argument is likely to appeal to Republican senators who themselves want to be seen as condemning the violence without convicting the president.
“They haven’t in any way tied it to Trump,” David Schoen, one of the president’s lawyers, told reporters near the end of two full days of Democrats’ arguments aimed at doing just that.
He previewed the essence of his argument Tuesday, telling the Senate jurors: “They don’t need to show you movies to show you that the riot happened here. We will stipulate that it happened, and you know all about it.”
In both legal filings and in arguments earlier in the week, Trump’s lawyers have made clear their position that the people responsible for the riot are the ones who actually stormed the building and who are now being prosecuted by the Justice Department.