Donald Trump’s Lawyers have responded to his impeachment charges, saying supporters of the former US president stormed Congress in Washington DC on 6 January of their own accord.
In a pre-trial brief released on Monday, the former president’s lawyers said that FBI documents had shown that the riot was planned days in advance, meaning that Trump cannot have encouraged the violence.
They also insist the trial is unconstitutional because Trump has left office and is now a private citizen.
Trump’s trial in the Senate is due to begin on Tuesday after he was impeached for the second time by the House of Representatives last month.
He is charged with “inciting insurrection” in a speech to supporters ahead of the deadly riot.
Five people, including a police officer, died when a mob of Trump supporters attacked the Capitol building, forcing politicians and staff to hide in offices.
The lawyers described the trial as “political theatre” and a “brazen political act” by Democrats that was intended to “silence a political opponent and a minority party”.
“This impeachment proceeding was never about seeking justice,” they wrote.
“Instead, this was only ever a selfish attempt by Democratic leadership in the House to prey upon the feelings of horror and confusion that fell upon all Americans across the entire political spectrum upon seeing the destruction at the Capitol on January 6 by a few hundred people.”
Democrats say Trump’s repeated refusal to concede last November’s presidential election to Joe Biden – as well as the fiery rhetoric he used in his address to supporters on 6 January – encouraged the riot.