Trump lawyers argue former President did not incite riots by telling supporters to ‘fight like hell’

“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,” Trump’s lawyers wrote in a pretrial brief filed Monday.

“Instead of acting to heal the nation, or at the very least focusing on prosecuting the lawbreakers who stormed the Capitol, the Speaker of the House and her allies have tried to callously harness the chaos of the moment for their own political gain.”

The 75-page legal brief from Trump’s attorneys expands upon their initial response to the House’s impeachment last week, in which they argued that the trial was unconstitutional, that Trump didn’t incite the rioters and that his speech spreading false conspiracies about widespread election fraud is protected by the First Amendment. The brief filed Monday claims that Trump’s speech on January 6 did not incite the rioters, arguing that he urged those gathered to be peaceful.

In his speech on January 6, Trump told the crowd to “fight like hell.”

“And if you don’t fight like hell, you’re not going to have a country anymore,” Trump said.

In their brief, Trump’s lawyers argued that Trump’s speech about fighting was metaphorical and he did not call for any violence.

“Of the over 10,000 words spoken, Mr. Trump used the word ‘fight’ a little more than a handful of times and each time in the figurative sense that has long been accepted in public discourse when urging people to stand and use their voices to be heard on matters important to them; it was not and could not be construed to encourage acts of violence,” Trump’s lawyers wrote.

“To characterize this statement alone as ‘incitement to insurrection’ is to ignore, wholesale, the remainder of Mr. Trump’s speech that day, including his call for his supporters to ‘peacefully’ making their ‘voices heard,'” they added.

This story has been updated with additional developments Monday.

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