Lead House manager Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md., responded Feb. 12 to a question from Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., on First Amendment arguments after both House impeachment managers and President Donald Trump’s defense team concluded their arguments and the Senate floor was opened to questions about the cases presented for and against conviction. Trump has been charged with inciting an insurrection and was impeached in the House in January, while he was still in office.
Raskin said that the free speech standard set by the Supreme Court case Brandenburg v. Ohio does not protect Trump from being convicted of inciting violence at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, and letting him off would constitute a “dereliction of duty” on lawmakers’ part. Raskin reminded the jury that this was not a criminal case, and Trump would not go to prison for his actions. This impeachment trial, he argued, “is about protecting our republic and articulating and defining the standards of presidential conduct.” He said that if the Trump defense’s standard of free speech was upheld, “we’re headed for a very different kind of country.”
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