‘Blatantly unconstitutional act of political vengeance,’ Trump team argues

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(NBC News) The Trump legal team presented its case Friday, calling the former president’s impeachment “an unjust and blatantly unconstitutional act of political vengeance.”

Mr. Trump’s lawyers zeroed in on his fiery words directly before the deadly Capitol siege when he told supporters “you have to fight like hell,” arguing he was exercising free speech.

“To claim that the President in any way wished desired or encouraged violent or lawless behavior is a preposterous and monstrous lie,” Trump attorney Michael Van der Veen said.

They aired a minutes-long, selectively edited montage of top Democrats using similar rhetoric.

Still, the Trump team largely ignored charges the former president’s actions before the Capitol attack echoed a long-standing pattern of egging on supporters, then taking no blame.

The defense portrayed Mr. Trump as a victim of political hatred, even claiming some of the evidence against him was manipulated.

They agreed with House managers the assault on the Capitol was planned beforehand, but strongly denied the former president lit the fuse.

“You can’t incite what was already going to happen,” Van der Veen said.

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