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Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

More than 140 constitutional lawyers and scholars wrote in a letter Friday that the First Amendment claims made by former President Trump's lawyers are “legally frivolous” and do “not prevent the Senate” from convicting him during his impeachment trial, set to begin next week, per the New York Times.

Driving the news: Trump’s lawyers claim that the former president's conduct surrounding the deadly Jan. 6 Capitol siege is protected by the First Amendment. They also argue Trump can’t be tried after leaving office.

What they’re saying: “Although we differ from one another in our politics, disagree on many questions of constitutional law, and take different approaches to understanding the Constitution’s text, history, and context, we all agree that any First Amendment defense raised by President Trump’s attorneys would be legally frivolous,” the group of lawyers and scholars wrote in the letter, shared with the Times.

  • “In other words, we all agree that the First Amendment does not prevent the Senate from convicting President Trump and disqualifying him from holding future office,” they added.
  • "As scholars of constitutional law, we know there are many difficult questions of First Amendment law. But the permissibility of President Trump’s impeachment trial is not one of them."
  • "The First Amendment is no defense to the article of impeachment leveled against the former President, because the First Amendment does not apply in impeachment proceedings; because the president does not have a First Amendment right to incite a mob and then sit back and do nothing as the hostile mob invades the Capitol and terrorizes Congress; or because, in context, President Trump engaged in unlawful incitement."
"Accordingly, while we express no view here on the ultimate question of whether the Senate should convict President Trump and disqualify him from future office, we urge the Senate not to base its decision on the erroneous understanding of the First Amendment urged by President Trump’s lawyers."

Go deeper: Impeachment manager fleshes out case against Trump

Go deeper

Updated Feb 4, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Trump lawyers decline impeachment managers' request for him to testify

Photo: Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images

Former President Trump's lawyers on Thursday declined lead House impeachment manager Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.)'s request that he testify under oath before or during his Senate trial next week, calling the invitation a "public relations stunt."

Why it matters: Trump has been charged by the House with inciting the insurrection at the Capitol, but has disputed "many factual allegations set forth in the article of impeachment," Raskin notes. Testimony under oath would allow the former president to clarify "critical facts" about his role in the events of Jan. 6.

Ben Geman, author of Generate
14 mins ago - Energy & Environment

IEA analysis charts "narrow" pathway to Paris climate goal

Photovoltaic solar panels at the power plant in La Colle des Mees, Alpes de Haute Provence, southeastern France. Photo: Gerard Julien/AFP via Getty Images

The pathway for transforming global energy systems to reach net-zero emissions by 2050 is "narrow but still achievable" and demands unprecedented acceleration away from fossil fuels, an International Energy Agency report published Tuesday concludes.

Why it matters: It provides detailed analysis and estimates of what's needed for a good shot at limiting temperature rise to 1.5°C above preindustrial levels — the Paris Agreement benchmark for avoiding some of the most damaging effects of climate change.

2 hours ago - World

In photos: Deadly Cyclone Tauktae leaves trail of destruction across India

A police officer helps a public transport driver cross a flooded street due to heavy rain caused by Tropical Cyclone Tauktae in Mumbai, India, on May 17. Photo: Ashish Vaishnav/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Tropical Cyclone Tauktae killed at least 16 people in India after making landfall in Gujarat Monday, packing 100mph winds, and sweeping across Kerala, Karnataka, Goa and Maharashtra, per Reuters.

The big picture: The storm unleashed heavy rains and winds as authorities continued to grapple with surging infection rates and deaths from COVID-19. Over 200,000 people were evacuated from Gujarat, and ports, airports and vaccination centers shut in the state and Mumbai, Reuters reports. Tauktae weakened from a Category 3 storm into a "severe cyclonic storm" Tuesday morning local time.