Donald Trump trial: Former president's case for 'free speech'

  • Video report by ITV News US Correspondent Emma Murphy

Shortly after the Capitol riot, I walked through the corridors where just days before thousands had corralled - and was struck by the peace that was had fallen on the place.

It felt a bit like returning to a frontline that once had seemed like the worst place on earth and afterwards was just another piece of land.

I was amazed that having passed outer security with my Senate pass I could freely walk through the halls and corridors where they still patching up the damage.

I mentioned it to an American colleague who seemed surprised that I was surprised. “It’s your right in the First Amendment,” he told, “the freedom of the Press.”

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And that is the thing here, the Constitution really matters, it’s not a dusty document stored in the National Archives, it is applied continually in every day life. That First Amendment, the right to freedom of speech, the press, assembly, and the right to petition the government for a redress of grievances, is likely to be tested to its limit this week.

The 45th President, Donald Trump, will argue his words spoken at a rally of the faithful on January 6 were not an incitement to insurrection, they were purely an exercise in free speech protected under the constitution.

His team have already said he had the right to “express his belief that the election results were suspect”.

It will be down to the 100 senators to decide and the reality is they won’t convict. What they will do is tear through the constitution to their own ends. Overseeing it all will be Senator Patrick Leahy, the most senior senator and as president pro temper third in line to the presidency.

He too was walking the halls that morning I was. He looked every one of his 80 years as he surveyed the damage, fairly frail and very short of breath he stood in the middle of the vast Statuary Hall, shook his head and questioned how it could have happened.

The trial he is about to preside over will be asking the same question.