Defence lawyers have begun their opening arguments in the impeachment trial of Donald Trump as the case speeds to an expected conclusion this weekend.
The Trump legal team is expected to argue that the former president did not incite the January 6 riot at the US Capitol and that his speech was protected by the first amendment of the constitution.
The lawyers have also raised questions about the trial’s constitutionality because Mr Trump is no longer in office.
They are not expected to use anywhere close to their allotted time and will wrap up their arguments later on Friday.
After that, senators who are serving as jurors will have an opportunity to ask questions of lawyers for both sides, followed by closing arguments.
The case is likely to conclude as soon as Saturday.
The defence case comes after impeachment managers said harm from Mr Trump’s false and violent incitements will dog American democracy in the future unless he is convicted and barred from future office.
The point was made by officials as they concluded two days of emotional prosecution arguments in his historic trial.
They presented piles of new videos of last month’s deadly Capitol attack, with invaders proudly declaring they were obeying “the president’s orders” to fight to overturn the election result.
Mr Trump is accused of inciting the invasion, which prosecutors said was a predictable culmination of the many public and explicit instructions he gave supporters long before his White House rally that unleashed the attack.