Former President Donald Trump’s defense team discredited the House impeachment managers’ main argument of Trump’s remark before the Jan.6 Capitol riot” refuting the charge it incited the violence while pointing to a compilation of Democrats’ consistently using the word “fight” in making similar statements.
Trump’s lead attorney David Schoen played an 11-minute video montage featuring clips of each of them saying “fight” during speeches and media interviews, arguing that it’s standard political rhetoric protected by the First Amendment. Republicans in the chamber could be seen visibly laughing at the clips.
“The House managers spoke about rhetoric, about a constant drumbeat of heated language,” Schoen said before showing the video. “We need to show you some of their own words.”
“Every single one of you, and every one of you,” Schoen said to Democrats at the end of an 11-minute video. Some of the clips shown were Democrats senators who are serving as jurors at the impeachment trial, including Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY). Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Jon Tester (D-MT), Raphael Warnock (D-GA), and Cory Booker (D-NJ).
“That’s okay. You didn’t do anything wrong. It’s a word people use, but please stop the hypocrisy,” he added.
Michael van der Veen, another Trump attorney kicked off the defense presentation arguing how “no thinking person” would believe that Trump’s rhetoric on Jan. 6 incited “violence or insurrection,” based on the former president long history of promoting “law and order,” at the same time denouncing the violence from the mob that was praised by the liberal as peaceful protests.
“No thinking person could seriously believe that the president’s January 6 speech on the ellipse was in any way an incitement to violence or insurrection,” van der Veen said. “The suggestion is patently absurd on its face. Nothing in the text could ever be construed as encouraging, condoning or enticing unlawful activity of any kind.”
Trump’s defense team frequently played several video compilation to call out Democrats “double standard.” Videos including Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA) encouraging a crowd of her liberal supporters if they Trump officials anywhere outside to harass them, President Joe Biden campaign rhetoric wishing he was still in high school so he can go behind the gym to “beat the hell out” of his former political rival, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) saying “you’ve got to be ready to throw a punch.”
Van der Veen said this was not an exercise in “whatabout-ism,” arguing the new “standards” could also “retroactively censored, expelled punished, or impeached” Democrats based on the House impeachment article they are attempting to apply to Trump.
“This trial is about far more than President Trump. It is about silencing and banning the speech the majority does not agree with,” Castor said. “It is about canceling 75 million Trump voters and criminalizing political viewpoints. It’s the only existential issue before us. It asks for constitutional cancel culture to take over in the United States Senate.”
The lawyers said the 12 out of the 16 hours the impeachment managers used in their opening arguments didn’t provide any evidence that links Trump’s conduct to the violent attack at the Capitol, portraying the whole impeachment trial as a “political witch hunt” by Democrats who are motivated by their hatred of Trump over the last four years.
Van der Veen concluded his presentation arguing the impeachment is “about Democrats trying to disqualify their political opposition” and “smear” the 75 million Americans who voted for Trump, calling the effort “constitutional cancel culture.”
“This unprecedented effort is not about Democrats opposing political violence. It is about Democrats trying to disqualify their political opposition,” Van der Veen said attorneys. “It is constitutional cancel culture.”
During the last two days of the impeachment managers argument, all nine House Democrats have pointed to Trump’s comments at the Save America rally that “if you don’t fight like hell, you’re not going to have a country anymore.” They presented unseen security footage showing how the rioters breached the Capitol by breaking windows from the outside, the mob storming towards both the House and Senate chambers with certain lawmakers almost coming into close contact with the crowd, and how Capitol police fighting the large mob with radio calls for additional backup.
In a video timeline of events, the managers presented videos from journalists and rioters that were shared online and the unseen footage to prove that the former president incited the insurrection. The clumped videos were heavily edited alongside the “heated” portions from the former president’s remarks in an emotional attempt to make their case for Trump’s culpability and to persuade the 67 senators needed to vote to convict Trump on a single charge of “incitement of insurrection.”
Schoen accused the impeachment managers of “manipulating video” and distorted tweets, while heavily relying on unchecked media reports that cite sources as evidence regarding the president’s response to the riots.
The defense team for the former president used shortly under three hours of their 16-hour allowed time to largely argue that Trump’s remarks were “ordinary political rhetoric.” The short defense presentation puts the Senate on course for a vote on Trump’s acquittal or conviction on Saturday. No witnesses will be called to testify, according to Democratic senators who said they believed the impeachment managers proved their case against Trump with the video evidence they presented.
While two-thirds of the senate are needed to convict Trump and set up a subsequent simple-majority vote to bar him from future office, it remains highly unlikely Democrats will find the 17 Republican votes they need. Numerous GOP senators have all indicated this week that they remained unmoved by the Democratic managers’ presentations.
“I think the end result of this impeachment trial is crystal clear to everybody,” Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) told reporters. “Every person in the Senate chamber understands that there are not enough votes to convict.”