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Trump defense team ridiculed over video of Democrats saying ‘fight’ | Trump impeachment (2021)

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Lawyers for Donald Trump were condemned by Democrats and ridiculed by critics on Friday, after they showed the Senate impeachment trial a video which sought to compare remarks on the campaign trail and in support of protests against systemic racism with Trump’s incitement of the attack on the US Capitol on 6 January.

In the video, prominent figures including Vice-President Kamala Harris and the Massachusetts senator Elizabeth Warren were shown using the word “fight”, the word taken out of context and spliced with scenes of violence and destruction during nationwide protests sparked by the killing by Minneapolis police officers of George Floyd, an African American man.

Outside the White House on 6 January, Trump told supporters to “fight like hell” to overturn his election defeat by Joe Biden, which he claims without evidence was the result of widespread fraud. He also told attendees at his “Stop the Steal” rally to take their fight to the Capitol. Hundreds did, resulting in violence which left five people dead, a Capitol police officer among them.

Mounting their case against Trump, House impeachment managers made extensive use of video of the insurrection, including of Vice-President Mike Pence, Senator Mitt Romney and others being guided away from rioters, some of whom allegedly planned to kill them.

Trump impeachment: new footage shows Mike Pence and Mitt Romney fleeing Capitol attack – video
Trump impeachment: new footage shows Mike Pence and Mitt Romney fleeing Capitol attack – video

After Trump’s lawyers showed their own video, Richard Blumenthal, a Democratic senator from Connecticut, told reporters they were “trying to draw a false, dangerous and distorted equivalence”.

The attorneys were trying to distract the public, he said, “from Donald Trump’s inviting the mob to Washington, knowing it was armed; changing the route and the timing so as to incite them to march on the Capitol; and then revelling, without remorse, without doing anything to protect his own vice-president and all of us.

“I think that the case is even more powerful after this very distorted and false argument.”

Trump is all but assured to escape conviction. The vast majority of Republican senators are ranged strongly behind him, some even having met with his lawyers during breaks in proceedings.

Nonetheless, the Trump team’s video met with widespread ridicule and disgust.

Daniel Goldman, lead counsel for House Democrats in Trump’s first impeachment last year, wrote: “Just after [Trump attorney David] Schoen accused managers of ‘manipulating’ evidence because they took excerpts of videos, he shows a lengthy video of numerous, extremely spliced video clips without any context for the comments.”

Trump defense plays montage of democrats saying 'fight' during impeachment hearing – video
Trump defense plays montage of democrats saying ‘fight’ during impeachment hearing – video

Philip Bump, a Washington Post reporter, pointed out that Schoen “was on Fox News this week where he said that only Trump had a base that would actually be riled up by language about fighting!”

“They’re using rhetoric that’s just as inflammatory, or more so,” Schoen told Sean Hannity on Tuesday, when asked why Democrats’ calls to “fight” did not result in violence like that seen at the Capitol. “The problem is, they don’t really have followers, you know, their dedicated followers … when they give their speeches.”

The NBC reporter Ali Vitale wrote: “I covered [Elizabeth] Warren’s campaign for over a year. Every day was about ‘why she’s in this fight’. For policy. It’s laughable to think anyone ever thought she was urging people towards physical violence.

“By comparison, I covered Trump for [years and] repeatedly heard him urge supporters to violence. In 2016, telling supporters he’d pay their legal bills if they punched protesters in the face or even wishing law enforcement were more forceful when removing protesters.”

Others turned to satire. Vote Vets, a progressive group, wrote: “Trump’s defence’s argument is that when the Beastie Boys sang you need to ‘fight’ for your right to party, either it meant ‘kill your parents’, or Trump is innocent.”

Back on the Senate floor, Trump’s team did not have an easy afternoon.

The attorney Bruce Castor – who has been widely compared to the hapless Lionel Hutz, of Simpsons fame, reportedly to Trump’s fury – closed the defence’s case. He attempted to refer to the Georgia secretary of state who resisted Trump’s demands to overturn his defeat there, demands which have put Trump in legal jeopardy.

The politician in question is Brad Raffensperger. Castor called him Ben Roethlisberger: a known Trump associate by night but by day, alas for the hapless Castor, quarterback for the Pittsburgh Steelers.

 

 

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