clearn.png
Sunday December 5th, 2021 12:02AM

Trump lawyers say Democrats urge supporters to 'fight,' too

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

WASHINGTON (AP) — Lawyers for Donald Trump defended him against impeachment Friday by accusing Democrats of waging a campaign of “hatred” against the former president and manipulating his words in the lead-up to the deadly siege of the U.S. Capitol. Their presentation included a blizzard of their own selectively edited fiery comments from Democrats.

The Trump legal team characterized the impeachment case as a politically motivated “witch hunt" — an outgrowth, they said, of years of efforts to drive him from office — and they sought to reduce the case to Trump's use of a single word, “fight,” in a speech preceding the Jan. 6 riot. They played dozens of clips showing Democrats, some of them senators now serving as jurors, using the same word to energize supporters in speeches railing against Trump.

“You didn't do anything wrong" in using the word, Trump attorney David Schoen told the senators. “But, please, stop the hypocrisy.”

The Trump defense team left out that what Trump was doing in telling his supporters to “fight like hell” was to undermine a national election after every state had verified its results, after the Electoral College had affirmed them and after nearly every election lawsuit filed by Trump and his allies had been rejected in court. Instead, they contended, he was telling the crowd to support primary challenges against his adversaries and to press for sweeping election reform — something he was entitled to do.

The case is speeding toward a conclusion and near-certain acquittal, perhaps as soon as Saturday, with Trump's lawyers making an abbreviated presentation that used less than three of their allotted 16 hours. The defense arguments and the quick pivot to the Democrats' own words deflected from the central question of the trial — whether Trump incited the assault on the Capitol — and instead aimed to place impeachment managers and Trump adversaries on the defensive.

After a two-day effort by Democrats to sync up Trump's words to the violence that followed, including through raw and emotive video footage, defense lawyers suggested that Democrats have typically engaged in the same overheated rhetoric as Trump.

But in trying to draw that equivalency, the defenders minimized Trump's monthslong, efforts to undermine the election results and his urging of followers to do the same. Democrats say that long campaign, rooted in a “big lie,” laid the groundwork for the mob that assembled outside the Capitol and stormed inside. Five people died.

Without Trump, who in a speech at a rally preceding the violence told supporters to “fight like hell,” the violence would never have happened, Democrats say.

“And so they came, draped in Trump’s flag, and used our flag, the American flag, to batter and to bludgeon," Rep. Madeleine Dean, one of the impeachment managers, said Thursday as she choked back emotion."

On Friday, as defense lawyers repeated their own videos over and over, some Democrats chuckled and whispered among themselves as almost all of their faces flashed on the screen. Some passed notes. Connecticut Sen. Richard Blumenthal threw up his hands, apparently amused, when his face appeared. Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar rolled her eyes. Most Republicans watched intently.

During a break, some joked about the videos and others said they were a distraction or a “false equivalence” with Trump's behavior.

“Well we heard the word ‘fight' a lot,” said Maine Sen. Angus King, an independent who caucuses with the Democrats.

Colorado Sen. Michael Bennett said it felt like the lawyers were “erecting straw men to then take them down rather than deal with the facts."

“Show me any time that the result was that one of our supporters pulled someone out of the crowd, and then we said, ‘That’s great, good for you,’” said Delaware Sen. Chris Coons.

Trump's defenders told senators that Trump was entitled to dispute the 2020 election results and that his doing so did not amount to inciting the violence. They sought to turn the tables on prosecutors by likening the Democrats' questioning of the legitimacy of Trump's 2016 win to his challenge of his election loss. When Trump implored supporters to “fight like hell” on Jan. 6, he was speaking figuratively, they said.

“This is ordinarily political rhetoric that is virtually indistinguishable from the language that has been used by people across the political spectrum for hundreds of years,” said Michael van der Veen, another Trump lawyer. “Countless politicians have spoken of fighting for our principles.”

The defense team did not dispute the horror of the violence, painstakingly reconstructed by impeachment managers earlier in the week, but said it had been carried out by people who had “hijacked” for their own purposes what was supposed to be a peaceful event and had planned violence before Trump had spoken.

“You can't incite what was going to happen,” he said.

Acknowledging the reality of the January day is meant to blunt the visceral impact of the House Democrats' case and quickly pivot to what Trump's defenders see as the core — and more winnable — issue of the trial: Whether Trump actually incited the riot. The argument is likely to appeal to Republican senators who want to be seen as condemning the violence but without convicting the president.

Anticipating defense efforts to disentangle Trump's rhetoric from the rioters' actions, the impeachment managers spent days trying to fuse them together through a reconstruction of never-been-seen video footage alongside clips of the president's monthslong urging of his supporters to undo the election results.

With little hope of conviction by the required two-thirds of the Senate, Democrats on Thursday delivered a graphic case, describing in stark, personal terms the terror they faced that day — some of it in the very Senate chamber where senators now are sitting as jurors. They used security video of rioters searching menacingly for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Vice President Mike Pence, smashing into the building and engaging in bloody, hand-to-hand combat with police.

Though defense lawyers sought to boil down the case to single speech, Democrats displayed the many public and explicit instructions Trump gave his supporters well before the White House rally that unleashed the deadly Capitol attack as Congress was certifying Democrat Joe Biden’s victory. And they used the rioters’ own videos and words from Jan. 6 to try to pin responsibility on Trump. “We were invited here,” said one Capitol invader. “Trump sent us,” said another. “He’ll be happy. We’re fighting for Trump.”

The prosecutors' goal was to cast Trump not as a bystander but rather as the “inciter in chief” who spread election falsehoods, then encouraged supporters to come challenge the results in Washington and fanned the discontent with rhetoric about fighting and taking back the country.

The Democrats also are demanding that he be barred from holding future federal office.

Trump's lawyers say that goal only underscores the “hatred” Democrats feel for Trump. Throughout the trial, they showed clips from Democrats questioning the legitimacy of his presidency and suggesting as early as 2017 that he should be impeached.

“Hatred is at the heart of the house managers’ fruitless attempts to blame Donald Trump for the criminal acts of the rioters — based on double hearsay statements of fringe right-wing groups, based on no real evidence other than rank speculation," van der Veen said.

Trump's lawyers noted that in the same Jan. 6 speech he encouraged the crowd to behave “peacefully,” and they contend that his remarks — and his general distrust of the election results — are all protected under the First Amendment. Democrats strenuously resist that assertion, saying his words weren’t political speech but rather amounted to direct incitement of violence.

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP National News, AP Online National News, Top General short headlines, AP Online Headlines - Washington, AP Online Congress News, AP Elections, General Election News, General Presidential Election News
© Copyright 2021 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
The Latest: Dems say Trump defense 'distraction' from facts
Democrats in the Senate chamber chuckled and whispered among themselves as Donald Trump’s defense team played videos of them saying “fight” over and over again at the former president’s impeachment trial
3:14PM ( 6 minutes ago )
Trump lawyers say Democrats urge supporters to 'fight,' too
Lawyers for Donald Trump are making his impeachment defense by accusing Democrats of launching a campaign of “hatred” against the former president and manipulating his words in the lead-up to the deadly siege of the U.S. Capitol
3:13PM ( 7 minutes ago )
Czechs in chaos with political infighting amid virus surge
The Czech Republic is in chaos after Parliament deprived the government of a powerful tool to tackle the coronavirus pandemic
3:07PM ( 13 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
Trump lawyers decry his trial, say Democrats cry 'fight' too
Lawyers for Donald Trump are making his impeachment defense by accusing Democrats of launching a campaign of “hatred” against the former president and manipulating his words in the lead-up to the deadly siege of the U.S. Capitol
2:33PM ( 46 minutes ago )
CDC: Strong evidence in-person schooling can be done safely
The nation’s top public health agency has released a roadmap for reopening schools in the middle of a pandemic
2:00PM ( 1 hour ago )
Austin police chief retires after criticism for use of force
Austin’s police chief is retiring after starting with the city's police department 30 years ago
1:57PM ( 1 hour ago )
AP National News
The Latest: Trump legal team opens with attack on Dems
Donald Trump’s lawyers have opened their arguments in the former president’s impeachment trial with a direct attack on Democrats
12:47PM ( 2 hours ago )
Timberlake apologizes to Britney Spears and Janet Jackson
In a lengthy social media post, Justin Timberlake says that he wants to apologize to Britney Spears and Janet Jackson “because I care for and respect these women and I know I failed.”
12:45PM ( 2 hours ago )
Fox hosts Dobbs, Bartiromo strike back in voting fraud suit
Three hosts for Fox News have filed motions to dismiss claims against them and their employer as part of a $2.7 billion libel lawsuit brought by a voting technology company
12:10PM ( 3 hours ago )
Top General short headlines
Biden: Governors and mayors need $350 billion to fight COVID
President Joe Biden has met with a bipartisan group of governors and mayors at the White House as part of his push to give financial relief from the coronavirus pandemic to state and local governments
1:01PM ( 2 hours ago )
CDC to release new guidance telling schools how to reopen
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is expected to release long-awaited guidance Friday telling schools what measures are needed to return to in-person teaching
12:35PM ( 2 hours ago )
Int'l Criminal Court member states to elect new prosecutor
Member states of the International Criminal Court are electing a new prosecutor to replace incumbent Fatou Bensouda whose nine-year term expires later this year
12:29PM ( 2 hours ago )
AP Online Headlines - Washington
Lawyer who defended Trump accustomed to political disaster
A onetime rising-star prosecutor from suburban Philadelphia made something of a comeback earlier this week in heading to the well of the U.S. Senate to defend Donald Trump in the ex-president’s second impeachment trial
5:36AM ( 9 hours ago )
Australia report says make Google and Facebook pay for news
Australia’s Parliament will debate making Google and Facebook pay for news after a Senate committee recommended no changes to drafts of the world's first such laws
4:43AM ( 10 hours ago )
Trump returns to spotlight in trial — but not on his terms
For two days, it’s been wall-to-wall Donald Trump
12:46AM ( 14 hours ago )
AP Online Congress News
How a leading anti-Trump group ignored a crisis in its ranks
One of the best-known players in the so-called Never Trump movement is facing intense scrutiny that threatens to undermine the broader coalition’s influence amid new revelations about its financial management and improper behavior involving a co-founder
9:01PM ( 18 hours ago )
Rioters acted on Trump's 'order,' Democrats say in trial
Democratic prosecutors in Donald Trump's impeachment trial say rioters believed they were acting on the “president’s orders” to storm the Capitol to undo Joe Biden's election victory
4:17PM ( 23 hours ago )
Rioters acted on Trump's 'orders,' Democrats say in trial
Democratic prosecutors in Donald Trump's impeachment trial say rioters believed they were are acting on the “president’s orders” to storm the Capitol to undo Joe Biden's election victory
3:39PM ( 23 hours ago )
AP Elections
Trump can't hang on to lawyers after false election claims
Donald Trump has employed high-powered litigators for decades, but since losing the November election to President Joe Biden, he’s been bleeding attorneys
12:13AM ( 1 day ago )
The Latest: House managers wrap up 1st full day of arguments
House Democrats have wrapped up their first full day of arguments at the historic second impeachment of Donald Trump
11:16PM ( 1 day ago )
Trump trial video shows vast scope, danger of Capitol riot
Prosecutors in Donald Trump's impeachment trial have unveiled chilling new security video for Senate jurors and the nation
10:15PM ( 1 day ago )
General Election News
The Latest: Democrats say Capitol mob sought to kill Pelosi
Democrats say Capitol Police evacuated House Speaker Nancy Pelosi from the Capitol complex entirely because they feared for her safety on Jan. 6
4:59PM ( 1 day ago )
The Latest: Hero officer Goodman warned Romney away from mob
U.S. Capitol Police officer Eugene Goodman warned Sen. Mitt Romney that rioters were headed his way shortly after the building was breached by a mob of Donald Trump supporters
4:46PM ( 1 day ago )
The Latest: Democrats use rally footage to argue incitement
Prosecutors at President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial are using footage of the rally he headlined ahead of the riot on the Capitol to argue he incited the crowd
4:33PM ( 1 day ago )
General Presidential Election News
The Latest: Dems say Trump defense 'distraction' from facts
Democrats in the Senate chamber chuckled and whispered among themselves as Donald Trump’s defense team played videos of them saying “fight” over and over again at the former president’s impeachment trial
3:14PM ( 6 minutes ago )
CDC: Strong evidence in-person schooling can be done safely
The nation’s top public health agency says in-person schooling can be done safely with mask use, social distancing and other strategies, but vaccination of teachers, while important, is not a prerequisite for reopening
2:58PM ( 21 minutes ago )
2 killed, 2 injured when car plunges off Chicago expressway
Police say two people were killed and two others were seriously injured when their car hit a concrete wall and plunged off a Chicago expressway onto a street about 43 feet below
2:53PM ( 26 minutes ago )
White House aide suspended for threatening reporter
White House deputy press secretary T
2:50PM ( 29 minutes ago )
The Latest: CDC offers guidance for in-person schooling
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is emphasizing mask wearing and social distancing when reopening U.S. schools
2:47PM ( 33 minutes ago )