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Trump Team: Democrats Are the Real Inciters

Trump impeachment lawyer David Schoen
Trump impeachment lawyer David Schoen (Image credit: N/A)

It was a case of dueling videos Friday as the Senate impeachment trial team defending former President Donald Trump from charges he incited the Capitol insurrection looked to counter the sobering video montages of Trump speeches and tweets and mob violence offered up by House impeachment managers (the prosecutors) earlier in the week with many of their own that they said told a very different story.

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Their argument was that Democrats were practicing constitutional cancel culture to take out a political opponent, and smear him with an incitement charge that more fittingly could be turned on them. 

Of the prosecutions initial and emotional video of the insurrection violence, which included "never before seen" security camera footage, Trump lawyer David Schoen said the house managers had kept new footage of the Capitol violence from Trump's defense team and the public. He also accused the impeachment managers of manipulating evidence, including false representations of tweets and selectively editing footage.

The defense team's initial video featured a montage of footage of various Democratic legislators, including Current House Impeachment Manager Rep. Jeremy Raskin (D-Md.), objecting to the electoral vote counts during the certification of Donald Trump's election victory in 2017.

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The next was another 2017 video montage of Trump saying he was against violence, and of the violent protests surrounding his inauguration and of Democratic rhetoric targeting Trump and suggesting his election should be protested.

Trump's lawyers are arguing that the President's speech was protected by the First Amendment and was equivalent to some of that speech used by Democrats targeting Trump and his supporters. 

Trump lawyer Michael van der Veen called it an unjust act of political vengeance that further divides the nation. He said no thinking person could believe the President's speech on the ellipse was an incitement or insurrection and was patently absurd and that nothing he said could be construed as condoning or enticing violence. 

He said the impeachment article was "slander" and that the President's speech was that the Democratic process should play out "according to the letter of the law" and promoting various steps to secure the vote and prevent ballot harvesting. 

Also Read: Trump Team Employs First Amendment Defense

He said the entire challenge to the election results was on specific process and through a legal and constitutional system. He said to claim the President encouraged violent behavior is a "preposterous and monstrous lie." 

Van der Veen said the attack on the Capitol was a small group carrying out a planned and premeditated action. He also talked about the security measures at Lafayette Square to protect the White House during the summer protests, sometimes violent, over George Floyd's murder.

He said the Senate needed to be careful about the precedent the case would set. He said the President's exhortation, "If you don't fight like hell you won't have a country anymore," was equivalent to the Biden campaign slogan of "battle for the soul of America." One video included a seemingly endless string of Democrats, mostly Senators who were in the chamber but also including President Biden and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, using the word "fight" in political speech.

Van der Veen said the media had been repeating for four years that the 2016 election had been hacked and that it had falsely claimed he President was a Russian spy. He also argued that Democrats had encouraged left-wing anarchists throughout the summer, with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi calling law enforcement protecting government buildings "storm troopers." By contrast, he said, President Trump has consistently deplored mob violence in no uncertain terms. Democrats' opposition to mobs depends on the mob's political views, he concluded. 

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.