Since the start of the Senate’s impeachment trial Tuesday, there has been much gushing and fangirling on the left and in media circles about the way that the House impeachment managers have conducted the trial in contrast with how Trump’s defense team has at times struggled with articulating the type of cogent messaging needed to get their points across.
But while the reactions from the Usual Suspects have been as predictable as the emotional, deceptive video arguments used by the House impeachment managers, one big trump card (no pun intended) Trump’s lawyers have is a powerful counterpoint to the Democrats’ central “incitement” argument.
That counterpoint is a lengthy list of past statements from Democrats like Rep. Maxine Waters and Sen. Cory Booker, who during Trump’s 4 years in office urged their supporters to harass or “get in the faces” of Republican lawmakers and Trump officials.
As George Washington University law professor Jonathan Turley argues, though Democrats are setting a “reckless” standard by using “reckless rhetoric” as the basis for an impeachment trial, they will soon be hoisted by their own petards:
The House managers may be playing into that very danger by selecting some managers who have been criticized in the past for their own over-heated political rhetoric. As managers were replaying the comments of former President Donald Trump from prior years to show how his words fueled divisions, critics were pointing to similar statements from the managers themselves. Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md., the leading impeachment manager, was chided for using “fight like hell” in a 2019 interview with The Atlantic — the very words replayed repeatedly from Trump. He also used that phrase repeatedly in prior years to ramp up his supporters in fighting for Democratic control of Congress.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi blundered by appointing managers like Eric Swalwell who is notorious for his inflammatory rhetoric, in a trial where such rhetoric would be the focus of the managers.
Trump’s team has already made clear they are prepared to play hardball by countering Democratic arguments about alleged “incitement” by using examples of their own. Pelosi played right into their hands with appointing Swalwell to the impeachment team, and it is going to be fun watching them squirm as the video clips are played of them encouraging angry leftists to confront Republicans and make them feel “unwelcome.”
But beyond the schadenfreude many of us will experience at seeing 4 years of angry, hostile, and inflammatory Democratic rhetoric used against them during a trial that boils down to rhetoric, the more important thing to remember is how in doing so it will raise questions among the jurors and people watching at home about just who is doing the alleged inciting:
If this trial boils down to irresponsible political rhetoric, the public could find it difficult to distinguish between the accused, the “prosecutors” and the “jury.” That is the problem with a strategy that seems focused not on proving incitement of an insurrection but some ill-defined form of political negligence.
It will be cathartic to watch Democrats being confronted in the Senate “courtroom” with the damning evidence of all the times they’ve encouraged people to “fight”, “fight like hell”, and “get in their faces.” Though the outcome is preordained, it’s high time the American people finally see the darker side of Democrats the mainstream media has desperately tried to keep hidden.