It seems Democrats want you to act as though history began yesterday, or more specifically, on January 6. They simultaneously rush to impeach President Donald Trump in the twilight of his term and then hold back the article of impeachment from the Senate until Joe Biden has already replaced him. They claim the president is guilty of “incitement of insurrection” when, judged on this standard, they themselves are guilty of far worse.
The Democrats are right to condemn the Capitol riot, and they spent much of the trial playing video clips of the violence on January 6. Yet they failed to prove the key charge in the case — that Trump incited the attack on the Capitol. The full text of Trump’s January 6 speech does not support that interpretation. Trump did go far to challenge the results of the 2020 election, and the rioters seemed intent on stopping the certification of Biden’s win, but this is an extremely weak case for “incitement.”
If the president’s speech — which called for his supporters to remain peaceful — supposedly incited the riot, then Democrats are twice as guilty for inspiring violence.
Trump’s impeachment defense lawyers quoted a few examples in their defense brief.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said, “I just don’t even know why there aren’t uprisings all over the country. Maybe there will be.”
“Was she advocating violence? Sending a silent dog whistle to radical protesters? Should she be held accountable for her extremist rhetoric and removed from office?” the brief asks.
The document also cites Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.), who said, “there needs to be unrest in the streets” as the Black Lives Matter protests devolved into violent and deadly riots. “Should we hold her liable to pay for all of the businesses that were destroyed when people heeded her call and removed from office?” the brief asks.
Finally, Team Trump cited Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.), who infamously encouraged leftist demonstrators to harass Trump administration staff in public places.
“For those who would say that those quotes must be understood in their greater context, i.e., that they were clearly meant to be political speech- we say exactly. The truth is that both … Mr. Trump’s speech and these comments are acceptable political free speech; it is the double standard at play here that is entirely unacceptable, and Mr. Trump [asks] that the Senate reject it in no uncertain terms,” Team Trump argues.
Yet the case is even stronger than that. Democrats looked the other way for months over the summer of 2020, when riots supposedly aimed at achieving racial justice destroyed black lives, black livelihoods, and black monuments. At least 26 people died in the riots, which stretched on for months.
Furthermore, if Trump allegedly incited the Capitol riot by questioning the results of the 2020 election and encouraging Congress to block the certification of Electoral College votes, isn’t Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.) guilty of the same thing? Raskin publicly admitted that it was pointless to block the certification of Electoral College votes, but he still raised an objection — without the support of a single senator — when Congress certified Donald Trump’s win in 2017. Raskin is now a prosecutor in Trump’s second impeachment trial.
To be honest, I was disgusted by Trump’s remarks during the Capitol riot, and I am concerned that he may not have acted as quickly as he should have when it comes to sending troops to quell the riot. Yet the Democrats did not try to impeach him for those actions — instead, they falsely accused the president of inciting the riot, which they call an “insurrection.”
Even if Democrats had written an article of impeachment blaming Trump for coddling the rioters with such statements as, “We love you, you’re special,” that would still have been the height of hypocrisy, given the Democrats’ own rhetoric during the riots last summer.
Furthermore, on the day after the riot and shortly thereafter, Trump finally gave the loud denunciation that he should have given on January 6. The comments that disgusted me lasted all of one day, while Democrats’ coddling the antifa rioters lasted for months and months. Democrats still have yet to denounce the rioters or the noxious Marxist critical race theory that drove them.
At the end of this trial, Trump will be acquitted, as he deserves. Yet Americans should pay close attention to the Democrats’ rhetoric about the January 6 riot. Their loud denunciations of violence should stand as a testimony to those same Democrats’ shameful silence when antifa and Black Lives Matter rioters were burning down buildings, ravaging American cities, and leaving 26 people dead.
Americans’ memories do not start on January 6. Voters should remember the destruction of this past summer and the Democrats’ lack of response to it. They should remember Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan’s “Summer of Love.”
When it comes to riots and incitement, Democrats don’t have a leg to stand on.
Tyler O’Neil is the author of Making Hate Pay: The Corruption of the Southern Poverty Law Center. Follow him on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.