On Friday, lawyers for former President Donald Trump presented a few hard-hitting videos contrasting Trump’s calls for peace and law and order with Democrats encouraging harassment and coddling Black Lives Matter and antifa rioters over the last summer.
“To claim that the president in any way wished, desired, or encouraged lawless or violent behavior is a preposterous and monstrous lie,” Michael Van Der Veen, one of Trump’s lawyers, argued.
Van Der Veen presented a video contrasting Trump’s law-and-order remarks and remarks from Joe Biden, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.), Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.), and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.). Pelosi had said, “I just don’t even know why there aren’t uprisings all over the country. Maybe there will be.” Waters had notoriously encouraged supporters to harass Trump administration staff in public places. Biden had said that if he was in high school, he would “beat the hell out of” Trump.
WATCH: President Trump's rhetoric VS the Democrats' rhetoric. pic.twitter.com/H1mvamlgtE
— Trump War Room (@TrumpWarRoom) February 12, 2021
To be fair, Trump himself has occasionally supported political violence, as in the case of Greg Gianforte, who assaulted a Guardian reporter in 2017. Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.) presented a montage of his own that twisted some of Trump’s remarks, most notably the canard that Trump praised white nationalists in Charlottesville.
Team Trump later played a montage of Democrats repeatedly pledging to “fight,” just as Trump told his supporters to “fight like hell” on January 6.
WATCH: President Trump's Attorney David Schoen plays video montage of Democrats saying the word "fight."
Once it concludes: "You didn't do anything wrong. It's a word people use, but please stop the hypocrisy."
— CSPAN (@cspan) February 12, 2021
Trump’s lawyers were not arguing that Democrats should be expelled from Congress, but rather that intense partisan language does not necessarily constitute “incitement.”
“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,” Trump’s lawyers argued in their defense brief.
Tyler O’Neil is the author of Making Hate Pay: The Corruption of the Southern Poverty Law Center. Follow him on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.