Democratic House impeachment managers appear to have seen their arguments against former President Donald Trump backfire on them.
Trump’s defense team played offense on Friday, effectively turning the claim that the ex-president’s politically charged rhetoric warranted impeachment back on Democrats who have their own sordid history of inflammatory remarks.
“Every single one of you”
Democrats have backed a second impeachment effort based on the theory that a rally Trump held in D.C. on Jan. 6 incited the riot on Capitol Hill that followed later the same day.
For their part, Trump’s lawyers have attacked the argument in a variety of ways — but their argument on Friday might have been the most effective.
Defense attorneys presented several videos showing prominent Democrats using language similar to the phrases used by the then-president during his rally last month. Among those depicted therein were party leaders including Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), Vice President Kamala Harris, and even President Joe Biden.
One Trump attorney, David Schoen, attempted to drive the message home after one of the videos concluded.
“Every single one of you, and every one of you,” he said of the rampant use of words like “fight” in the context of political battles. “That’s OK. You didn’t do anything wrong. It’s a word people use, but please stop the hypocrisy.”
“A false and dangerous equivalence”
Michael van der Veen, another Trump lawyer, went on to argue that the Democrats featured in those videos would have to be held accountable under the new standard produced in an effort to justify impeaching the former president.
“Under the standards of the House impeachment article, each of these individuals should be retroactively censored, expelled, punished, or impeached for inciting violence by their supporters,” he said.
Of course, some Democrats in the upper chamber attempted to brush the entire defense strategy off as a distraction.
“What they are plainly doing is trying to draw a false and dangerous equivalence to distract from Donald Trump inviting and then inciting the mob and then failing his oath to protect the Capitol,” claimed Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT).
While the impeachment trial initially appeared destined to drag on further following a vote on Saturday to call witnesses, the ordeal now appears on pace to wrap up quickly — with evidence pointing to an all-but-assured acquittal for Trump.