Former President Donald Trump‘s legal team presented dozens of video clips Friday during the impeachment trial showing Democrats including President Biden and Vice President Kamala D. Harris calling on supporters repeatedly to “fight.”
David Schoen, Mr. Trump‘s defense lawyer, played a video montage that lasted several minutes showing House impeachment managers in recent years calling for their base and colleagues to fight against Mr. Trump‘s administration.
The move was to show the word “fight” is common in political speech, and did not constitute Mr. Trump inciting violence. Mr. Schoen said Democrats were being hypocritical for focusing on Mr. Trump‘s call on supporters at a Jan. 6 rally in Washington to “fight like hell” before the riot broke out at the U.S. Capitol.
Turning to Democrats in the Senate chamber, Mr. Schoen told them that they “didn’t do anything wrong” by uttering the word “fight” in a political context.
“It’s a word people use, but please stop the hypocrisy,” he said.
Notably included in the video were remarks by Ms. Harris during television interviews, during debates and in campaign speeches.
On “The Ellen DeGeneres Show,” then-Sen. Harris was asked if she were on an elevator with Mr. Trump, Jeff Sessions and Mike Pence, who would she choose?
“Does one of them have to come out alive?” Ms. Harris said as both women broke into guffaws.
Mr. Biden, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer were also featured in the montage.
During arguments earlier this week, House impeachment managers suggested the word “fight” in Mr. Trump‘s speech on Jan. 6 helped lead to the violent riot at the U.S. Capitol.
Mr. van der Veen said the Senate “must reject this invitation to ignore the First Amendment.” He said Mr. Trump was an elected official, and he pointed to a 1981 Supreme Court ruling in a Georgia case that said public officials enjoy “enhanced free speech rights,” especially when it involves their political careers.
“Mr. Trump was elected by the people,” he said. “The Supreme Court says elected officials must have the right to freely engage in public speech.”
Democrats said the Trump legal team was drawing a false equivalent to his actions on Jan. 6.
“It is plainly a distraction from Donald Trump‘s inviting the mob to Washington, knowing it was armed,” said Sen. Richard Blumenthal, Connecticut Democrat. “The [impeachment] case is even more powerful, after this very distorted and false argument.”
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