Michael van der Veen, attorney for former President Donald Trump, answers a question submitted by a Senator during the fourth day of the impeachment trial of the former president on charges of inciting the deadly attack on the U.S. Capitol, on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., February 12, 2021. U.S. Senate TV/Handout via Reuters

THE NEUTRAL ZONE

Former president Donald Trump may have told his supporters to “fight” on Jan. 6, as he did dozens of times before the attack, but Trump’s lawyers reminded Democrats that they did the same thing. They then played dozens of clips showing Democrats using the same word — 238 times to be exact — to energize supporters. 

“You didn’t do anything wrong,” Trump attorney David Schoen told the senators. “But, please, stop the hypocrisy.”

The 11-minute video highlighted a three-hour presentation by Trump’s lawyers a day after House Democratic prosecutors warned that acquitting the former president could lead to another attack. Trump’s lawyers argued their client had the right of free speech, just like Democrats, and said Democrats had used that same inflammatory language against Trump many times when he held office, including Vice President Kamala Harris, who once joked on Ellen DeGeneres’ show that getting stuck in an elevator with Trump, former VP Mike Pence and former Attorney General Jeff Sessions may result in their deaths.

“In this political forum, all robust speech should be protected, and it should be protected evenly for all of us,” said Michael van der Veen, one of Trump’s defense attorneys. “We should all reflect and acknowledge the rhetoric has gotten to be too much and over the top.”

Democrats mocked the video — one called it cartoonish — and Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) called it a “false equivalence.”

“What they ignore is Donald Trump invited this mob to Washington, knew they were armed and dangerous,” based on available intelligence at the time, Blumenthal said. “When the attack began, he did nothing to protect the lives of those who were in danger.”

The trial could end as soon as Saturday. President Joe Biden said Friday he was “anxious” to see how his Republican friends would vote. He also said he didn’t plan to talk to any Senators about their vote. 

“I’m just anxious to see what my Republican friends do, if they stand up,” Biden said in his first comments about the impeachment trial since the House impeachment managers rested their case on Thursday.

MEDIA PERSPECTIVE

This section includes an aggregation of articles showing different viewpoints on the topic.

Senate GOP gripped by conviction vote intrigue – Politico – 2/12/2021
Six GOP senators voted this week to move forward with President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial. But Republicans believe several more of them may be considering conviction.

A running tally of Trump’s misleading impeachment defense – Washington Post – 2/12/2021
Trump’s defense team has responded by arguing the House managers took Trump’s remarks out of context — and offered its own series of clips. But these often were taken out of context.

Trump Legal Team Obliterates Dems Impeachment Case With Videos Featuring Their Violent Rhetoric – The Federalist – 2/12/2021
Donald Trump’s legal team just wiped the Senate floor with the Democratic members of Congress seeking to impeach the former president after forcing them, on the fourth day of Trump’s trial, to view a slew of videos of their past violent rhetoric calling for their supporters to “fight” and encouraging the summer 2020 rioters.

AP FACT CHECK: Trump team glosses over his Jan. 6 tirade – Associated Press – 2/12/2021
Donald Trump’s legal team thoroughly distorted his remarks from the rally that prefaced the storming of the Capitol last month, seizing on the one instance when Trump spoke of peaceful protest in his “fight like hell” tirade of anger and grievance.

‘You Can’t Incite What Was Already Going To Happen,’ Trump Impeachment Lawyer Says – Conservative Review – 2/12/2021
Van der Veen said a minor amount of people intending to cause harm took advantage of the protest. He said radicals took advantage of the protest and planned the Capitol riot, referencing “publicly available reporting.”

Senate Republicans Praise Trump Legal Team’s Follow Up Performance – Forbes – 2/12/2021
Senate Republicans voiced approval for the performance of Trump’s defense team at his impeachment trial Friday as a significant improvement from their muddled opening arguments, suggesting it has given ample cover for Republicans to vote to acquit.

What will Mitch McConnell do? – CNN – 2/12/2021
The second impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump has been a riveting and disturbing drama — even as we know it will almost certainly end with an acquittal.

INFLUENCER PERSPECTIVE

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