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WASHINGTON — Former President Donald Trump’s lawyers turned the tables on House impeachment managers on Friday, playing damning footage of Democrats over and over vowing to “fight” or “fight back” against Trump and Republicans to highlight their alleged “hypocrisy.”
Impeachment managers used a series of CCTV videos of the Jan. 6 riot to show just how close pro-Trump marauders came to lawmakers and clips of Trump’s speeches to allege he had a history of encouraging violence.
But the former president’s counsel came right back at them during their first day of arguments on Friday, accusing them of selectively quoting the former president.
One lengthy video featured Vice President Kamala Harris, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer and countless other Democrats using the word “fight.” The video also featured most of the Democratic impeachment managers who are prosecuting the case that Trump incited the violent insurrection.
Once the video finished, lawyer David Schoen pointed at both the senators and the impeachment managers and told them to “stop the hypocrisy.”
They also played the full clip of a 2017 press conference where Trump said there were “very fine people on both sides” of the deadly Charlottesville rally.
“I’m not talking about neo-Nazis and the white nationalists because they should be condemned totally,” Trump told reporters at the time. “But you had many people in that group, other than neo-Nazis and white nationalists.”
Said lawyer David Shoen: “This might be today the first time the news networks play those remarks in their context,” referring to Trump’s comments also condemning the latter two groups several times, which is often left out of the sound bite.
Acknowledging that current political rhetoric had gone too far, the former president’s legal team also played a brutal montage showing leading Democrats, liberal TV network anchors and celebrities vowing to “blow up the White House” or “put a bullet” in Trump’s head.
“If I were in high school, I would take him behind the gym and punch the hell out of him,” Biden said of Trump in several clips from the campaign trail.
In another video, Vice President Kamala Harris can be seen giggling with TV host Ellen DeGeneres as they joke about her killing Trump or predecessor Mike Pence if they were put in the same elevator.
In another minutes-long montage, dozens of Democratic senators are seen telling their supporters to “fight” ad nauseum.
Trump’s lawyers argued that while he told his supporters to “fight like hell” at a rally before the siege, he never incited them to attack the Capitol.
“That’s OK, you didn’t do anything wrong. It’s a word people use,” defense lawyer Michael van der Veen told Democrats, “but please stop the hypocrisy.”
The lawyers followed that with additional videos of Democrats praising protests after the death of George Floyd in Minnesota last year and also challenging the elections of previous Republican presidents. Trump’s supporters attacked the Capitol after he falsely said for months that the presidential election was stolen.
It’s expected that the president’s legal team will only use four of the 16 hours allocated to them to present their case on Friday, meaning a final vote on convicting Trump may come as soon as this weekend.
Democrats need 17 Republicans to cross the aisle and vote with them to impeach Trump to meet the two-thirds majority needed to convict, but it seems almost certain that the former president will be acquitted for a second time.
With Post wires
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