Democratic House impeachment managers “selectively edited the president’s words” in making their case against former President Donald Trump, defense attorney David Schoen said on the fourth day of the impeachment trial.
“Words matter, they told you, but they selectively edited the president’s words over and over again,” Schoen said on Feb. 12. “They manipulated video, time-shifting clips, and made it appear that the president’s words were playing to a crowd when they weren’t. Let’s take a look.”
Schoen showed lawmakers a video of Trump’s speech on Jan. 6, showing a side-by-side comparison of what House impeachment managers had presented of Trump’s words, and a fuller excerpt of what Trump said.
The left panel of the video showed a short portion of a montage of the events on Jan. 6 that lead impeachment manager Jamie Raskin (D-Md.) played at the trial in his opening statement. Part of the video montage showed Trump’s speech.
Trump is seen saying: “After this, we’re going to walk down and I’ll be there with you. We’re going to walk down. We’re going to walk down,” after which the clip cuts to a separate scene of crowds in Washington, D.C. on Jan. 6 gathering near the Capitol building.
On the right panel of the video, Trump was seen remarking: “We’re going to walk down any one you want, but I think right here. We’re going walk down to the Capitol, and we’re going to cheer on our brave senators, and congressmen and women. We’re probably not going to be cheering so much for some of them because you’ll never take back our country with weakness. You have to show strength, and you have to be strong.”
Trump continued: “We have come to demand that Congress do the right thing and only count the electors who have been lawfully slated, lawfully slated. I know that everyone here will soon be marching over to the Capitol building to peacefully and patriotically make your voices heard.”
Schoen pointed out that the video that Democrats showed omitted that Trump had wanted his supporters to make their voices heard “peacefully and patriotically.”
“‘And we are going to walk down to the Capitol,’ they showed you that part. Why are we walking to the Capitol? Well they cut that off—to cheer on some members of Congress and not others, peacefully and patriotically,” Schoen said.
The attorney said that the Supreme Court in a 1969 landmark decision in Brandenburg v. Ohio ruled that “there’s a very clear standard for incitement,” notably, he said, paraphrasing, “whether the speech was intended to provoke imminent lawless action, and was it likely to do so.”
“’Go to the Capitol and cheer on some members of Congress but not others,’—they know it doesn’t meet the standard for incitement so they edited it down,” Schoen pointed out.
Shortly after the Democrats’ video montage was shown, the Right Side Broadcasting Network (RSBN) posted on Twitter pointing out that the video did not include Trump’s calls for peace. The former president’s son, Donald Trump Jr., also posted on Twitter, pointing out that Democrats had used a “deceptively edited video” to make their case. Newsweek, in a fact check, determined that RSBN’s claim was true that the video was “edited to leave out Trump’s calls for peaceful protest.”
Former Republican congressman Jason Chaffetz suggested on Twitter on Feb. 9 that the video may have violated a House rule which says people “may be subject to discipline for the dissemination … of any image, video, or audio file that has been distorted or manipulated with the intent to mislead the public.”
Raskin’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The Epoch Times.
References to Fighting
In another case, Schoen alleged that one of the House managers had quoted Trump out of context in using the remarks, “you have to get your people to fight.”
Schoen showed Trump’s remarks in full: “You have to get your people to fight. If they don’t fight, we have to primary the hell out of the ones that don’t fight. You primary them. We’re going to let you know who they are. I can already tell you, frankly.”
“The people who need to fight are members of congress,” Schoen clarified.
“Why do we have to skip the necessary due diligence and due process of law that any legal proceedings should have?” he asked. “It couldn’t have been the urgency to get President Trump out of office. House Democrats held the articles until he was no longer president, mooting their case. Hatred, animosity, division, political gain, and let’s face it, for House Democrats, President Trump is the best enemy to attack.”
Schoen also pointed to how House Democrats and the media this week have been quoting “fight like hell,” which he says was used out of context.
“We heard a lot this week about ‘fight like hell’ but they cut off the video before they showed you the president’s optimistic patriotic words that followed immediately after,” Schoen said, before showing another video comparison.
In the Democrats’ version of the video, Trump is seen as saying, “We fight like hell and if you don’t fight like hell, you’re not going to have a country anymore,” before the clip is cut off. The fuller version shows the president continuing to say: “Our exciting adventures and boldest endeavors have not yet begun. My fellow Americans for our movement, for our children and for our beloved country and I say this, despite all that’s happened, the best is yet to come.”
Schoen said that house managers themselves have ignored their own words in condemning Trump’s rhetoric and “set a dangerous double standard,” having advocated their supporters to “fight” multiple times in the past. He presented a lengthy video montage of clips showing Democrats, some of them senators now serving as jurors, also telling their supporters to “fight.”
Trump lawyer Michael van der Veen later said on the floor: “This is ordinary political rhetoric that is virtually indistinguishable from the language that has been used by people across the political spectrum for hundreds of years. Countless politicians have spoken of fighting for our principles.”
Trump’s attorneys asserted that the former president was entitled to dispute the 2020 election results and that his doing so did not amount to inciting the violence. They also likened the Democrats’ questioning of the legitimacy of Trump’s 2016 win to his challenge of his election loss. Here, Schoen also presented another video showing how multiple Democrats disputed the election results and continued to doubt the 2016 presidential election results after Trump came into office.
He alleged, “The House managers’ position really is that when [a] Republican candidate for office claims an election is stolen or that the winner is illegitimate it constitutes inciting insurrection, and the candidate should know it.”
“Somehow when Democratic candidates publicly decry an election as stolen, or illegitimate, it’s never a big lie. You’ve been doing it for years,” Schoen said, in a reference to how House impeachment managers have alleged that Trump’s “big lie”—the claim that the election was stolen—incited the riot.
The House voted 232-197 in January to impeach Trump, charging him of inciting an insurrection. Senate Democrats would need the support of 17 Republicans to convict Trump. According to a tally by The Epoch Times, 35 Republican senators have suggested or committed to voting to acquit Trump.
No president in U.S. history has ever been convicted.
If Trump were to be convicted, the Senate could hold a subsequent vote to disqualify him from ever holding office in the future. Unlike an impeachment conviction, which requires two-thirds of the Senate to be adopted, only a simple majority would be required to ban Trump from future office.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.