Attorneys representing former President Donald Trump in his historic second impeachment trial on Friday equated instances of violence and rioting that broke out during last summer’s protests for racial justice with the deadly Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection by pro-Trump extremists, accusing Democrats of hypocrisy in supporting the earlier demonstrations.
The defense showed clips of property destruction and violence alongside videos of Democratic lawmakers speaking in support of the demonstrations. In some protests for racial justice, sporadic looting and violence took place.
“Did you tone down the rhetoric last summer when all of this was happening? Did you condemn the rioters, or did you stand with [House Speaker] Nancy Pelosi who said, ‘People are going to do what they’re going to do,’ ” attorney David Schoen said.
In fact, many Democratic leaders, including now-President Biden, condemned the looting and violence that occurred around the protests.
Trump’s defense team also attempted to downplay the presence of right-wing extremists among the Capitol rioters, instead baselessly blaming, as many Republicans have attempted to do, so-called antifa plants for stoking the violence.
“According to publicly available reporting, it is apparent that extremists of various different stripes and political persuasions preplanned and premeditated an attack on the Capitol. One of the first people arrested was a leader of antifa,” attorney Michael van der Veen falsely alleged.
In actuality, there has been no evidence thus far of any significant presence of far-left-wing instigators, and an NPR assessment of arrests of Capitol insurrectionists shows clear ties to the far-right.
Attorney Schoen also addressed what he called the “Charlottesville lie,” in reference to Trump’s comments following the deadly 2017 Unite the Right rally in Virginia that was heavily attended by white supremacists and other members of the far-right.
Schoen played a lengthy clip of Trump’s widely condemned remarks in which he discussed “very fine people on both sides,” accusing the media of having selectively edited Trump’s remarks to make it seem like he was excusing racist extremists.