House Prosecutors Use Inflammatory Rhetoric to Accuse Trump of Incitement

The House impeachment managers on Tuesday released a written brief of their case against former president Trump. The main charge the Democrats have against Trump in next week’s Stalinist show trial is that his use of inflammatory language is tantamount to a call for violence. It is beyond ironic and hypocritical then that in its brief that the House managers used extremely inflammatory language (highlights added) in its own arguments:

The only honorable path at that point was for President Trump to accept the results and concede his electoral defeat. Instead, he summoned a mob to Washington, exhorted them into a frenzy, and aimed them like a loaded cannon down Pennsylvania Avenue.

The only honorable path: the house prosecutors would have us believe that publicly stating one’s honest beliefs is now dishonorable. They actually have the audacity to state that even if Trump’s belief that he won the election was true, it would not be a defense:

His belief that he won the election—regardless of its truth or falsity (though it is assuredly false)—is no defense at all for his abuse of office.

Summoned a mob … exhorted them into a frenzy … aimed them like a loaded canon: these terms are blatant appeals to emotion, not sober legal arguments. Using the House managers’ own logic as applied to Trump’s speech, these statements could be interpreted as incitement to violence.

This passage is only one of many in the brief that makes an emotional appeal. For example, the House managers would also have us believe that asking Congress to use its constitutional authority to examine the legality of the selection of electors is equivalent to advocating for overthrowing the government:

No one would seriously suggest that a President should be immunized from impeachment if he publicly championed the adoption of totalitarian government, swore an oath of eternal loyalty to a foreign power, or advocated that states secede from and overthrow the Union.

In the brief, the House managers spend many pages discussing the rhetoric that Trump used in his speech on the Ellipse on January 6 and try to connect this to the actions of the mob that swarmed the Capitol. This despite the fact that actions at the Capital occurred 20 minutes before Trump had finished his speech.

The brief tries to deal with problem by saying the riot was started by an “early wave” who left the speech before it ended. But the Ellipse is some 1.5 miles away from the Capitol, a 30-40 minute walk. Thus the attack on the Capitol would have been made by protesters who left Trump’s speech at least an hour before its end.

This timeline shows that Trump’s speech could not possibly have been the trigger of the assault on the Capitol, which begs the question of how can the House managers plausibly claim it was Trump’s exhortations created the frenzy in the crowd that led to breech of the Capitol?

The answer is that they can not logically make that connection.

The brief also uses the terms “insurrection” and “armed mob” numerous times. Calling the assault on the Capitol an “insurrection” is a gross overstatement of what occurred. However unruly it was, there has been no evidence presented that the rioters at the Capitol intended to overthrow the government.

As for “armed mob,” this assertion is an outright lie. The House managers do not cite a single example of anyone at either the speech on the Ellipse or the mob at the Capitol being armed.

So why is the House managers’ brief laden with so much inflammatory language of the type that they themselves condemn? It is because it is designed to appeal to the emotions of Senators and the American public rather than to present a logical case. They need to obscure the fact that there is no basis to the claim that Trump incited an insurrection against the government of the United States.

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