PHILADELPHIA (CBS / AP) – Social media once again mocks Bruce Castor’s defense of former President Donald Trump during his second impeachment trial before the United States Senate. During Friday’s hearing, the former Montgomery County district attorney mistakenly mistook Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger for Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger.
We reviewed the tapes and yes, Bruce Castor mistakenly mistook Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger (left) for Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger (right). #impeachmentTrial pic.twitter.com/UNxyNMdWTY
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– Ed O’Keefe (@edokeefe) February 12, 2021
Trump was infamously recorded asking Raffensperger to revoke the Georgia presidential election, which President Joe Biden won by just over 11,000 votes.
“Georgia Secretary of State Ben Roethlisberger” pic.twitter.com/8CqLqvkB9a
– Jacob Rubashkin (@JacobRubashkin) February 12, 2021
Twitter noticed that Castor mistook the Steelers quarterback for Raffensperger.
– TeeLee (@ TeeLee53) February 12, 2021
Ben Roethlisberger is no match for Brad Raffensperger. Just for your information, Mr. Castor. 🤦♀️
– Melanie (@ mel4uofa) February 12, 2021
Did Bruce Castor really say Ben Roethlisberger?
– RGN RickGamesNow (@rickgamesnow) February 12, 2021
Please tell me someone else heard Castor refer to Brad Raffensperger as Ben Roethlisberger.
– Andrea Hansen (@galacticvalkyri) February 12, 2021
Has Castor just accused Ben Roethlisberger of dealing with the 2020 Georgia election? Or did I hear wrong?
– Vicki Tyrrell (@vicki_tyrrell) February 12, 2021
Did Trump’s attorney, Bruce Castor, just say that Trump called Georgia Secretary of State… Ben Roethlisberger? 😂 pic.twitter.com/OHiZEjKklf
– Josh Gardner (@JoshMGardner) February 12, 2021
Meanwhile, Trump’s lawyers defended him against impeachment on Friday accusing Democrats of waging a “hate” campaign against the former president and manipulating his words in the run-up to the deadly siege of the US Capitol. His presentation included a blizzard of his own selectively edited fiery comments from Democrats.
In hours of discussion, Trump’s legal team characterized the impeachment case as a politically motivated “witch hunt” – a consequence, they said, of years of efforts to remove him from office – and sought to narrow the case down to Trump’s use of a single word, “fight,” in a speech prior to the January 6 riot. They played dozens of videos showing Democrats, some of them senators now serving as jurors, using the same word to energize supporters in speeches critical of Trump.
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“They did nothing wrong” by using the word, Trump’s attorney David Schoen told senators. “But please stop the hypocrisy.”
Trump’s advocacy team left out that what Trump was doing by telling his supporters to “fight like hell” was undermining a national election after all states had verified their results, after the Electoral College had them. confirmed and after almost all the electoral demands presented by Trump and his allies had been rejected in court. Instead, they argued, he was telling the crowd to support the primary challenges against his adversaries and to push for radical electoral reform, something he had a right to do.
The case is rapidly moving toward a near-certain conclusion and acquittal, perhaps as early as Saturday. The defense arguments and the swift turn to the Democrats’ own words deviated from the central question of the trial – whether Trump incited the assault on Capitol Hill – and instead aimed to place Trump’s impeachment managers and adversaries to the defensive.
After a two-day effort by Democrats to synchronize Trump’s words with the violence that followed, including through raw and emotional video footage, defense attorneys suggested that Democrats have generally engaged in the same rhetoric. overheated than Trump.
But by trying to establish that equivalence, advocates downplayed Trump’s month-long efforts to undermine the election results and his insistence on his supporters to do the same. Democrats say that long campaign, rooted in a “big lie,” laid the groundwork for the mob that rallied outside the Capitol and stormed inside. Five people died.
Without Trump, who in a speech at a rally that preceded the violence told his supporters to “fight like hell,” the violence would never have happened, Democrats say.
“And then they came, wrapped in the Trump flag, and they used our flag, the American flag, to hit and pound,” Rep. Madeleine Dean, one of the impeachment managers, said Thursday while suppressing emotion. “
On Friday, as defense attorneys replayed their own videos over and over, some Democrats laughed and whispered among themselves as nearly all of their faces appeared on screen. Some passed notes. Connecticut Senator Richard Blumenthal raised his hands, seemingly amused, when his face appeared on the screen. Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar rolled her eyes. Most Republicans watched closely.
During a break, some joked about the videos and others said they were a distraction or a “false equivalency” to Trump’s behavior.
“Well, we hear the word ‘fight’ a lot,” said Maine Senator Angus King, an independent who is part of the Democrats.
Colorado Senator Michael Bennett said he felt the lawyers were “erecting straw men and then pulling them down instead of dealing with the facts.”
“Show me at any time that the result was that one of our supporters pulled someone out of the crowd and then we said, ‘That’s great, good for you,’ said Delaware Sen. Chris Coons.
Trump’s defenders told senators that Trump had the right to dispute the 2020 election results and that doing so did not amount to inciting violence. They tried to turn the prosecutors around by comparing the Democrats’ questioning of the legitimacy of Trump’s 2016 victory with their defiance of his electoral defeat. When Trump implored his supporters to “fight like hell” on January 6, he was speaking figuratively, they said.
“Usually this is political rhetoric that is virtually indistinguishable from the language that has been used by people across the political spectrum for hundreds of years,” said Michael van der Veen, another Trump attorney. “Countless politicians have spoken of fighting for our principles.”
The defense team did not dispute the horror of the violence, painstakingly reconstructed by impeachment managers earlier in the week, but said it had been carried out by people who had “kidnapped” for their own purposes what was supposed to be a peaceful event and there was violence planned before Trump spoke.
“You cannot incite what was going to happen,” he said.
Acknowledging the reality of the January day is intended to mitigate the visceral impact of the House Democrats case and swiftly turn to what Trump advocates see as the central, and most winnable, issue of the trial: if Trump really incited the riot. The argument is likely to appeal to Republican senators who want to be seen as condemning the violence but not condemning the president.
Anticipating the defense’s efforts to untangle Trump’s rhetoric from the rioters’ actions, impeachment managers spent days trying to merge them through a reconstruction of never-before-seen video footage alongside clips from the president’s months of urging. his supporters to undo the election results.
Democrats, who concluded their case on Thursday, used the rioters’ own videos and words from Jan.6 to try to hold Trump accountable. “We were invited here,” said an invader from the Capitol. “Trump sent us,” said another. “He will be happy. We are fighting for Trump. “
The prosecutors’ goal was to portray Trump not as a bystander but as the “inciter-in-chief” who spread electoral falsehoods, then encouraged supporters to challenge the results in Washington, and fueled discontent with rhetoric about the struggle and recovery. from the country.
Democrats are also demanding that he be barred from holding federal office in the future.
But Trump’s lawyers say that goal only underscores the “hatred” Democrats feel for Trump. Throughout the trial, they showed clips of Democrats questioning the legitimacy of his presidency and suggesting as early as 2017 that he should be indicted.
“Hate is at the heart of unsuccessful attempts by house managers to blame Donald Trump for the criminal acts of rioters based on double-heard statements from right-wing fringe groups that are not based on actual evidence anymore. what range speculation, “van der Veen said.
Trump’s attorneys note that in the same Jan.6 speech he encouraged the crowd to behave “peacefully” and argue that his comments and his general mistrust of the election results are all protected by the First Amendment. Democrats vigorously resist that claim, saying his words were not political speech but rather direct incitement to violence.
Defense attorneys also returned to arguments presented Tuesday that the trial itself is unconstitutional because Trump is no longer in office. The Senate rejected that argument as it voted to proceed with the trial.
On Thursday, with little hope of being convicted by the required two-thirds of the Senate, Democrats delivered a graphic case to the American public, describing in strict and personal terms the terror they faced that day, in part in the same Senate chamber where the Senators are now sitting as jurors. They used a security video of rioters threateningly searching for Speaker of the House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, and Vice President Mike Pence, crashing into the building and engaging in bloody hand-to-hand combat with police.
They showed the many public and explicit instructions that Trump gave his supporters, long before the White House rally that unleashed the deadly attack on Capitol Hill as Congress certified the victory of Democrat Joe Biden.
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(© Copyright 2021 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All rights reserved. Associated Press contributed to this report).