Even as Democrats present their case for convicting President Trump of allegedly inciting a violent insurrection on Capitol Hill, Republicans say they can use the occasion to go on offense and embarrass Democrats for their own rhetoric.
The public record is rife with statements from Democratic lawmakers that challenge the legitimacy of Republican electoral victories and could, if interpreted literally, be construed to encourage physical confrontation of conservatives.
"So the hypocrisy is actually to President Trump's advantage," Jessie Jane Duff, co-chair of Veterans for Trump, told "Just the News AM" program on Tuesday. "Many on the Trump team are excited that he's actually going to be able to embarrass the Senate, he's going to be able to embarrass the congressional leaders who voted for this, because their words and actions have directly suggested ... what they're trying to deflect and say that he has done. We know that the evidence shows that he did not create this, did not design this, that the Capitol riots were essentially already pre-planned."
Among possible examples to be shared by Republicans during the impeachment trial:
- Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) in 2018 told supporters, "If you see anybody from that [Trump] Cabinet in a restaurant, in a department store, at a gasoline station, you get out, and you create a crowd. And you push back on them. And you tell them they're not welcome anymore, anywhere."
- Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) in 2018 urged supporters, "Get up and please get up in the face of some congresspeople."
- Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) said on Fox News that Trump defense lawyers could shame Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) for "celebrating the violence that happened to me when I had six ribs broken and part of my lung removed." Omar retweeted a comment by actor Tom Arnold saying, "Imagine being Rand Paul's next door neighbor and having to deal with @RandPaul lying cowardly circular whiney bullcrap about lawn clippings. No wonder he ripped his toupee off."
- Paul also said Republicans should look to impeach members of Congress such as Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer for inciting violence in the past. In front of a crowd of supporters outside the Supreme Court in March 2020, Schumer warned Justices Brett Kavanaugh and Neil Gorsuch: "You have released the whirlwind, and you will pay the price. You won't know what hit you if you go forward with these awful decisions."
- Eric Holder, former President Obama's Attorney General, said, "When they go low, we kick them … That's what this new Democratic Party is about." Holder later tweeted: "Ok, stop the fake outrage. I'm obviously not advocating violence. (In fact, when I was AG violent crime in the US was historically low.) I'm saying Republicans are undermining our democracy and Democrats need to be tough, proud and stand up for the values we believe in - the end."
Trump's defenders are also likely to point to cases of Democrats objecting to the results of elections, including:
- Rep. Jim McGovern (D-Mass.) in 2016 objecting to certifying Trump's Alabama electoral votes.
- In 2001, more than a dozen Democrats, including leaders of the Congressional Black Caucus, tried to challenge the Florida election results.
- In her 2018 Georgia gubernatorial race, Democratic candidate Stacey Abrams still has refused to concede her loss to her victorious Republican opponent, Gov. Brian Kemp. Yahoo News reported in 2019, "A host of prominent Democrats, including Hillary Clinton, former attorney general Eric Holder, Senators Kamala Harris of California, Corey Booker of New Jersey, and Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, have endorsed Abrams's claim that Kemp stole the election through a series of nefarious voter 'purges' in the run up to election day."
- House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in a 2017 tweet following Trump's election victory, said: "Our election was hijacked. There is no question. Congress has a duty to #ProtectOurDemocracy & #FollowTheFacts."
"Well, what I hear is that we can all agree that we have to have election reform," said Duff.
"So why is it we want election reform when our guy loses, but not when the other guy wins? It just is hypocrisy."
Duff called for reforms like voter ID, signature verification, protections against dead people voting, auditing voter rolls to ensure that people who don't even live in the state aren't voting, and more.
"There is massive election reform to be done," Duff said. "And the Democrats have screamed for this, until they win. So let's do it. Game on. I'm all for it. And I see this hypocrisy as really grating Americans' nerves."