Daniel Greenfield, a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the Freedom Center, is an investigative journalist and writer focusing on the radical Left and Islamic terrorism.
The Democrat impeachment case against President Trump began with the false claim that “President Trump incited a violent mob to attack the United States Capitol during the Joint Session” and concluded with the false claim that he had engaged in “insurrection or rebellion.”
In between these two false claims lay a multitude of lies, misstatements of law, exaggerations of events, false conclusions, and fundamental attacks on our entire political system.
It’s no wonder that despite the media hysteria and political pressure, President Trump was acquitted of a baseless charge based on arm-waving, pulpit-pounding, zero witnesses and fewer facts. The Democrats littered their case with terms like “incitement”, “insurrection”, and “sedition” using them in the way that totalitarian regimes do to mean opposition to the regime.
President Trump’s defense team had the facts on their side while the Democrats had the lies.
The Democrat impeachment case falsely claimed that President Trump “imperiled” Congress.
The alleged peril came from an “armed, angry, and dangerous” crowd whose members, according to the Democrats, were waving “many American flags wielded” because “they believed they were performing a patriotic act in the service of their President.”
Only Democrats could use American flags and patriotism as evidence of a threat.
Meanwhile, poll numbers showed that in September, 41% of Democrats believed that there could be justification for violence if President Trump won.
Left-wing groups had been prepared to “flood the streets” with protesters.
The Working Families Party had, according to the New York Times, had “been in touch with bail funds that could be activated in response to mass arrests” and even had a “fund to raise money for the families of anyone killed in violence on or around Election Day.”
Preparing for protests so violent that people would die is angry and dangerous. So does 4 in 10 Democrats believing that violence could be justified if President Trump won the election.
But the Democrats and their media have built a false narrative to smear Republicans as violent.
Democrats, from Rep. Alexandria Ocasio Cortez on down, have claimed without evidence that they were on the verge of being murdered. While AOC’s claim is particularly absurd, there were no shots fired during the battles between police and rioters. The only weapons used were the familiar ones from many riots: fists, shields, poles, assorted bludgeons, and chemical sprays.
President Trump addressed a crowd that he knew “was armed and primed for violence,” the House Democrat impeachment managers wrote in their rebuttal.
In their original impeachment, they contend that, “armed insurrectionists breached the Capitol.”
It’s an odd sort of insurrection and coup in which the rebels never actually fire a shot in a country with some 400 million firearms. The Capitol Police drew guns and in one case used them, but nobody actually took any shots at them. Democrats, their media, and their political allies have repeatedly claimed without evidence that Senator Mitt Romney and others were on the verge of being killed. Yet the only violence that took place was between rioters and police.
The impeachment managers claim that “many feared for their lives”, but showed no basis for it.
Journalists and photographers were able to capture photos and videos of the rioters, most notably the QAnon Shaman, without being assaulted. The one single incident of an attack on a journalist involved an AP photographer attacked outside when he was mistaken for Antifa.
No one seems to have touched a reporter inside Congress, despite partisan hostility, leaving little basis for believing that anyone was going to physically assault House or Senate members.
Let alone kill them.
The Democrats have repeatedly played on the idea that Senate members, including Romney, were within minutes of being killed in order to bias the jury. That’s cynical and dishonest.
“President Trump is personally responsible for inciting an armed attack on our seat of government that imperiled the lives of the Vice President, Members of Congress and our families, and those who staff and serve the Legislative Branch,” the Democrats concluded.
The only arms were physical bludgeons used in exchanges with Capitol police. The Democrat misuse of “arms” to refer to poles and shields is deliberately misleading. The Democrats insist on claiming that the lives of everyone were imperiled, but they never actually proved it.
There was no insurrection. Nor was there a coup. Once inside, there was nothing more than vandalism. A group of protesters had made a strategic move to breach the Capitol, but once inside no efforts were made to secure the premises, to set up a defensive perimeter, let alone any of the fantastic claims that hostages would be taken or executions would be carried out.
Once inside, there was no plan. Offices were broken into. Some petty vandalism occurred. A few rioters posed for photos. Others cooperated with Capitol Police. The atmosphere was indistinguishable from student occupations of campuses in the sixties with no one having much of a clue what to do once they were inside the building itself and there was no one to protest.
There’s no excuse for violently assaulting police officers. But that’s a riot, not an insurrection.
The Democrat impeachment falsely transforms a protest and a riot into an insurrection with no actual evidence that the protesters were there to do anything more than protest a stolen election beyond a few people chanting violent slogans that they made.no attempt to actually carry out.
President Trump couldn’t be convicted of an insurrection that never happened. Redefining protests and riots as insurrections and support for them as incitement would mean impeaching nearly every Democrat who has held elected office in the last 60 years.
And the evidence for the incitement was even thinner than the evidence for the insurrection.
“He launched into an inflammatory speech that was bound to result in the violence that followed,” the Democrat rebuttal argued.
Democrats keep mixing inflammatory and incitement together. Political speeches, including their own impeachment histrionics, are frequently inflammatory. They’re not incitement.
The Democrat impeachment case hinged on President Trump using the word “fight” to his supporters, while ignoring the fact that he told them to protest peacefully. Democrat politicians repeatedly urge people to fight for their agendas. If using “fight” in a speech is incitement, then every politician in the country is guilty of incitement and can be impeached over it.
That’s a point that President Trump’s defense team made with a video highlight reel.
The Democrat impeachment case falsely claimed that President Trump had made “a militaristic demand that they must fight to stop what was occurring in the Capitol at that very moment.”
If telling people to “fight like hell” is “militaristic”, then what of Senator Kirsten Gillibrand’s “Now is the time to fight like hell” speech, and former Senator Barbara Boxer praising Senator Harry Reid for being willing to “fight like hell”? Is fighting like hell “militaristic” only when Trump says it?
The Democrat case accusing President Trump of incitement even began by noting that, “President Trump praised Giuliani, saying ‘he’s got guts, he fights.’” Does that mean that Giuliani physically assaults people, or that fighting refers to aggressively working toward a political goal?
It’s bad enough that the Democrats insisted that fighting is literal when Trump said it, but a figure of speech when they say it, but they also have to insist that when President Trump said it, it was both a figure of speech and a militaristic call for violence whenever it’s convenient for them.
“President Trump said that those marching toward the Capitol should do so ‘peacefully,’” the Democrats conceded, but then argued that he then spoke “using highly inflammatory rhetoric—exactly the kind of language calculated to incite violence”. What sort of rhetoric?
“Fight like hell”.
The Democrat argument for incitement ignored the literal meaning of what President Trump said, insisting that the Senate shouldn’t take him seriously when he called for a peaceful march, but should assume that when he said, “fight like hell”, he was calling for a violent insurrection.
“The tenor of his speech (and his repeated demand that they ‘fight like hell’ and ‘show strength’ to save their country) belied any desire for a peaceful demonstration,” the Democrats argued.
Their case for incitement rested on the indefinable “tenor” which is a wholly subjective argument that ignored what President Trump actually said. The Democrats then made the even more dangerous argument that Trump incited the violence because violence then took place.
“The insurrectionists themselves made clear that they understood that they were following President Trump’s commands,” the Democrats argue. Also, the Son of Sam believed that he was following the commands of a dog. Charles Manson believed that a Beatles album was telling him to start a race war. Democrats claimed to be following the will of the Framers by unconstitutionally impeaching President Trump. The deranged criminal behavior of the Son of Sam, Manson, and the Democrats is not the fault of the dog, the Beatles, or the Framers.
“Videos of the crowd eliminate any doubt that President Trump’s words in fact incited the crowd to commit violence,” the Democrats argued, because some people responded with, “take the Capitol right now!” That’s in line with the New York Times’ ethos that intent doesn’t matter. But the Democrats are making the even worse argument that President Trump’s intent can be inferred from the response of some members of the crowd who called for taking the Capitol.
President Trump had never called for taking the Capitol. He had called for a peaceful protest outside the Capitol. Nor did the Democrat managers ever explain how he would have benefited from anyone breaking into the Capitol, let alone “taking the Capitol”.
“President Trump’s speech did not promote election security—it exhorted a mob to attack Congress in order to overturn a free and fair election,” the Democrats falsely claimed.
At no point in time did President Trump exhort anyone to attack Congress. And how would breaking into the Capitol even possibly overturn an election? It wouldn’t and it didn’t.
The Democrat case rested on a complete disconnect between what they accuse President Trump of wanting to do and what any possible outcome of doing so would actually accomplish.
That is its fundamental structural weakness. It’s why impeachment had to fail.
To buy the Democrat case is to contend that the alleged insurrection would have overturned an election. The Democrats never actually explain how it could have done so. They’ve constructed a foolish and dishonest house of cards in which words mean whatever they want them to, evidence never actually needs to be presented, and motives never have to line up with reality.
President Trump wanted an election protest. He did not want an assault. And he certainly didn’t benefit from the violent confrontations between some protesters and police. Just the opposite.
Democrats had protested the 2016 election certification, both legislatively and physically, to disrupt the count without being accused, as the Democrat Impeachment managers accused President Trump of placing his “own political ambition above our Nation’s commitment to democracy” and thus having become guilty of “high crimes and misdemeanors”.
If challenging an election is a high crime and misdemeanor, the Democrats are guilty.
But, once again, whether it’s fighting like hell or challenging an election, it’s not a crime when Democrats do it. The very same case in which Democrats claimed that challenging an election is somehow a crime, they repeated the false claim that, “Gore and many of his political supporters thought he would have won the Presidency had all of Florida’s votes been properly counted.”
Democrats can imply that Florida’s votes were not properly counted and that the election was stolen in the same breath in which they contend that claiming an election was stolen is an attack on the country and incitement to violence. But that’s the animating hypocrisy of the Democrats.
Impeachment failed. But then it was always going to fail because it was meant to fail.
Like the Russia hoax, impeachment served as a pretext for national security abuses. It allowed them to deploy troops in D.C. until March. And now they’re plotting to extend it until the fall.
The troop deployment is itself theater. Much like impeachment, it creates the atmosphere of a national emergency that allows the Democrats to investigate political opponents as enemies of the state.
The Democrats have wrongly described a riot as an insurrection. That is the lie that goes to the heart of their case because it also depends on accusing President Trump of plotting to benefit in some way from the riot. But it’s also their justification for a national emergency.
Like their previous Russia smear, the accusations depend on outrage and false claims of an urgent threat because the Democrats have no actual evidence to back up any of their charges.
The Democrats falsely claimed that the 2016 election had been stolen by a Russian conspiracy. After four years of threats, smears, and riots, they belatedly declared that election conspiracies are an incitement to violence. That’s because they were the ones inciting the violence all along.
The Russian hoax and the insurrection hoax are both pretexts for a state of emergency.
Impeachment, like the Russia election hoax, never proved anything, never explained how one thing led to another, and never laid out credible motives. Instead it followed the Democrat pattern of declaring an emergency and accusing anyone who questions it of treason.
And that has always been the underlying motive.
The Democrats went from attacking an election on false grounds to criminalizing challenging an election. But their one consistent theme has been to accuse their political opponents of posing a national security threat, pushing a state of emergency, and moving to criminalize dissent.
Impeachment, like the thousands of soldiers occupying D.C., was political theater. The reality behind the theater is meant to sweep away the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, due process and free elections as if they had never existed under the guise of fighting domestic extremism.
And that is a true emergency.