In the article of impeachment they introduced on Monday, House Democrats accused President Donald Trump of inciting last week’s takeover of the U.S. Capitol by telling his supporters the election was stolen from him and urging them to “fight like hell.”
One of the many arguments conservatives have raised against the Democrats’ second impeachment process against Trump is that if what the president said is incitement, so is a lot of other political speech, including recent statements by his critics.
- A widely cited example is Rep. Maxine Waters, a California Democrat, in June 2018 calling on her supporters to publicly confront and harass members of the Trump administration.
“If you see anybody from that Cabinet in a restaurant, in a department store, at a gasoline station, you get out and you create a crowd,” Waters shouted at a Los Angeles rally against Trump’s policy of family separation at the border, which the president had just nixed.
- “And you push back on them. And you tell them they’re not welcome anymore, anywhere.”
- Saying the separated children were “in cages” suffering untold “damage,” Waters added, “Mr. President, we will see you every day, every hour of the day, everywhere that we are to let you know you cannot get away with this.”
Waters doubled-down on her comments during an appearance on MSNBC later in the day, saying she had “no sympathy” for Trump administration officials.
- “The people are going to turn on them. They’re going to protest. They’re going to absolutely harass them until they decide that they’re going to tell the President, ‘No, I can’t hang with you,'” Waters said.
Trump, meanwhile, told reporters on Tuesday that people thought his widely condemned rhetoric ahead Wednesday’s violence at the Capitol was “totally appropriate” and that other top politicians had said worse.
- Of the impeachment process, Trump said: “I think it’s causing tremendous danger to our county and it’s causing tremendous anger.”
- Over the course of less than a minute, Trump unequivocally said at least four times that he opposes violence.
Some of Trump’s prominent critics immediately accused him of further incitement.
House Democrats plan to vote to impeach Trump on Wednesday, exactly a week before the end of his presidency.