Chances are slim to nonexistent that former President Donald Trump will be convicted during a Senate trial, but his legal team has to present a defense nonetheless and their plan is to go after Democrats directly.
In January, the House impeached Trump for a historic second time on one charge of “inciting an insurrection” and his trial in the Senate is set to begin on Monday. At the center of Trump’s second impeachment is whether his comments about the election encouraged the violence at the Capitol on January 6 and if convicted, he could be barred from holding public office in the future.
Instead of focusing on Trump’s rhetoric, Jason Miller, a senior adviser to the former president, said his legal team will make the argument that Democrats are “trying to put freedom of speech on trial.”
“By doing that we’re going to turn it around and make sure that [Senator] Chuck Schumer, [Speaker] Nancy Pelosi, [Representative] Maxine Waters—all the radical crazies—on the Democratic side themselves are going to be on trial,” Miller told Sebastian Gorka on his America First podcast.
Newsweek reached out to Senator Chuck Schumer and Speaker Nancy Pelosi for comment but did not receive a response in time for publication.
Miller added that Democrats’ rhetoric and attacks are “all going to be on display” and it won’t be the first time Republicans spotlighted legislators’ past comments.
During Trump’s impeachment hearing, Representative Louie Gohmert turned attention toward Pelosi’s 2018 comment that allies of the president were “enemies of the state” and that she was unsure why there weren’t “uprisings all over the country” over migrant children being separated from their parents.
“From our side, we didn’t take those to be impeachable because we didn’t believe she surely meant that, but by the Democrats taking this action, you’re telling me, ‘No when we say those things we mean to incite violence,'” Gohmert, who voted against impeaching Trump, said.
On the Senate floor on January 26, Senator Rand Paul called it hypocritical to impeach Trump for inciting the violence at the Capitol while ignoring “Democrat incitement to violence.” He pointed to 2017 when a supporter of Senator Bernie Sanders opened fire on a Republican softball practice and Waters’ comment that people should harass Trump administration officials over his “zero tolerance” immigration policy.
“Let’s make sure we show up wherever we have to show up. And 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. And you push back on them. And you tell them they’re not welcome anymore, anywhere. We’ve got to get the children connected to their parents,” Waters, who has called for Trump to be charged with premeditated murder, said in 2018.
Trump denied he had anything to do with the violence that occurred at the Capitol, and his attorneys argued in a response to the impeachment article that comments Trump made were protected by the First Amendment. Given that denial, Representative Jamie Raskin, lead House impeachment manager, is requesting that Trump testify at his trial. If he doesn’t, Raskin said they reserve the right to use it as evidence of guilt.
Even with Democrats having control of the Senate, it’s highly unlikely Trump will be convicted because it would require support from 17 Republicans and nearly all of them voted to dismiss the case altogether.