Democrats have pressed forward with the impeachment of former President Donald Trump for allegedly inciting an insurrection with regard to the rhetoric he used in a speech to supporters just prior to the storming of the U.S. Capitol building on Jan. 6.
Critics of the effort have noted that Trump’s fiery rhetoric was really no different or worse than that of most other politicians, and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) warned that this reality could come into play if Democrats decide to call witnesses at the trial, according to the Washington Examiner.
Graham issued the warning during an interview Monday with Fox News host Sean Hannity in response to a question pertaining to rhetoric often heard from Democratic politicians as a means to fire up their base.
“If the House managers want to call one witness, the defense is going to call all those people you named and then some,” Graham said with a nod toward those who had been referenced by Hannity, such as President Joe Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris, Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), among others.
“To my colleagues tomorrow, there are a hundred of us — what we do today is going to make history for the rest of the time America exists. What Democrats have done is basically declare war on the presidency itself,” Graham warned.
Politicians use fiery rhetoric
Graham was suggesting that Trump’s defense team should flip the script by highlighting Democrats’ own frequent use of inflammatory rhetoric while speaking with supporters.
That already appears to be in the playbook for Trump’s defense, as per remarks from Trump defense attorney Bruce Castor on Friday while speaking with Fox News host Laura Ingraham, The Hill reported.
Ingraham, too, suggested Trump’s defense highlight similar rhetoric from Democrats. She specifically pointed to Rep. Maxine Waters’ (D-CA) 2018 exhortation to supporters to confront and harass Trump administration members. “I think you can count on that,” Castor told Ingraham in response.
“Many of them in Washington are using really the most inflammatory rhetoric possible to use. And certainly, there would be no suggestion that they did anything to incite any of the actions,” Castor said later, and added, “There’s a lot of tape of cities burning and courthouses being attacked and federal agents being assaulted by rioters in the streets, cheered on by Democrats throughout the country.”
The warning from Graham against Democrats calling impeachment trial witnesses isn’t new, although it now comes with the added suggestion that Democratic rhetoric could be flipped back on them. He had previously cautioned against calling witnesses over a week ago while speaking on Fox News‘ Hannity.
“If you open that can of worms, we’ll want the FBI to come in and tell us about how people pre-planned this attack and what happened with the security footprint at the Capitol. You open up Pandora’s Box if you call one witness,” Graham said at the time.
Time will tell if Democrats decide to “open that can of worms” and call for witnesses in a move that will set the stage for Trump’s defenders to reverse the accusations of incitement and show that, if fiery political rhetoric is an impeachable offense, then Democrats ought to start preparing their own impeachment defense teams.