Senate Democrats quickly shrugged off video presentations made from former President TrumpDonald TrumpOhio Republican who voted to impeach Trump says he won't seek reelection Youngkin breaks with Trump on whether Democrats will cheat in the Virginia governor's race Trump endorses challenger in Michigan AG race MORE's defense team, arguing that they were trying to draw a false equivalency in an attempt to downplay Trump's remarks.
"It's a complete false equivalence. I mean, you have a history, in one case, of encouraging violence through, you know, overt statements, but also dog whistles ... versus a history that in no cases resulted in deaths, deaths of police officers, rioting behavior. It's just not the same thing," said Sen. Martin HeinrichMartin Trevor HeinrichOvernight Equilibrium/Sustainability — Presented by Schneider Electric — Deadly Ida floodwaters grip southeast US David Sirota: Seven Democrats who voted against fracking ban trying to secure future elections Deadly extreme heat has arrived: here's how policymakers can save lives MORE (D-N.M.).
Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) called the videos a "distraction" from Trump "inviting the mob to Washington."
“They’re trying to draw a dangerous and distorted equivalence," he said.
Sen. Michael BennetMichael Farrand BennetConservation group says it will only endorse Democrats who support .5T spending plan Lawmakers can't reconcile weakening the SALT cap with progressive goals How Sen. Graham can help fix the labor shortage with commonsense immigration reform MORE (D-Colo.) laughed when asked about the "fight" videos from Trump's legal team.
"I think it feels like they're erecting straw men to then take them down, rather than deal with the fact that the events of the 6th happened, including Donald Trump doing nothing to protect this place," Bennet said, describing it as a "false equivalency."
Democrats also argued that Trump's rhetoric fired up his supporters, as he urged them to go to the Capitol just as Vice President Pence and congressional lawmakers were counting the Electoral College vote. A mob of rioters subsequently broke into the building, suspending Congress's count for hours and forcing lawmakers to evacuate to secure locations.
"Show me anytime that the result was our supporters pulled someone out of the crowd, beat the living crap out of them and then we said, ‘that’s great, good for you, you’re a patriot,' " said Sen. Chris CoonsChris Andrew CoonsSenate Democrats to Garland: 'It's time to end the federal death penalty' Hillicon Valley: Cryptocurrency amendment blocked in Senate | Dems press Facebook over suspension of researchers' accounts | Thousands push back against Apple plan to scan US iPhones for child sexual abuse images Democrats press Facebook over suspension of researchers' accounts MORE (D-Del.).
"Second, If you looked at the chyron in terms of what was the content or the context, lots of those were about like, budgetary disputes. He was speaking to a crowd where he had notice from law enforcement and intelligence that there were extremists in the audience that they were planning to and threatening to assault the Capitol and the time mattered," Coons added.
Asked what he thought about the videos, Sen. Tim KaineTimothy (Tim) Michael KaineOvernight Energy & Environment — Presented by Climate Power — Emissions heading toward pre-pandemic levels The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by National Industries for the Blind - What do Manchin and Sinema want? Warren, Daines introduce bill honoring 13 killed in Kabul attack MORE (D-Va.) said that Trump "was warned, if you don't stop talking about a stolen election, people will be killed."
"He was specifically warned that. He kept talking about it, and a violent mob attacked the Capitol. ... That's what I thought about those videos," Kaine said.
Trump attorney David Schoen accused Democrats of using violent rhetoric during the civil unrest over the summer of 2020 over the deaths of several Black Americans, including George Floyd and Breonna Taylor.
Schoen played two videos showing Democrats urging their supporters to hit the streets and protest. Trump's team also played several clips of Democrats saying the word "fight," though as Senate aides were quick to note, put in context some of the quotes were about Capitol Hill policy disputes.
"lmao that clip they just played of Mark WarnerMark Robert WarnerAdvocates call on top Democrats for 0B in housing investments Democrats draw red lines in spending fight Manchin puts foot down on key climate provision in spending bill MORE was him vowing on the Senate floor to 'fight' for HEALTH CARE FOR RETIRED MINE WORKERS. i literally can't stop laughing," tweeted Rachel Cohen, a spokesperson for Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.).
Schoen also accused Democrats of refusing to accept the results of past elections and played video of House impeachment team member Rep. Joaquin CastroJoaquin CastroHarris's delayed trip to Vietnam ratchets up Havana Syndrome fears Lawmakers flooded with calls for help on Afghanistan exit Lawmakers can't reconcile weakening the SALT cap with progressive goals MORE (D-Texas) saying, “Can you imagine telling your supporters that the only way you could possibly lose is if the American election was rigged or stolen from you? Ask yourself if you’ve ever seen anyone at any level of government make the same claim about their own election?”
Sen. Bob CaseyRobert (Bob) Patrick CaseyDemocratic senators request probe into Amazon's treatment of pregnant employees Abortion rights groups want Biden to use bully pulpit after Texas law Overnight Health Care: Democrats plot response to Texas abortion law MORE (D-Pa.) said that he thought the defense team "played the same video three times."
"I don’t think that was necessary. They apparently did. I don’t think the comparison is apt about public officials using the word fight because I think the public record is pretty substantial with example after example where the president encouraged violence, refused to condemn it," Casey said.