Fox News cuts away from Trump impeachment trial

How Trump’s allies are reacting to the impeachment online

Their arguments range from pointing out how Democrats sometimes swear too, to accusing impeachment managers of sleeping with Chinese spies.

Josh Marcus
San Francisco
Thursday 11 February 2021 22:54

Donald Trump’s most die-hard allies have spent days online pushing back against the main claim of the impeachment trial: that he intentionally caused his supporters to sack the Capitol. Their arguments range from pointing out how Democrats sometimes swear too, to accusing impeachment managers of sleeping with Chinese spies.

Here’s what they’re saying, and here’s how it matches up with the facts. 

Democrats just hate Trump

Many of the president’s most staunch backers don’t believe the president’s role in the 6 January Capitol riots warrants impeachment or punishment at all, and that Democrats don’t think so either, they just hate Mr Trump.

“For Democrats, it’s always been about impeachment, and now they are allowing for a corrupt impeachment process,” former White House strategic communications director Merces Schlapp said on Tuesday, while linking to a video of Democrats calling for impeachment throughout the presidency. “All in the name of their hatred for the former president,” she added.

Read more: Follow all the latest Trump impeachment news live

Indeed, both Democrats like congressman Al Green and Republicans like Justin Amash pushed for impeachment in 2017, over issues like Charlottesville, the Muslim travel ban, and the revelation that the ex-president pressured then-FBI director James Comey to drop an investigation into former national security adviser Michael Flynn.

Jason Miller, an adviser to Mr Trump, said on Thursday that the impeachment represented TDS, short for “Trump Derangement Syndrome,” a satirical way to describe Democrats' deep dislike of the president.

“A vivid reminder that there is no known cure for TDS,” Mr Miller wrote on Twitter, linking to an article that argued there was a difference between Democrats using fiery campaign trail rhetoric and the president using fierce language then directly exhorting his followers to march on the Capitol. 

Meanwhile, the president’s son, Donald Trump Jr, retweeted a post on Thursday from Scott Adams, a Trump supporter and creator of the popular comic strip Dilbert, basically arguing the Democrats had lied all along about things like his lukewarm condemnation of white supremacists, and the president was a good person all along. 

"If one of Trump's lawyers plays the unedited Fine People Hoax video to debunk it in front of America, will the networks cut away or let the public know how badly they lied to them for years? Finally, excitement!" the post read.

For those non-fluent in right-wing Twitterspeak, the post refers to Mr Trump’s comments after the neo-Nazi rally in Charlottesville, in which he condemned the violence that took place between right-wing demonstrators that organised the event and left-wing counter-demonstrators who showed up to protest them, and said, “You also had people that were very fine people, on both sides.”

Dems are just as bad

Speaking of both sides, the next major claim online from Trump’s inner circle is that the Democrats, in the broadest sense of the word — encompassing everyone from street protesters to elected officials — have been violent or angry in the past, so the president’s own violent and angry comments to his supporters don’t deserve scrutiny.

On Thursday former White House deputy chief of staff and social media director Dan Scavino shared two high-adrenaline, movie-trailer style mashups of footage from Black Lives Matter protesters, showing demonstrators attacking police, carrying anarchist signs, and burning down buildings.

It's true many elected Democrats encouraged people to take to the streets to protest racial injustice over the summer, but they condemned the occasional violence that took place there too.

In the aftermath of the attack on the Capitol, following months of telling supporters they should never back down, Mr Trump released a video holding fast to the bogus claim that it was a “fraudulent election” and telling the rioters he loved them and they were “very special.

Mr Miller, the adviser, was one of many Republicans online pointing to instances where Democrats currently involved in the impeachment prosecution had used fiery words in the past, though again often in a context entirely different than a months-long attempt to subvert the election results. 

“Someone please call the authorities - Ted Lieu is inciting a riot,” Mr Miller wrote on Twitter, quoting from a post from impeachment prosecutor Ted Lieu that said he would “fight like hell” against Mr Trump. 

The trial itself is a sham

Beyond arguing Democrats just hate Trump, and are holding him to a double standard, they have stuck by the claim the impeachment trial itself is an abomination.

“The 'Not Guilty' vote is growing after today,” Lindsey Graham, one of the president’s most loyal supporters, wrote on Twitter on Thursday. “I think most Republicans found the presentation by the House Managers offensive and absurd.”

Throughout the trial, impeachment managers have played unreleased footage showing Mr Graham’s colleagues fleeing for their lives, and mobs of protesters beating police officers and nearly crushing them to death, as senators including Republicans like James Lankford of Oklahoma reportedly shed tears as they watched on.

“Is Congress a joke?” added Mr Trump’s lawyer and adviser Rudy Giuliani ahead of the trial. “Tomorrow the Senate will commence a proceeding to remove a person from an office he does not occupy.”

Democrats have demonstrated that Congress has in fact impeached government officials who’ve already left office, and that the Founding Fathers' conception of impeachment encompassed punishing officials for actions in office even once they left. 

Eric Swalwell is a Chinese asset & other conspiracy theories

And finally, no foray into Trumpworld would be complete without a few conspiracy theories.

Both Corey Lewandowksi, a former Trump campaign adviser, and Sean Spicer, his former press secretary, have argued that impeachment prosecutor Eric Swalwell, a Democratic congressman from California, is a Chinese agent of some kind.

“Wasn’t @ericswalwell accused of being with a Chinese Spy?” Lewandowski wrote. “Now he’s an impeachment manager?  Come on Man!”

Mr Swalwell was indeed the target of a suspected Chinese influence operation, but cut off ties years ago with the individual, who had helped him fundraise, after being warned by authorities and isn’t being investigated for wrongdoing. 

Mr Giuliani also argued before the trial that focus should be on Black Lives Matter and Antifa, who he accused of helping organise the attacks on Congress, likely a reference to a debunked news story spreading in conservative circles online that Antifa members had been spotted among the crowd of rioters.

“Antifa and BLM attack DC like they helped organise the January 6 attack on Congress,” Mr Giuliani wrote. “However, so far their role is being concealed.”

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