I wrote yesterday of Trump’s defense team and their linguistic defense. It was great. Today, the Senate voted to acquit Trump. It was the correct decision for at least three reasons.
Casting doubt on the election process is well within the confines of the first amendment.
The charges against Donald Trump were dubious from the beginning. While a political impeachment can be done for literally any reason under the sun because of the vague constitutional standard, there should at least be some form of legal standard in which the trial should proceed. This was not the case with either impeachment. In fact, it would set a dangerous precedent in society to have convicted the president simply because he cast doubt on the election process. He is allowed to do that. There is nothing illegal about it. Admittedly it is not wise for him to do so in the manner he did but it is not illegal.
The linguistic data was not in line with incitement language
Many want to make you believe that the following phrases are insurmountable evidence of incitement.
- We will stop the steal
- We will never give up. We will never concede. It doesn’t happen
- If you don’t fight like hell you’re not going to have a country anymore
- We won this election, and we won it by a landslide
However, in context they are no different than what anyone other politician has said. This was the basis of Trump’s defense team and they were absolutely correct. It matters not if Trump was promoting an illegitimate election. That is protected speech.
There is no neutral standard by which this language can be equally applied to all cases.
In order to convict Trump of incitement because of his rhetoric you would have to apply this standard equally to all politicians using this rhetoric. The case could be made that people promoting the idea of systematic racism could be indicted for all the riots and deaths during those riots. There is a case to be made based on the logic of the Trump indictment.
Some would claim that this is “whataboutism.” It is not. It is about applying a clear standard. If Trump is to be indicted and convicted we should also convict all others that have engaged in the same exact rhetoric. Otherwise justice cannot be imparcial.