“Incitement,” then and now

The Article of Impeachment rushed through the House of Representative by Democrats charges Donald Trump with “incitement of insurrection.” As I argued here, this charge is less than compelling.

Indeed, the one statement cited in the article as inciting an insurrection — “if you don’t fight like hell you’re not going to have a country anymore” — falls woefully short of supporting the Dems’ claim. Politicians urge supporters to fight hard all the time.

If you want to know what real incitement of a mob is, look no further than Chuck Schumer. As Mollie Hemingway reminds us, Schumer had this to say last year as he led a mob to the steps of the Supreme Court while a case was being heard:

I want to tell you, Gorsuch, I want to tell you, Kavanaugh, you have released the whirlwind, and you will pay the price. You won’t know what hit you if you go forward with these awful decisions.

(Emphasis added)

This isn’t general language urging supporters to “fight.” This is threatening language directed specifically at two Supreme Court Justices. Hemingway notes that even Larry Tribe, the prominent leftist lawyer, condemned Schumer’s language.

The House’s Article of Impeachment tries to find menace in Trump’s politically standard exhortation to “fight” by incanting (without more) the word “context.” So let’s consider the context of Schumer’s clearly menacing statement. Says Hemingway:

Schumer’s threats came just 17 months after the Supreme Court had been besieged and attacked by abortion activists upset at Kavanaugh’s confirmation. . .[H]ordes of protesters broke through a police barricade and attempted to beat down the 13-ton bronze doors of the court. . .Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Elena Kagan, who attended Kavanaugh’s immediate swearing in, were hit with water bottles and tomatoes when their car left the court afterward. Some 164 people were arrested in that protest.

What price did Schumer pay for inciting a mob against two Supreme Court Justices? None. Sen. Josh Hawley urged that Schumer be censured by the Senate, but nothing came of this effort, even though Republicans controlled the Senate at the time.

The Senate’s failure to take any action in response to Schumer’s call for “a whirlwind” to “hit” two Supreme Court Justices, in the context of recent rioting at the Court, makes a mockery of Trump’s impeachment for his generic call on his supporters to “fight.”

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