WASHINGTON — Democrats reacted Friday with a mix of dismissal and mockery at former President Donald Trump's defense team showing a montage of many of them using the word "fight."
The 11-minute clip showed the word 238 times, according to an NBC News count, in an attempt to argue that Trump did nothing wrong or unusual at the Jan. 6 rally that preceded the Capitol riot. The defense videos also used dramatic and dark music over clips of Democrats and news reporters.
But Democrats argued it was a bad-faith comparison, noting that they were clearly speaking rhetorically and were not trying to egg on supporters to overturn a legitimate election.
"There's a false equivalence," Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., said Friday on MSNBC during a break. "What they ignore is Donald Trump invited this mob to Washington, knew they were armed and dangerous," based on available intelligence at the time, he added. "When the attack began he did nothing to protect the lives of those who were in danger."
Trump defense attorney shows montage of Democrats using 'fight' rhetoricFeb. 12, 202111:39
"When your case is weak you attack the prosecution. And I've been there," Blumenthal, a former prosecutor, said on the fourth day of Trump's second impeachment trial. "It is a standard tactic of a defense attorney who lacks the facts and the law, to go after opposing counsel."
Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin, D-Ill., called it an "almost a cartoon-like presentation."
Everybody uses the word fight, he said. He argued that context matters and that "nobody ever envisions looting, violence and vandalism" when they use it.
"Well, we heard the word fight a lot," Sen. Angus King, I-Maine, told NBC News.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., who used the word "fight" as a staple of her 2020 presidential campaign stump speech when discussing policy objectives, tweeted a response showing video clips of her rallies featuring happy parents, young children and dogs.
Some Democrats described the clip package as a political stunt.
"They played the same video three times. I don’t think that was necessary — they apparently did," Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa., said. "It seemed a lot of the argument there, it seemed to be directed mostly at Donald Trump watching, or as a way to really get his base voters energized.
Casey added that Trump has a history of using language seen as encouraging or glorifying violence.
"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," he said. "Whereas all those other people that were quoted about using the word 'fight' have been condemning violence for their whole careers. I don’t think that was effective."
Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va., said Trump's pattern of behavior was unique.
"Donald Trump was warned, if you don't stop talking about a stolen election, people will be killed. He was specifically warned that," Kaine said. "He kept talking about it, and a violent mob attacked the Capitol and seven people are dead who would be alive today, had he just followed their advice. That's what I thought about those videos."