Impeachment manager says Trump acted like a 'fire chief' on the day of the Capitol riot and sent 'a mob not to yell fire in a crowded theater but to actually set the theater on fire'
- Rep. Jamie Raskin rejected the idea Trump's January 6 speech was protected by the First Amendment.
- Raskin said Trump acted like a fire chief who sent a mob to burn down a theater.
- Trump's lawyers have defended his provocative remarks on the grounds of free speech.
Lead House impeachment manager Rep. Jamie Raskin during the second day of former President Donald Trump's Senate trial fervently rejected the notion that Trump was exerting his right to free speech ahead of the Capitol riot.
Raskin referenced the analogy of falsely shouting fire in a crowded theater, which has often been cited in a legal context to contend that some speech is not protected by the First Amendment of the US Constitution. What the former president did on January 6 was worse, he added.
"This case is much worse than someone who falsely shouts fire in a crowded theater. It's more like a case where the town fire chief, who's paid to put out fires, sends a mob not to yell fire in a crowded theater but to actually set the theater on fire," Raskin said, making the case that Trump used his influence as president to provoke the Capitol attack and could not be portrayed as an average US citizen.
The Maryland Democrat said Trump "encouraged the mob to continue its rampage and watched the fire spread on TV with glee and delight."
"This case is not about blaming an innocent bystander. ... This is about holding accountable the person singularly responsible for inciting the attack," Raskin said of Trump, who was impeached for a second time on January 13 on a charge of inciting an insurrection.
Trump's lawyers have said he did not incite the Capitol attack and that his speech was protected by the First Amendment.
—Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) February 10, 2021
Though the First Amendment broadly protects the right to free speech and freedom of expression in the US, there are limitations or examples of "unprotected" speech.
Based on a 1969 Supreme Court ruling, Brandenburg v. Ohio, the First Amendment does not protect speech "producing imminent lawless action" or that "is likely to incite or produce such action."
After a monthslong effort to overturn the 2020 election filled with baseless claims of voter fraud, Trump during his January 6 speech falsely claimed he won the election and told his supporters to "fight like hell." Trump used a form of the word "fight" 20 times in his speech.
"If you don't fight like hell, you're not going to have a country anymore," Trump said, calling on his base to march on the Capitol as lawmakers met to certify President Joe Biden's Electoral College victory.
Subsequently, a pro-Trump mob descended upon the Capitol, beating police, expressing a desire to harm and kill politicians, and damaging property. Five people died as a result of the riot, including a Capitol Police officer.
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