But his GOP colleagues believed they had some even better comparisons.
Rep. Barry Loudermilk (R-Ga.) decided that Trump was denied even the feeble due process that Pontius Pilate granted Jesus before his crucifixion.
“When Jesus was falsely accused of treason, Pontius Pilate gave Jesus the opportunity to face his accusers,” Loudermilk said. “During that sham trial, Pontius Pilate afforded more rights to Jesus than Democrats have afforded this president in this process.”
Rep. Fred Keller (R-Pa.) invoked Jesus’ crucifixion — specifically when Jesus, on the cross, asked God to forgive those who had wronged him.
“So I want Democrats voting for impeachment today to know that I’ll be praying for them,” Keller said. “From the Gospel of Luke, the 23rd chapter, verse 34: And Jesus said, ‘Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.’ ”
There are, of course, problems with these comparisons. One is that the accused witches in Salem were systematically violated — including physically — and that, while they were afforded at least some theoretical ability to defend themselves, they were essentially required to prove a negative while the evidence against them was accepted at face value. The argument with Jesus is apparently that Trump hasn’t been able to confront the anonymous whistleblower who first brought the Ukraine scandal to light. But the gospels of Matthew and Mark suggest Jesus was essentially found guilty before the trial began. He was also crucified, while the alleged witches were hanged, so the punishment involved there is on a slightly different level. Trump, by contrast, will have a trial in which the rules will be determined by his allies and he will be allowed to remain as president.
Shortly after Loudermilk spoke, Rep. Mike Kelly (R-Pa.) offered his own comparison, saying Trump’s impeachment was more like Pearl Harbor. Here are his comments:
In addition to Christmas being something we celebrate, the Boston Tea Party took place in December, but also on December 7, 1941, a horrific act happened in the United States. And this one that President Roosevelt said, ‘This is a date that will live in infamy.’ Today, December the 18th, 2019, is another date that will live in infamy — when just because you hate the president of the United States and you can find no other reason other than the fact that you’re so blinded by your hate that you can’t see straight that you’ve decided the only way we can make sure this president doesn’t get elected again is to impeach him.
Rep. Clay Higgins (R-La.) offered his own vivid imagery without going for historical metaphors.
“I have descended into the belly of the beast. I have witnessed a terror within,” he began. “And I was committed to oppose the insidious forces which threaten our republic. America has been severely injured by this betrayal, by this unjust and weaponized impeachment brought upon us by the same socialists who threaten unborn life in the womb, who threaten First Amendment rights of conservatives, who threaten Second Amendment protections of every American patriot, and who have long ago determined that they would organize and conspire to overthrow President Trump."
Democrats certainly spoke in stark terms about the harm Trump has done and about the danger of allowing what he has done to go unpunished. But they were generally focused on appearing solemn.
At one point, though, Rep. Cedric L. Richmond (D-La.) did compare what Trump is doing to shooting the Constitution.
“Donald Trump recently said I can do anything I want. He also bragged that he could shoot someone on Fifth Avenue and get away with it,” Richmond said. “Well, he’s shooting holes in our Constitution on Pennsylvania Avenue.”
Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) also responded to GOP arguments that Democrats were unnecessarily dividing the country by comparing this moment in history to abolishing slavery and Jim Crow and to giving women the right to vote.
“There are some who cynically argue that the impeachment of this president will further divide an already-fractured union,” he said. “But there is a difference between division and clarification. Slavery once divided the nation, but emancipation rose up to clarify that all men are created equally. Suffrage once divided the nation, but women rose up to clarify that all voices must be heard in our democracy. Jim Crow once divided the nation, but civil rights champions rose up to clarify that all are entitled to equal protection under the law. There is a difference between division and clarification."