“Contrast the President’s repeated condemnations of violence with the rhetoric from his opponents.”

— Former president Donald Trump’s defense lawyer Michael T. van der Veen, introducing an edited video montage featuring several Democratic lawmakers out of context, Feb. 12

For the past few days, House managers have taken great pains to connect the dots between Trump’s rhetoric leading up and after the deadly Jan. 6 attack at the Capitol. Lawmakers came armed with hours of source video, a barrage of presidential tweets and never-before-seen surveillance video of the attack. Their case to prove Trump indeed incited the violence of Jan. 6 has hinged on the concept that words, and more importantly context, matter.

Trump’s defense team has responded by arguing the House managers took Trump’s remarks out of context — and offered its own series of clips. But these often were taken out of context.

We will continue to update this fact check during the day.

The Facts

“I wanna tell you Gorsuch, I wanna 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.”

— Then-Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.), March 4, 2020.

Sen. Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) told conservative justices on March 4 that they would release a “whirlwind” if they voted to restrict abortion access. (Reuters)

On March 4, 2020, Schumer appeared on the steps of the Supreme Court while it heard arguments in June Medical Services v. Russo, a landmark abortion case from Louisiana. Schumer’s rhetoric that day was more than just heated, and his direct threat of on Supreme Court Justices Brett M. Kavanaugh and Neil M. Gorsuch — was widely criticized. Ultimately, context matters, and Schumer apologized the next day on the Senate floor saying he “misspoke.”

His act of showing remorse wasn’t enough for the then-Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who admonished Schumer saying the language could have been “a matter of deadly seriousness,” as seen below. But Schumer did quickly apologize, something Trump has yet to do.

Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) expressed regret March 5 for remarks he made about two Supreme Court justices appointed by President Trump. (Reuters)

“I just don’t even know why there aren’t uprisings all over the country. And maybe there will be.”

— House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), during her weekly news conference, June 14, 2018.

Then Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi in 2018 called the Trump administration’s immigrant separation policy “barbaric” and does not expect Congress to reverse it. (Reuters)

Pelosi’s 2018 remarks have often been circulated by Republicans in the context of the protests related to racial justice in the summer of 2020. But they were made in relation to Trump administration’s immigrant child separation border policy. The then House minority leader’s rhetorical tone was one of outrage over what she characterized as a “barbaric” policy of separating migrant children from their parents after illegally entering the country to seeks asylum. Her references to “uprisings” in this instance are directly in relation to the outrage that would stem from the public.

“He [Rep. Eric Swalwell] expressly led you to believe that President Trump supporter believed that the president wanted armed supporters at the January six speech, paramilitary groups, the cavalry ready for physical combat. The problem is the actual text is exactly the opposite. The tweeter promised to bring the Calvary a public display of Christ’s crucifixion, a central symbol of her Christian faith with her to the president’s speech, a symbol of faith, love and peace. They just never want to seem to read the text and believe what the text means.”

--Trump lawyer David Schoen

The Trump lawyers brought up most nitpicky complaints about the slide presentation by the House managers -- such as whether a Twitter user was listed with a blue checkmark -- but Schoen did score a punch when he noted that a tweet cited by Swalwell said “calvary” rather than cavalry, as Swalwell had claimed. It’s apparently a common spelling mistake, but Schoen argued that the tweeter meant calvary, not cavalry. (Frankly, it is not often you hear “the calvary is coming," in contrast to “the cavalry is coming.”)

But this is also a mistake that Trump himself has made. On Jan. 1, promoting the Jan. 6 rally, Trump retweeted a user who also used “calvary” -- prompting Merriam-Webster to troll the president by publishing an article on the differences. “Although they begin and end with the same groups of letters, cavalry and calvary are not related in either origin or meaning,” the dictionary company wrote. (Correction: an earlier version of this fact check incorrectly listed Schoen’s first name.)

“We will fight when we must fight."

— Then-South Bend Mayor and 2020 presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg (D-Ind.), in a speech, Nov. 1, 2019

“Well, I’m wired to fight anyone who isn’t doing their job for us. I’m Jon Tester and you’re damn right I approve this message.”

— Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.) in a 2018 campaign ad

Former President Trump’s legal team showed a mash-up of various prominent Democrats saying the were “ready to fight,” but at least two of those clips — one from a 2018 campaign ad by Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.), the other by then presidential candidate Mayor Pete Buttigieg (D-Ind.).— those fighting words are taken out of context.

In a campaign ad, Jon Tester (D-Mont.) says he will always "fight" for the needs of Montanans. (Montanans for Tester)

Tester’s campaign ad did not reference Trump or fighting Republicans. The former president’s defense team isolated this line from Tester’s ad: “Well, I’m wired to fight anyone who isn’t doing their job for us. I’m Jon Tester and you’re damn right I approve this message.” That, however, excludes the critical context. Tester is talking about fighting for his constituents and fighting with any government bureaucracy that gets in his way: "Washington forgets all the time that they are working for us. When some bureaucrat back there stands in the way of Montana, I let ‘em have it. Because if that’s what it takes to get better schools, Montana veterans and seniors what they are owed and to protect our public lands, well, I’m wired to fight anyone who isn’t doing their job for us. I’m Jon Tester and you’re damn right I approve this message.”

In 2019, South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg (D) said he "would never allow us to get so wrapped up in the fighting that we start think fighting is the point." (C-SPAN)

Buttigieg’s 2019 remarks came during an Iowa campaign event. The former naval intelligence officer said (and Trump’s legal team quoted) “We will fight when we must fight,” but his remarks did not conclude there. He finished the line focusing on the point of conflict not conflict for conflict’s sake. “We will never allow us to get so wrapped up in the fighting that we start to think fighting is the point. The point is what lies on the other side of the fight,” he said. Moreover, Buttigieg’s remarks focused on bringing a divided country together — not finding new ways to fight.

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