House Democrats managed to come up with a viral video to kick off Donald Trump’s second impeachment trial. Craftily editing raw footage of the January 6th Capitol attacks so that they played in conjunction with clips from Trump’s speech that day, the Democrats created an emotionally effective presentation that, indeed, made it seem as though the former president was responsible for what happened.
But while the video may have been the best Hollywood could come up with, some critics say that it violated House rules that ban videos “distorted or manipulated with the intent to mislead the public.”
In a tweet, former Rep. Jason Chaffetz wrote, “Go to page 34 of House Rules. Did the manipulated video violate the House Rules?”
Well, let’s go to the document:
The Committee on Ethics is directed to report to the House, not later than December 31, 2021, any recommended amendments to the Code of Official Conduct, as well as any accompanying regulations, intended to address the circumstances and instances, if any, for which a Member, Delegate, Resident Commissioner, officer, or employee of the House may be subject to discipline for the dissemination by electronic means, including by social media, of any image, video, or audio file that has been distorted or manipulated with the intent to mislead the public.
Well, that would seem to make the case. As Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-NY) noted on Tuesday, there was a lot of important information left out of the impeachment video, not the least of which was Trump specifically telling his supporters to protest “peacefully and patriotically” at the Capitol.
“The part that they did play of the president’s remarks, of course, end up cutting out the message the president sent to his supporters that day, that those who were heading to the Capitol should do so peacefully and patriotically,” Zeldin said. “Of course, as they’re playing the videos and they’re telling their argument, they aren’t going to give the full story of the FBI warning a day ahead of time that this attack was going to take place or that pipe bombs were being found; they’re being placed and found before the president’s remarks were even concluded, or that the Capitol perimeter was being breached before the president was done with his speech.”
Zeldin’s final points are important: How could this attack be instigated by Trump if it was already planned beforehand?
Ideally, these points would be raised by Trump’s impeachment team, but they didn’t seem particularly prepared on Tuesday. Hopefully, they will make a better showing of it in the days to come.