Daily Beast: As the Senate prepares for Donald Trump’s impeachment trial over the Capitol riot, the ex-president’s allies in the right-wing media remain hard at work creating a range of defenses that absolve him from the violence triggered by months of lies and deception.
In the logic of an argument that’s been embraced by pro-Trump cable networks, it was impossible for the first wave of rioters to hear Trump’s speech on the White House Ellipse in person because they started attacking before he was finished speaking. Therefore, Trump couldn’t have incited them to attack the Capitol.
Unless, that is, everyone carries cellphones that can livestream speeches as they happen.
“The people who were storming the Capitol could not have been the people in front of the president when he was speaking,” Newsmax host Greg Kelly said in an interview with Steve Bannon associate Raheem Kassam on Jan. 12, in a typical statement of the argument.
“Nobody could have both heard the president and breached the perimeter of the Capitol in the time we’re told that it took place,” Kassam said, adding that rioters would need “either a time machine or a teleportation device” to see both Trump’s speech and start the riot.
This claim that Trump could only incite rioters who saw him speak in person has plenty of flaws, including statements from alleged rioters themselves and the fact that Trump promoted the Jan. 6 rally weeks in advance, promising at one point that it would be “wild.”
But the increasingly popular Trump defense has an even bigger problem: the existence of internet-connected cellphones, which can play speeches live even when they’re being given in another location.
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