New York’s Cardinal Timothy Dolan blamed President Trump Sunday for “stoking the flames” of the violence that erupted in Washington D.C. last Wednesday.
“I just got back from retreat I was kind of secluded from the tumultuous events of this last week,” Cardinal Dolan said in a video posted to his Twitter account Sunday. “Boy, this stuff is spinning, right? Our nation seemed in crisis.”
“There was violence and terror all over the place and it all seemed to be exacerbated by the fact that the man who should be a voice of reason and encouraging us to law and order and civility and unity, namely the president, seemed to be the one who was stoking these flames,” the cardinal said, adding that “it’s been a tough week for our country.”
In Mr. Trump’s speech at the Washington D.C. rally Wednesday, the president encouraged his followers to “walk down to the Capitol, and we’re going to cheer on our brave senators, and congressmen and women.”
“We have come to demand that Congress do the right thing and only count the electors who have been lawfully slated, lawfully slated,” Trump said. “I know that everyone here will soon be marching over to the Capitol building to peacefully and patriotically make your voices heard.”
“Today we will see whether Republicans stand strong for integrity of our elections, but whether or not they stand strong for our country, our country,” he said.
In an op-ed for the Wall Street Journal Monday, the former assistant attorney general of the District of Columbia, Jeffrey Scott Shapiro, argued that Mr. Trump may have stoked people’s emotions — which is not a crime — but he was “not guilty of incitement.”
“The president didn’t commit incitement or any other crime,” Mr. Shapiro wrote. “I should know. As a Washington prosecutor I earned the nickname ‘protester prosecutor’ from the antiwar group CodePink.”
“The president didn’t mention violence on Wednesday, much less provoke or incite it,” Shapiro wrote. “He said, ‘I know that everyone here will soon be marching over to the Capitol building to peacefully and patriotically make your voices heard.’”
“The president’s critics want him charged for inflaming the emotions of angry Americans,” he concluded. “That alone does not satisfy the elements of any criminal offense, and therefore his speech is protected by the Constitution that members of Congress are sworn to support and defend.”