Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) submitted a question during the fourth day of the Senate impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump asking if language Vice President Kamala Harris used in 2020 regarding Black Lives Matter protests is considered incitement given the impeachment managers’ “proposed standard” for incitement.
Cruz’s question began, “While violent riots were raging, Kamala Harris said on national TV, ‘They’re not gonna let up, and they should not,’” quoting viral comments then-Sen. Harris (D-CA) made on the Late Show with Stephen Colbert last June in reference to nationwide Black Lives Matter protests.
The protests, which were sparked by the death of George Floyd at the hands of police in May, were largely peaceful but, in many instances, ended up devolving into destructive riots throughout the country that included vandalism, looting, fires, violence, injury, and in some cases even death over the course of several months in 2020.
“And she also raised money to bail out violent rioters,” Cruz’s question continued in reference to the Minnesota Freedom Fund (MFF) Harris urged her Facebook and Twitter followers to support in June 2020.
— Kamala Harris (@KamalaHarris) June 1, 2020
The MFF is an organization that seeks to combat cash bail by posting bail for detained individuals. The fund received a massive influx of donations amid last year’s protests and promoted its mission as many arrests were being made of those who went beyond protesting to allegedly violate the law.
Although Harris asked her followers to “help post bail for those protesting,” the fund’s website states that it does “not make determinations of bail support based on the crimes that individuals are alleged to have committed,” and furthermore, the fund has set free from jail individuals accused of egregious crimes. Last year, the MFF posted bail for a father accused of molesting his teenage daughter, a man accused of sexually assaulting his teenage niece, a man accused of sexually assaulting an eight-year-old, and a woman accused of stabbing her aunt, as the Daily Caller reported in November.
Cruz’s question continued, “Using the manager’s proposed standard, is there any coherent way for Donald Trump’s words to be incitement and Kamala Harris’s words not to be incitement?”
Lead House impeachment manager Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-MD) responded to the question by saying on the chamber floor that he was “not familiar” with the quote from Harris that Cruz had referenced; however, Trump attorney Michael T. van der Veek rejected that notion during his own response to Cruz, saying his team had given video to the House’s team of Harris’s quote and that they had played the video three times that day.
Raskin also said that despite not recognizing the quote, he finds it “absolutely unimaginable that Vice President Harris would ever incite violence or encourage or promote violence. Obviously, it’s completely irrelevant to the proceeding at hand, and I will allow her to defend herself.”
In a related question during the trial, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) asked on behalf of himself, Cruz, Sen. Roger Marshall (R-KS), and Sen. Kevin Cramer (R-ND), “Does a politician raising bail for rioters encourage more rioting?” A representative from Trump’s legal team replied, “Yes.”
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