Before he dutifully voted against impeaching Donald Trump for inciting the deadly mob attack on the U.S. Capitol January 6, Congressman Cline delivered a brief shame-faced speech on the floor of the House of Representatives.
Note the rushed delivery, the downcast gaze, the absence of his usual cockiness in support of Trump. This was not a speech that Cline relished delivering. Quite a contrast from the defiant speech he delivered November 14 in Staunton supporting Trump’s phony charges of widespread voter fraud– a speech aimed at validating the lies about a “stolen election” that culminated in the January 6 insurrection.
After denouncing the assault on the Capitol (again without acknowledging on whose behalf the attackers were acting), Cline said he couldn’t vote for impeachment because “the legal standard for incitement has not been met.” While not acquitting Trump, he went on to suggest that weeks or months of investigations and hearings were necessary to determine if Trump was guilty.
Let me provide the necessary evidence to Cline, easily available on public media:
• On September 29, in his first debate with Joe Biden, Trump told the violent pro-Trump Proud Boys gang to “stand back and stand by.” The Proud Boys participated in the January 6 attack.
• On December 19, Trump tweeted his supporters: “Big protest in D.C. on January 6th. Be there, will be wild!”
• In his speech to supporters on the day of the attack, Trump told the media: “Turn your cameras, please, and show what is really happening out here, because these people are not going to take it any longer, they’re not going to take it any longer.”
He said: “We want to go back, and we want to get this right, because we’re going to have somebody in there that should not be in there, and our country will be destroyed. And we’re not going to stand for that.”
He said: “And after this, we’re going to walk down and I’ll be there with you. We’re going to walk down, we’re going to walk down. Anyone you want, but I think right here, we’re going to walk down to the Capitol and we’re going to cheer on our brave senators and congressmen and women, and we’re probably not going to be cheering so much for some of them. Because you’ll never take back our country with weakness.” (Trump did not walk down with them.)
He said: “But I said something is wrong here, something is really wrong, can’t have happened, and we fight. We fight like hell, and if you don’t fight like hell you’re not going to have a country anymore.”
Trump also said: “I know that everyone here will soon be marching over to the Capitol building to peacefully and patriotically make your voices heard.” But surrounded by all the incendiary rhetoric, that message appears to have got lost.
If Trump’s message wasn’t obvious to Congressman Cline, it was clear enough to the mob.
A man from Kentucky told the FBI that he and his cousin began marching toward the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 because “President Trump said to do so.” Chanting “Stop the steal,” the two men tramped through the building and snapped a photo of themselves with their middle fingers raised, according to court documents.
A video clip of another group of rioters mobbing the steps of the Capitol caught one man screaming at a police officer: “We were invited here! We were invited by the president of the United States!”
A retired firefighter from Pennsylvania who has been charged with throwing a fire extinguisher at police officers felt he was “instructed” to go to the Capitol by the president, a tipster told the FBI, according to court documents.
Some have said they felt called to Washington by Trump and his false message that the election had been stolen, as well as by his efforts to pressure Congress and Vice President Pence to overturn the result.
But others drew an even more direct link — telling the FBI or news organizations that they headed to the Capitol on what they believed were direct orders from the president issued at a rally that day.
Cline has been getting a lot of well-deserved flak from constituents and others in the comments to his recent Facebook posts. But I found this comment particularly revealing:
Since I began tracking Cline on this website, I have not encountered a single instance when he directly stood up to Trump. Therefore there are only two possibilities:
That, as the commenter suggests, Cline lied about standing up to Trump. Or even worse;
That Cline believed Trump never said or did anything that required him to stand up.