House Democrats serving as prosecutors in an impeachment trial against former President Donald Trump on Wednesday set out their case in an effort to convince senators to pass a guilty verdict. The ex-president has been accused of inciting mutiny in the wake of his supporters’ attack on the Capitol last month.
Both the impeachment managers and Trump’s lawyers are given 16 hours for two days, after which the senators will have a total of four hours to ask questions.
Impeachment manager Jamie Raskin put forward the thesis that it was President Trump who actually called on his supporters to take active action in connection with the presidential election results; the legislator turned to the facts to confirm his position. In particular, he cited Trump’s tweet dated January 6.
As Ruskin noted, Trump did not act as supreme commander in chief, as he should, but as the main instigator.
The congressman rejected attempts by Trump’s lawyers to justify his statements by references to the First Amendment to the Constitution, which enshrines free speech.
According to the legislator, Trump’s actions are such that the path to government positions in the future should be closed to him.
Another impeachment manager, Congressman Joe Negus, stressed that the attack on the Capitol was instigated by the president. According to Negus, the people who stormed the Capitol were convinced that they were doing it in the name of the president.
They had reason for this, Negus continued. He matched the vocabulary and rhetoric of Trump’s speeches, including his January 6 address to his supporters, and the slogans of those who went to storm the country’s highest legislative body. As the legislator emphasized, this is, first of all, about the assertion that “the elections were stolen”, repeated several times in a number of presidential speeches.
In support of his thesis, Negus showed a video with excerpts from Trump’s speech, urging his adherents to “go to the end” and “fight like hell.”
“We will stop the theft”, “We will not let them drown out your voices,” quoting Trump’s words, the impeachment manager emphasized that they contain a clear call to action. Negus stated that these calls were part of a detailed plan.
According to the congressman, those gathered at the rally on January 6 were waiting for the president’s instructions. And a little later, as the video showed the participants in the Senate proceedings, they burst into the Capitol building, they raged, exclaiming: “Fight for Trump!”
According to the data provided by Negus, there were calls among Trump supporters for the physical destruction of a number of statesmen, including Vice President Mike Pence and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
Congressman Joaquin Castro (also one of the impeachment managers), who then spoke, provided additional video evidence that Trump took every opportunity to tell his supporters that he was refusing to accept the results of the 2020 presidential election.
The lawmaker also recalled Trump’s calls to stop the vote count when national media reported that the likely winner of the election was Joe Biden.
As Castro emphasized, Trump explicitly called on his supporters to “fight” in order to “stop the theft.”
The next speaker (California), Eric Swalwell, noted that Trump didn’t provide factual evidence when he announced election fraud to his supporters, but deliberately fueled his audience’s discontent. Swalwell emphasized that this is not just one speech from January 6, but numerous appeals.
Swalwell showed CCTV footage and fragments of radio communications on January 6, provided by the Capitol and Washington police. These videos and audio materials, as noted by the legislator, confirm the aggressive and violent nature of the actions of the rebels, who broke into the main building of Congress and for some time actually seized many premises. All this was the result, according to the congressman, of incitement to rebellion by the incumbent President Trump.
At the same time, the impeachment manager stated that among those whom Trump approached on January 6, there were not only persons who later resorted to violence, but also peaceful protesters.
Another impeachment manager, Congresswoman Democrat Stacy Plaskett, representing the voters of the Virgin Islands, expressed her position. She noted that Donald Trump has repeatedly spoken positively about the ultra-right organization Brave Boys, urging her to be on the alert. And just this group, the legislator noted, took an active part in the insurrection in Washington on January 6. According to the legislator, Trump for a long time “cultivated” ideas of violence among his radical supporters, which ultimately led to the attack on the Capitol.
Congresswoman Stacy Plaskett also said that the life of the Speaker of the House of Representatives 80-year-old Nancy Pelosi was in immediate danger. And if the rebels found Pelosi, whom they managed to evacuate, then, according to Plaskett, they could kill her, since it was Pelosi who was repeatedly the main political target of Trump, who repeatedly insulted her, calling her “crazy Nancy.”
Earlier Wednesday, assistant prosecutors at the trial said they plan to showcase new surveillance footage from the storming of the Capitol, and say Trump’s allegations of electoral fraud set the stage for the attack.
“We’re using … footage that shows the Capitol and the attack in a way the public has never seen before,” said one senior aide.
“You will hear a provocation. You will hear Trump inciting his supporters in the run-up to this event by making false allegations of election fraud, the source added. “The events of January 6 were the culmination of his behavior, not his beginning.”
On Tuesday evening, a majority of senators (56-44) voted in favor of the impeachment process, recognizing it as constitutional. The Democrats were joined by six Republican senators.
Trump himself declined to speak in his own defense and is not expected to attend the meetings.
The whole process can take about a week or take a little longer.
Some Democrats have expressed fears that the protracted proceedings will impede the implementation of President Joe Biden’s legislative agenda, including the adoption of a new economic aid package in response to the coronavirus pandemic.
Biden has no plans to follow the hearings, White House officials said. When asked about impeachment proceedings, the president said he was focused on his own work.
“The Senate has its own work, which it is preparing to start. I am sure they will perform well, ”he said.