New video, withdrawn comments: 6 takeaways from Day 2 of Trump’s impeachment trial
WASHINGTON — House impeachment managers proceeded with their arguments for convicting former President Donald Trump on the charge of inciting the deadly Capitol riot in the second day of the Senate impeachment trial on Wednesday.
The prosecutors had eight hours Wednesday to present their case for conviction, arguing that Trump’s actions and statements in the weeks and months preceding the Jan. 6 riot laid the groundwork for inciting the violence.
The impeachment managers will have another eight hours on Thursday to make their case, and Trump’s legal team will have an equal amount of time in the following days to defend the former president.
Live impeachment updates: Prosecutors show videos of rioters saying Trump invited them to breach Capitol
Here are the top moments and takeaways from prosecutors’ first full day of arguments:
GOP senator objects to prosecutors’ use of his statements
After the House impeachment managers announced they were finished with arguments for the day, Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, rose to object to the use of comments attributed to him about a phone call Trump made to him on the day of the riot.
Lee said the impeachment managers’ use of the comments should be stricken from the record because they were false. Rep. David Cicilline, D-R.I., had quoted stories from GOP senators to strengthen the argument that Trump was focused on overturning the election as the riot raged on.
Trump called Lee while trying to reach Sen. Tommy Tuberville, R-Ala., as first reported by CNN. In the call, Trump reportedly told Tuberville to do more to object to the electoral votes.
As Cicilline described the call, Lee shook his head and scribbled on a sheet of paper, “This is not what happened,” which he handed to Trump attorney David Schoen.
“I’m the only witness,” Lee said. And as the only witness on the call, he said he “never made those statements.”
Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md., said prosecutors were happy to withdraw the comments that were quoted from the news report.
Impeachment managers present new footage of riot
Rep. Eric Swalwell, D-Calif. presented senators with footage and audio, which had previously not been made public, of the Jan. 6 riots to highlight how close members of Congress had been to insurrectionists.
Body-camera footage and audio calls from dispatch from police officers at the Capitol, along with security camera footage from inside the building, were shown for the first time as senators relived that day from a new perspective.
“We’re still taking rocks, bottles and pieces of flag and metal pole,” one officer could be heard shouting on one audio recording.
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Video was shown of rioters using bear mace against officers, and audio of officers sounding distressed emphasized the violence of the day.
“We lost the line. We’ve lost the line,” one officer shouted as rioters breached the line of officers protecting the perimeter of the Capitol Building. “We have been flanked, and we’ve lost the line.”
One video showed video showed Capitol Police Officer Eugene Goodman, who went viral in a video of him redirecting rioters from the doors of the Senate chamber, running and passing Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, in the hallway and directing him to turn around.
Romney turned and started running to safety in the video.
Several Republicans said seeing and listening to the footage presented on Wednesday was moving.
Romney said “It was obviously very troubling to see the great violence that our Capitol Police and others were subjected to. It tears at your heart and brings tears to your eyes. That was overwhelmingly distressing and emotional.”
When asked if he knew how close to danger he was that day, he said he did not know until the footage shown at the trial, and was looking forward to thanking Goodman “when I next see him.”
Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, stated: “I’m angry, I’m disturbed, I’m sad. We lived it once and that was awful. And we’re now reliving it with a more comprehensive timeline. … The evidence that has been presented thus far has been pretty damning.”
Murkowski and Romney were among the six senators who voted that the trial was constitutional, rejecting Trump’s defense team’s argument.
Some Republicans are moved, but hurdles remain for conviction
Some Republican senators said they were moved by watching the House impeachment managers’ presentation on Wednesday, but prosecutors still have to convince 17 Republicans to side with all Democrats and independents to vote for conviction.
During a break, Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, said the managers’ case was “riveting” and it “reinforces my belief that it was a terrible day for our country.”
Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-La., the one surprise GOP vote Tuesday to continue the trial, said the managers’ presentation was “very powerful.”
Heads in hands, a whisper, a sigh:Senators react as violent footage of Capitol riot plays
Sen. Lankford, R-Okla., who voted against continuing the trial on Tuesday, got emotional at one point during the footage on Wednesday and said seeing the videos brought back the memories of that day.
“There’s a lot of emotion,” he said. “It’s tough to be able to walk through that. That was a horrible day for the entire country.”
Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., however, said he thought the impeachment managers’ presentation was hypocritical.
“I think there’s more votes for acquittal after today than there was yesterday,” Graham told reporters.
Prosecutors: Trump laid the groundwork for violent attack
House impeachment managers argued on Wednesday that Trump began to galvanize his supporters to show up on Jan. 6, the day Congress was set to count the Electoral College votes right after the 2020 presidential election was called.
Swalwell said that by the middle of December, the Trump campaign was spending $50 million in ads to drum home the message that they had to “stop the steal,” and convincing his supporters that the election had been rigged in favor of now-President Joe Biden. That stopped after Jan. 6, Swalwell said.
Trump amplified that message with his own appeals in numerous tweets that mentioned Jan. 6, Swalwell argued. Swalwell showed a Dec. 26 tweet from Trump in which he said Trump implored his followers to act: “History will remember. Never give up. See everyone in D.C. on January 6.”
Prosecutors went further to argue that Trump’s “big lie” that the election would be unfair to Republicans stretched back to months before the election, laying the groundwork for Trump supporters to believe falsehoods and become incited to anger and even violence.
Del. Stacey Plaskett, who represents the Virgin Islands, said Trump cultivated violence for months. She used the example of an incident in Texas when a caravan of Trump supporters in vehicles tried to run a Biden-Harris campaign bus off a highway, with one truck sporting Trump flags ultimately colliding with a Biden-Harris volunteer’s car.
Trump “made light” of the event, Plaskett said, by retweeting the video with a fight song and exclaiming “I LOVE TEXAS!” After the FBI announced an investigation into the incident, Trump tweeted: “In my opinion, these patriots did nothing wrong.”
“Engaging in violence for him made them patriots to Donald Trump,” Plaskett said.
Impeachment managers also analyzed the speech Trump gave on Jan. 6.
Rep. Madeleine Dean, D-Pa., picked apart Trump’s nearly 11,000-word speech lasting nearly 40 minutes. He used the word “peacefully” only once, she said, but used “fight” or “fighting” 20 times, including in one line where he said his supporters needed to “fight like hell to save our democracy.”
Rep. Ted Lieu, D-Calif., said that the violence on Jan. 6 was Trump’s last resort to cling to power, after having exhausted numerous nonviolent options, such as pressuring then-Attorney General Bill Barr to search for and find evidence of mass voter fraud.
Trump did not try to stop the rioters, prosecutors argue
Impeachment managers noted that while Trump’s defense might argue Trump could not have known that violence was the result of his rhetoric, he surely knew by the time rioters were inside the Capitol Building threatening lawmakers’ lives.
Rep. Joaquin Castro, D-Texas, displayed tweets from Trump after the riot had already begun and reports of insurrectionists breaching the Capitol were widespread online and on television. Trump tweeted out a clip from his earlier speech that day, which had helped to incite the violence, after rioters were already clashing with police on Jan. 6, Castro said.
‘He reveled in it’:House managers argue Trump spent weeks fueling rage that led to riot
Castro said that Trump ignored calls for help and to deploy National Guard members to the Capitol.
“Donald Trump did not send help to these officers who were badly outnumbered, overwhelmed and beaten down,” Castro said. “There is no indication that President Trump ever made a call to have the guard deployed.”
After the attack had been going on and lockdown had persisted for several hours, Trump “was just watching, doing nothing … refusing to send help,” Castro said.
The Texas Democrat played Trump’s videotaped message he tweeted hours after the attack had already been going on, telling supporters, “you have to go home now.”
“I know your pain. I know you’re hurt. We had an election that was stolen from us. It was a landslide election and everyone knows it, especially the other side. But you have to go home now. We have to have peace. We have to have law and order. … So go home. We love you, you’re very special. … I know how you feel. But go home and go home in peace,” Trump said.
“Nowhere in that video, not once, did he say, ‘I condemn this insurrection.’ … Nowhere did he say, ‘I’m sending help, immediately. Stop this,’ ” Castro said.
Rioters believed they were called by Trump, prosecutors say
To support their impeachment article that alleges Trump’s actions and words incited the violence, prosecutors showed footage and read statements from people who participated in the riot saying they were “following” Trump’s orders that day.
In a montage played at the trial, Trump supporters filmed during and after the insurrection said Trump had “invited” them there.
One woman in the video, Jennifer Ryan, said she was “following my president.”
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Rep. Joe Neguse, D-Colo., showed criminal complaints from those arrested after the breach, where some of those in the mob said “they would have killed Mike Pence if given the chance.”
In another affidavit, a rioter said, “We broke into the Capitol. … We got inside, we did our part.”
Contributing: Nicholas Wu, Christal Hayes, Savannah Behrmann, Ledyard King, William Cummings, Bart Jansen