LIVE COVERAGE: Democrats conclude case against Trump
House Democratic impeachment managers will conclude their case on Thursday that former President Trump should be convicted for inciting a mob to attack the Capitol.
Follow along for updates all day on the trial’s proceedings.
Impeachment managers conclude day with closing arguments
House Democrats making the case for Trump’s conviction wrapped up their arguments on Thursday, stating that he incited the violent insurrection by a mob of his supporters that attacked the Capitol on Jan. 6.
The final remarks from the lead impeachment manager, Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.), concluded late Thursday afternoon and capped off two days of presentations that included disturbing new security footage from the day of the attack, charging documents against insurrectionists who cited Trump as the inspiration for their actions, and videos of the mob attacking police officers trying to defend the Capitol.
“If a president did invite a violent insurrection against our government, as of course we allege and think we’ve proven in this case, but just in general, if a president incited a violent insurrection against our government, would that be a high crime and misdemeanor? Can we all agree at least on that?” Raskin said.
During their arguments on Thursday, Democrats warned that acquitting Trump would allow him to potentially run for office and incite additional violence. A conviction would lead to Trump being disqualified from ever holding office again.
“Senators, the evidence is clear. We showed you statements, videos, affidavits that prove President Trump incited an insurrection — an insurrection that he alone had the power to stop,” said Rep. Joe Neguse (D-Colo.).
“And the fact that he didn’t stop it, the fact that he incited a lawless attack and abdicated his duty to defend us from it, the fact that he actually further inflamed the mob, further inflamed that mob, attacking his vice president while assassins were pursuing him in this Capitol more than requires conviction and disqualification,” he continued.
“We humbly, humbly ask you to convict President Trump for the crime for which he is overwhelmingly guilty of. Because if you don’t, if we pretend this didn’t happen, or worse, if we let it go unanswered, who’s to say it won’t happen again?” Neguse said.
No signs of demand for witnesses in Trump trial
Senators aren’t clamoring for either House managers or Trump’s team to request to call witnesses, as the impeachment trial appears poised to wrap in a matter of days.
Days into the proceeding, no senator has explicitly called for witnesses — a move that would drag out the trial for days if not weeks.
Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.), a close ally of President Biden’s, said he did not believe there was a need for witnesses.
“I think the case — that’s been laid out, unlike the impeachment a year ago when relevant events and details and personalities were unknown to us,” Coons said.
Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) said he would leave it up to the House impeachment managers but noted that there has “been a lot of witness statements that’s been taken, put on the record.”
The signs that senators aren’t calling for witnesses come as they expect the trial could wrap up as soon as Saturday.
Closing arguments are expected to end on Friday. After that, the Senate has up to four hours for questions from senators, and then up to two hours to debate whether to call additional witnesses.
Neither the House managers nor Trump’s legal team has closed the door to calling witnesses.
“I don’t know. That hasn’t been decided yet, if there’s a right to call witnesses or anything. They have to debate that later,” David Schoen, a member of Trump’s defense team, told reporters, asked if they would try to call witnesses.
Both House managers and Trump’s team can ask to call witnesses, but they need a majority of the Senate to vote in support of such a request.
Several senators said they will leave the decision up to the defense team, signaling that they aren’t going to push for witnesses to be called. During Trump’s impeachment trial last year, Democrats made several unsuccessful attempts to call witnesses. Republicans blocked those requests.
“That’s really the job of the House lawyers,” said Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.).
House manager cites Scalia to refute Trump’s First Amendment defense
Lead House impeachment manager Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.), seeking to refute the claim that Trump’s rhetoric was protected under the First Amendment, cited the late conservative icon Justice Antonin Scalia.
Raskin drew from Scalia’s dissent in the Supreme Court’s 5-4 ruling in Rankin v. McPherson, a 1987 case in which Scalia expressed the view that certain speech by government officials may be entitled to narrower protections.
“Justice Scalia got it exactly right on this,” Raskin said. “He wrote on these cases about how the First Amendment affects people who take on a public office, or take on public employment, and he summed it up like this: You can’t ride with the cops, but root for the robbers.”
It was the second day in a row that Raskin, a former constitutional law professor, invoked Scalia. The reference to the legendary conservative jurist was likely an appeal to Senate Republicans, 17 of whom would need to vote with all 50 Democrats to convict Trump, which is not expected to happen.
Trump’s lawyers argued in pretrial briefs that the former president’s speech was constitutionally protected and are expected to present that defense on Friday.
Scores of legal scholars have taken the opposing view, arguing that Trump’s speech in the lead-up to the Jan. 6 insurrection crossed the line separating protected speech and incitement.
Democrats argue Trump will incite violence again
House Democrats pressing the Senate to convict Trump argued Thursday that an acquittal would raise the potential for him to incite violence again in the future.
Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.), the lead impeachment manager, argued that Trump’s pattern of incitement, which Democrats say led a mob to attack the Capitol on Jan. 6, would resume if he were to become president again.
“My dear colleagues, is there any political leader in this room who believes that if he is ever allowed by the Senate to get back into the Oval Office, Donald Trump would stop inciting violence to get his way?” Raskin asked.
“Would you bet the lives of more police officers on that? Would you bet the safety of your family on that? Would you bet the future of your democracy on that?”
On Thursday, the final day of their arguments, the managers outlined how, throughout his presidency, Trump repeatedly sided with or was slow to condemn violent actors like now-Montana Gov. Greg Gianforte (R), who body-slammed a reporter while running for the House in 2017, or protesters who stormed the Michigan state Capitol to oppose a stay-at-home order last year.
They argued that the pro-Trump mob that stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6 in an attempt to stop Congress from ratifying President Biden’s election victory believed he backed halting the proceedings by force.
Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.) rejected the argument from Trump’s lawyers and allies that Democrats want to impeach him because they want to shut down a political opponent and don’t want to compete against him in another election.
“You know, I’m not afraid of Donald Trump running again in four years. I’m afraid he’s going to run again and lose, because he can do this again,” Lieu said.
Senators showing signs of fatigue on third day of trial
Senators on both sides of the aisle are showing signs of fatigue as Trump’s trial stretches into its third day and the House impeachment managers continue to hammer on the former president’s statements and actions surrounding the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol.
At least 18 GOP senators were missing from their seats during the second hour of arguments and even some Democrats appeared weary.
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) was spotted slumping over at his desk, not turning his head to watch videos at one point. Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) was at his desk, tapping his shoes and knees together as he propped himself up by his elbows in an armchair.
Sens. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) stood at the back of the chamber leaning against the marble columns, a change from the hours spent sitting.
Democratic strategist David Axelrod warned House managers not to over-argue their case.
“Wondering if the managers would have been smart to quit and simply sum up with the lack of remorse argument after their incredibly tight powerful case yesterday?” he tweeted.
Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.), a staunch Trump ally, said the managers’ argument is losing steam the longer it goes on.
“It’s just redundance, the same thing over and over again,” he said. “To me, the more you hear it, the less credibility there is in it.”
Senators heard four hours of debate over the constitutionality of the trial on Tuesday and nearly seven hours of presentations from the House managers on Wednesday, which featured previously unreleased security camera footage of the Capitol attack.
Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) predicted at 2:15 pm that the managers would begin wrapping up soon.
Even Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), who is known for his energy and focus, showed a lapse in concentration when he asked for the House to stand in a 15-minute recess. Colleagues reminded him in a chorus that he was sitting in the Senate, not the lower chamber.
Two senators, Patty Murray (D-Wash.) and Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) had blankets on their laps to stay warm.
Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) said repeatedly reliving the violence and chaos on Jan. 6 is draining.
“It’s emotionally more draining than hearing the transcript of a call with a Ukrainian political leader,” he said, comparing it to Trump’s first impeachment trial in 2020.
Senators are hoping to wrap up the trial as soon as Saturday, sooner than was initially expected.
Several expressed little desire to hear from new witnesses, something senators will debate after a question-and-answer session scheduled after Trump’s defense team has 16 hours to present their counterarguments.
Trump’s lawyers are expected to keep their presentations short.
“I think the case has been made. I don’t know what witnesses would add,” said Sen. Angus King (I-Maine).
Castro: U.S. adversaries using riot to undermine democracy abroad
Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-Texas) argued Thursday that the Capitol riots have severely undermined U.S. standing abroad and that hostile nations are using the unrest as anti-democratic propaganda.
“The world watched President Trump tell his big lie. The world watched his supporters come to Washington at his invitation and the world watched as he told his supporters to come here to the Capitol,” Castro said. “President Trump, our commander in chief at the time, failed to take any action to defend us, as he utterly failed in his duty to preserve, protect and defend, and now the world is watching us wondering whether our constitutional republic will respond the way it should … whether the rule of law will prevail over mob rule. The answer to that question has consequences far beyond our own borders.”
Castro read remarks from Chinese officials pointing to the siege as evidence the U.S. has no authority to criticize its crackdown on pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong.
“Trump gave the Chinese government an opening to create a false equivalency between protesters seeking democracy and violent protesters trying to overthrow it,” Castro said.
He urged senators to convict, saying it would restore credibility for U.S. officials as they seek to negotiate foreign trade and economic and human rights agreements abroad.
“[To acquit Trump] would forfeit our power as a north star on freedom, democracy and human rights, and most of all on the rule of law,” Castro said. “To convict Donald Trump would mean that America stands for the rule of law, no matter who violates it. Let us…remind the world that we are truly a north star.”
— Jonathan Easley
Video shows rioters calling Capitol Police ‘traitors’
House Democrats in arguments on the third day of former President Trump’s second impeachment trial included videos from the Jan. 6 riot showing members of the mob repeatedly calling law enforcement officers protecting the Capitol “traitors.”
House impeachment manager Rep. David Cicilline (D-R.I.) said that officers responding to the rioting were not only physically injured during the chaos, but were also “verbally denigrated,” for “their patriotism,” and that rioters “questioned their loyalty and yelled racial slurs.”
“They called them traitors, Nazis, un-American for protecting us,” Cicilline told senators Thursday.
Cicilline then showed a series of videos taken inside and outside the Capitol on the day of the mob attack, including one in which a man followed an officer and shouted, “Are you an American? Act like you f—ing are,” before shoving another officer.
In a subsequent video posted on social media, Trump supporters shouted at officers gathered in front of metal barriers, “F—ing traitors, you’re a f—ing traitor,” before one rioter attempted to pull away one of the barriers.
In another video, a woman told officers, “You can’t even call yourselves American, you broke your f—ing oath today.”
The videos were among the examples provided by House impeachment managers in an effort to present the case linking the rioting directly back to Trump.
The footage showed how law enforcement officers were both physically and verbally attacked by rioters as they overtook the Capitol.
Several video and audio recordings indicated that many of Trump’s supporters believed they were following orders from the president to raid the historic building as Congress met to certify President Biden’s win.
Lieu: ‘I’m not afraid of Donald Trump running again in four years. I’m afraid he’s going to run again and lose’
Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.) pushed back against the argument from some of Trump’s allies that Democrats are pursuing impeachment because they fear facing him in another presidential election.
The House impeachment manager warned that the danger is if Trump loses a second time and his supporters engage in violence again like on Jan. 6.
“You know, I’m not afraid of Donald Trump running again in four years. I’m afraid he’s going to run again and lose, because he can do this again,” Lieu said.
Lieu argued that a conviction in the impeachment trial, which would disqualify Trump from pursuing future elected office, would both ensure that the former president can’t engage in actions like those that led to Jan. 6 and establish a precedent for subsequent officeholders.
“President Trump’s lack of remorse shows that he will undoubtedly cause future harm if allowed, because he still refuses to account for his previous high, grave crime against our government,” Lieu said.
Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.), the lead impeachment manager, also made an appeal to senators to use their power to prevent Trump from repeating his actions. Raskin’s presentation included examples of Trump’s pattern of siding with forces that engaged in violence, such as now-Montana Gov. Greg Gianforte (R) body-slamming a reporter when he was running for the House in 2017.
“My dear colleagues, is there any political leader in this room who believes that if he is ever allowed by the Senate to get back into the Oval Office, Donald Trump would stop inciting violence to get his way?” Raskin asked. “Would you bet the lives of more police officers on that? Would you bet the safety of your family on that? Would you bet the future of your democracy on that?”
“So if he gets back into office and it happens again, we’ll have no one to blame but ourselves,” he concluded.
GOP senators say trial could wrap as soon as Saturday
Senate Republicans say former President Trump’s impeachment trial could conclude as soon as Saturday.
The timeline, which they stressed wasn’t locked in, would mean the trial lasted five days, significantly shorter than any other presidential impeachment trial. Trump’s first trial currently holds the record for being the shortest at 21 days.
“Saturday is looking better all the time, I would think, for a final vote,” said Sen. Roy Blunt (Mo.), a member of GOP leadership, told reporters.
Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) told reporters that senators are hoping “the thing concludes by Saturday.”
“It seems like the time is compressing,” Cornyn said.
The trial was initially expected to last into early next week, with Senate aides thinking a final vote wasn’t likely to take place until Tuesday, Feb. 16, at the earliest.
But Trump’s team withdrew a request to break on Saturday for the Jewish Sabbath. And the Senate agreed to work through the weekend — on both Saturday and Sunday — underscoring their desire to get the trial behind them.
Speeding things up further, Trump’s legal team is supposed to wrap up its arguments on Friday.
After opening arguments, senators still have up to four hours to ask questions. That’s significantly shorter than the two days used in Trump’s first trial.
Aides also expect that the trial could go straight from the question-and-answer period to up to two hours of debate over whether to call witnesses.
Neither Trump’s legal team nor the House managers have completely closed the door on calling witnesses, but senators have signaled they don’t think it’s necessary.
After that the only steps left before a final vote is for both sides to make closing arguments, something they have four hours to do, and the potential for senators to take time to deliberate.
Lieu: Trump lied about mobilizing National Guard and didn’t attend officer’s memorial
Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.), arguing that Trump didn’t show any remorse in the aftermath of the attack on the Capitol, pointed out that the former president falsely talked about mobilizing the National Guard on Jan. 6 and later skipped the memorial for Capitol Police officer Brian Sicknick.
Lieu noted that Trump didn’t acknowledge and condemn the attack until releasing a video nearly 30 hours after it began.
“He says in that very same video that he immediately deployed the National Guard. That, again, is not true. The National Guard was not deployed until two hours after the attack began,” Lieu said. “Because of this late deployment, the National Guard did not arrive until 5 p.m.”
He said the list of administration officials consulted before deploying the National Guard on Jan. 6, which was released by the Pentagon, showed that Trump did not have a role in making the decision.
“As a veteran, I find it deeply dishonorable that our commander in chief did not protect us and then later tries to take credit for something he failed to do,” Lieu said.
Lieu pointed out it took Trump three days to order the flag of the United States lowered to commemorate officer Sicknick, who died from his injuries a day after clashing with the rioters.
Congressional leaders including Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) paid their respects to Sicknick as his casket lay in honor in the Capitol Rotunda, but Trump skipped the event.
Lieu said Trump “did not attend and pay respects to the officer who lay in state in the very building that he died defending.”
Raskin on Trump: ‘Time after time he encouraged violence’
Lead House impeachment manager Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.) argued that Trump had repeatedly encouraged violence over the course of his presidency.
Raskin included videos from Trump’s campaign rallies going back to 2015 in which Trump repeatedly encouraged his supporters to be violent.
One video showed a Trump supporter dragging out a protester from a rally. Another showed a group of Trump supporters attacking protesters during another.
Raskin also included a rally from February 2016 in which Trump encouraged supporters to “knock the crap” out of protesters and promised to pay for the legal fees of the offenders.
The Maryland Democrat argued that Trump’s incitement of violence goes back to his 2016 campaign for president, as opposed to something that occurred over the 2020 election cycle.
“Time and time after he encouraged violence,” Raskin said. “His supporters listened, and they got the message.”
Democrat says rioters followed Trump’s instructions
Democrats on Thursday presented video and audio from members of the mob during the Jan. 6 Capitol riot to argue that supporters of then-President Trump believed that he had urged them to raid the Capitol.
Rep. Diana DeGette (D-Colo.), one of the House impeachment managers, presented comments from rioters that they had posted on social media, arguing supporters used Trump’s calls to “fight back” against the certification of President Biden’s electoral win as a “rallying cry.”
In one video posted on social media site Parler, supporters forced their way into the Capitol while chanting, “fight for Trump,” with DeGette saying, “it wasn’t just that they were doing this for Trump, they were following his instructions.”
“They said that he had invited them and, in fact, as we heard, he had invited them,” DeGette said, referring to Trump’s calls at his rally ahead of the riot to march toward Congress to protest the electoral certification.
DeGette then referenced remarks from a rioter in a livestream who said “our president wants us here” and “we wait and take orders from our president.”
Democrats then played footage from inside the Capitol that had been posted by The New Yorker, showing rioters telling law enforcement officers, “you’re outnumbered” and “we are listening to Trump—your boss.”
“Examples of these types of comments are endless,” DeGette continued. “But it wasn’t just the words of the insurrectionists that proved that they did this in response to orders from their commander in chief. We can see this in the fact that they were not hiding.”
DeGette then played a livestream video in which one rioter said “Let’s call Trump… He’ll be happy” and “we’re fighting for Trump,” as rioters ransacked a Capitol office, along with selfies and other images rioters posted on social media showing their participation in the mob attack.
Pelosi: Officers who protected Capitol will get Congressional Gold Medal
Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) announced Thursday that Democrats will soon grant the Congressional Gold Medal to the officers on duty guarding the Capitol when it was attacked on Jan. 6.
In a Dear Colleague letter, Pelosi praised those officers — members of the U.S. Capitol Police (USCP), the D.C. Metro Police (MPD) and others — as heroes deserving Congress’s highest civilian honor.
“That day, those men and women risked and gave their lives to save ours, becoming martyrs for our democracy,” she wrote.
“The outstanding heroism and patriotism of our heroes … demand our deepest appreciation. … We must never forget the sacrifice of Officer Brian Sicknick, Officer Howard Liebengood, MDP Officer Jeffrey Smith and the more than 50 USCP who sustained serious injuries, or the courage of the heroes such as Officer Eugene Goodman,” the letter continued.
Pelosi is asking those Democrats interested in endorsing the legislation to sign on. She did not reveal a timeline for acting on the measure.
Sicknick died a day after the riot after being hit in the head by a fire extinguisher during the chaos.
Goodman has been widely praised after video showed him leading members of the mob away from the Senate chamber, buying time for senators to be evacuated.
A new video presented by the House impeachment managers on Wednesday also showed Goodman turning Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) around so that he did not head toward the mob in the Capitol.
Democrats plan to highlight Trump’s ‘lack of remorse’ for Capitol riot
House Democrats prosecuting Donald Trump’s impeachment case intend to use the third day of the Senate trial to highlight what they cast as the former president’s unabashed reaction to the deadly Capitol riot.
The Democratic impeachment managers spent much of Wednesday making the case that Trump laid the groundwork for the attack with weeks of false claims that November’s election was “stolen” from him, then incited supporters to march on the Capitol on Jan. 6 to block the vote formalizing President Biden‘s victory.
On Thursday, the Democrats’ final day of arguments, they’ll build on that narrative, providing “additional evidence of President Trump‘s role, and the impact his role played on the attack,” according to a senior aide on the impeachment managers’ team.
“We’ll also focus on the president’s lack of remorse, which is an element of the impeachment calculus,” the aide added.
Trump’s actions after the Capitol was breached have become an increasing focus of Democrats’ argument that the former president incited an insurrection for the sole purpose of preventing Biden from assuming power, even despite the certified election results from all 50 states.
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