Sen. Blumenthal calls Trump’s defense an ‘insult to all of our intelligence’
Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) on Friday evening following the fourth day of former President Trump’s impeachment trial said the Trump defense team’s response to questions from senators on details surrounding the former president’s response to the Jan. 6 Capitol riot was “an insult to all of our intelligence.”
During an hours-long question-and-answer session on Friday, GOP Sens. Susan Collins (Maine) and Lisa Murkowski (Alaska) asked what “specific actions” Trump took after learning of the Capitol breach, urging his legal team to “be as specific as possible.”
Trump’s lawyers were unable to say when specifically the former president found out that a mob had breached the Capitol but said that, based on his tweets, it was before 2:38 p.m. on Jan. 6.
Blumenthal told MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell during an interview Friday evening that this response from Trump’s team was both “shocking” and “deeply offensive.”
“It was an insult to all of our intelligence, and smart people like Senators Collins and Murkowski, I’m sure, were offended by it,” the Democratic senator added.
“But it goes to a larger failing in this defense,” Blumenthal continued. “They are assuming that the fix is in. They are sure they have 17 senators who won’t part ways. And I think the other really striking feature of this case is how close, how very close, we came to even greater disaster, how much worse it could have been.”
Multiple people died amid the chaos at the Capitol, including Capitol Police officer Brian Sicknick. Two additional officers who responded to the riot have since died by suicide, and at least 138 officers suffered injuries, ranging from bruises and lacerations to concussions and fractures.
House impeachment managers this week presented arguments in favor of convicting Trump for inciting the mob attack with his repeated unsubstantiated claims of a “rigged” 2020 presidential election, while Trump’s team has argued that his statements leading up to the riot were protected by the First Amendment.
Blumenthal earlier Friday criticized video presentations offered by Trump’s defense team of various Democrats encouraging citizens to take to the streets and protest during the summer’s violent civil unrest spurred by the police killings of Black Americans, including George Floyd and Breonna Taylor.
The Connecticut senator argued that the videos were a “distraction” from Trump “inviting the mob to Washington.”
“They’re trying to draw a dangerous and distorted equivalence,” he added.
Senators in the early afternoon Saturday struck a deal with House impeachment managers and Trump’s legal team to let the Senate bypass calling additional witnesses. The agreement followed a request from Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.), the lead impeachment manager, to depose Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-Wash.), who has hammered Trump for his actions after the Capitol attack on Jan. 6.
Both sides issued closing arguments after the agreement was reached, with a final vote on conviction expected later in the day.