Impeachment Managers Wrap Up Their Case for Convicting Donald Trump: 'There Can Be No Doubt'
Trump knew that his "extreme followers would show up ... ready for extreme violence, to fight like hell for their hero," Rep. Jamie Raskin argued Thursday, a day before Trump's attorneys will make their defense
They urged the gathered senators to convict and forbid Trump from future federal office and so avoid a repeat of the deadly mayhem at the U.S. Capitol, which they had meticulous documented.
Rep. Jamie Raskin, the lead impeachment manager, closed their presentation by invoking Thomas Paine and the seeds of the American Revolution. He quoted Paine:
"Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered. But we have this saving consolation: The more difficult the struggle, the more glorious in the end will be our victory. Good luck in your deliberations."
Over the two days allotted for their presentation, the House impeachment managers constructed a sometimes second-by-second timeline of the events before, during and after the attack on the Capitol — not just how, they said, Trump incited a mob to storm the building during a joint session of Congress but how he showed no remorse as the violence unfolded.
Five people died, including a Capitol Police officer.
Many of the senators and representatives gathered for the trial were themselves witnesses to the attack.
One week after the Capitol was stormed, Trump was charged by the House with inciting an insurrection, becoming the first president ever twice impeached.
Democrats at times went to great pains this week to argue that Trump had done something no other lawmaker had done. In a pitch clearly aimed at persuading the 50 Republican senators, they argued that Trump's baseless claims that the election and indeed the country were being stolen from under his voters went beyond even the challenges brought by some lawmakers.
As they did on Wednesday, the impeachment managers also brought up the threat to former Vice President Mike Pence that arose as a result of the breaching of the Capitol, saying Trump showed no indication that he was concerned about the danger he created.
A previously unseen security video clip aired on Wednesday showed Pence and his family being evacuated from near the Senate chamber as rioters breached the building.
It was previously reported the mob came within some 100 feet of where Pence, 61, and his family were hiding before being moved to a secure location.
Lawmakers also showed clips of the speech near the White House that Trump gave prior to the riot, in which he urged his supporters to "march" on the Capitol and "fight like hell" to challenge the certification of Joe Biden's electoral victory.
"Jan. 6 was not some unexpected radical break from his normal law-abiding and peaceful disposition, this was his state of mind," Raskin told the Senate. "He knew that egged on by his tweets and his messages for a wild time in Washington, his extreme followers would show up bright and early, ready to attack, ready for extreme violence to fight like hell for their hero."
On Thursday, Democrats also worked to show that Trump not only incited the riot but he didn't react to the violence in shock or dismay even after it turned deadly — instead issuing a video in which he called rioters "very special," and said they should "go home."
Impeachment manager Rep. Ted Lieu argued that Trump's lack of remorse proved "he will undoubtedly cause future harm if allowed."
"President Trump expressed no regrets for last week's violence insurrection at the U.S. Capitol," Lieu said. "This sends exactly the wrong signal to those of us who support the very core of our democratic principles and took a solemn oath to the constitution. It is time to say enough is enough."
Lieu also noted that it took Trump three days to lower the American flag in honor of Capitol Police officer Brian Sisnick, killed in the rioting.
"And President Trump, who was commander-in-chief at the time, did not attend and pay respects to the officer who lay in state in the very building that he died defending," Lieu added.
In his own closing arguments, House impeachment manager Rep. Joe Neguse laid out the core of the Democrats' argument in favor of Trump' conviction: the president not only encouraged the violence of Jan. 6 — he do so willfully.
"There can be no doubt that the risk of violence was foreseeable," Neguse said. "And what did he do in the days leading up to the rally? Did he calm the situation? Ask yourself: Did he call for peace? No. He spread his big lie ... that Americans votes were being stolen and that the final act of theft would occur here, at the Capitol."
Trump's attorneys are scheduled to begin presenting their case Thursday and, in interviews with CNN, indicated that they will argue that there's no "direct link" between their client and the actions of those who stormed the Capitol.
His attorneys have also said they believe trying a former president in the Senate is unconstitutional, though that argument failed, with six Republicans joining the Democrats in voting to proceed with the trial.
When asked about videos in which rioters can be seen citing Trump's own words as reasoning for the riot, attorney David Schoen told CNN that Democrats "haven't in any way tied it to Donald Trump. And I think it's offensive quite frankly, in reference to the healing process, to continue to show the tragedy that happened here that Donald Trump has condemned, and I think it's with the American people now, frankly."
Trump's conviction would require that 17 Republican senators vote guilty with the Democratic majority.
If Trump is convicted, a subsequent vote would determine if he was barred from running for federal office again. His attorneys have pointed to this to argue that his trial is political revenge by Democrats.
Trump's attorneys will have 16 hours over two days (though the defense team has said it won't require that much time) to make their case, with a final vote expected as early as this weekend, depending on how long questions-and-answers and closing arguments last.