Democrats Use Video to Tie Trump to Capitol Riot in Impeachment Case

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House Democrats argued former President Donald Trump inflamed his base long before a mob of his supporters stormed the Capitol and committed an egregious violation of his oath of office.

“The evidence will show you that ex-President Trump was no innocent bystander,” Representative Jamie Raskin, the lead House manager, said as he made opening arguments in the second full day of Trump’s impeachment trial Wednesday. “The evidence will show that he clearly incited the Jan. 6 insurrection. It will show that Donald Trump surrendered his role as commander-in-chief and became the ‘inciter-in-chief’ of a dangerous insurrection.”

The House managers serving as impeachment prosecutors already used some graphic video footage from last month’s deadly rampage at the Capitol to start the trial Tuesday on a dramatic note. Raskin warned senators and the public that the prosecution will again show disturbing video of attacks on police officers at the Capitol.

Although six Republicans voted with all Democrats and independents on Tuesday to proceed with the trial, dismissing the defense argument that it is unconstitutional, the House team remains far from winning enough GOP votes to reach the two-thirds majority necessary to convict the former president.

Democrats will be showing previously unreleased video footage from Capitol security cameras, according to senior aides on the impeachment managers’ team. Trump’s lawyers have said the former president didn’t incite the riot on Jan. 6 and that Democrats are using selectively edited footage while ignoring that he also told his supporters that day to “peacefully and patriotically make your voices heard.”

Raskin said that even hours after the attack, Trump continued to spread the lie that he had won the election and commiserated with the rioters, and violated his oath to protect and defend the Constitution and the country.

“He told them to fight like hell and they brought us hell that day,” he said.

Democratic aides said House managers believe they made much stronger arguments in Tuesday’s debate about whether trying a former president is constitutional than Trump’s defense lawyers, one of whom presented a meandering speech that was widely panned by GOP senators and displeased Trump. But only six Republicans voted with Democrats to continue the trial, and a conviction would require 17 GOP votes.

House managers plan to use Wednesday and Thursday to lay out a story of how Trump’s efforts to overturn election culminated in the mob attack, with each chapter presented by one of the team’s nine members, the aides said. They said the House managers plan to finish presenting their case on Thursday, not using all 16 hours allotted for them. Trump’s defense team would then have 16 hours to argue their case.

Senator Ben Cardin, a Maryland Democrat, said that the House managers’ focus on the weeks and months leading up to the election will be part of an effort to show “intent” on the part of Trump.

The prosecution team previewed their strategy Tuesday as the Senate considered constitutional questions about the trial with a 13-minute video montage juxtaposing Trump’s fiery speech to the crowd before the attack with scenes of his supporters overwhelming barriers, smashing windows, fighting police, even trapping one officer in a door while he cried out in pain.

Republican senators gave the House team high marks for its presentation Tuesday even though many argue that the former president can’t be impeached because he is out of office. Some GOP lawmakers also faulted the rambling arguments of one of his defense lawyers, saying that he often didn’t address the constitutional issues being debated.

Still, Louisiana Senator Bill Cassidy was the only Republican who voted last week to declare the trial unconstitutional who changed his vote on Tuesday.

“Anyone who listened to those arguments would recognize that the House managers were focused,” Cassidy said. “Anyone who listened to President Trump’s legal team saw they were unfocused, they attempted to avoid the issue, and they talked about everything but the issue at hand.”

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