Impeachment managers: Capitol riot was the result of Trump 'inciting' his supporters over time

House Democrats presented evidence during day two of Trump's impeachment trial to back up their argument that Trump incited an insurrection on Jan. 6

Published: February 10, 2021 11:29am

Updated: February 11, 2021 3:07pm

Over the course of about 8 hours, House impeachment managers argued on Wednesday that President Trump engaged in a “months long effort to incite" his supporters to doubt the presidential election results, leading to the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol.

Maryland Democratic Rep. Jamie Raskin, the lead impeachment manager, was the first to speak on the floor as the second day of Trump's impeachment trial got underway. Raskin called Jan. 6 a day that "will live in disgrace in American history; that is unless you ask Donald Trump." Raskin cited Trump's tweet from late in the afternoon of Jan. 6 to support his argument.

"These are the things and events that happen when a sacred landslide election victory is so unceremoniously & viciously stripped away from great patriots who have been badly & unfairly treated for so long," Trump tweeted.

Raskin said Trump's effort to rally his supporters to contest the certification of the election results on Jan. 6 was "much worse" than shouting "fire" in a crowded theater.

"It's more like a case where the town fire chief who is paid to put out fires sends a mob, not to yell fire in a crowded theater, but to actually set the theater on fire," he said.

In January 2017, Raskin objected to certifying the results of Florida for then-presidential candidate Donald Trump, but the objection did not move forward because it was not co-signed by a senator.

Democratic Colorado Rep. Joe Neguse presented after Raskin. Neguse played a clip of protesters on Jan. 6 saying, "Fight for Trump." Neguse said it was Trump's role to stop the violence that was happening at the Capitol that day.

"He alone, our commander in chief, had the power to stop it and he didn't," he said, adding that Democrats will present evidence to support this argument. "You will see that even when he did, 3-and-a-half hours into the attack, tell these people to go home in peace, he added, as lead manager Raskin said, I'll quote, 'You're very special. We love you.'"

Texas Democratic Rep. Joaquin Castro played a video of Trump saying on Nov. 4 that he won the presidential election while votes were still being counted. Castro said Trump "never" recanted his statement since that time.

"This is the commander in chief telling his supporters your election is being stolen and you must stop the counting of American votes, and it worked. His words became their actions," he said, referring to the riot on Jan. 6.

California Democratic Rep. Eric Swalwell said Trump "wanted to make his base angrier and angrier" ahead of the "Save America” rally on Jan. 6.

"To make them angry he was willing to say anything," Swalwell said, referring to a Nov. 15 tweet from Trump where the former president said he concedes nothing and "we have a long way to go."

Swalwell showed a tweet from pro-Trump activist Jennifer Lynn Lawrence which was re-tweeted by Trump ahead of the Jan. 6 rally. Lawrence said in the tweet that "we are bringing the Calvary Mr. President."

"This was not just any old protest," Swalwell said. "President Trump was inciting something historic. The Cavalry was coming. And he was organized."

Pennsylvania Democratic Rep. Madeleine Dean said the House impeachment managers have laid out evidence that Trump engaged in a "months long effort to incite his base, leading them to believe the election was stolen, that they needed to fight like hell to stop the steal on January the 6th."

Dean said she was presenting evidence of Trump's "relentless escalating campaign to fabricate an election victory by ignoring adverse court rulings, pressuring and threatening election officials, attacking senators and members of Congress."

Dean cited Trump's call into a state Republican meeting in Pennsylvania on Nov. 25 as an attempt to personally intervene in the certification of election results. 

California Democratic Rep. Ted Lieu praised former Vice President Mike Pence for certifying the presidential election results despite Trump's public criticism of Pence.

"Thankfully, Vice President Pence stood his ground like our other brave officials stood their ground to refuse the president and fulfill his duty on January 6, even after the capital was attacked and even after he was personally targeted, even after his family was targeted. Vice President Pence stood strong and certified the election," Lieu said.

"Vice President Pence showed us what it means to be an American, what it means to show courage. He put his country, his oath, his values and his morals above the will of one man. The president has tried everything in his power to seize seize, everything in his attempt to seize power from the rightful victor of election," he added.

Democratic Rep. Stacey Plaskett, who represents the Virgin Islands, said the violence that occurred on Jan. 6 was "foreseeable." Plaskett connected Trump's statement about the Proud Boys during the first presidential debate to the Jan. 6 riot. 

"The group adopted that phrase, stand back and stand by, as their official slogan," she said. "They created merchandise with their new slogan, which they wore proudly across their backs at Trump's rallies and they followed the president's orders."

During Plaskett's second presentation at the trial, she played never before heard audio of Metropolitan Police Department officers reporting violence occurring at the Capitol on Jan. 6. At 1:49 p.m., an officer can be heard declaring the protest a riot. 

Never before seen Capitol security footage was also played showing rioters breaking windows of the Capitol Building and gaining access inside. Additional security footage showed Pence and his family members being evacuated after rioters stormed the building. Other security footage showed U.S. Capitol Police officer Eugene Goodman warning Utah Republican Sen. Mitt Romney that rioters were coming. Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer could also been seen running with his security detail as the protestors stormed the Capitol. 

Plaskett then queued up footage of protests at the rally chanting, "bring out Pence." Plaskett said Pence was the "target of their wrath after Pence refused to overturn the election results."

Plaskett showed footage of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's staffers evacuating her office. Her presentation also included footage of rioters calling Pelosi's name.

"The Capitol Police deemed the threat so dangerous that they evacuated her entirely from the Capitol complex, rushing her to a secure off-site location," she said. "The insurrectionists intent to murder the speaker is well-documented."

The targeting of Pence was a common theme throughout several of the House impeachment managers' presentations, which was likely an effort to appeal to Republican senators. For a conviction, 50 Senate Democrats (including two independent senators who caucus with the Democrats) would need 17 Republican senators to join them. Castro played video of rioters chanting, "hang Mike Pence" and connected it to Trump's criticism of his vice president during his speech at the rally.

"Mike Pence let us down," a protester can be heard saying in one of the videos.

Castro said Pence is "not a traitor to this country. He's a patriot." He also argued the "insurgents amplified President Trump's tweet attacking the vice president with a bullhorn."

In the afternoon on Jan. 6, Trump tweeted that Pence "didn't have the courage to do what should have been done to protect our Country and our Constitution, giving States a chance to certify a corrected set of facts, not the fraudulent or inaccurate ones which they were asked to previously certify. USA demands the truth!" 

Castro used former New Jersey Republican Gov. Chris Christie's words on Jan. 6 against Trump.

"The president caused this protest to occur. He's the only one who can make it stop," Christie said.

Rhode Island Democratic Rep. David Cicilline mentioned reports that Trump called Alabama Sen. Tommy Tuberville on Jan. 6 asking him to delay certification of the election results. Some reports indicated that Trump's personal attorney, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, called Tuberville. Cicilline argued that Trump had the same intent as the rioters who sought to stop the certification that day.

"He made clear his focus was the same goal as the attackers he incited — to stop the certification process and prevent the peaceful transfer of power," he said.

The House impeachment managers will present more of their evidence on Thursday for up to 8 hours. 

The impeachment managers and Trump's defense presented on Tuesday, the first day of the trial. Following their presentations, senators voted 56-44 to let the trial proceed as constitutional. 

Republican Louisiana Sen. Bill Cassidy was one of the six GOP senators to side with Democrats in voting to proceed with the trial. 

"This is a constitutional question, and clearly it had been established that it is constitutional and the Constitution obviously becomes, it is Constitution and country over party," Cassidy told reporters on Wednesday as day two of the trial began. "For some, they get it, and for others, they are not quite so sure, but that's to be expected. This does not predict my vote on anything else. It does predict that I will listen to these arguments, as I did to the arguments yesterday, with an open mind."

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