Dramatic Video of Mob Storming Capitol Opens Trump’s Impeachment Trial

Date: 2021-02-09 20:33:44

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The House prosecutors in Donald Trump’s second impeachment trial moved quickly to present the core of their argument through a vivid and dramatic video of the former president’s supporters rampaging through the U.S. Capitol and attacking police officers.

(Warning: This video contains explicit language that may be offensive to some.)

The edited video juxtaposed Trump’s address to the crowd before the attack near the White House in which he urged them to march to the Capitol — where Congress was certifying the Electoral College votes that delivered the presidency to Joe Biden — with scenes of the mob overwhelming barriers and lawmakers evacuating the House chamber. The screams and yells echoed through the Senate as the video played on large monitors.

“If you don’t fight like hell you’re not going to have a country anymore,” Trump said to the crowd in the recording. As the mob surged to the Capitol, shouts of “Traitor Pence,” a reference to then-Vice President Mike Pence who was presiding over the electoral vote count, and “No Trump, no peace,” could be heard.

Trump was impeached “for doing that,” Representative Jamie Raskin, the lead House impeachment manager, said. “If that’s not an impeachable offense, then there’s no such thing.”

The first day of the unprecedented proceeding is devoted to a debate on whether it is constitutional to put Trump on trial now that he is out of office.

“We don’t have a January exception,” Raskin argued, saying the framers of the U.S. Constitution did not provide a waiver to accountability for impeachment of former officials.

Trump’s defense team will deliver their counterargument later in the day. Trump lawyers Bruce L. Castor Jr. and David Schoen assert that the Senate has no jurisdiction to try citizen Trump, saying that the Constitution offers only removal from office and disqualification from holding future office as the penalties for impeachment.

Democrats and at least a few Republicans are likely to affirm the validity of the trial in a vote on Tuesday afternoon, as a number of leading conservative lawyers reject the defense team’s claim that a former president can’t be tried by the Senate. That would clear the way for opening arguments in the case to begin on Wednesday.

The trial got underway with senators taking their seats at mahogany desks where they are admonished to remain silent as both sides present their cases. Democratic Senator Patrick Leahy, the senior member of the majority party, gaveled the proceeding to order at 1 p.m, taking the place at the chamber’s marble dais that Chief Justice John Roberts occupied during Trump’s first impeachment trial a year ago. Roberts isn’t required to preside because Trump is no longer in office.

Republican senators have advanced the constitutional question as the main justification to vote for Trump’s acquittal, though most of them have avoided directly defending his actions leading up to and on Jan. 6 when his supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol.

The nine House impeachment managers prosecuting Trump are confident that the defense team won’t muster majority support to question the constitutionality, since the Senate is split 50-50 between Democrats and Republicans. They plan to quickly pivot to a concrete case modeled on a violent crime prosecution in the next phase of the trial that begins Wednesday, senior aides briefed on their strategy told reporters Tuesday morning.

Still, it would require at least 17 Republicans to vote to convict Trump at the trial’s conclusion to reach the needed two-thirds majority. At this point that appears to be unlikely.

Senator Roy Blunt of Missouri, a member of Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s leadership team, said he will be voting to acquit Trump at the end of the trial because he views the proceedings as unconstitutional.

“I’m gonna vote like I voted the other day through the trial,” he told reporters. “I don’t think it’s constitutional. I don’t think we should be doing it.”

Blunt said he believes the trial will end on Saturday or Sunday.

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