“We are having a trial on the facts,” said Rep. Jamie B. Raskin
On February 10, the House impeachment managers presented evidence against former US President Donald Trump to argue that he incited the riot that stormed the Capitol Building and left five people dead on January 6.
The evidence provided on the Day 2 of the second impeachment of Trump, streamed live on Washington Post’s YouTube channel, detailed how Trump laid the groundwork for his supporters to believe that their American vote was stolen from them.
The impeachment trial has a defined set of rules, much different than other proceedings or trials. No one can stand up to speak or debate. Everything that is said during the trial must be written prior.
Several impeachment managers focused on the sole evidence that the former president was aware of the riot and did nothing to stop it. FBI interviews of the rioters showed that Trump’s followers were directly listening to his instructions.
“The evidence will show you he was no innocent bystander and that he was clearly inciting the insurrection. He surrendered his role as Commander in Chief and became Inciter in Chief,” said Rep. Jamie B. Raskin.
The evidence used against Trump was mostly his own tweets, interviews, phone calls, and delayed reaction towards the Capitol’s siege.
The House impeachment managers called this opening evidence “The Provocation.”
- The big lie: The election was stolen
- Stop the steal
- Fight like hell to stop the steal
“You will hear over and over again those three things, it was used to inspire, instigate and anger them,” said Rep. Joe Neguse.
They presented videos and tweets of Donald Trump from May 2020, talking about if he were to lose the re-election, it was only because the election was going to be stolen.
“Can you imagine telling your supporters that the only way you can possibly lose is if the election was rigged and stolen from you? And ask yourself if you have ever seen anyone at any level of government making these same statements,” said Rep. Joaquin Castro.
“The most combustible thing you can do in a democracy is convincing people that the election was rigged,” he said.
Rep. Stacey Plaskett showed a video of the Second Million MAGA rally, which erupted in violence. On December 14, the Proud Boys engaged in serious acts of violence in downtown DC. Some Trump supporters and self-identified Proud Boys vandalized churches after that rally.
“A week after that, the President turned around and began coordinating the January 6 Save America Rally. With the same people who had planned the Second Million Maga March,” said Plaskett.
Rep. Stacey Plaskett
“You will recall that the ‘Women for America First’ had organized that Second Million MAGA March. They had originally planned rallies for January 22 and January 23, after the inauguration. But Donald Trump had other plans,” said Plaskett.
Plaskett said that on December 16, 2020, Trump posted a tweet telling his supporters to come to the January 6 rally. According to Plaskett, this was his way of telling his supporters to “save the date.”
“Just days later, ‘Women for America First’ amended their permit to hold their rally on January 6. Pursuant to the president’s save the date, instead of after the inauguration. This was deliberate,” said Plaskett.
According to reports, the president became directly involved with the event’s planning, including the speaking line up and the music.
“He brought the same people that spoke at the Million MAGA Rally to help as well.”
One of the founders of the ‘Women for America First’ sent out the invitation, tagging Trump and others to come to the January 6 rally. The invitations, which used hashtags like #stopthesteal, were for the same supporters that were involved in the violent Million MAGA Rally.
Plaskett insisted that Trump was intentionally bringing supporters he knew were violent to the January 6 rally.
Perhaps the most damning evidence presented in the trial has been that Trump spent $50 million on advertisements calling Americans to “stop the steal.” Representative Eric Swalwell told the Senate that the advertisements were run across the nation: online and as targeted text messages.
According to Swalwell, the ads were calling to stop the steal, claiming election fraud.
“They had a specific purpose, these ads were designed to run all the way up to January 5, and then they stopped. This was the purposeful way to target his base on that day,” said Swalwell.
Representative Eric Swalwell
Rep. Joaquin Castro said that Trump sent out his supporters to Mike Pence and Nancy Pelosi without any regard for their safety on January 6. Footage of the Capitol siege showed Trump calling out Mike Pence during the Save America Rally.
In the chilling video, the insurrectionists can be heard chanting “Hang Mike Pence.” Later a photo emerged of a rope hanging on a wooden platform.
The House impeachment managers made their case that Trump’s supporters always took him literally. They believed him when he said the election was going to be rigged all the way back in May, and they believed him when he said the election was rigged on January 6.
On November 5, after Trump tweeted to stop the count, two heavily armed men were arrested at the Philadelphia Convention Centre for attempting to prevent further counting. On November 9, more armed men attempted to stop vote counting and were arrested outside the center.
These examples were just a few of the dangerous scenarios Trump created by calling this election fraudulent, the House impeachment managers argued.
According to the House impeachment managers, Trump used several tactics to retain his presidency: ignoring adverse court rulings, pressuring and threatening election officials, attacking senators and members of Congress, pressuring the Justice Department and attacking Vice President Pence.
During the Capitol’s siege, Trump was allegedly aware of what was happening but did nothing to tell the rioters to stop. He was notified about the violence that was happening and about the evacuation of the staff members from the building.
According to reports, Kellyanne Conway, former councillor to Trump, called a chorus of people urging them to tell Trump to speak to his supporters and tell them to stand down and leave the Capitol.
Ivanka Trump was one of the people who tried to get Trump to speak out and tell everyone to leave.
Kevin McCarthy got into a screaming match with Trump as the mob attacked the Capitol as he allegedly wanted Trump to release a statement denouncing the mob. However, Trump would not agree to that initially.
After the attack, Trump tweeted that these things and events happened because of a landslide election victory.
“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 and unfairly treated for so long. Go home with love & in peace. Remember this day forever!,” tweeted Trump.
Trump was calling the insurrectionists “Patriots.”
Stacey Plaskett’s definition of patriotism was different than what Trump calls patriotism.
“This year is 20 years since the attacks of September 11. Almost every day, I remember that 44 Americans gave their lives to stop the plane that was headed to this Capitol building. I thank them every day for saving my life and the life of so many others. Those Americans sacrificed their lives for love of country. The Capitol stands because of people like that,” said Plaskett.
The trial is in the middle of its closing arguments. Stay tuned for more on the story as it develops.