Trump is accused of ‘incitement of insurrection’ as House managers display graphic video of US mob attack.
Welcome to Al Jazeera’s coverage of the impeachment trial. This is William Roberts and Steve Chaggaris.
Representative Jamie Raskin said “common sense” shows former President Donald Trump committed the high crime of incitement of insurrection and urged senators acting as jurors to weigh the judgement of history in their deliberation.
“This is a trial on the facts of what happened. And incitement, as we said, is a fact-intensive investigation that each of you will have to make,” Raskin said.
“Senators, America, we need to exercise our common sense about what happened. Let’s not get caught up in a lot of outlandish lawyers’ theories here. Exercise your common sense about what just took place in our country,” he said.
Former President Donald Trump knew the crowd his supporters was poised for violence, inflamed by his lies that the election had been stolen and he directed their anger at Congress, House prosecutors argued.
“He knew it perfectly well, that he had created this powder keg at his rally. He knew how combustible that situation was,” said Representative Joe Neguse.
“Was violence predictable? Was it obvious that the crowd on January 6 was poised for violence, prepared for it? Absolutely. And this isn’t just clear looking back in time. It was widely recognised at the time,” Neguse said.
“In the days leading up to January 6, there were dozens, hundreds of warnings, and he knew, he knew the rally would explode if provoked. He knew all it would take was a slight push,” Neguse said.
One of Donald Trump’s defence lawyers stepped away from the impeachment trial to criticise the trial itself and confirm they will not spend “a long time” making their case.
“There is no reason for us to be out there a long time,” lawyer Daniel Schoen told Fox News.
“This trial never should have happened, and if it happened, it should be as short as possible given the complete lack of evidence, and the harm that this is causing to the American people,” Schoen said.
Schoen slammed the Democrats’ presentation of graphic video and audio of the riot as “offensive” and an “entertainment package” and hinted at one line of defence he will argue: the article of impeachment and subsequent trial represent a “complete lack of due process”.
Representative Jamie Raskin, the lead Democrat prosecuting the impeachment charge against former President Donald Trump, argued that the First Amendment right to free speech does not protect acts of incitement.
“His conduct represented the most devastating and dangerous assault by a government official on our Constitution, including the First Amendment, in living memory,” Raskin told senators sitting as jurors in the trial.
“President Trump’s high crimes and misdemeanours sought to nullify the political rights and sovereignty of the American people,” Raskin argued.
Trump chose to “incite violence to try to replace and usurp the will of the people as expressed in the states, ignore the judicial branch of government, and then run over the legislative branch of government with a mob”, he said.
“There can be no doubt whatsoever, none at all, the president lacks any First Amendment excuse, defence or immunity. He incited a violent insurrection against our government. He must be convicted.”
Representative Joe Neguse told senators President Donald Trump’s defence lawyers are advancing an argument that his rally speech on January 6 was protected by free speech principles has no bearing on the facts of the case.
“This isn’t about politics It is about his refusal to accept the outcome of the election and his decision to incite an insurrection,” Neguse said.
“And there’s no serious argument that the First Amendment protects that,” Neguse said.
The First Amendment of the US Constitution prevents Congress from making a law abridging freedom of speech and assembly in the United States.
Representative Joaquin Castro, one the House Democratic prosecutors, showed senators statements of foreign leaders in China, Russia and Iran derogating the United States after the Capitol riot.
“They are using President Trump’s incitement of an insurrection to declare that democracy is over,” Castro said.
“Now, the world is watching us, wondering whether our constitutional republic is going to respond the way it should,” Castro said, urging senators to convict the former president of incitement of insurrection.
Representative Joaquin Castro, one the House Democratic prosecutors, told senators former President Donald Trump’s supporters may have stolen classified materials in the ransacking of leaders’ offices.
“These insurrectionists, incited by President Trump, threatened our national security. Stealing laptops again from Speaker Pelosi’s office, taking documents from Leader McConnell’s desk, snapping photographs as you saw in the videos,” Castro said.
President Donald Trump was playing golf at his Trump International Golf Club in West Palm Beach, Florida, during Thursday’s impeachment trial in the Senate, according to local media reports.
NEW: Former President Donald Trump is currently at his golf club while House managers continue to deliver arguments in his second impeachment trial, per two sources.
Working to get more info. #impeachment
— Jay O’Brien (@jayobtv) February 11, 2021
Representative Val Demmings said a tweet that real-time calls on January 6 by Republicans asking President Donald Trump to call off the rioters at the Capitol demonstrate his responsibility for events.
The fact that numerous Republican officials called Trump and begged him to call off the mob, saying “you’re the only one who can,” should put to rest any foolishness about who was responsible. They knew he was responsible on January 6th.
— Rep. Val Demings (@RepValDemings) February 11, 2021
Representative David Cicilline recited a litany of examples of the emotional and psychological damage caused by a mob that was actively instigated by former President Donald Trump.
“This mob was looking to overthrow our government,” Cicilline said.
“And they came perilously close to reaching the first three people in line to the presidency. It wasn’t just the vice president and the speaker, the rioters were prepared to take any member of Congress they found,” Cicilline said.
“Even for those not outwardly injured the mental toll has been significant,” Cicilline said.
“Capitol police officers have reportedly threatened self-harm. In the days following the riot, in one case, an officer voluntarily turned in her gun because she was afraid of what might happen,” he said.
“Black police officers were also met with racist vitriol.”
House prosecutors presented to the Senate comments by a number of Republican state governors and US House members condemning Trump’s conduct.
Among the statements, Representative Adam Kinzinger said in a video Trump had “become unmoored, not only from his duty … but from reality itself”.
Representative Fred Upton said, “President Trump expressed no regrets for last week’s violent insurrection at the US Capitol. 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.”
Kinzinger and Upton were among 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach Trump on January 13.
It’s with a heavy heart I am calling for the sake of our Democracy that the 25th Amendment be invoked. My statement: pic.twitter.com/yVyQrYcjuD
— Adam Kinzinger (@RepKinzinger) January 7, 2021
As Democratic impeachment managers close out their second day of arguments against Donald Trump, the former president’s team announced they will only need one day for their defence.
“We will finish up our presentation tomorrow/Friday”, Trump adviser Jason Miller tweeted.
We will finish up our presentation tomorrow/Friday.
I would not trust another word otherwise in this @CNN story.
Chock full of fake news, and particularly sloppy.
“Trump's defense team expected to finish its arguments in one day – CNNPolitics” https://t.co/pP5zl90Ffw
— Jason Miller (@JasonMillerinDC) February 11, 2021
Trump’s legal team, which includes lawyers Bruce Castor and David Schoen, will detail their arguments to counter the Democrats: that the trial is unconstitutional because Trump is no longer president and that Trump’s pre-riot remarks were not an “incitement of insurrection” but constitutionally protected free speech.
US Representative Ted Lieu argued before the Senate that President Donald Trump’s conduct after the January 6 riot shows Trump remains a “unique and continuing danger”.
“President Trump’s lack of remorse and refusal to take accountability during the attack shows his state of mind, shows that he intended the events of January 6 to happen,” Lieu said.
“He delighted in it,” Lieu said.
Representative Jamie Raskin, the lead Democratic prosecutor in former President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial, told senators Trump had displayed a pattern of encouraging violence by his supporters long before the January 6 riot.
“Time after time, he supported violence and his supporters listened and they got the message,” Raskin said.
“It wasn’t just some encouragement of violence that conditioned his supporters to participate in this insurrection on January 6. It was also his explicit sanctioning of the violence, after it took place,” Raskin said.
“He told supporters to knock the hell out of people who oppose them and promised to pay the legal fees of the assailants,” he said.
US Representative Diana DeGette showed senators accounts of the Capitol riot by former President Donald Trump’s supporters showing they acted at Trump’s direction.
“On January 6, we know who lit the fuse. Donald Trump told these insurrectionists to come to the Capitol and ‘stop the steal’,” DeGette told the Senate.
“All of these people who have been arrested and charged, they are being held accountable,” DeGette said.
“They were invited here. They were invited by the president of the United States.”
Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the No 1 Democrat in the that the House of Representatives, said a claim by President Donald Trump’s defence lawyers that she had withheld the article impeachment until Democrats were in control of the Senate is not accurate.
“It’s a little disingenuous to say that,” Pelosi said.
Rather, House impeachment managers were ready to walk the article of impeachment against Trump over to the Senate on January 13 – the day it was passed by the House – but the Senate was not in session.
“We were prepared, actually lined up, to take it over to the Senate. We were told, early in the day that the Senate, even though they were not in session, could receive the article,” Pelosi said.
“Then the managers who are prepared to take it over – as they were preparing for that – they got word from the Senate, that if it’s not in session you cannot bring it over,” she said.
“And so we have to wait until Mitch McConnell decides the Senate will be in session.”
Senator Josh Hawley, a Republican, said in an interview on television outlet Fox News, that the presentation of video evidence by Democratic House managers on Wednesday had been “absolutely absurd and offensive”.
“What we’re watching is a total kangaroo court. It is an illegitimate proceeding. It is unconstitutional,” Hawley told an interviewer.
“They’re trying to pursue a personal political vendetta against an ex-president, and really against the 74 million people who voted for him,” Hawley said.
President Joe Biden, who has tried to avoid commenting directly on the Trump impeachment process, said that he watched news coverage of Democratic prosecutors’ arguments on Wednesday and thinks that some Republicans may have been swayed by the graphic footage of the US Capitol riot.
Biden told reporters at the White House on Thursday he “didn’t watch any of the hearing live” but based on the news coverage, “my guess is some minds may be changed”.
Filling in a key blank in the timeline of the January 6 US Capitol riot, Republican Senator Tommy Tuberville said that he informed Donald Trump about Mike Pence’s evacuation from the Senate, minutes before Trump fired off a highly critical Pence tweet.
“I said ‘Mr. President, they just took the vice president out, I’ve got to go.’” Tuberville said to Politico on Wednesday night about his January 6 phone call as rioters breached the Capitol building.
The existence of the call was part of the Democratic impeachment managers’ evidence, but the detail that Trump knew of Pence’s peril prior to sending the critical tweet is new.
“Mike Pence didn’t have the courage to do what should have been done to protect our Country and our Constitution,” Trump fumed on Twitter at 14:24 EST that day.
Pence was evacuated from the Senate chamber nine minutes prior, according to security footage presented at the impeachment trial on Wednesday.