Democrats in Trump impeachment trial resort to graphic video of police under attack
Democratic impeachment managers wasted no time reminding senators of the horrors of the violent Jan. 6 Capitol riot in an effort to make a vivid and personal case for conviction against former President Trump on charges he incited the insurrection.
Lead impeachment manager Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md., a constitutional scholar, took just three minutes into his opening arguments in Trump's second impeachment trial to cue up graphic video of the mob attack that instantly took senators back to that fateful day.
The video mashup of Trump's own words encouraging his supporters to "fight like hell" was followed by graphic images of rioters then breaking down barricades at the Capitol and yelling profanities at officers, such as "f**k D.C. police."
The video also shows Trump calling out former Vice President Mike Pence and then the moments before Pence and lawmakers had to be evacuated from the Capitol because protesters were on the hunt for "traitor Pence."
In the most uncomfortable moments of the dramatic recount of the video, rioters were seen berating and beating Capitol police officers as they were trying to stop the mob from entering the Capitol. One officer is heard yelling out in pain as he's fighting off attackers. One officer died directly from his injuries, while another 140 officers were injured in the siege.
The gripping 13-minute video included clips from Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., speaking on the Senate floor calling out Trump's conspiracy theories on widespread election fraud on Jan. 6 in contrast to the "Stop the Steal" chants of rioters taking hold of the Capitol. Sen. James Lankford, R-Okla., was in the clip package for the moment when the Senate had to be recessed as an aide tells him "protesters are in the building."
FILE - In this Jan. 6, 2021, file photo violent insurrectionists loyal to President Donald Trump supporters try to break through a police barrier at the Capitol in Washington. A month ago, the U.S. Capitol was besieged by Trump supporters angry about the former president's loss. While lawmakers inside voted to affirm President Joe Biden's win, they marched to the building and broke inside. (AP Photo/John Minchillo, File)
The video showed Trump's delayed reaction to the violence,` where he continued to stoke grievances on election fraud and told rioters during the attack to go home, though adding: "We love you. You're very special."
The graphic imagery seemed to have had an effect on the senators who will decide Trump's fate.
The atmosphere in the chamber was incredibly tense while watching the video compilation of the assault on the Capitol. Almost every senator was watching the video, most wearing frowns, according to pool reporters inside the chamber.
Senators in the room were being transported back to that day. The chamber was absolutely silent for about 10 seconds when the video ended. The sound of a pen dropping, a binder clicking and a senator coughing all seemed incredibly loud and jarring in that silence.
Raskin broke the silence with a simple conclusion.
"You ask what a high crime and misdemeanor is under our Constitution. That's a high crime and misdemeanor," Raskin said. "If that's not an impeachable offense, then there is no such thing."
Rep. Joe Neguse, D-Colo., then followed up with his arguments on why it's important and constitutionally correct to hold Trump accountable for the Jan. 6 riot even though he's no longer in office.
Neguse reminded the lawmakers of how close the threat of mob violence came to them that day.
FILE - In this Jan. 6, 2021, file photo violent rioters, loyal to President Donald Trump, storm the Capitol in Washington. The words of Donald Trump supporters who are accused of participating in the deadly U.S. Capitol riot may end up being used against him in his Senate impeachment trial as he faces the charge of inciting a violent insurrection. (AP Photo/John Minchillo, File)
"Like every one of you, I was evacuated as this violent mob stormed the Capitol's gates," Neguse said. "What you experienced that day, what we experienced that day, what our country experienced that day is the framer's worst nightmare come to life.
"Presidents can't inflame insurrection in their final weeks and then walk away like nothing happened."
Raskin, grieving the loss of his son tommy to suicide on Dec. 31, recalled how his daughter and son-in-law were with him at the Capitol during the riot after they had just buried him. He got choked up as he recalled the horrors of evacuating that day and seeing someone use an American flag pole to spear one of the police officers guarding the Capitol.
"People died that day," Raskin said. "Officers ended up with head damage and brain damage. People's eyes were gouged. An officer had a heart attack. An officer lost three fingers that day. Two officers have taken their own lives. Senators, this cannot be our future. This cannot be the future of America."