As opening arguments from the House impeachment case managers moved towards their conclusion in the ongoing trial of ex-President Donald Trump in the Senate on a charge of incitement of insurrection, members of the House handling the impeachment case laid out Trump’s personal culpability in the deadly violence that unfolded at the U.S. Capitol on January 6. On that day, a frenzied mob of Trump’s supporters stormed the Capitol and attempted to forcibly stop the Congressional proceedings to formally certify Biden’s electoral college victory, and the violence led to multiple deaths and many serious injuries. The rioters proceeded under the pretense of Trump’s deranged lie that the 2020 presidential election was rigged for Biden.
As the trial proceedings got underway on Thursday, House impeachment manager Rep. Diana DeGette (D-Colo.) commented as follows:
‘In the next few minutes, I want to step back from the horrors of the attack itself and look at January 6 from a totally different perspective, the perspective of the insurrectionists themselves. Their own statements before, during and after the attack make clear the attack was done for Donald Trump at his instructions and to fulfill his wishes. Donald Trump had sent them there.’
Among many other similar examples, Robert Bauer — who was one of the Capitol rioters and has since faced federal charges — “reiterated that he marched to the U.S. Capitol because President Trump said to do so,” as summarized in filings outlining his charges. At a rally outside in D.C. where Trump himself spoke on January 6, members of the crowd shouted “Storm the Capitol!” and called out a demand to “invade the Capitol building.” The direct connection between Trump’s lies and the violence is unmistakably clear.
“‘Storm the Capitol.’ ‘Invade the Capitol.’… ‘Take the Capitol right now.’ These were the words of the crowd. Trump was telling them to fight and he would keep telling them to fight throughout the rest of his speech.” pic.twitter.com/GUWXMYZgdn
— The Republican Accountability Project (@AccountableGOP) February 10, 2021
Notably, Trump’s personal encouragement and incitement of violence extends back beyond the immediate context of the 2020 presidential election. For instance, in 2018, Trump explicitly praised Rep. Greg Gianforte (R-Mont.) over an incident in which he bodyslammed a reporter. More recently, after armed demonstrators stormed the Michigan state Capitol building in 2020 in a show of force against COVID-19 restrictions in the state, Trump characterized members of the mob as “very good people.”
Discussing the issue on Thursday, lead impeachment manager Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.) commented as follows:
‘If we don’t draw the line here, what’s next? What makes you think the nightmare with Donald Trump and his lawmaking and violent mobs is over? If we let him get away with it, and then it comes to your state capitol or it comes back here again, what are we going to say? These prior acts of incitement cast a harsh light on Trump’s obvious intent.’
In remarks on January 6, at the rally where supporters shouted messages like “Storm the Capitol!”, Trump explicitly admonished his followers to “fight like hell” in response to imaginary nationwide election fraud. As Raskin put it, Trump “knew that egged on by his tweets and his messages for a wild time in Washington, his extreme followers would show up bright and early, ready to attack, ready for extreme violence to fight like hell for their hero.”
.@RepRaskin is doing an outstanding job demonstrating Trump’s pattern of inciting violence for more than four years.
— Walter Shaub (@waltshaub) February 11, 2021
Addressing Senators, Raskin added as follows:
‘My dear colleagues, is there any political leader in this room who believes if he’s ever allowed by the Senate to get back into the Oval Office, Donald Trump would stop inciting violence to get his way? Would you bet the lives of more police officers on that? Would you bet the safety of your family on that? Would you bet the future of your democracy on that? President Trump declared his conduct totally appropriate. So if he gets back into office and it happens again, we’ll have no one to blame but ourselves.’
Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-MD) asks senators if they believe Donald Trump would stop inciting violence if he was allowed back into the Oval Office:
“Would you bet the lives of more police officers on that? … Would you bet the future of your democracy on that?”pic.twitter.com/VAu8Wf1gl0
— The Recount (@therecount) February 11, 2021
After Raskin’s remarks, fellow impeachment manager Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.) reiterated that Trump hasn’t even acknowledged an issue with his remarks on January 6. Senators could ban Trump from running for office again, but the level of support that would be required for such a move seems unlikely given Republican partisanship.
Rep. Raskin: "President Trump declared his conduct totally appropriate. So, if he gets back into office and it happens again, we'll have no one to blame but ourselves."
— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) February 11, 2021