Stunning footage from US Capitol security cameras, body cameras, public source video and audio recordings of fearful police officers headlined the prosecutors’ case to convict former Donald Trump during the first full day of arguments in the former President’s second impeachment trial.
Trump is charged with “incitement of insurrection”. On January 6, a pro-Trump mob stormed the US Capitol after attending a rally where Trump urged them “fight like hella after months of claiming that the election was stolen.
In more than six hours of arguments, Trump’s made-for-TV strategy – a centerpiece of his four years in power – came full circle. Blow by blow, prosecutors recreated with time stamped video and throbbing red dots a story of how close the rioters came to the entire power structure of US politics. “Many of you don’t know how close you were to the rioters. You were 58 steps away,” Eric Swalwell, one of the nine impeachment managers, told the 100 Senators in attendance.
House managers say that assassinating then Vice President Mike Pence and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was at the heart of the rioters’ agenda. Prosecutors, via video evidence, are drawing a straight line from Trump to the rioters.
“Oh, Nancy! Where are you, Nancy!,” rioters bellow as they advance into the US Capitol, armed to the teeth. In video shown Wednesday, rioters chanted “Hang Mike Pence!” and “Bring out Pence!” as they prowled around the halls searching for the former vice president and other lawmakers. Outside, the mob set up makeshift gallows, ready with a noose on the vast grounds of the Capitol.
“And when his mob overran and occupied the Senate and attacked the House and assaulted law enforcement, he watched it on TV like a reality show. He revealed in it,” said Rep. Jamie Raskin, the lead prosecutor, who called Trump the “inciter-in-chief” of the January 6 insurrection, not “an innocent bystander”.
After both sides have spoken, when the Senate finally votes on whether Trump is guilty or not guilty of incitement of insurrection, at least 67 votes will be required to convict Trump.AThe Senate is divided 50-50 between Democrats and Republicans.
Plenty of Republicans had their legs up on tables or not looking at the video presentation as prosecutors urged Senators to watch as Trump lit the match.
(Nikhila Natarajan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)