- The first full day of arguments in the Senate impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump were under way on Wednesday.
- Tuesday’s proceedings focused on the constitutionality of holding impeachment proceedings for a former president, with the Senate voting 56-44 that the trial is legal.
- The prosecution and defence will now have 16 hours each to present their case, with House impeachment managers going first.
- They will argue that Trump’s campaign of misinformation to overturn the victory of President Joe Biden, and his comments to supporters before the US Capitol riot on January 6, amounted to “incitement of insurrection”.
- After arguing that a president cannot be convicted in the Senate after leaving office, the defence is expected to focus on the argument that Trump’s statements are protected as free speech.
Welcome to Al Jazeera’s coverage of the impeachment trial. This is Joseph Stepansky and William Roberts.
Republican Murkowski says video evidence presented by House managers ‘pretty damning’
Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski said she was deeply disturbed by the video evidence shown by Democrats against former President Donald Trump at the impeachment trial.
Speaking to reporters during a break Wednesday evening, Murkowski said the Democrats’ presentation was “pretty damning”, according to The Associated Press.
She added: “I just don’t see how Donald Trump could be reelected like this to the presidency again.”
Trump did nothing to help members of Congress during the attack: House managers
“The first hour and half of this bloody attack, Donald Trump tweeted his rally speech and did nothing else,” Representative David Cicilline told the Senate.
“President Trump was reportedly and I quote ‘borderline enthusiastic’, because it meant a certification was being derailed,” Cicilline said.
“This was the singular focus of Donald Trump during this bloody, violent attack on the Capitol, stopping certification,” he said.
During the attack, Trump called Republican Senator Tommy Tuberville to urge him to raise additional objections to the certification of the Electoral College votes for Joe Biden, the election winner.
Senator Romney tells reporters video evidence ‘tears at your heart’
Senator Mitt Romney said the video evidence presented by House managers was compelling and emotive.
“It tears at your heart and brings tears to your eyes. That was overwhelmingly distressing and emotional,” Romney, a Republican, told reporters at the Capitol.
Romney said he was brought to tears watching a video shown of Capitol Police Officer Eugene Goodman directing him away from the mob.
The senator had not seen that video before and had not realised how close he had been to the rioters.
“I was very fortunate indeed”
Senators watched, ‘transfixed’ by video evidence : Al Jazeera correspondent
As Democratic impeachment managers presented never-before-seen footage of the riot from US Capitol security cameras, “every senator was transfixed,” reports Al Jazeera correspondent Alan Fisher.
“Every senator was transfixed by what was being presented. They all were here on the day but every single one of them was watching incredibly closely,” Fisher said.
Perhaps seeing for the first time how close rioters came to Vice President Mike Pence and the senators themselves as they evacuated, Fisher pointed out “that may well send a chill through them.”
US Senate impeachment trial is in recess for dinner until 6:15 ET
Video of police officer being crushed by mob is shown to Senate
Video of a District of Columbia police officer being crushed in a doorway by the pro-Trump mob that attacked the Capitol on January 6 was presented as evidence in the Senate trial.
DC officer Daniel Hodges, who survived the attack, can be heard screaming in agony as the crowd surged forward, repeatedly pinning him in the doorway.
Police body camera video shows mob attack at Capitol
House managers showed body camera video of the rioters attacking the front line of officers on the west side of the US Capitol. The video shows the crowd attacking police with sticks, poles, a crutch and other objects.
Video shows Senate leader Schumer turned around by rioters
Security footage from the US Capitol shows Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer escaping down a hallway and then suddenly turning around and running with a police escort to get away via a different path from the mob of rioters inside the building.
House managers show video of police shooting of Ashli Babbitt
Representative Eric Swalwell narrated a video of the shooting by a Capitol Police officer of Ashli Babbitt, a pro-Trump rioter who attempted to climb through a smashed window into a lobby of the House chamber.
The graphic video was made by a protester. A handgun is seen and discharged, and Babbitt’s body is thrown from the window on to the floor.
Democrats again show the video of a police officer shooting and killing a woman who was trying to enter the lobby off the House floor, where lawmakers were sheltering. pic.twitter.com/kODeJ06ISF
— Jamie Dupree (@jamiedupree) February 10, 2021
Video shows Romney being diverted from rioters’ path
Security footage presented by House impeachment manager showed Capitol Police officer Eugene Goodman diverting Mitt Romney from the path of rioters.
House impeachment manager Stacey Plaskett also played audio of a staff member of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi calling for help while barricaded in an inner conference room in Pelosi’s office.
“They’re pounding the door trying to find her,” the staffer says, referring to Pelosi.
House impeachment managers show new security footage
House impeachment managers detailed how rioters broke into the US Capitol and were diverted away from the Senate chamber by police officer Eugene Goodman.
“They were within 100 feet of where the vice president was sheltering with his family. And they were just a few feet away from one of the doors to this chamber where many of you remained at that time,” House impeachment manager Stacey Plaskett said.
Surveillance footage showed Vice President Mike Pence and his family being evacuated from the building, with Plaskett saying that much of the rioters’ ire, fuelled by Trump’s words, was focused on Pence.
“You can hear the mob calling for the death of the vice president of the United States,” she said, referring to video played for senators, which was accompanied by a map that showed how the rioters moved through the complex.
House impeachment managers to detail US Capitol breach
House impeachment managers, after spending the morning arguing that Trump laid the groundwork for the US Capitol riots in his misinformation campaign and support of violence, will detail the events of January 6.
The House managers “will recreate the attack as it unfolded focusing on the threats to Vice President Pence, Speaker Pelosi, the joint session and law enforcement,” Jamie Raskin said.
“I do want to alert everyone that there is some very graphic violent footage coming, so people are aware,” he said.
The presentation included never-before-seen security footage and police communications audio.
Analyst: Trump legal team expected to lean on ‘free speech’ argument
As the House Democratic impeachment managers lay out their detailed argument that Trump’s alleged “incitement” of the US Capitol riot was well planned and deliberate, his legal team is readying for their rebuttal that his remarks fall under “free speech” and were not part of a premeditated effort, University of Chicago Law School’s Tom Ginsburg told Al Jazeera.
“We have very broad free speech rules in the United States and it’s arguable that President Trump’s speech would not actually be criminal incitement under our existing law,” Ginsburg said.
“So, they’re going to try to frame it as ‘you know, he was just doing political speech’. They’re obviously going to try to make the claim that these were people who were acting on their own.”
Plaskett says permit for January 6 rally changed when Trump team got involved
House impeachment manager Stacey Plaskett said that an original permit for the Ellipse Trump rally did not allow a march to the Capitol.
“It was not until after President Trump and his team became involved in the planning that the march from the Ellipse to the Capitol came about in direct contravention of the original permit,” she said.
She also detailed evidence of coordination and planning of the Capitol breach and violence in online forums, including blueprints of the complex and discussion of the strength of the Capitol police force.
“There were hundreds of these posts. Hundreds monitored by the Trump administration,” she said.
Plaskett: Trump telling Proud Boys to ‘stand back and stand by’ was incitement
House impeachment manager Stacey Plaskett directly connected Trump telling the far-right Proud Boys group to “stand back and stand by” to the US Capitol violence.
“When asked to condemn the Proud Boys and white supremacists … he said ‘stand back and stand by’. His message was heard loud and clear,” she said.
She said the Proud Boys, who prominently took part in the January 6 riot, officially adopted the phrase “stand back and stand by”.
She also referenced Trump retweeting a video of his supporters attacking a Biden campaign bus in Texas, saying it was part of a larger pattern of supporting violence.
Lieu recounts Trump pressure on VP Pence
House impeachment manager Ted Lieu recounted how Trump continued his claims that the election was “stolen” even after the US attorney general said there was no evidence of fraud.
Trump then turned on Vice President Mike Pence, pressuring him to stop the certification process, although he had no legal standing to do so.
“President Trump kept repeating the myth that Pence could stop this certification to his base to anger them, hoping to intimidate Mike Pence,” he said.
“As a veteran, I find it deeply dishonorable that our former president and commander in chief equated patriotism with violating the constitution and overturning [the election],” he said.
LIVE: Democratic House Managers to show new evidence at former US President Trump’s impeachment trial. Trump’s lawyers will speak in the coming days and reject the charge that he incited the deadly Capitol riot. Read More: https://t.co/JzzhL7vqwH https://t.co/DM61HzRKVK
— Al Jazeera News (@AJENews) February 10, 2021
Dean details Trump pressure on state election officials
House impeachment manager Madeleine Dean detailed Trump’s pressure campaign on local election officials to find fraud in the vote.
Dean focused primarily on Georgia, saying Trump did not yield his pressure, even after local officials and their families faced death threats.
Dean also detailed Trump’s January call with Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, in which the president urged the official to “find” more votes. He suggested Raffensperger could face consequences if he did not substantiate the baseless fraud claims.
“Let’s be clear, this is the president of the United States telling a secretary of state that if he does not find votes, he will face criminal penalties,” she said. “He says it right there, the president of the United States, telling a public official to manufacture the exact votes needed so we can win.”
“Senators, ours is a dialogue with history, a conversation with the past with a hope for the future,” she said.
Analyst: Republicans have a ‘safe harbour’ to vote to acquit
Despite the “overwhelming evidence” that is being laid out against Trump by the House Democratic impeachment managers, Senate Republicans have a legal “safe harbour” to still vote against convicting the former president, Columbia Law School’s Philip Bobbitt told Al Jazeera.
“They may say ‘we don’t dispute the facts but there’s a constitutional barrier to trying and convicting a private person.’ And Article II, Section 4 [of the US Constitution] supports that,” Bobbitt said.
“So, there is a place for Republicans who condemn the president, and don’t dispute this, this overwhelming evidence, they can say that the president should be tried in ordinary criminal court,” he said.
Swalwell: Trump likened ‘stolen’ election to ‘act of war’
House impeachment manager Eric Swalwell, arguing that a canvas of Trump’s tweets show that he supported violence at the Capitol, noted that Trump had likened the “stolen” election to an “act of war”.
In a December 26 tweet, Trump wrote: “If a Democrat Presidential Candidate had an election rigged & stolen, with proof of such acts at a level never seen before, the Democrat Senators would consider it an act of war, and fight to the death.”
Swalwell also referenced how Trump targeted specific Republicans and election officials in his tweets.
“This was never about one speech, he built this mob over many months with repeated messaging, until they believed that they had been robbed of their votes, and they would do anything to stop the certification,” he said.
Castro details progression of Trump’s claim election was ‘stolen’
Impeachment manager Joaquin Castro argued that Trump’s claims that the vote would be “rigged” or “stolen” months before election day laid the groundwork for the Capitol violence, claims he built on as he continued to deny the election results.
“This is clearly a man who refuses to accept the possibility, or the reality, in our democracy of losing an election,” he said.
“Can you imagine telling your supporters that the only way you could possibly lose is if an American election was rigged and stolen from you?” Castro asked senators. “Ask yourself whether you’ve ever seen anyone at any level of government make the same claim about their own election.”
Neguse focuses on Trump phrases: ‘Election was stolen’, ‘stop the steal’, and ‘Fight like hell’
House manager Joe Neguse said the prosecution will focus on three repeated phrases Trump used: The “election was stolen”, “Stop the steal”, and “fight like hell”.
Neguse called the riot “part of a carefully planned months-long effort with a very specific instruction to show up on January 6, and get [his supporters] to fight the certification”.
“This mob was well orchestrated. Their conduct was intentional. They did it all in plain sight proudly openly and loudly, because they believed, they truly believed that they were doing this for him,” he said.
Neguse said Trump’s January 6 speech moments before the riot was a “call to arms. It was not rhetorical. Some of his supporters had been primed for many months.”
Raskin: Riot was ‘a day of celebration’ to Trump
Citing a tweet Trump wrote at 18:01 pm ET after the riot subsided, Jamie Raskin said it “was all perfectly natural and foreseeable to Donald Trump” and that the former president treated it as “a day of celebration”.
Trump tweeted “These are the things and events that happen when the sacred landslide election victory is so unceremoniously & viciously stripped away from great patriots who have been badly and unfairly treated for so long.”
Raskin argued, “he basically says, ‘I told you this would happen.’ And then he adds, ‘remember this day forever.’ But not as a day of disgrace, a day of horror and trauma, as the rest of us remember it, but as a day of celebration, a day of commemoration.”
Raskin recalls Trump told Capitol rioters: ‘We love you’
Raskin argued that Trump showed little remorse during and after the deadly US Capitol riot, noting the president told rioters “we love you” and that they were “special” in a video address urging them to go home.
Raskin also noted that Trump tweeted shortly after the riot saying “these are the things and events that happen when a sacred landslide election victory is so unceremoniously and viciously stripped away from great patriots who have been badly and unfairly treated for so long”.
“Remember this day forever,” Trump told his supporters.
Lead house manger Raskin: Trump ‘inciter in chief’
Beginning arguments in the second day of Trump’s impeachment trial, lead House impeachment manager Jamie Raskin rebutted the defence’s claim that the president’s comments were not directly connected to the US Capitol riot.
Raskin said the House managers will present evidence that shows “President Trump was no innocent bystander” and that “he clearly incited the January 6 insurrection”.
“The evidence will show you that he saw it coming, and was not remotely surprised by the violence,” he said.
The evidence will show that Trump had been “warned that these followers were prepared for a violent attack targeting us at the Capitol through media reports, law enforcement reports, and even arrests,” he said
The evidence “will show Donald Trump surrendered his role as commander in chief and became inciter in chief,” calling Trump the person “singularly responsible” for inciting the violence.
Georgia prosecutors initiate criminal investigation into Trump: Report
Prosecutors in Fulton County in Georgia have begun a criminal investigation into Trump’s attempts to overturn the election results in the state, including a phone call in which he pressured Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to change the vote count, according to US media reports.
The New York Times reported the county prosecutor sent letters to several officials, including Raffensperger, requesting they preserve documents related to “an investigation into attempts to influence the administration of the 2020 Georgia General Election”.
The letter did not mention Trump by name, but an unnamed official told the newspaper the investigation is related to the former president’s intervention.
The investigation was reported shortly before the second day of Trump’s impeachment trial, in which House prosecutors will seek to connect the president’s attempts to overturn the election with the violence at the US Capitol on January 6.
Read more here.
Democratic impeachment managers to show unreleased riot footage
House impeachment managers, who ran a graphic 13-minute video of Trump’s January 6 remarks mixed with social media footage of the US Capitol rioters, will show unreleased footage from Capitol security cameras on Wednesday, reports The Associated Press news agency.
The goal: to show “just how close Trump’s mob came to senators, members of Congress and staff”, a Democratic source told PBS.
NEWS: The *new* evidence being shown by Democratic House Impeachment Managers today is previously unseen security camera footage shot from inside the Capitol. A Dem source says that the video will show “just how close Trump’s mob came to senators, members of Congress and staff.”
— Yamiche Alcindor (@Yamiche) February 10, 2021
The Democratic impeachment managers will argue their case over the next two days before Trump’s legal team offers their defence on Friday and Saturday.
Who’s who in Trump’s impeachment
Nine impeachment managers, serving as prosecutors, will give up to 16 hours of arguments connecting Trump’s statements and attempts to overturn the election results to the deadly violence at the US Capitol on January 6.
Meanwhile, Trump’s defence, led by a former district attorney from Pennsylvania and a former lawyer for Trump ally Roger Stone, will argue that the president’s statements were protected as freedom of speech and were not directly connected to the violence.
Senators will serve as jurors. Democrats and Republicans currently hold 50 seats each in the 100-member chamber. A two-thirds majority is required to convict.
Here are the key players in Trump’s impeachment.
Recap of Tuesday’s proceedings
House managers on Tuesday argued that the majority constitutional scholars believe that a former president can face an impeachment trial.
Their arguments included a video montage of violence at the US Capitol on January 6 intercut with Trump’s baseless claims the election had been “stolen” from voters.
Lead impeachment manager Jamie Raskin gave an emotional account of his daughter visiting the Capitol on the day of the riot, a day after the family had buried his son.
Trump’s defence, meanwhile, focused on the minority of scholars who say a president cannot face impeachment after leaving office, and sought to portray the proceedings as a misguided effort to prevent Trump from running again in 2024.
Catch up on yesterday’s events here.
Trump livid at lawyers’ performance, but outcome unlikely to change
Trump, who watched the impeachment trial on Tuesday from his home in Palm Beach, Florida, was furious at his lawyers’ presentations, the AP reports, citing a person familiar with his thinking.
Yet their widely panned performance, particularly that of former Pennsylvania district attorney Bruce Castor, which was also criticised by Senate Republicans, will almost certainly not result in an unexpected conviction of the former president.
“The internal politics of the Republican Party, the politics of Republican primary elections for the United States Senate in the future, and the politics of the upcoming contest for the next presidential nomination make it virtually impossible that enough Republicans would side with the Democrats, regardless of the quality of the evidence and regardless of the performance of the president’s representation in the Senate trial,” Joseph Ura, a political science professor at Texas A&M University, told Al Jazeera.
“I think this is a case where the result is by and large predetermined by the partisanship of the folks voting there.”
— to www.aljazeera.com