Trump Failed to Intervene, Democrats Say: Impeachment Update
(Bloomberg) -- Donald Trump’s second impeachment trial is underway in the Senate, with members of the House’s prosecution team delivering their case, including graphic video from the deadly Jan. 6 attack.
The nine impeachment managers presenting the charge against the former president argue that he betrayed his oath of office by inciting his followers to storm the Capitol. Trump’s lawyers counter that he didn’t prod his supporters to violence and simply exercised his First Amendment rights.
Democrats Say Trump Failed to Intervene (7:25 p.m.)
Representative David Cicilline tore into Trump, saying he did nothing to protect lawmakers from the mob at the Capitol for hours and contended that the president was initially “delighted” by the attack.
“Literally, the president sat delighted, doing nothing to help us,” said Cicilline, one of the House impeachment managers. “The only action that we know that he took, an hour into this attack, was to call Senator Tuberville, to ask him to delay the certification” of Joe Biden’s election victory.
Hours later, Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani continued to urge freshman Republican Senator Tommy Tuberville of Alabama in a voicemail to slow down the counting.
“His focus was the same goal of the attackers he incited — to stop the certification process and prevent a peaceful transition of power,” Cicilline said. “Donald Trump abdicated his duty to us all. We have to make this right, and you can make it right.”
But Republican Senator Mike Lee of Utah later rose to challenge as untrue remarks attributed to him about a call from Trump, and the House managers withdrew the assertion before adjourning for the evening. News accounts indicated that Trump had accidentally called Lee’s phone in trying to reach Tuberville.
Representative Joaquin Castro, another of the House managers, said all Trump had to do was to intervene earlier than he did to say “stop, go home.”
“Trump left everyone in this Capitol for dead,” Castro said. -- Steven Dennis
Thune Calls Prosecutors ‘Very Effective’ (6:13 p.m.)
South Dakota Senator John Thune, the No. 2 GOP leader, wouldn’t rule out voting to convict Trump and said Wednesday’s presentation by Democratic House impeachment managers was “very effective.”
“I’ve said all along I’m going to listen to the arguments and look at the evidence, and I’m doing that,” Thune said. “These guys were, I think they were very effective. I’ll see what kind of arguments that the defense puts up. But, yeah, I’m gonna listen and draw conclusions when it’s all done.”
Thune said the managers’ compilation of graphic video from the deadly Jan. 6 attack was a “harsh reminder of what happens when you let something like that get out of hand.”
Thune said the prosecution team did “a good job connecting the dots” between Trump’s actions and the violence, including the former president’s tweets leading up to the attack.
“They had a strong presentation put together in a way that I think makes it very compelling,” Thune said.
By contrast, Republican Senator Ted Cruz of Texas told reporters the Democrats “spent a great deal of time focusing on the horrific acts of violence that were played out by the criminals, but the language from the president doesn’t come close to meeting the legal standard for incitement.” -- Laura Litvan
‘We Lost the Line!’ Police Officer Radioed (5:25 p.m.)
Police radio calls presented by House impeachment managers showed an officer pleading for assistance and saying that police outside the Capitol on Jan. 9 were being overwhelmed by the mob of Trump supporters.
“We’re still taking rocks, bottles and pieces of flag and metal pole,” officers radioed and then, “We lost the line! We’ve lost the line!”
Before taking a break, Democrats showed for the second time the wrenching video of D.C. Police Officer Daniel Hodges, crying out in pain as rioters tried to crush his head in a doorway in the Capitol. -- Laura Litvan
‘Too Late’ for Nonviolence, Rioter Said (5:09 p.m.)
Officers who fought Trump supporters for hours weren’t just fighting to protect the lawmakers and others in the Capitol building, Representative Eric Swalwell, one of the House impeachment managers, said.
“They were there to protect the votes of the American people that were being counted that day,” he said as House Democrats continued to show graphic video of the mob attack on Jan. 6
The California Democrat introduced footage of the mob pushing through a door near the Capitol Rotunda, and then showed rioters storming through the Crypt, the area a floor below.
Outside, the mob was getting larger, Swalwell said. He introduced footage of rioters moving toward the House chamber, some chanting “We want Trump! We want Trump!”
Swalwell said someone could be heard yelling, “No violence!” Another person responded, “Too late for that!” and “They don’t listen without that.” -- Laura Litvan and Billy House
Rioters Sought to Get to Pence and Pelosi (4:41 p.m.)
Rioting Trump supporters sought to get to Vice President Mike Pence and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and would have killed them if they could, Delegate Stacey Plaskett of the U.S. Virgin Islands said.
Security footage showed for the first time at the impeachment trial captured Capitol Police Officer Eugene Goodman luring the mob away from a side room Pence was in and from the Senate chamber. The rioters got as close to 100 feet to the vice president as many chanted, “We want Pence! We want Pence.”
Pence and his family are shown later being escorted out of the room they were in and down a staircase, Pence looking back twice. Goodman also ushered Republican Senator Mitt Romney to safety.
Other attackers shown in the video mockingly called out “where are you, Nancy?” as they sought to seize the speaker.
Senators listened in rapt silence as video and audio clips were played, the sound of glass breaking and attackers banging on doors echoing loudly off the walls and ceiling of the Senate chamber. -- Billy House, Steven Dennis and Daniel Flatley
Graphic Video Shows the Mob’s Attack (4:27 p.m.)
House impeachment managers showed graphic video, some of it not previously seen, of violent Trump supporters attacking police and breaching the Capitol. It was “the mob that Donald Trump sent,” Delegate Stacey Plaskett of the Virgin Islands said.
At the start of the attack, audio of police radio calls captured officers citing “multiple law enforcement injuries” and that “they’re throwing metal poles at us.” Then the haunting message: “1349 hours. Declaring it a riot.”
Other video clips showed rioters smashing windows, banging on doors, attacking police and screaming. Some of them were in body armor, including members of the Proud Boys. -- Steven Dennis and Billy House
‘I Will Never Forget That Sound,’ Dean Says (4 p.m.)
“I will never forget that sound” of glass breaking outside the House chamber as a mob attempted to break in, Representative Madeleine Dean, one of the House impeachment managers said, choking up several times as she recounted the attack on Jan. 6. She said she frantically called family members before being evacuated with other lawmakers.
The Pennsylvania Democrat said Trump tweeted 34 times on that day in a “relentless” storm of communications falsely calling the November election fraudulent. At a rally, Trump didn’t just tell supporters to “stop the steal,” she said, but “told them exactly what he wanted” -- to go the Capitol and “fight like hell or you’re not going to have a country anymore.”
Countering the argument by Trump’s defense team that he never urged violence, she said he told protesters just once that he knew they’d make their case “peacefully and patriotically,” but otherwise used words like “combat” and “fight.”
“Those are not just words of aggression,” she said. “They are words of insurrection.” -- Laura Litvan
Trump ‘Ran Out of Nonviolent’ Ways: Lieu (2:57 p.m.)
Representative Ted Lieu, one of the House impeachment managers, said the attack on the Capitol happened because Trump “ran out of nonviolent” ways to keep his hold on power.
The California Democrat said Trump’s tweets leading up to Jan. 6 “baited” Republicans to join his effort to overturn the election, including one that called on then-Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell “to get tougher or you won’t have a Republican Party anymore.”
Trump also pressured former Attorney General William Barr, Acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen and others to probe his baseless allegations of election fraud, causing Barr to resign after he found otherwise, Lieu said.
“For Bill Barr, making up election fraud claims and saying the election was stolen was a bridge too far,” Lieu said.
The mob that gathered on Jan. 6 made death threats against Mike Pence, after Trump repeatedly called on his vice president to refuse to announce certification of the Electoral College results making Joe Biden’s victory official. That last nonviolent Trump tactic failed, Lieu said, when Pence “stood strong and certified the election.” -- Laura Litvan
Senators Listen, Chat, Share M&Ms (2:45 p.m.)
Throughout Wednesday afternoon, the senator-jurors from both parties mostly sat and listened intently, although some disappeared from their chairs for longer breaks than others.
Several Republicans kept busy reading material at their desks, while Democrats more often kept a focus on the House managers as they delivered their arguments. All of the lawmakers looked up when the managers showed tweets or played video footage on screens in the front of the chamber.
Some senators passed notes. Majority Leader Chuck Schumer sent one to fellow Democrat Mark Warner. Others talked in the back of the chamber. Republican Senator Susan Collins flipped through a large binder with many dividers. Republican Marco Rubio took notes. GOP Senator Josh Hawley sat alone for much of the time in the upper gallery of the Senate, taking notes with some manila folders in his lap.
Democratic Representative Eric Swalwell, one of the House impeachment managers, quoted Wednesday from a Jan. 5 tweet by Trump in which he decried “the weak and ineffective RINO section of the Republican Party,” tagging the Twitter handles of Senate GOP leader Mitch McConnell and Republicans John Cornyn and John Thune.
At that, Cornyn of Texas could be seen talking under his Covid mask, saying something to Thune, who was sitting across an aisle. Thune of South Dakota nodded his head up and down. McConnell, sitting a few seats away, showed no reaction.
There were lighter moments as well. Democratic Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey entered the chamber Tuesday and dumped a reusable grocery bag full of packets of M&Ms onto his desk -- peanut and regular. Fellow Democrats came over to take some packets. Elizabeth Warren said “Trick or treat!” -- Billy House and Daniel Flatley
Democrats Say Trump ‘Lit the Match’ (1:37 p.m.)
Eric Swalwell, one of the House impeachment managers, said Trump engaged in a series of “false, outlandish lies” that the November election was rigged in order to incite his supporters, likening the former president’s actions to someone trying “to light the match” on a bonfire.
“It was about dramatizing the election to anger his supporters,” Representative Swalwell said.
Swalwell recounted a series of tweets Trump made after he lost to Joe Biden by 7 million votes, including one that claimed that “dead people voted” and another that said “illegal votes” were discovered. The California Democrat also introduced as evidence video of Trump at a rally and elsewhere claiming there were “vote dumps” and “dead people voting all over the place.”
Swalwell highlighted the way Trump used tweets to attack the Republican governors of Arizona and Georgia, states he lost narrowly. And he said the president helped to incite protesters to protest at the home of Michigan’s Democratic Governor Gretchen Whitmer one night, introducing video where some called her “a threat to democracy.”
Swalwell also cited a Trump tweet likening the purported stealing of the election to “an act of war” and complaining that Mitch McConnell and other Republican senators were letting it happen. -- Laura Litvan and Steven Dennis
Democrats Detail Trump’s Election-Night Lies (1:25 p.m.)
Representative Joaquin Castro, a Texas Democrat and one of the impeachment managers, said Trump’s false claims of victory and fraud on Election Night were intended to inflame his base.
“He told his supporters that he actually won the election and the whole thing was a fraud. He said that on Nov. 4th, and he has never recanted that statement since,” Castro said. “The most combustible thing you can do in a democracy is convince people that an election doesn’t count.”
Trump continued to ramp up his lies with an all-caps tweet on Nov. 5, Castro said, calling on election officials to stop counting votes.
“That’s what it looks like when Donald Trump wants people to stop doing something,” Castro said, drawing a sharp contrast to Trump’s lack of action on Jan. 6 to halt the rioters.
When they got the order to stop the count, Trump’s supporters responded, Castro said.
“They showed up at election centers across the country to do just that,” he said. “It was a blatant act of political intimidation.” -- Steven Dennis and Jarrell Dillard
Lindsey Graham Told Trump ‘Case is Over’ (1:05 p.m.)
Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, one of Trump’s closest allies, says he spoke to the former president Tuesday night after the first day of the trial and assured him that “the case is over” and the trial will end in acquittal.
The South Carolina senator said he told Trump that one of his defense attorneys, David Schoen, “did a pretty good job,” despite widespread criticism of his other attorney, Bruce Castor.
“Bottom line is, I reinforced to the president, the case is over,“ Graham said Wednesday. “It’s just a matter of getting the final verdict now.”
Graham told reporters he expects more than 44 GOP senators to vote to acquit Trump. Only six of the chamber’s 50 Republicans yesterday voted with Democrats to declare the trial constitutional. It would take 67 votes to convict Trump when the trial ends.
“I think the vote for not guilty will probably grow beyond 44,” he told reporters. -- Laura Litvan
Democrats Show Weeks of Trump’s Election Lie (12:54 p.m.)
Representative Joe Neguse said Trump set the stage for the riot months in advance by telling his supporters, even before the Nov. 3 election, that the only way he could lose is if the election was stolen from him.
Those falsehoods ramped up after Trump lost, as he urged his supporters to “stop the steal” and then, on Jan. 6, to “fight like hell.”
“He knew when he took that podium on that fateful day that those in attendance had heeded his words“ and were ready to fight, Neguse said.
”When in our history has a speech led thousands of people to storm our nation’s capitol with weapons? To scale the walls? Break windows? Kill a Capitol Police Officer?” Neguse asked. “This was not just a speech.”
The Colorado Democrat said the riot came after Trump’s efforts to win in the courts, influence state legislatures and ultimately intimidate his own vice president to overturn the election all failed.
The call to “stop the steal,” Neguse told the senators, was “to stop you. To stop us.”
Neguse also played video footage of people who participated in the riot saying they were in Washington that day because they believed that’s what Trump had called on them to do. -- Steven Dennis and Jarrell Dillard
Democrats Call Trump ‘Inciter-in-Chief’ (12:28 p.m.)
Lead House impeachment manager Jamie Raskin opened his argument by telling senators that his team will prove that Trump bears direct responsibility for the Jan. 6 attack and that he spent weeks beforehand calling his supporters to Washington.
“We will prove that the impeached president was no innocent bystander,” Raskin said, pointing to December tweets by Trump urging people to come to Washington to protest that day. “He incited this attack, and he saw it coming.”
Raskin said Trump’s actions were designed to prevent certification of Joe Biden’s victory and that was “the greatest betrayal of the presidential oath in the history of the United States.”
Raskin also said the Senate has settled the question of whether Trump can be tried and convicted because he’s a private citizen. Raskin said the constitutional issue has been decided, and the proceedings are now about fact-finding.
Raskin used Trump’s video message and tweets from Jan. 6 to show that Trump continued to echo the lie that he actually won the election, suggesting that the former president’s sympathies were with the rioters, not with those in the Capitol who were under attack.
“The stakes of this trial could not be more serious,” Raskin said, adding that the American public is following the Senate trial. He encouraged families to watch together and said impeachment managers will give warnings ahead of particularly “graphic” video of the attack. -- Laura Litvan and Mike Dorning
Trial Day Starts With Prosecution’s Case (12:04 p.m.)
House impeachment managers kicked off opening arguments on Wednesday, set to deliver an emotional recounting of the events of Jan. 6.
The prosecution team will have a maximum 16 hours split over two days to present their case, although aides indicated that Democrats won’t use their full alloted time. That will be followed by 16 hours for Trump’s defense.
Democrats Say Incitement Started Early (10 a.m.)
The House impeachment managers will lay out their case Wednesday, contending that Trump’s incitement of the mob that attacked the Capitol began much earlier with his false claims of election fraud, according to aides who briefed reporters.
Although attention has focused mostly on Trump’s fiery rhetoric on Jan. 6, the House Democrats presenting their case will look at his months of claims that the election would be stolen and, later, that he won it despite the actual results, inspiring “Stop the Steal” rhetoric before the attack.
The managers, who defended the constitutionality of the trial on Tuesday with vivid video recreating the attack, also plan to show more video taken from Capitol security cameras.
The House members plan to finish presenting their case on Thursday, not using all 16 hours allotted for them before Trump’s lawyers get their turn. -- Billy House
Candidate Says Trial Inspired Him to Run (9:15 a.m.)
Josh Mandel, Ohio’s Republican former state treasurer, cited Trump’s impeachment as his reason to run for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Rob Portman in 2022.
“Watching this sham impeachment has made my blood boil and motivated me to run,” Mandel, who ran unsuccessfully for the Senate in 2012 and in 2018 before dropping out of the race, said in a tweet on Tuesday.
Mandel also said he’s “going to Washington to fight for President Trump’s America First Agenda,” trying to stake out his position as the Trump candidate in a state the former president won twice by about 8 percentage points.
But Jane Timken, the Ohio Republican Party chairwoman under Trump, resigned last week in anticipation of a possible Senate bid and also vowed to “continue the fight for him and the America First agenda in a new capacity going forward.” -- Mark Niquette
House Managers to Present Their Case (6 a.m.)
House impeachment managers will have as much as 16 hours over two days to present their case to convict Trump, starting at noon on Wednesday. After that, his lawyers will follow with their presentation of up to 16 hours in a trial likely to run into the weekend, if not beyond.
On Tuesday, the House Democrats showed a damning, if selective, video montage with Trump urging action juxtaposed against the violence of the mob that left his rally to attack the Capitol. And after a shaky start, Trump’s lawyers denounced what one of them called “the political weaponization of the impeachment process,” fueled by “base hatred” and fear that Trump will run again in 2024.
But those were just the preliminaries.
The House Democrats pushing for Trump’s impeachment won an initial victory Tuesday, but it might not be an omen of success. Six Republican senators joined Democrats in a 56-44 vote that the trial of a former president is constitutional. Several of the GOP members bemoaned a rambling opening performance by Trump lawyer Bruce Castor.
Yet 17 Republicans would have to join all of the Senate’s Democrats if Trump’s critics are to muster the 67 votes that would be needed to convict him at the end of the trial, an outcome that remains very unlikely.
Where to Watch:
You can catch the proceedings live on the Bloomberg Terminal or streaming on the web at bloomberg.com. Cable news networks CNN, Fox News and MSNBC are likely to show significant portions of the trial. C-SPAN 2, which covers Senate floor proceedings, will broadcast it on cable and online.
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