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Democrats use Trump's own words against him in arguing he incited Capitol riot

Trump Impeachment
Joaquin Castro
Posted at 5:41 AM, Feb 10, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-11 09:34:56-05

UPDATE: 7:40 p.m. ET: Democrats wrapped up their arguments for the evening. The night ended with some parliamentary questions as Sen. Mike Lee asked for comments attributed to him during the Democrats' case be stricken from the record. The House prosecutors agreed, and said they would reconsider entering them into the record.

UPDATE: 7:20 p.m. ET: Democrats continue to argue that Trump failed to intervene when rioters stormed the US Capitol.

Rep. David Cicilline: "What's also clear is what Donald Trump, our Commander-in-Chief did in those initial hours to protect us. Nothing, not a thing."

UPDATE: 6:30 p.m. ET: Rep. David Cicilline is now laying out the actions of President Donald Trump during the Capitol riot.

UPDATE, 6 p.m. ET: Security footage from the Capitol insurrection was shown to senators on Wednesday during the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump. The newly released security video was captured from within the Capitol on Jan. 6 and showed how close Vice President Mike Pence, Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and other members of Congress came to encountering the rioters.

The Senate then went on recces until 6:15 p.m. ET.

More details on the security footage can be seen here.

UPDATE, 3:30 p.m. ET: While going over Trump’s speech before the insurrection, Impeachment Manager Madeleine Dean said the former president’s message was clear.

“He told the crowd what he meant and exactly what to do, literally commanding them to confront us at the Capitol. He even told them he’d walk there with them, which of course was not true,” said Dean.

Dean played video of the crowd’s reaction to Trump’s speech, with attendees getting ever more heated.

“Trump was telling (the crowd) to fight, and he would keep telling them to fight throughout the rest of his speech. These are not only words of aggression. These are words of insurrection,” said Dean.

UPDATE, 3:15 p.m. ET: Impeachment Manager Stacey Plaskett, a representative for the Virgin Islands, argued that former President Donald Trump “deliberately encouraged” violence on Jan. 6 and pointed to other incidents in which he failed to denounce violence by his supporters.

Plaskett, who is the first lawmaker from a U.S. territory to serve as an impeachment manager, recounted Trump’s call during a debate for the Proud Boys to “stand back and stand by.” She said, “his message was loud and clear.”

Plaskett made the point that Trump was riling his base up for the riot far before Jan. 6.

"The truth is President Trump had spent months calling his supporters to a march on a specific day, at a specific time, in specific places to stop the certification," she said. “That is why he must be convicted and disqualified."

UPDATE, 3:00 p.m. ET: In a particularly scathing presentation, impeachment manager Ted Lieu made the claim that President Donald Trump incited the Jan. 6 riots at the U.S. Capitol "because he ran out of non-violent actions" that he could take to remain in power.

Lieu recounted how Trump's efforts to overturn the results of the election escalated from judicial challenges to using the Justice Department to find evidence of fraud. When Attorney General Bill Barr found none, he later resigned when Trump continued to pressure him to increase efforts to find votes.

Lieu said Trump's efforts reached a peak on Jan. 6, when he continuously pressured Vice President Mike Pence to act outside powers granted to him by the Constitution and personally de-certify the results of the Electoral College.

Lieu later said Pence's decision to uphold Constitutional duties in the face of threats "showed us what it means to be an American."

UPDATE, 1:42 p.m. ET: In a presentation to Senators, impeachment managers Joaquin Castro and Eric Swalwell attempted to show that President Donald Trump planted the seeds of the riots at the Capitol months prior to Jan. 6, and claimed that the incitement began months before the 2020 election.

Castro pointed to Trump's tweets from over the summer, where Trump claimed without evidence that the upcoming election would be rife with fraud.

"(Trump) didn't care if his claims were true. He just wanted to make his supporters angry," Castro said.

Castro later said that it became clear that Trump's supporters would heed his calls to violence when they showed up at election centers in Arizona and Michigan hours after he baselessly alleged that fraud was taking place there.

Later, Swalwell pointed to steps Trump took to overturn the results of the election, even when it became clear he had exhausted his legal options to challenge the results. He pointed to his promotion of the "March for Trump" rally on Jan. 6 as a last-ditch attempt to stay in power.

"We know why he picked this day. It wasn't random. It was his last day to stop a peaceful transfer of power," Swalwell said.

Swalwell later went on to say that the evidence was "overwhelming" that Trump's incitement of the riot was "deliberate, planned and premeditated."

UPDATE, 12:42 p.m. ET: Early on in the Democrats' opening arguments, impeachment managers have signaled that they will rely heavily on Trump's own words and rhetoric up to and the day of Jan. 6.

Lead impeachment manager Jamie Raskin referred to Trump as the "inciter-in-chief" and drew attention to a video message Trump sent on Jan. 6, in which he called rioters "special people," and added that he "loved them."

"He celebrated the people who interfered with the peaceful transfer of power for the first time in American history," Raskin said.

Fellow manager Joe Neguse pointed to three specific terms Trump used for several weeks leading up to the Jan. 6 riots: The false claim that the "election was stolen," "stop the steal" and "fight like hell."

Neguse said those terms and the timing of his speech directly influenced his supporters to storm the Capitol and showed clips of supporters who said they were responding directly to Trump's orders.

ORIGINAL STORY: Arguments in the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump will get underway Wednesday, a day after Senators upheld the Constitutionality of the trial itself in a 56-44 vote.

On Wednesday, House impeachment managers will begin their 16 hours of the allotted time for arguments, which will take place over two days. Proceedings in the impeachment trial will resume at noon ET.

House Democrats impeached Trump on one charge of inciting an insurrection at the Capitol building on Jan. 6. Beginning Wednesday, impeachment managers will argue how Trump’s words and actions — from the run-up to the election to the speech he delivered to supporters moments before the riot began — inspired his supporters to storm the Capitol.

Arguments for Trump’s legal team will take place over 16 hours on Friday and Saturday, and Senators will then be given time to ask questions early next week. Following questions from Senators, the Senate will vote on conviction — a vote that is unlikely to reach the two-thirds threshold for conviction.

The trial is expected to wrap up in less than a week’s time.

What happened on Tuesday?

While proceedings in Trump’s second impeachment trial got underway Tuesday, no arguments in the case were held. Instead, managers and lawyers argued over whether Trump’s impeachment was Constitutional.

Six Republicans joined all 50 Democrats in voting to proceed with the trial — a measure that passed with a simple majority. The most surprising Republican to break ranks was Sen. Bill Cassidy of Louisiana, who slammed Trump’s legal team as unconvincing.

Several media outlets report that Trump is furious with the performance of his legal team.

Trump’s two lawyers, Bruce Castor and David Schoen have been on the case for just over a week. Several members of Trump’s legal team quit earlier this month after Trump pressured them to use a defense strategy that relied on the false premise that he was the true winner of the 2020 election.