DENVER – Rep. Joe Neguse and other Democratic impeachment managers on Wednesday laid out a timeline that argued former President Donald Trump had laid the groundwork for months that led a group of his supporters to storm the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6.
On the second day of Trump’s second impeachment trial, Neguse and the other managers laid out three different time periods in their attempt to show that Trump was responsible for his supporters’ actions that day: the provocation, the attack and the harm that followed.
“As you’ll see during the course of this trial, that mob was summoned, assembled and incited by the former president of the United States, Donald Trump. And he did that because he wanted to stop the transfer of power so that he could retain power – even though he had lost the election,” said Neguse, the Democrat who represents Colorado’s 2nd Congressional District.
“And when the violence erupted, when they were here in our building with weapons, he did nothing to stop it,” Neguse added. “If we are to protect our republic and prevent something like this from ever happening again, he must be convicted.”
The House of Representatives impeached Trump on a single count of incitement of insurrection on Jan. 13 – exactly a week after hundreds of Trump supporters broke through police barriers and overran police officers to get inside the Capitol. More than 130 officers were injured during the riot and five people died, including a police officer.
More than 200 people have already been charged in federal court with counts related to the insurrection.
On the first day of Trump’s Senate trial on Tuesday, Neguse and the other House impeachment managers made their case as to why a Senate trial for a president who has already left office was constitutional, and the Senate voted 56-44 to agree to proceed, with six Republicans joining Democrats.
Wednesday was all about the impeachment managers tediously going minute-by-minute through the events – shown through videos from the Capitol, police radio calls and media stories – of Jan. 6 and showing senators the malicious intent of some of the people who breached the Capitol and just how close they came to putting elected officials, staffers and others who work inside the Capitol at an even graver risk of danger.
“We will show during the course of this trial that this attack was provoked by the president, incited by the president – and as a result, it was detectable and it was foreseeable and that, of course, that makes sense,” Neguse said. “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, that this was their patriotic duty.”
Neguse outlined the barrage of statements, tweets and more from Trump in which the former president laid the groundwork, as Neguse claimed, for his supporters to discount an election loss, then dispute it without evidence before rallying to fight for Trump to stay in office despite his loss.
“He started planting the seeds to get some of his supporters ready by saying that he could only lose the election if it was stolen. In other words, what he did was create a no-lose scenario: Either he won the election, or he would have some angry supporters – not all, but some – who believed that if you lost, the election had to be rigged. And they would be angry,” Neguse told the Senate. “So, his false claims about election fraud – that was the drumbeat being used to inspire, instigate, and ignite them, to anger them.”
Neguse played several videos showing public statements from Trump, as well as his tweets, urging his supporters to “stop the steal” on Jan. 6, with the baseless idea that Vice President Mike Pence could be pressured into single-handedly changing Electoral College votes when they were certified – a process which was underway when the insurrectionists breached the Capitol.
“None of it worked. So, what does he do? With his back against the wall, when all else has failed, he turns back to his supporters, who he had already spent months telling them that the election was stolen, and he amplified it further,” Neguse said.
“He didn’t condemn the violence. He incited it further and he got more specific,” Neguse went on to add. “He didn’t just tell them to fight like hell. He told them how, where, and when. He made sure they had advanced notice – 18 days advance notice. He sent his save the date for Jan. 6. He told them to march to the Capitol and fight like hell.”
Neguse then detailed and played clips of the president’s speech that day, which happened just before the group of rioters marched to the Capitol and started breaching police barriers and fighting with outnumbered officers.
“’You have to get your people to fight,’ he told them. Senators, this clearly was not just one speech. It didn’t just happen. It was part of a carefully planned, months-long effort with a very specific instruction: Show up on Jan. 6 and get your people to fight the certification,” Neguse said. “He incited it. It was foreseeable. And again, you don’t have to take my word for it.”
Neguse also showed testimony from some of the people charged in the Jan. 6 attack in which they told investigators that Trump’s words – “We were invited.” “I was following my president.” “President Trump requested that we be in D.C. on the 6th” – were the reason they were involved in the riot in the first place.
“In the charging affidavit … we learn that members of this group said, I’m going to quote, they would have ‘killed Mike Pence if given the chance.’ In another, we learn of a tweet in real time while they were in the building, stating, ‘We broke into the Capitol. We got inside. We did our part. We were looking for Nancy Pelosi to shoot her in the freaking brain, but we didn’t find her,’” Neguse told the Senate. “And for anyone who suggests otherwise, these defendants themselves have told you exactly why they were there.”
On Wednesday afternoon, the impeachment managers played never-before-seen videos showing just how close some of the people who got inside the Capitol came to lawmakers. In interviews during a break in the afternoon session, some expressed horror and surprise at the newly-seen videos, but it was unclear if Wednesday’s arguments had changed the minds of any Republicans – most of whom voted not to move ahead with a trial in the first place.
The Senate will need 67 votes to convict Trump and keep him from holding public office in the future – something that for the time being is unlikely to occur. But Neguse and his fellow managers said it was imperative for senators to consider the evidence at the very least.
“I’m humbled to be back with you today, and just as on Jan. 6, when we overcame the attack on our Capitol, on our country,” Neguse said, citing lawmakers’ return to the chambers on Jan. 6 to finish certifying the election. “I’m hopeful that at this trial we can use our resolve and our resilience to again uphold our democracy by faithfully applying the law, vindicating the Constitution, and holding President Trump accountable for his actions.”