DENVER – Congressmen Joe Neguse and Jamie Raskin, in their closing arguments Thursday in former President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial, told senators the evidence they presented over the past three days should only lead the body to the conclusion that Trump indeed incited his supporters into storming the Capitol on Jan. 6 and that he should be convicted.
Neguse, the Democrat who represents Colorado’s 2nd Congressional District, and Raskin, the lead impeachment manager and a Democrat from Maryland, told the Senate that convicting Trump would amount to holding true to the Constitution and preventing a future president from stoking another insurrection in coming years.
Neguse, 36 and in his second term in the House of Representatives, drew praise for his presentations on all three days of the trial thus far. On Thursday, he summarized points made my himself and others this week which he said showed Trump knew his supporters were primed for violence last month, that he encouraged violence in the months ahead of and on the morning of the certification of the Electoral College votes, and that he willfully stoked the insurrection.
The managers are hoping to convince 17 Republicans to vote to convict the former president and bar him from holding future office – though the likelihood of that happening is not high, as only six of 50 Republicans voted earlier this week to affirm that a trial for the former president was constitutional and should move forward. Trump's attorneys are only expected to present for 3-4 hours, according to reports.
“You’ve seen it: the images, the videos, the articles, and the pattern, which shows that the violence on that terrible day was entirely foreseeable. We’ve showed you how this all began with ‘The Big Lie,’ the claim that the election was rigged, and that President Trump and his supporters were the victims of a massive fraud, a massive conspiracy to rip away their votes,” Neguse said.
“We’ve showed you how President Trump spread that lie and how over the course of months, with his support and encouragement, it inflamed part of his base – resulting in death threats, real world violence, and increasingly extreme calls to ‘stop the steal.’ We established that after he lost the election, the president was willing to do just about anything to prevent the peaceful transfer of power. And he tried everything he could do to stop it,” he continued.
The congressman went back through Trump’s threats toward election officials in various states, attacks on members of Congress and the White House who spoke publicly against him, and pressure on the courts when they tossed his campaign’s election lawsuits. He talked about the push by Trump to convince his supporters the election was being stolen from him and that they needed to “stop the steal” and “fight like hell” to keep Joe Biden from taking his rightful office as president.
“In the days leading up to Jan. 6, there were dozens, hundreds, of warnings. And he knew it. He knew the rally would explode if provoked. He knew all it would take: A slight push,” Neguse said. “…Did he encourage the violence? Standing in that powder keg, did he light a match? Everyone knows that answer to that question. The hours of video you all have watched leave no doubt.”
Neguse again played back Trump’s speech from the morning of Jan. 6: “You have to get your people to fight, because you’ll never take back our country with weakness. You have to show strength, and you have to be strong, and we fight. We fight like hell. And if you don’t fight like hell, you’re not going to have a country anymore,” Trump said at the time.
“Here’s the thing: That wasn’t metaphorical. It wasn’t rhetorical. He’d already made it perfectly clear that when he said ‘fight,’ he meant it,” Neguse said.
He reiterated what he talked through in length on Wednesday and which fellow Colorado impeachment manager Rep. Diana DeGette discussed further earlier in the day Thursday: that some of the outgoing president’s supporters were primed to help Trump take back the presidency through violence, if necessary.
Neguse played back comments from Jan. 6 from some of Trump’s closest allies, including Chris Christie and Kevin McCarthy, in which they disavowed what was happening during the insurrection and called for Trump to call his supporters off. And when Trump had the chance to do so, he wavered, Neguse argued.
“He didn’t condemn the attack. He didn’t condemn the attackers, didn’t say that he would send help or defend us, or defend law enforcement. He didn’t react to the violence with shock or horror or dismay, as we did. He didn’t immediately rush to Twitter and demand in the least possible terms that the mob disperse, that they stop it, that they retreat. Instead, he issued messages in the afternoon that sided with them – the insurrectionists who had left police officers battered and bloodied,” Neguse told the Senate.
“He reacted exactly the way someone would react if they were delighted and exactly unlike how a person would react if they were angry at how their followers were acting,” he continued. “Again, ask yourself how many lives would have been saved, how much pain and trauma would have been avoided if he had reacted the way that a president of the United States is supposed to act?”
In closing, Neguse said that Trump’s state of mind was clear in how he reacted to the events of Jan. 6 and in not immediately calling off his supporters – originally saying to them, “We love you. You’re very special.”
“The fact that he didn’t stop it, the fact that he incited a lawless attack and abdicated his duty to defend us from it, the fact that he actually further inflamed the mob, attacking his vice president while assassins were pursuing him in this Capitol, more than requires conviction and disqualification,” Neguse said.
“We humbly, humbly ask you to convict President Trump for the crime for which he is overwhelmingly guilty of. Because if you don’t, if we pretend this didn’t happen – or worse, if we let it go unanswered – who’s to say it won’t happen again?”
Raskin finished the impeachment managers’ arguments about 5 hours short of the 16 hours they had been allotted to argue their case. He cited the words of Abraham Lincoln and Thomas Paine in arguing that holding a president who commits “high crimes and misdemeanors” accountable for their actions is one of the core roles of the legislative branch and of upholding the Constitution and Republic.
And he quoted, somewhat loosely, Paine’s “The Crisis” for his final words before Trump’s legal teams argues their case starting Friday:
“’Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; but we have this saving consolation: The more difficult the struggle, the more glorious in the end will be our victory,’” Raskin said. “Good luck in your deliberations.”