House Democrats began two days of arguments Wednesday in Donald Trump’s second impeachment trial. They tried to convince skeptical Republican senators that the former president alone was responsible for inciting the mob of supporters who broke into the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 and interrupted the presidential electoral count.
The arguments from the nine Democratic impeachment managers come a day after the Senate voted to move ahead with the trial even though Republicans and Trump’s lawyers argued that it was unconstitutional because Trump has already left office. All Democratic senators and six Republicans disagreed.
More Impeachment Trial Coverage
Here are the latest updates:
Castro Says Trump Left People for Dead on Jan. 6
House impeachment managers are making the case that Donald Trump repeatedly failed to act to call off rioters and stop the violence at the U.S. Capitol last month.
Democratic Rep. Joaquin Castro of Texas said Wednesday that Trump didn't deploy the National Guard or any other law enforcement to help overwhelmed Capitol Police on Jan. 6 despite multiple pleas for him to do so.
Castro says that despite the “bloodiest attack we’ve seen on our Capitol since 1812” unfolding on television, the president didn’t mention sending help or forcefully tell his supporters to stop the violence in the five tweets and video he posted online that day after the attack started.
Castro said, “On Jan. 6, President Trump left everyone in this Capitol for dead.”
Democrats Focus on Trump's Silence During Riot
House impeachment managers are focusing on Donald Trump's silence on Jan. 6 as the siege began to unfold at the U.S. Capitol last month.
Rhode Island Rep. David Cicilline, one of the prosecutors in Trump’s historic second impeachment trial, said Wednesday that the former president had a “breathtaking dereliction of duty” and violated his oath of office by failing to call off rioters.
Cicilline noted that as senators were being evacuated, Trump mistakenly called Utah Sen. Mike Lee while trying to reach Alabama Sen. Tommy Tuberville to discuss contesting the counting of electoral votes.
Cicilline says that while Trump did not stop the attack or address it, his phone call made clear his focus was the same as the rioters': to stop the certification of the election and transfer of power.
Videos of Capitol Riot Disturb Murkowski, Romney
Republican Sens. Lisa Murkowski and Mitt Romney say they are deeply disturbed by the evidence shown by Democrats against former President Donald Trump at his second impeachment trial.
Speaking to reporters during a break Wednesday evening, Murkowski said the Democrats’ presentation was “pretty damning.” She added: “I just don’t see how Donald Trump could be reelected like this to the presidency again.”
Romney said he was brought to tears watching a video shown of Capitol Police Officer Eugene Goodman directing him away from the mob. He called the video “overwhelmingly distressing and emotional.”
Both Romney and Murkowski voted to advance the impeachment trial, though impeachment managers appear far short of the minimum 17 Republican votes they would need to convict Trump.
Police Begged for Help as Mob Stormed Capitol
Democrats at former President Donald Trump's impeachment trial are playing audio recordings of police officers begging for more help against rioters storming the Capitol, the fear and panic apparent in many of their voices.
As the mob breached the Capitol, one officer told dispatch, “We’re still taking rocks, bottles and pieces of flag and metal pole.”
In another recording, an officer says, “We have been flanked, and we’ve lost the line.”
Democratic impeachment managers on Wednesday showed videos of badly outnumbered officers trying to fight rioters and protect the building. One clip shows Capitol Police Officer Eugene Goodman directing Republican Sen. Mitt Romney to safety.
Capitol Police officers have previously told The Associated Press that they were not warned ahead of time of the potential of violence that day and were not trained or equipped to stop thousands of assailants trying to disrupt the certification of President Joe Biden’s victory over Trump.
Rioters Hunted VP at Capitol: 'Hang Mike Pence!'
Rioters at the Capitol were targeting former Vice President Mike Pence, who refused to help his boss, former President Donald Trump, subvert the results of the 2020 election.
In video showed Wednesday at Trump’s second impeachment trial, rioters chanted “Hang Mike Pence!” and “Bring out Pence!” as they roamed the halls searching for the former vice president and other lawmakers. Outside, the mob set up a makeshift gallows on the field near the Capitol.
Rioters got as close as 100 feet to Pence. Capitol Police officer Eugene Goodman helped guide rioters away from where he was hiding.
House impeachment manager Stacey Plaskett said, “You can hear the mob calling for the death of the vice president of the United States.”
Democrats Say Capitol Mob Sought to Kill Pelosi
Democrats say Capitol Police evacuated House Speaker Nancy Pelosi from the Capitol complex entirely because they feared for her safety on Jan. 6.
Prosecutors at Donald Trump's second impeachment trial on Wednesday played audio of Pelosi’s barricaded staffers whispering for help and showed images of the mob trying to break down a door into Pelosi’s office.
The 80-year-old Pelosi was a longtime political target of the president, who derisively nicknamed her “Crazy Nancy.”
House impeachment manager Stacey Plaskett says Pelosi was rushed to a secure offsite location because some of the rioters publicly declared their intent to harm or kill Pelosi.
Plaskett says that if the rioters had found Pelosi, they would have killed her. She says, “They did it because Donald Trump sent them on this mission.”
Hero Officer Goodman Warned Romney Away From Mob
U.S. Capitol Police officer Eugene Goodman warned Republican Sen. Mitt Romney that rioters were headed his way shortly after the building was breached by a mob of Donald Trump supporters.
Prosecutors at Trump's impeachment trial on Wednesday played security footage from inside the Capitol on Jan. 6. Footage showed Goodman running toward Romney to warn him that the Capitol had been breached. After encountering Goodman, Romney turns around and runs.
Footage also showed rioters screaming and breaking into the Capitol. Some of the rioters grabbed fire extinguishers from the walls as they stormed through the hallways.
“Where are they counting the votes?” they yell. Goodman says: "Don’t do it. Don’t do it.”
Goodman confronted the crowd with his hand raised toward them to stop. He then retreated up a staircase and they follow. Up the stairs, he directs them away from the Senate door and the chamber. Vice President Mike Pence was about 100 feet away with his family.
Goodman was later honored by Congress for his heroics.
Dems Show Audio, Video in Making Case Against Trump
House Democrats are showing video footage of Donald Trump’s supporters knocking down fences and fighting with police and pairing it with audio of officers making radio calls begging for backup.
Prosecutors at Trump’s impeachment trial on Wednesday played police radio traffic in which officers described multiple injured officers, said “they’re throwing metal poles at us” and called for immediate reinforcements.
After playing increasingly desperate calls from police, Democrats showed footage of rioters breaking down windows with a riot shield to climb into the Capitol.
A never-before-seen security video from inside the Capitol shows rioters using a wooden beam to break windows and climb into the building.
A man climbing into the building was carrying a baseball bat and wearing body armor and is followed by a stream of people climbing through windows.
Dems Argue Trump 'Built' the Mob That Attacked the Capitol
Democrats are arguing that former President Donald Trump “built” the mob that attacked the Capitol.
Prosecutors at Trump’s impeachment trial on Wednesday said Trump fired up his supporters with lies about a stolen election and followed up with an invitation to a Jan. 6 rally near the White House.
House impeachment manager Eric Swalwell detailed how Trump announced the rally on Twitter, writing on Dec. 19: “Big protest in D.C. on January 6th. Be there, will be wild!”
Swalwell said Jan. 6 was Trump’s “last chance to stop a peaceful transition of power.” Swalwell said Trump’s tweet wasn’t a “casual, one-off reference or a single invitation.” Swalwell said for the next 18 days, he reminded his supporters ”over and over and over” to show up.
Swalwell said, “This was never about one speech. He built this mob over many months with repeated messaging until they believed that they’d been robbed of their vote, and they would do anything to stop the certification.”
Many GOP Senators Indifferent to Democrats' Case
At a break in Donald Trump’s impeachment trial, many Republicans appeared indifferent to the Democratic prosecutors’ case that the former president incited the violent attack on the Capitol Jan. 6 — and made clear they were unlikely to convict.
Missouri Sen. Josh Hawley said the prosecutors’ case was “predictable” and included information that was already public.
Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson, another close ally of Trump, said the trial “is going to be pretty tedious.” He said the two sides would be better served to make their case “in a couple hours, and be done with this.”
Oklahoma Sen. Jim Inhofe said Democrats have “put a real good team together,” but said he didn’t think anything had been said “by either side that has changed any votes.”
Only six Republicans voted not to dismiss the trial on Tuesday, signaling that Democrats won’t have the minimum of 17 Republican senators they need to convict Trump.
House Dems Trace Trump's Inflammatory Rhetoric in the Lead-up to the Insurrection
House Democrats prosecuting Donald Trump's impeachment trial are methodically tracing his monthslong effort to undermine his supporters’ faith in the election results. They say they will show he is responsible for last month’s deadly riot at the U.S. Capitol.
During arguments Wednesday, impeachment managers showed a flurry of excerpts from Trump speeches in which the then-president told supporters the only way he could lose is if the election results were rigged.
The effort to challenge the results continued after the election, with Trump telling his supporters the election had been stolen and that they shouldn’t accept the results.
"He built this mob over many months with repeated messaging until they believed that they had been robbed of their vote... and incited them so he could use them to steal the election for himself," Rep. Eric Swalwell, D-Calif., said.
Impeachment managers also pushed back at defense team arguments that Trump’s words were protected by the First Amendment. They said the case was not about protected political speech but rather about Trump’s incitement of violence.
Rep. Neguse Outlines 3 Parts to House Dems' Argument: Provocation, Attack, Harm
In his opening arguments, Rep. Joe Neguse, D-Colo., presented a roadmap to senators of how the impeachment managers intend to prove Trump is guilty of inciting an insurrection, breaking down his team's argument in three distinct parts: "the provocation," "the attack" and "the harm."
Neguse laid out in chronological order what led to the riot which began with Trump promoting "the big lie" that he won the election, then encouraging his supporters to "stop the steal" of the election and before telling them to "fight like hell."
He said the mob on Jan. 6 was "summoned, assembled and incited by the former president" and that Trump did that because "he wanted to stop the transfer of power so that he could retain power, even though he had lost the election."
Rep. Raskin Opens Impeachment Trial, Issues Viewer Warning to Parents Over Graphic Nature of Video Evidence
The second day of former President Donald Trump's impeachment trial began Wednesday with Rep. Jaime Raskin, D-Md., the lead impeachment manager, telling senators the House case is one "based in facts" and the trial "is about holding accountable the person singularly responsible for inciting the attack."
"The evidence will show you that ex-President Trump was no innocent bystander," Raskin said. "The evidence will show he clearly incited the insurrection. It will show Donald Trump surrendered his role as commander-in-chief and became the incited-in-chief, of a dangerous insurrection."
He highlighted remarks Trump made during the "Stop the Steal" rally on Jan. 6 when he falsely claimed the election was stolen and told supporters that they wouldn't have a country anymore if they don't "fight like hell."
Raskin said House managers will also be showing graphic video of the Capitol insurrection and warned parents and teachers to shield children who might be watching. He said Managers will alert viewers ahead of time.
Dems to Unveil Never-Before-Seen Videos of Capitol Riot During Impeachment Trial
House impeachment managers will present never-before-seen security camera footage of the deadly Capitol riot during their opening arguments of former President Donald Trump's impeachment trial, NBC News reports.
The Capitol security footage "will provide new insight into both the extreme violence that everyone saw, the risk and the threat that it could have led to further violence and death to many but for the brave actions of the officers and shows really the extent of what Donald Trump unleashed on our Capitol," senior aides to the impeachment managers told reporters.
They say the video "shows a view of the Capitol that is quite extraordinary and a view of the attack that has never been public before."
"We will be tying the evidence all together in a compelling case that will make it clear for everyone — Democrats, Republicans, everyone — that Donald Trump committed the most heinous constitutional crime possible."
House Impeachment Managers to Argue Trump Alone Incited Mob
Opening arguments in former President Donald Trump’s second impeachment trial will kick off at 12 p.m. ET Wednesday.
House Democrats prosecuting the case will have 16 hours over two days to lay out their case for "incitement of insurrection" as they argue why Trump deserves to be impeached in the Senate. Trump's attorneys will then have the same amount of time for their opposing arguments.
Democratic aides working on the impeachment team said video evidence similar to what was shown Tuesday is expected on Wednesday — including some new footage that hasn’t been seen before.
Democrats say they know they are arguing the case uphill, but they are holding out hope that they will convert more Republicans by the final vote.
Trump Fumes Over Lawyers' Performance, GOP Senators Question Defense Team's Strategy
Former President Donald Trump’s lawyers had a bad day on Tuesday, as Trump fumed at their performance and GOP senators leaving the trial criticized their arguments as “random,” “disorganized” and "perplexing."
Trump felt that the team, especially lead lawyer Bruce Castor, came off badly on television and looked weak compared to the Democratic prosecutors, according to a person who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss private conversations.
Republicans made it clear that they were unhappy with Trump’s defense, with many of them saying they didn’t understand where it was going — particularly Castor’s opening. Louisiana Sen. Bill Cassidy, who voted with Democrats to move forward with the trial, said that Trump’s team did a “terrible job.” Maine Sen. Susan Collins, who also voted with Democrats, said she was “perplexed.” Sen. Lisa Murkowki of Alaska said it was a “missed opportunity” for the defense.