Democratic prosecutors on Thursday concluded their arguments over two days in the impeachment trial of Donald Trump, insisting that the rioters during the United States Capitol violence believed they were acting on the former president’s orders to stop the election of Joe Biden, reported AP. The prosecutors warned that the culmination of Trump’s pattern of spreading false and violent rhetoric will continue to vex American politics if left unchecked.
The Democratic prosecutors described in personal terms the horror faced on January 6, when thousands of supports stormed the Capitol building leading to the death of five people, including a police officer. The prosecutors showed many public and explicit instructions given by Trump to his supporters long before the Capitol attack.
In videos, some posted to social media by the rioters themselves, the invaders could be seen talking about how they were doing it all for Trump. “We were invited here,” said one. “Trump sent us,” said another rioter. “He’ll be happy. We’re fighting for Trump.”
The prosecutors also showed Trump’s repeated comments condoning and even celebrating violence – praising “both sides” following the 2017 outbreak at a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia – and urging his rally crowd last month to go to the Capitol and fight for his presidency.
“If we pretend this didn’t happen, or worse, if we let it go unanswered, who’s to say it won’t happen again?” argued prosecutor Representative Joe Neguse.
The prosecutors also accused Trump of spreading false claims about election fraud in the November presidential polls even without providing evidence of it, urging his supports to “stop the steal” of the presidency.
“They truly believed that the whole intrusion was at the President’s orders,” said Representative Diana DeGette of Colorado. “The President told them to be there.”
Democratic Representative Ted Lieu said that he is worried about what would happen if Trump runs for the presidency in 2024 and loses, reported Reuters.
“If he gets back into office and it happens again, we’ll have no one to blame but ourselves,” lead impeachment manager Representative Jamie Raskin said.
Raskin claimed that the Capitol violence was not some “unexpected radical break” from Trump’s usual law-abiding and peaceful disposition but is his modus operandi. “He knew that egged on by his tweets, his lies and his promise of a ‘wild’ time in Washington to guarantee his grip on power, his most extreme followers would show up bright and early, ready to attack, ready to engage in violence, ready to ‘fight like hell’ for their hero,” he said.
It, however, appears highly unlikely to secure a conviction and bar Trump from ever again holding public office as only six Republicans have voted with the Democrats in the 100-seat chamber to proceed with the trial. A two-thirds majority in the Senate is needed to convict the former president, which means at least 17 Republican senators would have to defy Trump. He, however, remains popular with most Republican voters and has shown interest in running for president again in 2024.
Senator James Lankford told reporters that the impeachment managers have failed to link Trump with the rioters. “It’s just redundant, the same thing over and over again. ... To me, the more you hear it, the less credibility there is in it,” said Senator James Inhofe.
While the prosecutors are making an emotional and graphic case against Trump, the former president’s lawyer and the Republicans are focused on legal questions, hoping to end the trial as soon as possible.
Trump adviser Jason Miller said that the defense would wrap up its case on Friday. Some Republican senators said they were expecting the proceedings to end on Saturday.
On January 13, the United States House of Representatives had impeached Trump for his role in inciting the violence at the Capitol. This week, the US Senate began the impeachment proceedings after finding that the trial was constitutional. He is the only president to be impeached twice. His first impeachment trial, which arose from his efforts to pressure Ukraine to investigate Biden, had ended in an acquittal a year ago.