Tthe images were silent. He didn’t need her.
The images were quite clear. The glass of a window on the first floor of the Senate is broken. A policeman responds briefly, before quickly withdrawing, realizing how outnumbered he is. The crowd pours into the US Capitol.
A Capitol Police officer named Eugene Goodman sprints at Senator Mitt Romney (R-UT), who is unwittingly walking towards a crowd, and tells him to turn around. He stops cold and turns around inside.
Terrified members of President Nancy Pelosi’s staff rush into a conference room minutes before the hallways are filled with insurgents in tactical gear, several of whom have stopped to try and break open the door to where they are. hiding under the table, with furniture barricading the door. .
“Senators who had scribbled, dozed or just left earlier in the day were thrilled. Some let out sounds of disbelief when they saw these videos, and some later noticed that they had no idea at the time how close they were to real and potentially deadly danger. .“
This homeland security footage detailing the Jan.6 attack on Capitol Hill had never been seen publicly before, until it aired on the Senate floor during the second day of the impeachment trial. former President Trump. The footage showed in new detail how viciously the seat of government had been subdued that day – and showed the chilling truth about how much worse it could have been.
The footage confirmed that without the heroic acts of law enforcement, the confusion of the crowds, and in some cases, by sheer luck, the Vice President of the United States, the Speaker of the House, dozens of members Congress and their staff would have been at the mercy of a mob with members explicitly trying to kill them.
For the first time, former Vice President Mike Pence and his family were shown on video walking away from the Senate, steps away from a crowd chanting his hanging. Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY), the Democratic leader, was shown running around the Capitol basement with his security service, only to retreat quickly, a short walk from the crowds.
In an hour and a half on Wednesday, the Senate chamber fell completely silent as Democratic impeachment officials recreated that heartbreaking day. Senators who scribbled, dozed off, or just left earlier in the day were elated. Some let out sounds of disbelief when they saw these videos, and some later noticed that they had no idea at the time how close they were to real and potentially deadly danger. .
Sometimes others looked away, too moved to look at images of a crowd crushing police officers. Many of these videos were not silent and angry cacophony of crowds blanketed the halls of the Capitol for the first time since January 6.
Democrats pursuing the case against Trump have promised new evidence. They promised to craft a step-by-step narrative of January 6 that would make the visceral ugliness of that day inevitable for all 100 jurors in the U.S. Senate.
Almost all were moved. But the truth of that trial resurfaced as soon as the videos ended: No evidence could convince a sufficient number of Senate Republicans to condemn Trump for inciting an insurgency, banning him from public office for life. And while impeachment officials know their task to change their minds was nearly impossible, Wednesday made it clear that they were not going to let them vote to exonerate the former president without seeing exactly what Trump did. .
After stepping down from speaking, Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) – one of the few Republicans who opposed the 2020 election results after the insurgency – made his position clear.
The footage, Cruz said, was gruesome, “and everyone involved in this terrorist attack should be fully prosecuted and should be jailed for a very long time.” But he then argued that the link between that attack and Trump was “remarkably absent” and that Trump had not prompted anything.
“I’ve said many times that the president’s rhetoric is sometimes overheated,” said Cruz. “But this is not a referendum on whether you agree with anything the president says or is or tweets.”
Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC), who has advised Trump’s defense, scoffed at a presentation that some of his GOP colleagues called “very powerful” and impressive. “The legal theory they have is absurd,” Graham said. “It’s kind of like Trump is a secret member of the Proud Boys.”
“While impeachment officials know their task to change their minds was nearly impossible, Wednesday made it clear that they were not going to let them vote to exonerate the former president without seeing exactly what Trump did.“
Democrats did not make such an accusation. But they spent Wednesday explaining how the Jan.6 attack would be impossible without Trump’s words and actions, not just that day – when he urged a crowd to march to Capitol Hill and then refused to call them. for they wreaked havoc – but in the days and weeks ahead as he plowed the ground for an explosion of violence.
Far from Cruz’s assertion that the Democrats failed to link January 6 to Trump, the Senate Democrats left more convinced – and more angry – than ever.
“I mean, I don’t know how Republicans sit here and watch this, and rationalize an acquittal,” said Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT). “I just don’t know how you reconcile everything you see with the decision not to hold the person responsible.”
Representative Jamie Raskin (D-MD) began Wednesday afternoon by breaking the case down into three parts: provocation, attack and harm. One by one, Democratic impeachment officials first delved into provocation, explaining how Trump, over the months, sowed widespread distrust within his base of anything other than a crushing victory for Trump. Rally by rally, speech by speech, tweet by tweet, they used Trump’s own words to illustrate how he was fueling the growing rage of his supporters through a torrent of lies.
When Trump ultimately lost the election and the series of lawsuits that followed, officials explained how the ‘stop the steal’ movement became a powerful force that first threatened violence against GOP officials identified as enemies. by Trump, then exploded in violence on January. 6. They have relied on reports, like The Daily Beast, detailing how MAGA leaders cheered each other on for weeks in far-right internet forums, coordinated and made clear their plans not just to protest, but to commit violence against Washington politicians that day.
In her remarks, Representative Stacey Plaskett (D-VI) explained how frequently and openly Trump has praised violence on his behalf, in a case resurfacing a video of Trump supporters in Texas attempting to get a campaign bus out. Joe Biden out of the way. Trump not only retweeted it, Plaskett said. His social media team put him to music. Then, when San Antonio Police said they were investigating, Trump defended the trailer, calling the attackers “patriots.”
And Plaskett has elaborately explained how his supporters responded to his constant urging to fight, culminating with the rally on January 6. man who said “today I said goodbye to my kids” as he walked to the rally, unsure if he would come back alive. “As a veteran it’s always something you’re ready to discuss, but it’s never easy,” the post concluded.
“By the time Trump called in the cavalry … he had every reason to know that they were armed, that they were violent and that they would actually fight,” Plaskett said. “He knew who he was calling and the violence they were capable of. And he still gave them marching orders.
Later, Representative Madeleine Dean (D-PA) released footage that made it clear that Trump’s words were not seen as a benign call to fight politically. They showed Trump supporters shouting ‘take the Capitol’ to the crowd as the president spoke, retracing how the president’s words propelled them to Capitol Hill.
“So they came draped in the Trump flag, using our flag, the American flag, to beat and club,” Dean said, his voice cracking slightly. “And at 2:30 pm I heard that terrifying banging on the bedroom doors. For the first time in more than 200 years, the seat of our government has been ransacked under our watch. “
As he closed his black filing cabinet, his hands were shaking.
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