Washington, United States:
The Democratic Impeachment Prosecutor on Wednesday branded Donald Trump as the “commander in chief” of a deadly attack on Congress that culminated his doomed attempt to overthrow the US elections.
Trump, who was hiding in his luxury club Mar-a-Lago in Florida, has not been in power for three weeks.
But the flamboyant and deeply polarizing Republican once again overshadowed Washington when his trial against the Senate began on a second day. The party’s senators said they are unlikely to join the Democrats to condemn – and risk the wrath of its supporters.
Democratic impeachment executives – the equivalent of prosecutors in a regular trial – have carefully reconstructed the events leading up to Joe Biden’s November 3rd presidential election. They then set out the aftermath as Trump’s attempts to discredit and ultimately overturn the outcome became increasingly apparent.
After weeks of warning his tens of millions of followers that he could only lose to fraud, Trump reinforced his lies after election day and insisted that Biden’s party had cheated. Finally, on January 6, he called a mass rally in Washington and encouraged the crowd to march to Congress where lawmakers upheld the Democrat’s victory.
In the chaos that followed, five people died, including a woman who was shot to death after the Capitol was broken into and a police officer who was killed by the crowd.
In what often resembled a criminal trial presentation, impeachment leaders backed up their schedules with video footage and ample documentary evidence – much of it in the form of Trump’s brand tweets falsely claiming fraud and calling on supporters to “fight”.
“When the violence came unstoppable and inevitable,” said Jamie Raskin, chief impeachment officer, “he gave up his duty completely.”
“Donald Trump gave up his role as commander-in-chief and became commander in chief of a dangerous insurrection,” said Raskin.
Another impeachment manager, Ted Lieu, said the Capitol riot was the logical result of Trump’s months of trying to discredit and then deny the election.
“President Donald J. Trump has run out of nonviolent ways to maintain power,” he said.
– Trump attorneys drop ball –
Unlike Trump’s first impeachment process a year ago, which took three weeks, this process is expected to be completed within a few days.
And after a large majority of Republicans voted Tuesday that they believe it is unconstitutional to bring a former president to justice, it is highly unlikely that Democrats will get the two-thirds majority in the Senate to convict them.
Meanwhile, Trump remains silent – and unusually – in his retreat to Florida.
Trump has been ousted by Twitter and other social media platforms and has fewer outlets to let off steam after his unprecedented attempt to spread a conspiracy theory about his election defeat.
But it is also believed that advisors are pushing him to hold back on fear that his reappearance could turn Republican senators against him.
According to US media reports, Trump was privately angry at the performance of his lawyers on Tuesday.
One of the attorneys, Bruce Castor, gave a long, often confusing, speech of about 40 minutes that even Trump allies said made no sense.
The other lawyer, David Schoen, did not defend Trump’s post-election behavior, but furiously denounced the Democrats and impeachment in a kind of energetic style that the former president is known to appreciate.
The impeachment process threatens to “tear this country apart,” said Schön.
The Trump team has the same time as the impeachment managers – up to 16 hours, split over two days – to present their defenses later.
On Tuesday, only six out of 50 Republican senators voted with the 50 Democrats to confirm that the process was constitutional and could continue.
One of them, Bill Cassidy, said he had previously spoken out against the trial but changed his mind after hearing the opening presentations.
He called Trump’s lawyers “disorganized, random. They talked about a lot of things, but they didn’t talk about the problem at hand.”
While the end result seems certain, some doubts remain because cunning Republican Senate chairman Mitch McConnell has reportedly told members to vote with their conscience – not on a party-political basis.