Washington, United States:
The Democrats suspended their impeachment proceedings against Donald Trump on Thursday, saying that he had instigated a riot after losing his re-election and was so dangerous that he should be expelled from office again.
After two days of presentations, including hours of graphical videos of the pro-Trump uprising that struck the Capitol on Jan. 6, Democratic impeachment managers urged Senators to vote for the condemnation.
“We humbly ask you to try President Trump for the crime for which he is largely guilty,” said Representative Joe Neguse.
“If you don’t, if we pretend it didn’t happen, or worse, if we leave it unanswered, who is going to say it won’t happen again?”
Trump’s defense lawyers will bring their case on Friday, arguing that Trump cannot be personally held responsible for the deadly attack on Congress.
They also argue that the process itself is unconstitutional because Trump is now out of office, despite the Senate rejecting that argument earlier this week.
Preliminary to these arguments, Democratic impeachment leader Jamie Raskin urged Senators to use “common sense,” pointing out that Trump stood ready for two hours to do nothing while his supporters raved through Congress.
“Why didn’t President Trump tell his supporters to stop the attack on the Capitol as soon as he found out about it?” Asked Raskin. “As our Constitutional Supreme Commander, why didn’t he do anything to send help?”
Earlier, President Joe Biden said the video evidence presented in the Senate trial against his 74-year-old predecessor could “change some minds”.
But despite testimony from some Republicans that the prosecution is strong, Trump is holding the party steadfast, making conviction highly unlikely. It would require a two-thirds majority, which means 17 Republicans would have to join the 50 Senate Democrats.
– “Future of Democracy” –
Jan 6th chaos erupted after Trump held a large rally near the White House and mistakenly insisted on being betrayed, as he had done since losing to Biden in November.
Directed by Trump to march on Congress, where lawmakers at that moment confirmed Biden’s election, the crowd smashed the police lines and then raged on.
The chaos has killed five people, including a woman who was shot dead after entering the Capitol and a police officer who was killed by the crowd.
Video footage of impeachment managers showed the mob chasing down opponents of Trump and high-profile figures, including then-Vice President Mike Pence, who had to flee to safety.
The defense will stress that Trump did not specifically order his fans to commit violence, but Raskin pointed out that the Republican has been promoting anger and extremism since election day – and even before.
“This pro-Trump uprising did not jump out of thin air,” said Raskin. “This was not the first time that Donald Trump ignited and incited a mob.”
Raskin said it was imperative that the Senate convict Trump and prevent him from running again for the White House in 2024.
“Is there a political leader in this room who believes that if Donald Trump is ever allowed to return to the Oval Office from the Senate, he would stop inciting violence?” Asked Raskin.
“Would you bet the future of your democracy on it?
Raskin also denied claims by Trump’s attorneys that the president did not instigate the uprising but only exercised his freedom of speech under the first amendment to the constitution.
Raskin called this a “smoke screen” and said, “Nobody can cause a riot.
“First Amendment doesn’t protect it,” he said. “Nobody in America would be protected by the first change if they did all of the things that Donald Trump did.”
– Republicans stand by Trump –
Biden said he didn’t see any of the trials live but saw coverage of Wednesday’s heartbreaking video footage.
“I suspect some opinions could change,” Biden told reporters at the White House.
Press secretary Jen Psaki said Biden, who tried to prevent the process from overshadowing his drive for a huge stimulus package and fight against Covid-19, had no intention of predicting the outcome.
Louisiana Republican Senator Bill Cassidy said the footage shown by the house managers Wednesday was “powerful,” but “how this will affect final decisions remains to be seen”.
Other Republican senators have clearly made up their minds and do not intend to break with Trump, who has threatened to derail their careers.
“The ‘not guilty” vote is growing today, “South Carolina Republican Senator Lindsey Graham tweeted. “I think most Republicans found the property managers’ presentation offensive and absurd.”
Missouri Republican Senator Josh Hawley reiterated Trump’s defense lawyers that it was unconstitutional to bring a former president to justice.
“You will only get one conviction from me for what happened to these criminals in the Capitol on January 6th,” Hawley told Fox News. “But that doesn’t make the process more legitimate than it is, which is completely illegitimate – not a basis in the constitution.”