Pressure on Republicans, who still support Donald Trump, rose Thursday after President Joe Biden said harrowing video evidence of Trump’s attack on the US Capitol in January “held some opinions” in impeachment proceedings former president could change.
So far, a large majority of Republicans have stood by Trump, who is accused of instigating a riot on Jan. 6 when a crowd of his supporters raided the Capitol trying to stop confirming Biden’s election victory.
A conviction that requires a two-thirds majority in the Senate is therefore highly unlikely. Trump’s attorneys will have the opportunity to speak today or Friday when Democratic impeachment officials close their case.
The Trump team argues that the former president cannot be personally held responsible for the uprising and that the entire process is unconstitutional because he has already resigned.
But Democratic impeachment executives delivered blistering evidence on Wednesday in the form of hours-long video from surveillance cameras, police cameras, news footage and cell phone videos recorded by the rioters themselves.
Biden, who tried to stop impeachment proceedings from overshadowing his urge for a huge stimulus package and restarted fight against Covid-19, said he “didn’t see anything of the hearing live”.
But he said he saw coverage of the presentation showing the country’s top politicians fleeing to safety as the crowd of Trump’s rhetoric raged through the halls of Congress.
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.
– Escape for their life –
The January 6 riot erupted after Trump held a rally to reiterate his lie that Biden won only because of election fraud and that his Vice President Mike Pence needed a way to stop certification of the result.
Pence, who had previously stated he had no legal authority to terminate certification, then became the target of the anger of the crowd. The video shows protesters shouting insults and declaring Pence a traitor.
Some of the most dramatic segments that used video that had never been publicly broadcast made it clear to the senators who served as the jury in Trump’s trial that their own lives were in danger that day.
Pence is brought down the stairs to safety with his family by security guards.
Top Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer just dodges an angry crowd of pro-Trump rioters. And Senator Mitt Romney, a Republican who often turned against Trump and has been turned into a hateful figure by the president, is distracted by a police officer just as an angry crowd approaches.
Another segment shows the mob entering the offices of Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the House and another frequent target of Trump’s most violent rhetoric.
“Nancy, where are you Nancy?” Protesters shout during the search, unaware that eight of their employees were barricaded behind a door in the same corridor. Pelosi himself had been urgently thrown away.
“We know from the rioters themselves that they would have killed them if they found Spokesman Pelosi,” said impeachment manager Stacey Plaskett, a house delegate from the US Virgin Islands.
– Republicans so far loyal –
Trump is locked in his luxury club Mar-a-Lago in Florida and has not been in power for three weeks.
But the process has put the flamboyant and deeply polarizing Republican back at the center of national conversation – and underscored his still powerful influence on the Republican electorate.
Some Republican senators have outraged the pro-Trump uprising, openly blasting Trump’s refusal to accept defeat to Biden, and acknowledging the Democrats’ compelling case.
“The evidence so far is pretty damned,” said Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski.
“Of course it’s powerful,” said Senator Bill Cassidy of the terrifying footage, “but how that affects the final decisions remains to be seen.”
Still, Trump is highly unlikely to be convicted as it requires a two-thirds majority, which means 17 Republicans would have to follow 50 Democrats.
“I don’t think there will be 67 votes in the end to find the president guilty,” Republican strategist Karl Rove told Fox News on Thursday.
But he predicted that “any Republican who stands for election in a difficult county or state in 2022 will likely see this (video) material against him.”
Unlike Trump’s first impeachment process a year ago, which took three weeks, this process is expected to be completed within a few days.
(Except for the headline, this story was not edited by GossipMantri staff and published from a syndicated feed.)