Prosecution and defense have 16 hours each to make their arguments
House Democrats serving as prosecutors in the impeachment proceedings against former President Donald Trump are laying out their arguments Wednesday in an effort to convince senators to issue a guilty verdict. The former president is accused of sedition in connection with an attack by his supporters on the Capitol last month.
Both impeachment managers and Trump’s lawyers have 16 hours each for two days, after which senators will have a total of four hours for questions.
Impeachment manager Jamie Raskin made the thesis that it was President Trump who actually called his supporters out on the presidential election results; the lawmaker turned to the facts to back up his position. Specifically, he cited Trump’s tweet, dated January 6.
As Raskin noted, Trump did not act as commander-in-chief, as he should have, but as the chief instigator.
The congressman rejected attempts by Trump’s lawyers to justify his statements by invoking the First Amendment to the Constitution.
According to the lawmaker, Trump’s actions are such that he should be barred from future public office.
Another impeachment manager, Congressman Joe Negus, stressed that the attack on the Capitol was instigated by the president. According to Negus, the people who stormed the Capitol were truly convinced that they were doing it in the president’s name.
They had reason to do so, Negus continued. He compared the language and rhetoric of Trump’s speeches, including his Jan. 6 address to his supporters, to the slogans of those who went to storm the nation’s highest legislative body. As the lawmaker emphasized, this is primarily a claim that “the election is stolen,” repeated in a number of presidential speeches.
In support of his thesis, Negus showed a video of excerpts from Trump’s speech urging his supporters to “go all the way” and “fight like hell.”
Earlier Wednesday, aides to prosecutors at the trial said they planned to show new surveillance footage from the Capitol assault and say Trump’s claims of election fraud laid the groundwork for the attack.
“We are using… footage that shows the Capitol and the attack in a way that the public has never seen it before,” a top aide said.
“You’re going to hear provocation. You’re going to hear Trump inciting his supporters in the lead-up to this event by making false claims about election fraud,” the source added. – The events of January 6 were the culmination of his behavior, not his beginning.”
On Tuesday night, a majority of senators (56-44) voted in favor of the impeachment process, declaring it constitutional. The Democrats were joined by six Republican senators.
Trump himself has refused to speak in his own defense and is not expected to attend the sessions.
The entire process could take about a week or last a bit longer.
Some Democrats have expressed fears that a protracted trial would interfere with President Joe Biden’s legislative agenda, including the passage of a new economic aid package for the coronavirus pandemic.
According to the White House, Biden has no plans to follow up on the hearings. Asked about the impeachment proceedings, the president said he was focused on his own work.
“The Senate has its own work that it’s getting ready to begin. I’m sure they’ll perform well,” he said.