WASHINGTON (CN) — Going back years before armed rioters overran the U.S. Capitol, Democrats wrapped the second impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump on Thursday with a stream of evidence they say shows Trump’s undeniable and shameful lack of remorse when it comes to inciting his base.
Leading the team of House Democrats taking on Trump as impeachment managers, Maryland Congressman Jamie Raskin offered video evidence to show how Trump publicly reveled in his supporters’ use of brute force on his behalf.
“Knock the crap out of him” and “get him the hell out of here” were a few of the Trump commands played in the Senate trial, taken from a rally where Trump called for the forceful removal of a protester. In another video, Trump is heard eagerly praising then-Congressman Greg Gianforte for body-slamming a reporter.
Impeachment managers pointed as well to 2017 when Trump would not disavow the white supremacists who marched on Charlottesville, Virginia, with torches chanting, “Jews will not replace us.”
Years after that appraisal of the “very fine people on both sides,” Trump found himself at a similar crossroads during a 2020 presidential debate when he was asked to condemn white supremacists and other hate groups like the Proud Boys.
Trump instead with a command for them to “stand back and stand by.”
For Raskin, this pattern underscores Trump’s intent with his supporters on Jan. 6 as he called for them to “walk down to the Capitol” and “fight like hell.”
“He ordered his most hard-core supporters to direct violence at elected officials to attack and lay siege,” Raskin said.
Invoking philosopher Thomas Paine, the 30-year constitutional scholar asked senators to flex their own common sense, saying Trump knew his supporters would heed his call. Trump knew their history of violence, Raskin said, because he had a history of praising it.
Yet when the siege failed, leaving five dead, 140 law enforcement officers injured but the results of the 2020 election still the same, impeachment manager Ted Lieu noted Thursday that Trump stayed aloof. It took him three days to lower flags to half-staff in honor of the fallen during the siege.
Lieu said this lack of remorse laid bare a very cold truth: Trump believed then, and may very well believe now, that he and future presidents can run for a national election, lose, reject the outcome, inflame supporters and incite insurrection.
“And it would be totally appropriate,” Lieu said.
The congressman continued with a caveat: “Trump must be held accountable because we must send a message that it is never patriotic to incite an attack against our nation's capital.”
A two-thirds majority of the Senate is needed to convict Trump so that he may never again hold political office. Calling on 17 Republicans to take that mantle, impeachment manager Diana DeGette made an appeal tied to the shared trauma she and other lawmakers faced on the day of the insurrection.
The Colorado congresswoman described how she and fellow impeachment manager Madeleine Dean were stuck in the gallery when the mob broke into the building and plowed toward the House chamber.
From there, the lawmakers could see officers training their guns toward gallery doors as a mob pounded on the flimsy wood to get inside. They heard gunshots, and they hid, removing their congressional pins so they could not be identified.
DeGette next showed the Senate an image of a SWAT team arresting marauders on the ground, assault rifles drawn.
She said the assailants’ documented their motives in the selfies and various recordings they shared on social media, now in the hands of law enforcement.