— Catholic Herald, Washington, DC — Wednesday saw the first full day of evidence presented to the US Senate, in the second impeachment trial of former US President Donald Trump, accused by the US House of Representatives in a formal indictment (impeachment), of inciting action that resulted in the breach and vandalism of the US capitol and disruption of business in the legislature, as well as other “prior efforts to subvert and obstruct the certification of the results of the 2020 Presidential election.”
“President Trump gravely endangered the security of the United States and its institutions of Government,” the Article of Impeachment claims. The Article charges Trump with threatening “the integrity of the democratic system,” interfering “with the peaceful transition of power,” and says he “imperiled a coequal branch of Government,” and “thereby betrayed his trust as President, to the manifest injury of the people of the United States.”
“Wherefore,” the Article concludes:
Donald John Trump, by such conduct, has demonstrated that he will remain a threat to national security, democracy, and the Constitution if allowed to remain in office, and has acted in a manner grossly incompatible with self-governance and the rule of law. Donald John Trump thus warrants impeachment and trial, removal from office, and disqualification to hold and enjoy any office of honor, trust, or profit under the United States.
Under the US Constitution, presidents are impeached by the US House of Representatives and tried by the US Senate, with the Chief Justice of the United States presiding over the trial. The US procedure is rooted in English law and custom, and is a cornerstone of the US system of “checks and balances.”
Presidents and other federal government officials are subject to the impeachment process when they are suspected of “Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors,” though the US constitution does not specify what sorts of act may be considered “high crimes and misdemeanors” — something that has made the meaning of the language itself the subject of debate among jurists, Constitutional scholars, historians, and the broad public.
In order to convict, a two-thirds majority of Senators must vote in favor of conviction. Trump is no longer in office, but the Senate could decide to bar him from holding office in the future. There is no appeal of a Senate conviction or penalty in impeachment trials.
House impeachment managers present their arguments
The US Senate heard hours of careful and detailed presentation on Wednesday, laying out why Donald John Trump should be convicted of incitement of insurrection.
The House impeachment case set out to show how Donald Trump — who liked to tweet and chant “law and order” during a summer of repeated protests over racial and economic inequity — told potentially violent supporters such as the Proud Boys to “stand back and stand by” until a specific time and date: January 6, and the certification of the Electoral College results. Then, the president urged his supporters to show strength and fight.
The 8 Democrats presenting the case following the second impeachment of Donald Trump in the U.S. House of Representatives used video, tweets, audio files and soundbites. Some of the footage had not been seen before.
A visibly shaken Sen. Cassidy (R-LA) says that it is clear that there were insurrectionists determined to interfere and stop the peaceful transfer of power following the 2020 election, as Rep. David Ciccline (D-RI) notes that, but for the “grace of God” the mob could have gotten “all of us” in their quest to stop the certification and that Donald Trump failed repeatedly to tell his supporters to stop.
Rep. Stacey Plaskett (D-USVI) laid out the case that the mob wanted to kill Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Vice President Mike Pence.
She showed new details of Richard Barnett, the man photographed with his feet up on a desk in Speaker Pelosi’s office showing that he was carrying a stun gun. The House impeachment managers confirm, the threat to Speaker Pelosi’s life was so concerning, she was completely removed from the Capitol complex to a safe location.
A security camera video showed Vice President Mike Pence being hustled from the Senate floor to a secure location. Immediately before Pence was taken away, Donald Trump had tweeted that his Vice President was a coward: “Mike Pence didn’t have the courage to do what should have been done to protect our Country and our Constitution, giving States a chance to certify a corrected set of facts, not the fraudulent or inaccurate ones which they were asked to previously certify. USA demands the truth!”
Twitter confirmed today that Donald Trump may not return to the social media platform.
Another security video showed Capitol Police Officer Eugene Goodman telling Senator Mitt Romney (R-Utah) to turn around and run the other way, the rioters were coming. Senator Romney has now told reporters, “That I was very fortunate indeed that Officer Goodman was there to get me in the right direction.” Senator Romney has repeatedly been a target of Donald Trump for his vote during the first impeachment trial in 2020.
In another video, Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) is seen with his security detail, turning around and running away after nearly intersecting with the mob. He remains hopeful that Republicans have open minds after watching the presentation. The chamber was silent as lawmakers watched rioter Ashli Babbit be shot (she later died), and viewed body camera footage from an officer being assaulted, pelted with bottles, and beaten.
The House impeachment managers also expressed their gratitude to the U.S. Capitol Police and to the Washington D.C. Metropolitan Police that there were far fewer fatalities and injuries that could be easily imagined.
Charges have not been filed in the case of Officer Brian Sicknick, who died after being beaten with a fire extinguisher. A Texas man, Nicholas DeCarlo is now facing charges for scrawling “murder the media” on a door of the U.S. Capitol and he’s been banned from social media. Dominic Pezzola, a member of the Proud Boys, a white extremist group, is being held without bail for being one of the first to bash down the doors of the U.S. Capitol.
Senator Lisa Murkowski, a Republican from Alaska, is now telling reporters she “wasn’t fully aware of what was happening with colleagues.” “The enormity of this,” she said, “the threat not just to us as people, as lawmakers, but to institutions and what Congress represents: it’s disturbing,” she said. Senator Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) has also now told reporters that he was oblivious to what was happening because he’d been taken to a secure location as he was serving in the role of the president of the U.S. Senate, in the line of succession, but he agrees: The violence should not have happened.
Other Republicans agreed, such as Senator John Thune (R-SD) that he thinks the impeachment managers were “very effective.”
“I’ll see what kind of arguments the defense puts up,” he said, “But, yeah, I’m gonna, I’m gonna listen and draw conclusions when it’s all done.” Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) called the presentation “riveting.”
Senator Murkowski called the evidence thus far presented, “Damning,” but said she takes her duty to hear the defense very seriously. “I have an obligation, a responsibility,” she said, “to listen to what the defense will present,” further noting that the opportunity to hear the defense will come shortly. “We’ll have an opportunity to do that in a day or so,” Sen. Murkowski told reporters, “but the series of videos that we’ve seen — again, a reminder of what we lived through, and unfortunately what some did not live through — is greatly, greatly disturbing.”
Asked whether Trump could cause similar disruption in the future, Sen. Murkowski said, “After the American public sees the full story laid out here — not just in one snippet on this day and another on that, but this whole scenario — that has been laid out before us, I just — I don’t see how Donald Trump could be re-elected to the presidency.”
The House impeachment managers noted that Donald Trump only used the word “peaceful” once during his 70-minute speech on January 6, but the word “fight” more than 20 times. Using clips from his rallies, they detailed and linked how the former president convinced his supporters of election fraud and said the evidence shows that he was commanding them to “stop the steal.” Trump lost the election by more than 7 million popular votes. In the Electoral College, he lost by 74 votes: 306 for Joe Biden and just 232 for Donald Trump.
According to some reports, Trump aides do not believe that Senator Mitch McConnell (D-KY) will vote to convict the former president.
On January 6, Donald Trump never condemned the violence, instead saying in a video that his supporters should go home, they are special people and he loves them. In fact, the House impeachment managers repeated the reports that Donald Trump was “delighted” as he watched the assault on live television and was confused and baffled as to why his staffers were not also enthusiastic about this “fight” unfolding at the seat of American government.
Trump’s defense team has said little, other than they haven’t learned much that they did not already know and they too might show more videos in their presentation Thursday.
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