Impeachment Trial: Democrats Warn That Trump Would Use Political Violence Again If Not Convicted

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Democratic House impeachment managers have wrapped up their case against Donald Trump, saying the former president remains a threat and should be convicted of inciting the deadly January 6 insurrection at the Capitol. The trial now moves ahead to Trump’s legal team presenting their defense. We air highlights from the third day of the impeachment trial, including lead House impeachment Manager Jamie Raskin’s reiteration of Trump’s long history of inciting violence prior to January 6. “Is there any political leader in this room who believes that if he is ever allowed by the Senate to get back into the Oval Office, Donald Trump would stop inciting violence to get his way?” Raskin said. “President Trump declared his conduct totally appropriate. So if he gets back into office and it happens again, we’ll have no one to blame but ourselves.”

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AMY GOODMAN: We turn to what is happening right now in Washington, D.C. We’re talking about this historic second impeachment of a president of the United States. That’s right, we’re talking about Democratic House impeachment managers having wrapped up their case against Donald Trump, saying the former president remains a threat and should be convicted of inciting the deadly January 6 insurrection at the Capitol. Trump’s legal team begins their defense today.

On Thursday, lead House impeachment manager Jamie Raskin laid out Trump’s long history of inciting violence prior to January 6th.

REP. JAMIE RASKIN: Beginning in March, Trump leveled attacks on Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer for the coronavirus policies in her state. … Then, on October 8th, the precise consequences of the president’s incitement to violence were revealed to the whole world. Look at this: Thirteen men were arrested by the FBI for plotting to storm the Michigan state Capitol building, launch a civil war, kidnap Governor Whitmer, transport her to Wisconsin and then try and execute her. And he did it again on October 27th during a preelection rally speech in Lansing, Michigan, where the Capitol had been stormed. Trump openly joked with the crowd about critics saying his words had provoked the violent plot against Governor Whitmer. Check it out. It’s telling.

TRUMP SUPPORTERS: Lock her up! Lock her up! Lock her up! Lock her up! Lock her up! Lock her up! Lock her up!

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: See, I don’t comment to that, because every time if I make just even a little bit of a nod, they say, “The president led them on.” No, you — I don’t have to lead you on. … I’m the one, it was our people, that helped her out with her problem. I mean, we’ll have to see if it’s a problem, right? People are entitled to say maybe it was a problem; maybe it wasn’t.

REP. JAMIE RASKIN: President Trump offered them a little winking inside joke about his constant incitement of the mob and how much can actually be communicated by him with just a little nod. Just a little nod. He presided over another pounding, rhythmic rendition of his trademark chant, “Lock her up! Lock her up!” Then, referring to the FBI’s foiling of the kidnapping conspiracy, which was deadly serious, he said that he “helped her out with a problem. Maybe it was a problem, maybe it wasn’t.” We’ll have to see. Maybe it was a problem; maybe it wasn’t. The president of the United States of America. He could not bring himself to publicly oppose a kidnapping and potential assassination conspiracy plot against a sitting governor of one of our 50 states?

Trump knew exactly what he was doing in inciting the January 6th mob. Exactly. He had just seen how easily his words and actions inspired violence in Michigan. My dear colleagues, is there any political leader in this room who believes that if he is ever allowed by the Senate to get back into the Oval Office, Donald Trump would stop inciting violence to get his way? Would you bet the lives of more police officers on that? Would you bet the safety of your family on that? Would you bet the future of your democracy on that? President Trump declared his conduct totally appropriate. So, if he gets back into office and it happens again, we’ll have no one to blame but ourselves.

AMY GOODMAN: That was lead House impeachment manager Jame Raskin. Democrats also focused on the statements of rioters who took part in the January 6th insurrection. This is House impeachment manager Diana DeGette, the congressmember from Colorado.

REP. DIANA DEGETTE: I want to step back from the horrors of the attack itself and look at January 6th from a totally different perspective, the perspective of the insurrectionists themselves. Their own statements before, during and after the attack make clear the attack was done for Donald Trump, at his instructions and to fulfill his wishes. Donald Trump had sent them there. They truly believed that the whole intrusion was at the president’s orders. …

Even after the attack, the insurrectionists make clear to law enforcement that they were just following President Trump’s orders. They didn’t shy away from their crimes because they thought they were following orders from the commander-in-chief and so they would not be punished. They were wrong.

AMY GOODMAN: House impeachment manager David Cicilline accused Donald Trump of trying to become a king.

REP. DAVID CICILLINE: When President Trump incited a lawless mob to attack our process, he was attacking our democracy. He was trying to become king and rule over us against the will of the people and the valid results of the election. For the first time ever in our history, a sitting president actively instigated his supporters to violently disrupt the process that provides for the peaceful transfer of power from one president to the next. Think about that for a moment. What if President Trump had been successful? What if he had succeeded in overturning the will of the people and our constitutional processes? Who among us is willing to risk that outcome by letting Trump’s constitutional crimes go unanswered?

AMY GOODMAN: Rhode Island Congressmember Cicilline also talked about the many victims of the January 6th riot, from the Capitol Hill police officers to workers at the Capitol.

REP. DAVID CICILLINE: For many of the Black and Brown staff, the trauma was made worse by the many painful symbols of hate that were on full display that day. Insurrectionists waved Confederate flags and hurled the most disgusting racial slurs at dedicated Capitol workers. Then, after all of that, these same workers, many of them people of color, were forced to clean up the mess left by mobs of white nationalists. One member of the janitorial staff reflected how terrible he felt when he had to clean up feces that had been smeared on the wall, blood of a rioter who had died, and broken glass and other objects strewn all over the floor. He said, “I felt bad. I felt degraded.”

AMY GOODMAN: That’s House impeachment manager David Cicilline speaking on Thursday.

Trump’s legal team begins its defense today. Lawyer David Schoen predicted it would take just three to four hours — they have 16 — but just three to four hours to present Trump’s case. On Thursday evening, three Republican senators — Ted Cruz, Lindsey Graham and Mike Lee — met with Trump’s legal team in the Capitol, raising fresh doubts over their ability to serve as impartial jurors.

When we come back, we’ll be joined by longtime consumer advocate, former presidential candidate Ralph Nader. Stay with us.

[break]

AMY GOODMAN: “It’s Okay to Cry” by the Scottish trans producer and musician Sophie. Sophie died January 30th at the age of 34.

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