Impeachment managers: If Trump is acquitted he could foment violence again
Former President Donald Trump's defense attorneys David Schoen (c) and Michael van der Veen (l) in the Capitol in Washington during the impeachment trial on Feb. 11, 2021. EFE-EPA/Mandel Ngan
Democratic Congressman Jamie Raskin in the US Capitol in Washington on Feb. 11, 2021, during former President Donald Trump's impeachment trial. EFE-EPA/Jim Lo Scalzo
Democratic Congressman Ted Lieu in the US Capitol in Washington on Feb. 11, 2021, during the impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump. EFE-EPA/Jim Lo Scalzo
Washington, Feb 11 (efe-epa).- Democratic congresspeople acting as the "managers" of ex-President Donald Trump's second impeachment trial on Thursday sought to prove on the third day of proceedings in the US Senate that if the former president were acquitted he could once again cause violence or serve as an inspiration for other appointed or elected officials to do so in the future, given that he would suffer no constitutionally-mandated consequences for his actions.
With that in mind, the managers emphasized Trump's evident lack of remorse for his role in the deadly Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol complex to demand that he be banned from ever again holding public office.
Trump spread "lies" to incite the violent attack on the Capitol, which resulted in five deaths, one of the managers, Congressman Ted Lieu, said, adding that "Conviction and disqualification is not just about the past, it's about the future. It's making sure that no future official, no future president, does the same exact thing President Trump does."
"I'm not afraid of Donald Trump running again in four years. I'm afraid he's going to run again and lose - because he can do this again," Lieu said.
President Trump "showed no remorse and took no accountability" for fomenting the Jan. 6 attack, the congressman said.
In presenting their arguments on Thursday, the nine House managers will finalize their case before ceding the floor to Trump's defense team, who will begin presenting their own arguments on Friday.
The prosecution focused on Wednesday on proving, backed by captivating real-time videos, that Trump abandoned his role as commander in chief of the US to become the "inciter in chief" of a "dangerous insurrection," while on Thursday they focused on his apparent lack of remorse for his actions and/or non-actions before, during and after the attack.
The managers said that the lack of remorse proves "without a doubt" that Trump will launch new attacks of one sort or another in the future, if allowed, and thus he should be irrevocably barred from holding public office again.
Trump is facing the charge of "inciting to insurrection" for the assault on the Capitol by a huge and violent mob of his supporters, who broke into the Capitol building while lawmakers from both chambers of Congress were meeting to certify the Nov. 3, 2020, election victory of Joe Biden, a loss that Trump has never acknowledged and which he claims - without any proof - only occurred because of massive election fraud by Democrats.
Minutes before the attack, Trump delivered a fiery speech to the huge crowd of his supporters from the White House during which he urged them to march to Congress and reiterated his baseless claims that the election had been "stolen" from him and from the "patriots" in the crowd, going on to tell them to "fight like hell" to "stop the steal."
Quite apart from his words and deeds on that day, the Democratic managers on Thursday worked to prove that Trump for some time prior to Jan. 6 had been encouraging his supporters to violence, and they backed up their argument with video evidence.
"January 6 was the culmination of the president's actions, not an aberration from them," said Congressman Jamie Raskin, the lead impeachment manager, adding, "There the pattern is, staring us in the face."
Raskin said that the insurrection was the "most violent and dangerous" episode in what he said was the continuing pattern of Trump's practice of inciting political violence.
To illustrate his point, Raskin devoted a good portion of his remarks to speaking about the invasion of the Michigan state capitol building by hundreds of armed demonstrators last April 30, the violent throng protesting the measures adopted by state authorities to try and limit the spread of Covid-19.
Raskin said that, in effect, the assault on the Michigan legislature was a "dress rehearsal" for the attack on the US Capitol, which he said that Trump incited on Jan. 6.
The former president did not condemn the Michigan attack and responded by criticizing the state's progressive governor, Gretchen Whitmer, who months later was made the target of an alleged kidnapping and possible assassination attempt, in which 13 people have been indicted.
Apart from these arguments, the Democrats once again on Thursday showed videos of the mob of Trump's followers bursting through windows and doors into the Capitol, images that in addition to being designed to convince Republican senators of Trump's guilt also seemed directed at the nationwide television audience.
Meanwhile, defense attorney Bruce Castor insisted in remarks to CNN that none of the demonstrators has claimed that Trump directly ordered them to enter the Capitol, thus implying that the ex-president bears no responsibility for the attack.
Trump's defense team is now preparing to present their arguments starting on Friday and has already said that doing so will not take much time, despite the fact that each of the two sides - prosecution and defense - were allocated up to 16 hours to present their cases.
One of Trump's attorneys, David Schoen, said in an interview with Fox News that the defense presentation will be "as short as possible," going on to complain about the "complete lack of due process," as well as what he called "the complete lack of evidence, and the harm that this is causing to the American people."
All indications are that the impeachment proceedings will be over by the end of this week. Republican Sen. Roy Blunt of Missouri emphasized to reporters that the trial could end on Saturday, while Democrat Debbie Stebanow said that it might end late on Saturday or Sunday afternoon.
To convict Trump of the single impeachment charge, Democrats must get the support of two-thirds of the senators, or 67 votes, but that does not appear to be likely given that they only control 50 seats in the Senate and thus 17 GOP senators would have to break party ranks and vote against the ex-president.