House impeachment managers built their case against former President Donald J. Trump on Wednesday, methodically using video and audio clips to argue that he was responsible for the deadly assault on the Capitol on Jan. 6. Throughout much of the day, the managers let Mr. Trump and his supporters do the talking, showing videos of Mr. Trump’s speeches, his Twitter posts and footage of his supporters answering his rallying cries that began months before the attack.
Here are some takeaways from the second day of the trial.
For a time on Wednesday, @realDonaldTrump was back.
In their efforts to prove that Mr. Trump was undeniably behind the attack, House impeachment managers let the former president tell the story in his own words, airing a Trump Twitter blitz worthy of the former tweeter in chief himself. This time, however, his posts were marked with a “PROSECUTORS’ EVIDENCE” stamp.
“Big protest in D.C. on January 6th. Be there, will be wild!” he wrote on Dec. 19, a post the managers repeatedly referred to throughout the day as a “save the date.”
And then, on Dec. 26, he wrote, “The ‘Justice’ Department and the FBI have done nothing about the 2020 Presidential Election Voter Fraud, the biggest SCAM in our nation’s history, despite overwhelming evidence. They should be ashamed. History will remember. Never give up. See everyone in D.C. on January 6th.”
It has been 33 days since the world has seen a new Trump tweet, after nearly four years of Mr. Trump using the social media platform to build his base of supporters and blast out his unfiltered messages.
Twitter barred Mr. Trump permanently on Jan. 8, citing “the risk of further incitement of violence” as its justification.
- A trial is being held to decide whether former President Donald J. Trump is guilty of inciting a deadly mob of his supporters when they stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6, violently breaching security measures and sending lawmakers into hiding as they met to certify President Biden’s victory.
- The House voted 232 to 197 to approve a single article of impeachment, accusing Mr. Trump of “inciting violence against the government of the United States” in his quest to overturn the election results. Ten Republicans joined the Democrats in voting to impeach him.
- To convict Mr. Trump, the Senate would need a two-thirds majority to be in agreement. This means at least 17 Republican senators would have to vote with Senate Democrats to convict.
- A conviction seems unlikely. Last month, only five Republicans in the Senate sided with Democrats in beating back a Republican attempt to dismiss the charges because Mr. Trump is no longer in office. Only 27 senators say they are undecided about whether to convict Mr. Trump.
- If the Senate convicts Mr. Trump, finding him guilty of “inciting violence against the government of the United States,” senators could then vote on whether to bar him from holding future office. That vote would only require a simple majority, and if it came down to party lines, Democrats would prevail with Vice President Kamala Harris casting the tiebreaking vote.
- If the Senate does not convict Mr. Trump, the former president could be eligible to run for public office once again. Public opinion surveys show that he remains by far the most popular national figure in the Republican Party.
Seeing the collection of Mr. Trump’s posts on Wednesday was a reminder of just how much the former president has been silenced after losing his most powerful megaphone. By comparison, on the second day of Mr. Trump’s impeachment trial a year ago, he posted or reposted 142 tweets.
This week, the former president has been largely hidden from view at his private club in Palm Beach, Fla. He was steaming after seeing his lawyers’ defense on Tuesday, people familiar with his reaction said.
‘This is now effectively a riot,’ one officer radioed.
The House managers showed senators previously unseen footage of the attack that was captured on security cameras in the Capitol. They also played recordings of officers’ chilling pleas for backup as the chaos unfolded around them, and they sometimes ducked metal poles flung in their direction.
“This is now effectively a riot,” an officer said minutes before the rioters stormed the building, pushing through police barriers and breaking windows. Some of the attackers carried riot shields.
In clip after clip, the impeachment managers broadened the view for senators of what was happening around them as they were running for cover on Jan. 6.
“You know how close you came to the mob,” said Representative Eric Swalwell of California, one of the House managers. “But most of the public does not know how close these rioters came to you.”
As the senators listened to radio communications among law enforcement officers and watched scenes of lawmakers and their staff racing to safety, many strained to get a better view. On the Republican side of the chamber, senators watched, emotionless, at times turning away to take notes.
Democrats let Trump and his supporters make their case to convict.
As they started building their case on Wednesday, House impeachment managers delivered multimedia arguments that Mr. Trump was in no way an innocent bystander to the events of Jan. 6, rebutting an assertion the former president’s defense team made a day earlier.
The managers flashed outlines of their arguments on video screens and fleshed out each point with examples from Mr. Trump’s monthslong campaign to sow distrust in the country’s elections systems and his efforts to roil his supporters over what he repeatedly and wrongly called a fraudulent, stolen election.
Throughout the day, the managers let Mr. Trump and his supporters do much of the talking, showing footage of campaign rallies, screenshots of the president’s comments and clips of news interviews with supporters who said they went to Washington on Jan. 6 in response to his call.
One of Mr. Trump’s comments made repeated appearances on Wednesday, underscoring how important House managers took these specific words to prove their case.
The prosecution emphasized the role racism played in the riot and in the months before it.
The lead impeachment manager, Representative Jamie Raskin, Democrat of Maryland, quoted one of the Black officers who battled the mob that day describing his despair at being subjected to racist taunts from a crowd of attackers that was, according to witness accounts and video, overwhelmingly white.
Mr. Trump’s affinity for groups like the Proud Boys and his refusal to condemn them publicly and forcefully at multiple points throughout his presidency has long made many Republicans bristle, a reaction the impeachment managers may have been hoping to elicit in the Senate chamber on Wednesday.
An incitement of insurrection in four acts.
The impeachment managers laid out four efforts to subvert the election, each escalating as Mr. Trump’s desperation to retain his grip on the Oval Office grew. With each step, the managers said, he laid the groundwork for the violent mob attack on Jan. 6.
The first act, the impeachment managers said, dates to the campaign.
“The president realized really by last spring that he could lose — he might lose the election. So what did he do?” said one of the impeachment managers, Representative Joe Neguse of Colorado. “He started planting the seeds to get some of his supporters ready by saying that he could only lose the election if it was stolen.”
After Mr. Trump lost in November, he turned to his next plan: filing legal challenges to the vote counts at the local and state levels, all the while rallying his base.
And when that did not work, the president took the extraordinary step of pressuring Georgia elections officials to “find 11,780 votes” cast for him. Senators then heard a recording of the shocking conversation between Mr. Trump and the top elections official in Georgia. (There is currently a criminal investigation into his attempts to overturn the state’s elections results.)
When the Georgia plan fell through, Mr. Trump saw one last opportunity to “stop the steal”: the bureaucratic counting of the Electoral College votes on Jan. 6.
“He incited this attack, and he saw it coming,” Mr. Raskin said. “To us, it may have felt like chaos and madness. But there was method in the madness that day.”
Reporting was contributed by Luke Broadwater, Glenn Thrush, Nicholas Fandos and Nick Corasaniti.