WATCH LIVE: Democrats call Trump ‘inciter in chief’ during Day 2 of Impeachment Trial
WASHINGTON (AP) — Prosecutors in Donald Trump’s impeachment trial said Wednesday they would prove that Trump was no “innocent bystander” but the “inciter in chief” of the deadly attack at the Capitol aimed at overturning his election loss to Joe Biden.
Opening the first full day of arguments, the lead House prosecutor promised to lay out evidence that shows the president encouraged a rally crowd to head to the Capitol, then did nothing to stem the violence and watched with “glee” as a mob stormed the iconic building. Five people died.
“To us it may have felt like chaos and madness, but there was method to the madness that day,” said Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md.
The day’s proceedings were unfolding after an emotional Tuesday start to the trial that left the former president fuming when his attorneys delivered a meandering defense and failed to halt the trial on constitutional grounds. Some allies called for yet another shakeup to his legal team.
Trump is the first president to face an impeachment trial after leaving office and the first to be twice impeached. The riot followed a rally during which Trump urged his supporters to “fight like hell,” words his lawyers say were simply a figure of speech. He is charged with “incitement of insurrection.”
Senators, many of whom fled for safety the day of the attack, watched Tuesday’s graphic videos of the Trump supporters who battled past police to storm the halls, Trump flags waving. More video is expected Wednesday, including some that hasn’t been seen before.
The prosecutors are arguing that Trump’s words weren’t just free speech but part of “the big lie” — his relentless efforts to sow doubts about the election results. Those began long before the votes were tabulated, revving up his followers to “stop the steal” though there was no evidence of substantial fraud.
Trump knew very well what would happen when he took to the microphone at the outdoor White House rally that day, almost to the hour that Congress gaveled in to certify Biden’s win, said Rep. Joe Neguse, D-Colo.
“This was not just a speech,” he said.
Trump’s supporters were prepped and armed, ready to descend on the Capitol, Neguse said. “When they heard his speech, they understood his words.”
Security remained extremely tight Wednesday at the Capitol, fenced off with razor wire and patrolled by National Guard troops.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Biden would not be watching the trial.
“Joe Biden is the president, he’s not a pundit, he’s not going to opine on back and forth arguments,” she said.
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