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Trump’s impeachment: what has happened so far?

The Senate trial of former President Donald Trump continues in Washington with a series of videos showing some close escapes as the attackers roamed the Capitol.

Impeachment trial continues with footage from the Capitol Hill riots
Samuel CorumAFP

The second impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump got underway on Tuesday and already the prosecution have shown a slew of evidence relating to the 6 January attack on the Capitol.

Each side is given a maximum of 16 hours to make their case on the floor of the Senate, with the 100 senators in attendance acting as jurors for the historic trial. For much of the second day the House impeachment managers, who are leading the prosecution, sought to link Trump’s continued refusal to accept the election result to the violence in Washington that left five people dead.

What happened on the second day of the Trump impeachment trial?

The lead impeachment manager, Rep. Jamie Raskin, began by outlining the Democrats’ case that Trump knowingly encouraged the rioters who laid siege on the Houses of Congress last month.

Raskin said of Trump’s role in the attack: "The evidence will show you that ex-President Trump was no innocent bystander. The evidence will show that he clearly incited the January 6 insurrection. It will show that Donald Trump surrendered his role as commander-in-chief and became the inciter-in-chief of a dangerous insurrection."

The prosecutors went on to show a series of video clips from that day which demonstrated how close members of Congress came to the violent mob. One particular video showed Senator Mitt Romney being redirected away from danger by Capitol Police Officer Eugene Goodman.

Speaking afterwards, Romney told reporters that the video was “obviously very troubling”. He added: "It tears your… your heart and brings tears to your eyes. That was overwhelmingly distressing and emotional.”

There was similar footage of Rep. Nancy Pelosi and Vice President Mike Pence being hurriedly escorted away from Congress as the mob chanted their names. Both had been subject to heavy criticism by Trump, and his supporters could be heard chanting “hang Mike Pence” in the footage.

Trump’s words feature prominently in the Democrats’ case

While the emotive pictures certainly showed the horrific scale of the attack, impeachment managers are looking to prove a direct link between Trump’s words and the rioters’ actions. Raskin showed tweets from the former President which he claims helped embolden his supporters.

Even after the attack Trump wrote on Twitter: "these are the things and events that happen when a sacred landslide election victory is so unceremoniously & viciously stripped away from great patriots".

His repeated, easily disproven claims that the election was stolen have been set upon by the impeachment managers who point to this as the key motivation for those who attacked the Capitol. Raskin said of Trump’s months-long appeal to his supporters: “There was method to that madness”.

But will that be enough to convince any more Republicans that Trump is guilty of incitement of insurrection? Given that 44 GOP lawmakers voted to dismiss the whole trial on Tuesday, it would be surprising if many of them voted to convict.

However this is why the emotional appeal has been at the centre of the impeachment managers’ case so far. They will hope that by returning to the violence of that day they may be able to convince a few Republicans, who had previously felt bound to vote with their party, to vote to impeach. It remains to be seen if they will be successful.


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