US Senate begins Trump's impeachment trial
(Sourced from PTI)
The US Senate began the impeachment trial of Donald Trump, on Wednesday with impeachment managers from the Democratic Party-controlled House of Representatives making a strong case. Prosecutors showed previously undisclosed and chilling security camera footage of the mayhem that erupted at the US Capitol last month after a pro-Trump mob smashed their way into the building and posed a threat to the lawmakers.
The Capitol building, where the November 3 election result was being certified, was stormed on January 6 after thousands of Trump supporters gathered in support of false claims that widespread fraud denied him victory. Five people died, including a Capitol Police officer in the violence.
Led by Democratic Congressman Jamie Raskin, a battery of his party colleagues from the House of Representatives alleged that Trump incited his supporters for violence on January 6. While the House, where the Democrats have the majority, impeached him before January 20, when he was still the president, the Senate impeachment trial has begun three weeks after he left office.
Trump lost the elections to Joe Biden, who was sworn-in as the 46th President on January 20. This is for the first time in American history that a former US president is being impeached. Trump is also the first president to have been impeached twice.
Leading the charge on the Senate floor, Raskin alleged that Trump willfully incited an insurrectionary mob to riot at the Capitol. Several of his Democratic colleagues took the Senate floor to argue that Trump should be impeached. One security camera video showed the then Vice President Mike Pence and his family rushing from the Senate Chamber. Other videos had Senators hustling through a hallway.
Raskin said the evidence will show that Trump was no innocent bystander. It will show that Trump surrendered his role as the Commander-in-Chief and became the inciter-in-chief of a dangerous insurrection. "This was the greatest betrayal of the presidential oath in the history of the US. The evidence will show that he saw it coming and was not surprised by the violence," he said.
House managers have up to 16 hours to present their case. Raskin said that they would continue with their opening argument on Thursday. Trump's lawyers would make their presentation after that and will have 16 hours to respond to the allegations against Trump.
"Trump put a target on their backs and his mob broke into the Capitol to hunt them down," said Congressman Stacey Plaskett. Another impeachment manager, Representative Eric Swalwell narrated one video, telling lawmakers, "Most of the public does not know how close you came to the mob before escaping to safety." "We all know that awful day could have been much worse," Swalwell said.
"He violated his oath to preserve, protect, and defend the constitution, the government, and the people of the US. Evidence shows that Trump assembled, inflamed, and incited his followers to descend upon the Capitol to block Congress from finalizing Biden's election victory," Raskin said.
Impeachment managers also included never-before-heard audio communication among law enforcement officers pleading for reinforcements and reporting injuries. "They're throwing metal poles at us," one officer was heard saying. At one point, Plaskett emphasized, the mob got dangerously close to Pence and his family. She pointed to footage of the mob erecting a gallows complete with a noose, along with chants of Hang Mike Pence.
"As the rioters reached the top of the stairs, they were within 100 feet of where Pence was sheltering with his family. They were just feet away from one of the doors to this chamber, where many of you remained at that time," Plaskett said.
Meanwhile, Republican Senator Ted Cruz appeared unconvinced by the allegations. "They spent a great deal of time focusing on the horrific acts of violence that were played out by the criminals, but the language from the president doesn't come close to meeting the legal standard for incitement," he said. So far, officials have charged around 200 people in connection with the Capitol violence.
The Senate voted 56-44 on Tuesday to move ahead with the trial, rejecting Trump's claim that it is unconstitutional to try him on impeachment charges since he has already left office. A two-thirds majority is needed to convict Trump, meaning 17 Republicans would have to vote with the Democrats in the 100-member Senate where both parties have 50 seats each.