Trump's second impeachment trial: Day 2

By Melissa Macaya, Meg Wagner, Veronica Rocha, Melissa Mahtani and Mike Hayes, CNN

Updated 11:41 p.m. ET, February 10, 2021
73 Posts
Sort byDropdown arrow
7:00 p.m. ET, February 10, 2021

Some GOP senators say managers haven't adequately linked Capitol riot to Trump

From CNN's Ali Zaslav and Ali Main

Just after the House impeachment managers played powerful new video of the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, several Republican senators said that while the video itself was compelling, they do not think the managers have directly connected the violence to the former President.

Sen. Ted Cruz, a Republican from Texas, said the managers' presentation was "powerful and emotional," but he doesn't think it adequately connects Trump to the attack or proves the former President committed high crimes or misdemeanors.

"That was strikingly absent," he said of the direct link to the former President. "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 claimed that "there's not a political candidate in the country," including "every single one of the Democratic senators," who hasn't used the same language of Trump, who told his supporters to "fight like hell."

Cruz admitted that the former President's rhetoric is, at times, "overheated," adding, "but this is not a referendum on whether you agree with everything the President says or tweets."

"This is instead a legal proceeding assessing whether the President has committed high crimes or misdemeanors, and today's presentation was powerful and emotional, reliving a terrorist attack on our nation's capital, but there was very little said about how specific conduct of the President's satisfies the legal standard," he said, later accusing Democrats of being motivated by "partisan hatred" for Trump.

Sen. James Lankford, a Republican from Oklahoma, said while he needs to hear the rest of the arguments, the case the managers are trying to make is “that Trump is the one who said go” initiating the riot on Jan. 6. And he argued Trump “has had 100 rallies and we’ve never seen that before, so that’s the tough one to be able to link together.”

The Oklahoma Republican said the videos the managers played were “tough” and “very difficult” to watch and re-walk through the events of the day.

“It’s painful to see,” he said.“And I still can’t believe that there were Americans that smashed their way into the Capitol,” Lankford added.

Sen. Mike Braun of Indiana called the video "riveting," saying, "it's just as kind of hard to take now as it was then."  

Asked if this impacts his thinking as he decides whether he'll vote to acquit the former President, Braun answered, "no, because I've seen I think most of it," adding, "I think it's good to review it, but I don't know that that's going to make a difference for anyone senator just having it on a loop again. But every time you do watch it, it gives you the enormity of the day, so, and the incident."  

Braun added that "obviously" the people who broke into the Capitol on Jan. 6 should be held accountable, saying, "I think trying to then relate it to who caused them to do it will be the tough case to make." 

He said he thinks the rioters were at the Capitol on Jan. 6 because they were "upset with things." 

Asked if Trump bears any responsibility for the riot, even if his involvement does not rise to a high crime or misdemeanor, Braun said, "You know, I think that the day, when you push the envelope on stuff – in this case, it obviously ended up in a way I'm sure he never had intended it to happen. You know it unraveled, and I think still, when it comes to the people that actually broke in here, it's their responsibility." 

Sen. Thom Tillis, a Republican from North Carolina, said he thinks “we’ve got to distinguish between the despicable acts we saw here, and to what extent he or those individuals have responsibility,” when asked if Trump bears responsibility for attack.

He added that “you can definitely hold all those folks accountable,” referring about the rioters.

6:51 p.m. ET, February 10, 2021

How a quick-thinking computer programmer helped the case against Trump

From CNN’s Donie O’Sullivan 

Many of the videos used as evidence by the impeachment managers this week were originally posted to Parler, a social media platform that was popular among Trump supporters at the time of the insurrection. 

Parler was taken offline after Amazon Web Services pulled hosting support for the site in the days after the insurrection. 

An anonymous computer programmer who uses the online name “Crash override” and the Twitter handle @donk_enby realized that the social media platform was full of videos that could be used as potential evidence to identify insurrectionists. 

The programmer sprang into action and began downloading videos from Parler before the site was taken fully offline. "I had an efficient way to download it all. I knew what was there, but it seemed that nobody else could see the value,” she told CNN on Wednesday. In total she gathered 30 terabytes – that’s 30,000 gigabytes – of video, she said.

Seeing so much of the material being used as evidence in this week’s impeachment trials, she told CNN:

“I hope it inspires more people with similar skills to mine to use those skills for good.”

She told CNN she is not based in the United States and describes herself as a “hacktivist” – she states in her Twitter bio she uses she/her pronouns. Although she describes herself as a “hacktivist,” she clarified that “everything I archived was publicly accessible.”

ProPublica posted hundreds of the videos gathered by @donk_enby to a database on its website. Parler videos being used by the House impeachment managers were downloaded from this ProPublica database.

6:48 p.m. ET, February 10, 2021

Republican senator: The Capitol riot "should give anyone who loves our republic great pause"

From CNNs Josiah Ryan

Nicholas Kamm/AFP/Getty Images
Nicholas Kamm/AFP/Getty Images

Republican Sen. Bill Cassidy said he found much of the House impeachment managers' case against former President Trump jarring, adding that the the rioters' attempts to thwart a peaceful transfer of power should alarm anyone who loves America.

"There's so much. There's no one thing. There are many things," said Cassidy when asked today if he found anything in Democrats' case for impeachment especially jarring. "There's so much to say that should be taken away. How do you narrow it?"

"You realize that there were people, insurrectionists, that tried to affect the peaceful transfer of power and that should give anyone who loves our republic great pause," he added, speaking outside the Senate chamber moments before the impeachment trial was set to resume. 

Cassidy on Monday was the the sole Republican to switch his vote after an initial vote on the constitutionality of the trial last month. He joined five other GOP colleagues to vote to allow the trial to continue.

Cassidy was reelected in 2020 meaning he we will not face reelection for six years. His vote to proceed with the impeachment trial earned was met with a rebuke from the Republican Party of of Louisiana which issued a statement today saying they were "profoundly disappointed" by his vote.

“We feel that an impeachment trial of a private citizen is not only an unconstitutional act, but also an attack on the very foundation of American democracy, which will have far reaching and unforeseen consequences for our republic," the statement said.

6:42 p.m. ET, February 10, 2021

Rep. David Cicilline lays out timeline of Capitol attack

From CNN’s Maureen Chowdhury 

Senate TV
Senate TV

Rep. David Cicilline, one of the House impeachment managers, laid out the timeline of the Jan. 6 Capitol attack in his remarks today from the Senate floor.

Cicilline argued that former President Trump "did not once condemn this attack."

"He did not once condemn the attackers," the Democratic lawmaker said. "In fact, on January 6th, the only person he condemned is his own Vice President Mike Pence, who was hiding in this building with his family, in fear for his life. In the first crucial hours of this violent attack, he did nothing to stop it, nothing to help us."

Cicilline, of Rhode Island’s 1st district, has been a member of the House Judiciary Committee since 2014 and serves as the chair of the Subcommittee on Antitrust, Commercial and Administrative Law. Cicilline also serves on the Foreign Affairs Committee.

Cicilline has worked as a member of the House Judiciary Committee to investigate then President Trump during his first impeachment trial. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi appointed Cicilline to the more prominent role of impeachment manager during this second trial on Jan. 12.

“The President is a clear and present danger to our republic. We will hold him accountable,” Cicilline tweeted.  

Cicilline is serving his sixth term in Congress. Early in his career, Cicilline served as a public defender in the District of Columbia. Cicilline served two terms as mayor of Providence and four terms in the Rhode Island House of Representatives.

6:30 p.m. ET, February 10, 2021

GOP senator says video footage was "riveting"

From CNN's Kristin Wilson and Ali Zaslav 

Sen. Susan Collins, a Republican from Maine, described sitting through the presentation by the managers today as “extremely quiet, you could have heard a pin drop,” adding that the footage was “riveting.”

“The presentations were compelling, particularly by Representative Plaskett, and also I thought that the Representative from Colorado was very good, as well,” she said.

“It was reliving that day with some additional detail that just reinforces my belief that it was a terrible day for our country and that there's no doubt that it was an attempt to disrupt the counting of the electoral votes," Collins continued.

"I'll always be grateful to law enforcement and the Capitol police for protecting us, but also proud of the fact that we came back that night and finished our constitutional duty, we did not let the rioters accomplish their goal of disrupting the vote,” she added. 

6:28 p.m. ET, February 10, 2021

The Senate trial has resumed

The Senate is back in session after taking a break for dinner.

Before the break, House impeachment managers presented chilling video – some that had never been seen before – depicting various violent and graphic moments of the insurrection.

They are continuing their presentation now.

6:24 p.m. ET, February 10, 2021

Republican Sen. Thune says impeachment managers doing a "good job of connecting the dots"

 From CNN's Lauren Fox

Sen. John Thune arrives prior to the start of arguments in the second impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump on Wednesday, February 10.
Sen. John Thune arrives prior to the start of arguments in the second impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump on Wednesday, February 10. Joshua Roberts/Pool/AP

Sen. John Thune, the minority whip and a member of GOP leadership, told reporters that he believes the House managers have done an “effective job” and are “connecting the dots” from former President Trump’s words to the insurrection.

“I think they were very effective. They had a strong presentation put together in a way that I think makes it pretty compelling,” Thune said.

Thune added later that “I think they’ve done a good job of connecting the dots. The President’s Twitter feed is a matter of public record, and I think I said [they’ve] done an effective job of just going back several months and just showing that public record.”

Asked how he was feeling, Thune said, “I feel sorry for you guys and the staff and everybody else who was here that day. I just think it was a very traumatic experience for a lot of people here and not just people here, but on the way here and anybody who was caught up in the mob. It is a harsh reminder of what happens when you let something like that get out of hand.”

As CNN has reported, it is still unclear what impact all of this has on someone like Thune’s ultimate vote on the question of conviction.

“Like I have said all along that I am going to listen to the arguments and look at the evidence, and I’m doing that. And like I said, these guys were, I think, very effective, and I’ll see what kind of arguments defense puts up, but I am going to listen and draw conclusions when it is all done,” Thune said.

6:21 p.m. ET, February 10, 2021

GOP senator compares Capitol riot to summer protests in Seattle and Portland

From CNN's Manu Raju and Sarah Fortinsky

Susan Walsh/AP
Susan Walsh/AP

In another sign that a wave of Senate Republicans are not swayed to vote to convict former President Trump at this point, Sen. Roy Blunt, a member of the Republican leadership, compared the protests in the summer to what happened on Jan. 6 at the Capitol.

Asked if it changed his mind about convicting Trump, Blunt, who is up for reelection in Missouri in 2022, said:

"Well, you know, you have a summer where people all over the country are doing similar kinds of things. I don't know what the other side will show from Seattle and Portland and other places, but you're going to see similar kinds of tragedies there as well."

Asked if he were shaken by the video, Blunt said, "Well I've seen parts of it and I've talked to the police about a lot of this, so, you know, it's obviously a tragic day for the country and not at all what we'd want to see people all over the world seeing happen in the United States."

6:16 p.m. ET, February 10, 2021

Romney calls video of officer directing him away from rioters "very troubling"

From CNN's Kristin Wilson and pool reports 

Sen. Mitt Romney walks with his chief of staff on the way to the Senate chamber as arguments continue in former President Donald Trump's second impeachment trial on Wednesday, February 10.
Sen. Mitt Romney walks with his chief of staff on the way to the Senate chamber as arguments continue in former President Donald Trump's second impeachment trial on Wednesday, February 10. J. Scott Applewhite/AP

Sen. Mitt Romney, who was seen in one of the videos being directed away from the rioters by Officer Eugene Goodman, said he looked forward to thanking the Capitol police officer when he next sees him.

He called the videos shown by the House managers “obviously very troubling” and said that he didn’t know that he was that close to the rioters.

“Obviously very troubling to see the great violence that our Capitol Police and others are subjected to. It tears you you're at your heart and brings tears to your heart eyes, that was overwhelmingly distressing and emotional," Romney said.