The House impeachment managers wrapped up their case for the conviction of Donald Trump for inciting the US Capitol riot on Jan. 6, centering their argument on connecting the former President's words in advance of the riot and the actions taken by his supporters on that day.
In case you missed it, here are some of the key takeaways from the trial today:
- The rioters' statements are damning: The clear focus of the impeachment managers was to provide a clear link between Trump's words and the actions of the violent mob that stormed the Capitol. And time and time again, the best proof of that link was the rioters themselves. In interviews, in videos, in arrest records the same theme just kept emerging: They believed they were acting on the wishes (and orders) of the President of the United States. The lingering image (and sound) for me from Thursday's proceedings was a protester outside the Capitol shouting, "We were invited by the President of the United States" over and over unto a bullhorn. "They came here because the President instructed them to do so," said House impeachment manager Rep. Diana Degette.
- Trump as a future threat: One of the most consistent arguments you hear from Republican senators opposed to the impeachment trial amounts to this: What's the point in removing Trump from office? He's already been removed from office by the voters! The point, as House impeachment managers Jamie Raskin and Ted Lieu argued today, is that if Trump is not convicted and banned from seeking future federal office (a vote that would take only a simple majority of senators), there's absolutely no reason to think that what happened in January couldn't be repeated. "I'm not afraid of Donald Trump running again in four years," said Lieu. "I'm afraid he's going to run again and lose. Because he can do this again."
- Michigan as a test run: On April 30, 2020, a crowd of Trump supporters crowded into the Michigan state Capitol to protest Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's state-of-emergency order due with the spread of the coronavirus pandemic. (That came less than two weeks after Trump had tweeted "LIBERATE MICHIGAN.") "This was a huge win," the organizer of the Michigan protest told CNN at the time. Then, in early October, 13 men were arrested for an act of domestic terrorism — a plot to kidnap Whitmer. Michigan was "a preview of the coming insurrection," said Raskin. The connection between the events in Michigan and those at the Capitol on Jan. 6 (and Trump's initial response to both) were used by the impeachment managers to suggest that Trump had not only primed the pump for what happened on Jan. 6, but that he and his supporters had already conducted what amounted to a dry run of what we saw play out at the Capitol on January 6. As Raskin put it: "January 6 was a culmination of Trump tactics, not an aberration from them."