This content is not available in your region

Trump impeachment: Democrats present incitement case showing new video of Capitol riot

Access to the comments Comments
A member of the National Guard walks past the U.S. Capitol during the second impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump in Washington, Wednesday, Feb. 10, 2021.
A member of the National Guard walks past the U.S. Capitol during the second impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump in Washington, Wednesday, Feb. 10, 2021.   -   Copyright  AP Photo/Andrew Harnik

House Democrats opened their first day of arguments in former President Donald Trump's impeachment trial with shocking footage of the US Capitol riot.

It struck a chord with Senate Jurors, some of whom narrowly avoided the mob.

Videos of the siege have been circulating since the day of the riot, but the graphic compilation amounted to a more complete narrative, a moment-by-moment retelling of one of the nation's most alarming days.

In addition to the evident chaos and danger, it offered fresh details on the attackers, scenes of police heroism, and cries of distress.

And it showed just how close the country came to a potential breakdown in its seat of democracy as Congress was certifying Trump's election defeat to Democrat Joe Biden.

To reconstruct the siege for senators, Democrats aired never-before-seen security footage from inside the Capitol that showed the attack unfolding.

Their presentation included a chilling video of the rioters rampaging into the building and audio of distressed police officers who tried in vain to keep them out.

The presentation also showed the perilous moments when lawmakers and others, including Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and former vice president Mike Pence, were rushed to safety; bodycam footage of an officer being beaten; the sounds of crunching, breaking glass; profane screams and violent threats; and cries as the rioters streamed into the building, some carrying riot shields and weapons.

House impeachment managers wove the security footage together with graphics that illustrated on an overhead map of the US Capitol building where lawmakers were and how close they were to the rioters.

There appears little chance Democrats can convince 17 Senate Republicans to break with their party and vote to convict Trump, which requires a two-thirds majority vote. And some of them appeared indifferent to the proceedings and unmoved by the evidence Wednesday.

As the country numbs to the Trump era's shattering of civic norms, the prosecutors sought to remind senators and the nation how extraordinary it was to have a sitting US president working to discredit the election.

As far back as spring and summer, Trump was spreading false claims about the election and refusing to commit to the peaceful transfer of power once it was over, they said.

There was no widespread fraud in the election, as has been confirmed by election officials across the country and former Attorney General William Barr. Dozens of legal challenges to the election put forth by Trump and his allies were dismissed.

Donald Trump’s impeachment trial temporarily ground to a standstill when Republican Sen. Mike Lee of Utah objected to the prosecutors’ characterisation of a phone call he fielded from the then-president just as senators were being evacuated during the Capitol siege.

It had been reported that Trump mistakenly called Lee when he was trying to reach Sen. Tommy Tuberville, the Republican from Alabama. According to the reports, Trump was trying to reach Tuberville to discuss objecting to the certification of Electoral College votes.

It’s unclear what aspect of the comments Lee wanted to be removed. But House impeachment managers agreed to strike the reference from the record.

Trump's second impeachment trial is expected to diverge from the lengthy, complicated affair of a year ago. In that case, Trump was charged with having privately pressured Ukraine to dig up dirt on Biden, then a Democratic rival for the presidency. The second trial could be over in half the time.