Donald Trump's tweets take centre stage on second day of Senate impeachment trial

House impeachment managers delivered multimedia arguments on Wednesday as they started building their case that Trump was in no way an innocent bystander to the events of 6 January

The New York Times February 11, 2021 07:25:13 IST
Donald Trump's tweets take centre stage on second day of Senate impeachment trial

A screen shows a tweet sent by Donald Trump days before the storming of the Capitol, during the former president's second impeachment trial. By Erin Schaff © 2021 The New York Times

House impeachment managers built their case against former President Donald Trump on Wednesday, methodically using video and audio clips to argue that Trump was responsible for the deadly assault on the Capitol on 6 January. Throughout much of the day, the managers let Trump and his supporters do the talking, showing videos of Trump’s speeches, his Twitter posts and footage of his supporters answering his rallying cries that began months before the attack.

Here are some takeaways from the second day of the trial.

For a time on Wednesday, @realDonaldTrump was back.

In their efforts to prove that Trump was undeniably behind the attack, House impeachment managers let the former president tell the story in his own words, airing a Trump Twitter blitz worthy of the former tweeter in chief himself. This time, however, his posts were marked with a “PROSECUTORS’ EVIDENCE” stamp.

On 19 Decemeber, he wrote: “Big protest in D.C. on January 6th. Be there, will be wild!”

The managers repeatedly referred to the 19 December post as a “save the date” for 6 January.

On 26 December, he wrote: “The ‘Justice’ Department and the FBI have done nothing about the 2020 Presidential Election Voter Fraud, the biggest SCAM in our nation’s history, despite overwhelming evidence. They should be ashamed. History will remember. Never give up. See everyone in D.C. on January 6th.”

It’s been 33 days since the world has seen a new Trump tweet, after nearly four years of Trump using the social media platform to build his base of supporters and blast out his unfiltered messages.

Twitter banned Trump permanently on 8 January, citing “the risk of further incitement of violence” as its justification.

Seeing the collection of Trump’s posts was a reminder of just how much the former president has been silenced after losing his most powerful megaphone. By comparison, on the second day of Trump’s impeachment trial a year ago, Trump posted or reposted 142 tweets.

This week, Trump has been largely hidden from view at his private club in Palm Beach, Florida. He was steaming after seeing his lawyers’ defence on Tuesday, people familiar with his reaction said.

Democrats let Trump and his supporters make their case to convict.

House impeachment managers delivered multimedia arguments on Wednesday as they started building their case that Trump was in no way an innocent bystander to the events of Jan. 6, rebutting an assertion Trump’s defence team made a day earlier.

The impeachment managers flashed outlines of their arguments and fleshed out each point with examples from Trump’s months-long campaign to sow distrust in the country’s elections systems and his efforts to rile outrage from his supporters over what he repeatedly and wrongly called a fraudulent, stolen election.

Throughout the day, the managers let Trump and his supporters do much of the talking, showing footage of campaign rallies, screenshots of the president’s comments and clips of news interviews with supporters who said they went to Washington on 6 January in response to Trump’s call.

One of Trump’s comments made repeat appearances on Wednesday, underscoring how important House managers took these specific words to prove their case.

“We fight like hell, and if you don’t fight like hell, you’re not going to have a country anymore,” Trump told a crowd of his supporters just before he dispatched them east toward the Capitol.

The prosecution emphasised the role racism played in the riot and in the months before it.

Over the course of the day, the impeachment managers raised the role racism played in the riot as well as in the preceding months. Confederate flags were carried inside the Capitol, which historians said did not happen even during the Civil War.

The managers also identified rioters who had ties to white supremacist groups, including a far-right group, the Proud Boys, known for endorsing violence. Its members became loud supporters of Trump’s after the former president refused to denounce the group during a debate with Biden.

The lead House impeachment manager, Representative Jamie Raskin, D-Maryland, quoted one of the Black officers who battled the mob that day describing his despair at being subjected to racist taunts from a crowd of attackers that was, according to witness accounts and video, overwhelmingly White.

Trump’s affinity for groups like the Proud Boys and his refusal to condemn them publicly and forcefully at multiple points throughout his presidency has long made many Republicans bristle, a reaction the impeachment managers may have been hoping to elicit in the Senate chamber on Wednesday.

Eileen Sullivan c.2021 The New York Times Company

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