If Republican senators will not put the republic over their party, House impeachment trial managers suggested Wednesday, they should convict former President Donald Trump because of the personal threats he posed to their safety.
And by implication, their suggestion went further. Unless the Senate finishes off Trump with a conviction, their argument went, Trump will remain a threat to his party and the senators’ political futures.
It was a fragile shield of outnumbered cops and fortune that protected elected officials’ lives and the Constitution during the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol, according to video and audio recordings played publicly for the first time during the Senate trial Wednesday.
Trump incited that riot, where some invaders aimed to kill the first- and second-in-line to the presidency, Vice President Mike Pence and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., according to the House prosecutors. The managers brought receipts — in the form of video and audio clips — to bolster their case.
“President Trump put a target on their backs, and his mob broke into the Capitol to hunt them down,” one of the House Democrats’ trial managers, Stacey Plaskett, the Virgin Islands’ nonvoting delegate to Congress, said as she played video and audio recordings. “They were within 100 feet of where the vice president was sheltering with his family. … If they had found Speaker Pelosi, they would have killed her.”
One video showed a Trump supporter walking through the halls of the Capitol calling out: “Nancy! Where are you, Nancy? We’re looking for you.”
But House Democratic prosecutors did not limit their arguments to the risk to the republic, no doubt because that line of argument has not proved persuasive with Republican senators so far. Their daylong presentation of the case against Trump tilted heavily toward reminding Republican senators that Trump targeted them for years — showing the actual tweets that did so — and making it clear if he is not convicted and disqualified from holding future federal office, he will continue to dominate them politically and potentially with violence.