WASHINGTON: Democrats on Wednesday aimed to show how Donald Trump laid the groundwork for the deadly attack on the U.S. Capitol by falsely claiming the election was stolen as they opened their case charging the former president with inciting insurrection.
House of Representatives managers prosecuting the case, an uphill task in a divided Senate, will show never-before-seen footage in an attempt to get Republicans in the chamber to confront the mayhem and danger they all faced on Jan. 6, senior aides said.
“We will be using footage never seen before that shows a view of the Capitol that is quite extraordinary and a view of the attack that has never been public before,” one aide said.
The House has charged Trump, a Republican, with inciting an insurrection by exhorting thousands of supporters to march on the Capitol, where Congress was gathered to certify Democrat Joe Biden’s electoral victory.
In an assault that stunned the world, the rioters stormed the Capitol, sending lawmakers into hiding and leaving five people dead, including a police officer.
Democrats on Tuesday showed a graphic video presentation of the siege, only to find some Republican senators looking down or fixated on papers at their desks as audio of the mob’s screams and shouts echoed through the chamber. Senators from both parties act as a jury in a U.S. presidential impeachment trial.
Trump had made multiple false assertions that he lost the election only because of widespread fraud.
“You’re going to hear the provocation. You are going to hear how Trump inflamed his base leading up to it with his lies about the election being stolen; how they have to ‘stop the steal.’ He wanted a landslide,” the senior aide said in a briefing before the trial resumed at noon EST (1700 GMT). “Jan. 6 was the culmination of his conduct not a beginning of it.”
On Tuesday, the Senate voted that the trial could move ahead even though Trump’s term ended on Jan. 20. Six out of 50 Republican senators broke with their caucus to side with Democrats.
Tuesday’s vote shows Democrats face long odds to secure a conviction that would bar Trump from seeking public office again. A two-thirds majority in the Senate must vote to convict, which means at least 17 Republicans would have to defy Trump’s still-potent popularity among Republican voters.