Democratic impeachment managers acting as prosecutors in Donald Trump’s trial closed their arguments with a warning that the insurrectionists who attacked the US Capitol are “still listening” and may be the “beginning” of a violent political legacy.
Congressman Joe Neguse said that “the cold, hard truth is that what happened on 6 January can happen again”.
“I fear, like many of you do, that the violence we saw on that terrible day may be just the beginning,” he said on Saturday. “The extremist groups grow more emboldened every day. Senators, this cannot be the beginning. It can’t be the new normal. It has to be the end, and that decision is in your hands.”
House impeachment managers outlined their arguments against the former president and his responsibility for the riot in the halls of Congress - saying he promoted the “big lie” of election fraud that compelled his supporters to break into the Capitol as lawmakers certified the election results, along with his months-long attempts to undermine election integrity and court political violence, leading up to his command to “fight like hell” at a rally on 6 January.
Congresswoman Madeleine Dean argued that the ex-president “knew the people he was inciting” and “saw the violence they were capable of.”
“He had a pattern and practice of praising and encouraging supporters of violence, never condemning it. Senators, the insurrectionists are still listening,” she said.
Federal law enforcement has warned that far-right militia groups and others supporting the “shared false narrative of a ‘stolen’ election” and opposition to Joe Biden’s presidency and a Democratically controlled federal government “may lead some individuals to the belief that there is no political solution to address their grievance and violence action is necessary.”
The Department of Homeland Security has also issued a terrorism advisory bulletin due to a “heightened threat environment” through the end of April, following the Capitol violence.
Impeachment managers stressed to senators on Saturday that justice must be served for people impacted by the violence, including the families of people who died in the assault and in its aftermath.
“If we don’t set this right and call it what it was,” said Congresswoman Madeleine Dean, “the past will not be the past; the past will become the future.”
As Congress resumes its regular business, “for some there will be no end to the pain,” Mr Neguse said.
In his closing statement, lead impeachment manager Jamie Raskin said that “the country and world know who Trump is,” regardless of the evidence presented over several days.
‘This trial is about who we are,” he said, addressing senators directly.
“This is almost certainly how you will be remembered by history,” he said. “That might not be fair … but none of us can escape the demands of history and destiny right now.”
Democrats won a vote to introduce witnesses, potentially extending the trial into the coming weeks as both sides introduced witnesses and subpoenas, but impeachment managers backed down, moving the trial into its closing hours.
The witness request followed a statement from Congresswoman Jaime Herrera-Beutler, among 10 House Republicans who broke from the party to impeach Mr Trump in the House. She described a phone conversation between House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and Mr Trump on 6 January as his supporters mounted an assault inside the Capitol building.
Mr Raskin said the team believes “we’ve proven our case,” adding that the late-breaking statement from Rep Herrera Beutler introduced “an additional critical piece of corroborating evidence, further confirming the charges before you.”
“Is this America?” Mr Raskin said in his closing statement. “What kind of America will we be? It’s now literally in your hands.”
The statement was admitted into the trial record.
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