As Democrats began to unveil the evidence they say will prove the former president did indeed lead an insurrection when hundreds of his supporters stormed the US Capitol as legislators prepared to ratify Joe Biden’s election tally, the Senate was told the information would undermine the claim by Mr Trump’s lawyers that he played no part.
“The evidence will show you that ex-president Trump was no bystander,” said congressman Jamie Raskin, who is leading the prosecution in the Senate.
“The evidence will show that he clearly incited the January 6 insurrection.”
He added: “It will show that Donald Trump surrendered his role of commander-in-chief and became the inciter-in-chief.”
Democrats said Mr Trump’s language and the words he used repeatedly to claim, falsely, the election was rigged, were chosen to intentionally antagonise and fire up his supporters.
They also said that when Mr Trump had the opportunity to stop the violence he is accused of inciting on January 6, he rather posted a video message in which he told his supporters how much he “loved” them.
“Evidence will show you that he assembled, inflamed, and incited his followers to descend upon the Capitol, to “stop the steal”, block Vice President Pence, and Congress from finalising his opponent’s election victory over him,” said Mr Raskin.
“It will show he was warned that his followers were prepared for violent attacks, targeting the Capitol, through media reports, law enforcement reports, and even arrests. In short, we will prove that the impeached president was no innocent bystander whose conduct was totally appropriate and should be a standard for future presidents.”
Another Democratic “prosecutor”congressman, Joe Neguse, a Democrat who represents Colorado's 2nd congressional district, told the Senate that many of the 200 or so people already arrested over the attack of January 6, had said they believed they were acting on the instructions of Mr Trump.
The charging document of one member of a militia group, the Proud Boys, said they were going to “kill Mike Pence”. Another said they were were searching for Nancy Pelosi to “shoot her in the f***ing brain”.
The charging documents, said Mr Neguse, showed the rioters were “following the president's orders”.
One said “President Trump was calling on all patriots. Another said ‘President Trump is calling us to fight - this isn't a joke’,” said Mr Neguse.
“Another said ‘I thought I was following my president. He wants us here. We wait to take orders from the president’.”
He added: “He made them believe over the weeks, that the election was stolen, and they were following his command to take back their country."
Last month, seven days before he left office, Mr Trump was impeached by the House of Representatives for a second time.
It found he was responsible for “inciting insurrection”, by his speech on the National Mall on the morning of January 6, as a joint session of Congress was set to affirm the electoral college votes of all of the 50 states. It marked the final step to clear before Mr Biden’s inauguration on January 20.
Mr Trump, who had long claimed without evidence that the election was rigged, had put pressure on his vice president not to oversee the hearing, a task assigned to him by the constitution.
At a rally that morning, he told supporters he would join them at the Capitol to “peacefully protest” what was happening, but added: “We fight. We fight like hell and if you don’t fight like hell, you’re not going to have a country anymore.”
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