As the nation looks on, the United States Senate is in the midst of an unprecedented second impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump.
The trial in the Senate began on Wednesday, Feb. 10, and has continued through the week.
Democrat Senators, led by Democrat Congressman Joaquin Castro of Texas, spent the opening day of the trial presenting evidence that they argue ties the former president’s Jan. 6 speech to a riot that saw a large, violent mob break into the US Capitol building.
Highlighting the language used by Trump during the speech, impeachment managers argued that Trump is responsible for the violence that ensued during the riot that took the lives of five people, including two Capitol police officers.
Their argument highlighted inflammatory language used by Trump leading up to and during the riot, and the fact that Trump, alone amongst almost all other prominent figures, did not attempt to quell the riots until after much of the damage had been done.
When Trump did move to divert the rioters, he did so in a manner that critics have characterized as passive and ineffectual.
Trump’s defense is founded on two fronts. First, a majority of Republican Senators, led by Republican Rand Paul of Kentucky, have argued that an impeachment trial for a president who no longer holds office is unconstitutional. When pressed to vote on the issue, all Democrat senators and six Republican senators voted that it was constitutional, paving the way for the trial to take place.
The second argument, put forward in part by Trump’s impeachment legal defense team, is that Trump did not directly incite or encourage the riot.
Democrats say this is clearly untrue, using footage of rioters claiming that they were acting directly on behalf of the then-president to undermine the defense’s argument.
Of special note during the proceedings was the revelation of as-yet-unseen footage of the riot as it took place in the halls of the Capitol. Particularly jarring was footage of an unaware Republican Senator Mitt Romney of Utah, walking towards one of the groups that splintered off from the main mob after breaking into the capitol.
Romney, vilified by Trump’s most dedicated supporters for his consistent conflicts with Trump while he held office, would’ve been caught alone by the group if not for a Capitol policeman confronting him and escorting him to safety.
The trial continued Friday, Feb. 12, with Trump’s defense team presenting their case for acquittal. Though several Republican senators may break with their party and vote to convict, particularly Romney and Ben Sasse of Nebraska, it is unlikely that enough Republicans will cross the aisle for the Senate to achieve the 67-vote total needed to convict the former President.
Written by Robert Davison, Staff Writer, Graphic courtesy of Bethany Davis, Graphic Designer.