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LATEST: Democrats agree to strike remark referencing Lee

by The Associated. Press | February 10, 2021 at 8:15 p.m.
In this Nov. 10, 2020, file photo, Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, speaks during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, Pool, File)

WASHINGTON — The Latest on former President Donald Trump's second Senate impeachment trial:

6:55 p.m.

Donald Trump’s impeachment trial temporarily ground to a standstill when Republican Sen. Mike Lee of Utah objected to the prosecutors’ characterization of a phone call he fielded from the then-president just as senators were being evacuated during the Capitol siege.

It had been reported that Trump mistakenly called Lee when he was trying to reach Sen. Tommy Tuberville, the Republican from Alabama. According to the reports, including an account Lee gave to the Deseret News in Utah, Trump was trying to reach Tuberville to discuss objecting to the certification of Electoral College votes.

House prosecutor Rep. David Cicilline recounted news reports, but Lee objected and asked that they be stricken from the record as false.

It’s unclear what aspect of the comments Lee wanted removed. But House impeachment managers agreed to strike the reference from the record.

Lead prosecutor Rep. Jamie Raskin said they may revisit it later.

[Video not showing up above? Click here to watch » https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sym8zo9MM9E]



6:30 p.m.

House impeachment managers are making the case that Donald Trump repeatedly failed to act to call off rioters and stop the violence at the U.S. Capitol last month.

Democratic Rep. Joaquin Castro of Texas said Wednesday that Trump didn’t deploy the National Guard or any other law enforcement to help overwhelmed Capitol Police on Jan. 6 despite multiple pleas for him to do so.

Castro says that despite the “bloodiest attack we’ve seen on our Capitol since 1812” unfolding on television, the president didn’t mention sending help or forcefully tell his supporters to stop the violence in the five tweets and video he posted online that day after the attack started.

Castro said, “On Jan. 6, President Trump left everyone in this Capitol for dead.”


6 p.m.

House impeachment managers are focusing on Donald Trump’s silence on Jan. 6 as the siege began to unfold at the U.S. Capitol last month.

Rhode Island Rep. David Cicilline, one of the prosecutors in Trump’s historic second impeachment trial, said Wednesday that the former president had a “breathtaking dereliction of duty” and violated his oath of office by failing to call off rioters.

Cicilline noted that as senators were being evacuated, Trump mistakenly called Utah Sen. Mike Lee while trying to reach Alabama Sen. Tommy Tuberville to discuss contesting the counting of electoral votes.

Cicilline says that while Trump did not stop the attack or address it, his phone call made clear his focus was the same as the rioters’: to stop the certification of the election and transfer of power.


5:10 p.m.

Republican Sens. Lisa Murkowski and Mitt Romney say they are deeply disturbed by the evidence shown by Democrats against former President Donald Trump at his second impeachment trial.

Speaking to reporters during a break Wednesday evening, Murkowski said the Democrats’ presentation was “pretty damning.” She added: “I just don’t see how Donald Trump could be reelected like this to the presidency again.”

Romney said he was brought to tears watching a video shown of Capitol Police Officer Eugene Goodman directing him away from the mob. He called the video “overwhelmingly distressing and emotional.”

Both Romney and Murkowski voted to advance the impeachment trial, though impeachment managers appear far short of the minimum 17 Republican votes they would need to convict Trump.


4:30 p.m.

Democrats at former President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial are playing audio recordings of police officers begging for more help against rioters storming the Capitol, the fear and panic apparent in many of their voices.

As the mob breached the Capitol, one officer told dispatch, “We’re still taking rocks, bottles and pieces of flag and metal pole.”

In another recording, an officer says, “We have been flanked, and we’ve lost the line.”

Democratic impeachment managers on Wednesday showed videos of badly outnumbered officers trying to fight rioters and protect the building. One clip shows Capitol Police Officer Eugene Goodman directing Republican Sen. Mitt Romney to safety.

Capitol Police officers have previously told The Associated Press that they were not warned ahead of time of the potential of violence that day and were not trained or equipped to stop thousands of assailants trying to disrupt the certification of President Joe Biden’s victory over former President Donald Trump.


3:55 p.m.

Democrats say Capitol Police evacuated House Speaker Nancy Pelosi from the Capitol complex entirely because they feared for her safety on Jan. 6.

Prosecutors at Donald Trump’s second impeachment trial on Wednesday played audio of Pelosi’s barricaded staffers whispering for help and showed images of the mob trying to break down a door into Pelosi’s office.

The 80-year-old Pelosi was a longtime political target of the former president, who derisively nicknamed her “Crazy Nancy.”

House impeachment manager Stacey Plaskett says Pelosi was rushed to a secure offsite location because some of the rioters publicly declared their intent to harm or kill Pelosi.

Plaskett says that if the rioters had found Pelosi, they would have killed her. She says, “They did it because Donald Trump sent them on this mission.”


3:50 p.m.

Rioters at the Capitol were targeting former Vice President Mike Pence, who refused to help his boss, former President Donald Trump, subvert the results of the 2020 election.

In video showed Wednesday at Trump’s second impeachment trial, rioters chanted “Hang Mike Pence!” and “Bring out Pence!” as they roamed the halls searching for the former vice president and other lawmakers. Outside, the mob set up a makeshift gallows on the field near the Capitol.

Rioters got as close as 100 feet to Pence. Capitol Police officer Eugene Goodman helped guide rioters away from where he was hiding.

House impeachment manager Stacey Plaskett said, “You can hear the mob calling for the death of the vice president of the United States.”


3:45 p.m.

U.S. Capitol Police officer Eugene Goodman warned Republican Sen. Mitt Romney that rioters were headed his way shortly after the building was breached by a mob of Donald Trump supporters.

Prosecutors at Trump’s impeachment trial on Wednesday played security footage from inside the Capitol on Jan. 6. Footage showed Goodman running toward Romney to warn him that the Capitol had been breached. After encountering Goodman, Romney turns around and runs.

Footage also showed rioters screaming and breaking into the Capitol. Some of the rioters grabbed fire extinguishers from the walls as they stormed through the hallways.

“Where are they counting the votes?” they yell. Goodman says: “Don’t do it. Don’t do it.”

Goodman confronted the crowd with his hand raised toward them to stop. He then retreated up a staircase and they follow. Up the stairs, he directs them away from the Senate door and the chamber. Vice President Mike Pence was about 100 feet away with his family.

Goodman was later honored by Congress for his heroics.


3:40 p.m.

House Democrats are showing video footage of Donald Trump’s supporters knocking down fences and fighting with police and pairing it with audio of officers making radio calls begging for backup.

Prosecutors at Trump’s impeachment trial on Wednesday played police radio traffic in which officers described multiple injured officers, said “they’re throwing metal poles at us” and called for immediate reinforcements.

After playing increasingly desperate calls from police, Democrats showed footage of rioters breaking down windows with a riot shield to climb into the Capitol.

A never-before-seen security video from inside the Capitol shows rioters using a wooden beam to break windows and climb into the building.

The first man climbing into the building was carrying a baseball bat and wearing body armor and is followed by a stream of people climbing through windows.


3:30 p.m.

Prosecutors at President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial are using footage of the rally he headlined ahead of the riot on the Capitol to argue he incited the crowd.

Rep. Madeleine Dean says that one of Trump’s key defenses is that he says during his speech: “I know that everyone here will soon be marching over to the Capitol building to peacefully and patriotically make your voices heard.”

But Dean says that was a “few seconds” in a nearly 11,000-word speech and that it was the “only time President Trump used the word peaceful or any suggestion of nonviolence.” She says that wasn’t the overarching message.

She said, “President Trump used the word ‘fight’ or ‘fighting’ 20 times, including telling the crowd they needed to ‘fight like hell.'"

Choking back emotion, she said, "So they came, draped in Trump’s flag, and used our flag, the American flag, to batter and to bludgeon. And at 2:30, I heard that terrifying banging on House chamber doors. For the first time in more than 200 years, the seat of our government was ransacked on our watch.”

2:25 p.m.

At a break in Donald Trump’s impeachment trial, many Republicans appeared indifferent to the Democratic prosecutors’ case that the former president incited the violent attack on the Capitol on Jan. 6 — and made clear they were unlikely to convict.

Missouri Sen. Josh Hawley said the prosecutors’ case was “predictable” and included information that was already public.

Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson, another close ally of Trump, said the trial “is going to be pretty tedious.” He said the two sides would be better served to make their case “in a couple hours, and be done with this.”

Oklahoma Sen. Jim Inhofe said Democrats have “put a real good team together,” but said he didn’t think anything had been said “by either side that has changed any votes.”

Only six Republicans voted not to dismiss the trial on Tuesday, signaling that Democrats won’t have the minimum of 17 Republican senators they need to convict Trump.

EARLIER

WASHINGTON — Prosecutors in Donald Trump’s impeachment trial said Wednesday they would prove that Trump was no “innocent bystander” but the “inciter in chief” of the deadly attack at the Capitol aimed at overturning his election loss to Joe Biden.

Opening the first full day of arguments, the lead House prosecutor said promised to lay out evidence that shows the president encouraged a rally crowd to head to the Capitol, then did nothing to stem the violence and watched with “glee" as a mob stormed the iconic building. Five people died.

“To us it may have felt like chaos and madness, but there was method to the madness that day,” said Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md.

The day's proceedings were unfolding after an emotional start to the trial that left the f ormer president fuming Tuesday when his attorneys delivered a meandering defense and failed to halt the trial on constitutional grounds. Some allies called for yet another shakeup to his legal team.

Trump is the first president to face an impeachment trial after leaving office and the first to be twice impeached. The Jan. 6 Capitol riot followed a rally during which Trump urged his supporters to “fight like hell,” words his lawyers say were simply a figure of speech. He is charged with “incitement of insurrection.”

Senators, many of whom fled for safety the day of the attack, watched Tuesday’s graphic videos of the Trump supporters who battled past police to storm the halls, Trump flags waving. More video is expected Wednesday, including some that hasn’t been seen before.

The prosecutors are arguing that Trump’s words weren't just free speech but part of “the big lie” — his relentless efforts to sow doubts about the election results. Those began long before the votes were tabulated, revving up his followers to “stop the steal" though there was no evidence of substantial fraud.

Trump knew very well what would happen when he took to the microphone at the outdoor White House rally that day, almost to the hour that Congress gaveled in to certify Biden’s win, said Rep. Joe Neguse, D-Colo.

“This was not just a speech,” he said.

Trump’s supporters were prepped and armed, ready to descend on the Capitol, Neguse said. “When they heard his speech, they understood his words.”

Security remained extremely tight Wednesday at the Capitol, fenced off with razor wire and patrolled by National Guard troops.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Biden would not be watching the trial.

“Joe Biden is the president, he’s not a pundit, he’s not going to opine on back and forth arguments,” she said.

The difficulty facing Trump's defense team became apparent at the start as they leaned on the process of the trial, unlike any other, rather than the substance of the case against the former president.

As the House impeachment managers described police officers maimed in the chaos and rioters parading in the very chamber where the trial was being held, Trump’s team countered that the Constitution doesn’t allow impeachment at this late date.

Even though the Senate rejected that argument in Tuesday's vote to proceed to the trial, the legal issue could resonate with Senate Republicans eager to acquit Trump without being seen as condoning his behavior.

Defense lawyer Bruce Castor said Tuesday he shifted his planned approach after hearing the prosecutors’ emotional opening and instead spoke conversationally to the senators, saying Trump’s team would denounce the “repugnant” attack and “in the strongest possible way denounce the rioters.” He encouraged the senators to be “cool headed” as they assessed the arguments.

Trump attorney Schoen turned the trial toward starkly partisan tones, arguing the Democrats were fueled by a “base hatred” of the former president.

A frustrated Trump on Tuesday revived his demands to focus on his unsupported claims of voter fraud, repeatedly telephoning former White House aide Peter Navarro, who told The Associated Press in an interview he agrees. He is calling on Trump to fire his legal team.

“If he doesn’t make a mid-course correction here, he’s going to lose this Super Bowl,” Navarro said, a reference to public opinion, not the unlikely possibility of conviction.

Republicans made it clear that they were unhappy with Trump’s defense, many of them saying they didn’t understand where it was going — particularly Castor’s opening.

While six Republicans joined with Democrats to vote to proceed with the trial, the 56-44 vote was far from the two-thirds threshold of 67 votes that would be needed for conviction.

As the country numbs to the Trump era’s shattering of civic norms, the prosecutors sought to remind senators and the nation how extraordinary it was to have a sitting U.S. president working to discredit the election.

In hundreds of tweets, remarks and interviews as far back as spring and summer, Trump was spreading false claims about the election and refusing to commit to the peaceful transfer of power once it was over, they said.

As violence mounted in the states in the weeks and months before Trump supporters marched to the Capitol, he could have told loyalists to stand down. But he didn’t.

The mob “didn’t come out of thin air,” said Rep . Joaquin Castro, D-Texas.

The public scenes of attack were distilled in highly personal terms, first when Raskin broke down in tears Tuesday describing his family hiding in the Capitol that day. On Wednesday, Neguse, the son of immigrants, recalled telling his father how proud he was to return to Congress that night to finish the work of certifying the election. Castro said as a Democrat from Texas, he knew how hard it is to lose elections.

They also shared comments of the Capitol Police, including a Black officer who described racial epithets being hurled at him by the rioters.

“That’s the question before all of you in this trial, is this America?” Raskin told the senators.

It appears unlikely that the House prosecutors will call witnesses, and Trump has declined a request to testify. The trial is expected to continue into the weekend.

Trump's second impeachment trial is expected to diverge from the lengthy, complicated affair of a year ago. In that case, Trump was charged with having privately pressured Ukraine to dig up dirt on Biden, then a Democratic rival for the presidency. It could be over in half the time.

The Democratic-led House impeached the president swiftly, one week after the attack. A Capitol police officer was among those who died.

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