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CNN Live Event/Special
The 2nd Trump Impeachment Trial; House Impeachment Managers Present Case to Convict Trump. Aired 3:30-4p ET.
Aired February 11, 2021 - 15:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
REP. JAMIE RASKIN (D-MD), LEAD IMPEACHMENT MANAGER: And now I'm going to call up Representative Dean who will explain why contrary to the president's claim that the House provided him with all the process that was due to him in this impeachment process.
Oh, I'm sorry, Mr. Lieu is going to do that.
REP. TED LIEU (D-CA), IMPEACHMENT MANAGER: All right. Thank you for your time and your attention. We all heard President Trump's attorneys on Tuesday and as part of President Trump's efforts to avoid talking about his own conduct, to avoid talking about anything related to his constitutional crime, we expect that President Trump will raise process objections.
His due process claims are without merit. Under the Constitution, the House has, quote, "the sole power of impeachment." That provision confirms that a House functions as a grand jury or a prosecutor, the House decides whether to bring charges.
Now, in other impeachment cases the House has provided certain deliberative and procedural privileges to the person being impeached but those exactly that, privileges, they are discretionary.
The House has the power to decide its own rules, how it wants to pass the article of impeachment and in this case, the House debated the article of impeachment and passed it on a bipartisan vote.
I'm a former prosecutor and I just want to add that I've had the opportunity to decide whether to bring charges and when you see a crime committed in plain view, prosecutors don't have to spend months investigating before they bring charges. I note that in this case, in fact, hundreds of people have been arrested and charged by prosecutors for the violence on January 6th.
There was no reason for the House to wait to impeach the man at the very top that incited the violence. I'd also like to emphasize that the House had good reason to move quickly, this was an exigent circumstance; this was not a case where there was hidden conduct or some conspiracy that required months and maybe years in investigation but this case does not raise very complicated legal issues. The gravity of the president's conduct demanded the clearest of responses from the legislature. Particularly given that the president was still in office at the time the House approved this article and rumors of further violence echoed around the country, they still do.
There must be absolutely no doubt that Congress will act decisively against a president that incites violence against us. That is why the House moved quickly here and President Trump who created that emergency cannot be here to complain that the House impeached him too quickly for the emergency he caused.
Another point on the due process question, earlier in this trial President Trump's attorney suggested that the House somehow deliberately delayed the transmission of this article of impeachment. That is simply not accurate. When the House adopted this article of impeachment on a bipartisan vote we were ready to begin trial.
But a Senate was not in session at the time and when we inquired as to our options, Senate officials told us clearly in a no uncertain terms that if the clerk of the House attempted to deliver the article of impeachment to the secretary of the Senate before the Senate reconvened that the clerk of the House would have been turned back at the door.
That's why the trial did not begin then, it's another reason why the president's objections of due process are meritless. And finally, let me just conclude that you all are going to see and have seen a full presentation of evidence by the House and you're going to hear a full presentation by the president's attorneys, you're going to be able to ask questions.
The Senate has the sole power to try all impeachments. President Trump is receiving any and all process that he is due right here in this Chamber.
RASKIN: Mr. President, senators, in just a moment my colleague, Mr. Neguse will return to show that we've established with overwhelming evidence that President Trump engaged in high crimes and misdemeanors.
Before Mr. Neguse comes up though I'd like to emphasize what should be an uncontroversial point, but is really key to understand.
If we have proven to you the conduct that we've alleged in this article, then President Trump has indeed committed a high crime and misdemeanor under the Constitution. Incitement of insurrection under these circumstances is undoubtedly, in the words of George Mason from the Constitutional Convention, "a great and dangerous offense against the republic. Indeed it is hard to think of a greater or more dangerous offense against the republic than this one."
So, to be very precise about this, I hope we all can agree today that if a president does incite a violent insurrection against the government he can be impeached for it. I hope we all can agree that that is a constitutional crime. Another key point, while President Trump's lawyers may be arguing otherwise, the question here is not whether President Trump committed a crime under the federal code, or D.C. law, or the law of any state. Impeachment does not result in criminal penalties as we keep emphasizing.
No one spends a day in jail; there are not even criminal or civil fines. Centuries of history, not to mention the constitutional text, structure, and original intent and understanding all confirm the teaching of James Wilson, another framer who wrote that "impeachments and offenses come not within the sphere of ordinary jurisprudence," simply put, impeachment was created for a purpose separate and distinct from criminal punishment.
It was created to prevent and deter elected officials who swear an oath to represent America, but then commit dangerous offenses against our republic. That's a constitutional crime. And senators, what greater offense could one commit than to incite a violent insurrection at our seat of government during the peaceful transfer of power?
In circumstances where violence is foreseeable, where a crowd is poised for violence, to provoke a mob of thousands to attack us with weapons, and sticks, and poles, to bludgeon, and beat our law enforcement officers, and to deface these sacred walls, and to trash the place, and to do so while seeking to stop us from fulfilling our own oaths, our own duties to uphold the Constitution by counting the votes from our free and fair elections, and then to sit back and watch in delight as insurrectionists attack us?
Violating a sacred oath and engaging in a profound dereliction and desertion of duty? How can we assure that our commander in chief will protect, preserve, and defend us and our constitution if we don't hold a president accountable in a circumstance like this? What is impeachable conduct if not this?
I challenge you all to think about it. If you think this is not impeachable, what is? What would be? If President Trump's lawyers endorse his breathtaking assertion that his conduct in inciting these events were (ph) totally appropriate and the Senate acquits Donald Trump then any president could incite and provoke insurrectionary violence against us again.
If you don't find this a high crime and misdemeanor today, you have set a new terrible standard for presidential misconduct in the United States of America.
The only real question here is the factual one. Did we prove that Donald Trump, while President of the United States incited a violent insurrection against the government? Incitement of course is an inherently fact-based and fact-intensive judgment, which is why we commend you all for your scrupulous attention to everything that took place.
But we believe that we have shown you overwhelming evidence in this case that would convince anyone using their common sense that this was indeed incitement. Meaning, that Donald Trump's conduct encouraged violence, the violence was foreseeable, and he acted willfully in the actions that encouraged violence.
Mr. Neguse will take you through that evidence again. Not the whole thing, we're almost done -- we're almost done but we don't want it to be said they never proved this, or they never proved that.
Because my magnificent team of managers has stayed up night, after night, after night through weeks to compile all of the factual evidence, and we have put it before you -- and we have put it before all of you in this public trial, because we love our country that much.
Mr. Neguse will show you that we've proven our case, and that President Trump committed this impeachable offense that we impeached him for on January 13. And that you should convict him.
And when he's finished, I will return and explain why it's dangerous for us to ignore this, and why you must convict. And then we will rest. Mr. Neguse.
REP. JOE NEGUSE (D-CO), IMPEACHMENT MANAGER: Mr. President, distinguished Senators, good afternoon again. As my colleague Lead Manager Raskin mentioned, I know it's been a long few days, and I want to say thank you, that we're very grateful for your patients, for your attention, and the attention that you have paid to every one of our managers as they have presented our case.
As Lead Manager Raskin mentioned, I hope, I trust that we can all agree that if a president incites a violent insurrection against our government that that's impeachable conduct.
So what I'd like to do as we close our case is just walk you through why our evidence overwhelmingly establishes that President Trump committed that offense. Now, as you consider that question -- that question of whether the president incited an insurrection. There are three questions that reasonably come to mind. Was violence foreseeable? Did he encourage violence? And did he act willfully?
And I'm going to show you why the answer to every one of those questions has to be yes. First, let's start with foreseeability. Was it foreseeable that the violence would erupt on January 6 of President Trump lit a spark? Was it predictable that the crowd at the Save America rally was poised on a hair-trigger for violence? That they would fight -- literally, if provoked to do so? Of course it was.
When President Trump stood up to that podium on January 6, he knew that many in that crowd were inflamed, were armed, were ready for violence. It was an explosive situation, and he knew it.
We've shown you the evidence on this point, you've seen it. The images, the videos, the articles, and the patterns which show that the violence on that terrible day was entirely foreseeable.
We've showed you how this all began with the big lie, the claim that the election was rigged and that President Trump and his supporters were the victims of a massive fraud, a massive conspiracy to rip away their votes.
We've showed you how President Trump spread that lie, and how over the course of months with his support and encouragement it enflamed part of his base. Resulting in death threats, real world violence, and increasingly extreme calls to stop the steal.
We established that after he lost the election, the president was willing to do just about anything to prevent the peaceful transfer of power. That he tried everything he could do to stop it. You'll recall the evidence on the screen. Him pressuring and threatening state election officials, attacking them to the point of literally calling them enemies of the state -- threatening at least one of them with criminal penalties. Then attacking Senators, members of Congress all across the media.
Pressuring the Justice Department, prompting outcries from assistant U.S. attorneys, not to mention his own attorney general reportedly telling him that the stolen election claims were, "BS," not my phrase, his.
And then as January 6 approached he moved on to attacking his own vice president openly and savagely. We've recounted, throughout that entire period all the ways in which President Trump enflamed his supporters with lies that the election was stolen.
And as every single one of us knows, nothing in this country is more sacred -- nothing than our right to vote, our voice. And here you have the president of he United States telling his supporters that their voice, that their rights as Americans were being stolen from them, ripped away. That made them angry, angry enough to stop the steal -- to fight like hell to stop the steal.
And we showed you this. You saw the endless tweets, the rallies, the statements encouraging and spreading that big lie. You saw that he did this over and over again with the same message each time -- you must fight to win it back. You must never surrender, no matter what.
And remember, each time that his supporters along the way showed violence, he endorsed it -- encouraged it -- praised it. All part of that same demand, to stop the steal and fight like hell. Remember the video that Manager Plaskett showed you from Texas? Some of his supporters encircling a bus of campaign workers on a highway? People easily could have been killed -easily.
What did he do? He tweeted it and made a joke about it at a rally. Called them patriots, held them out as an example of what it means to stop the steal. When he told his supporters to stop the steal, they took up arms to literally intimidate officials to overturn the election results. You saw the evidence, and so did he. And he welcomed it.
And when President Trump attacked Georgia's secretary of state for certifying the results, his supporters sent death threats. You saw those in great detail from Manager Dean. What did he do? He attacked the election officials further.
When his supporters gathered together to have a second million MAGA rally -- that's the rally that Manager Plaskett showed you. A rally about the stolen election. He tweeted that the fight had just begun.
What happened next? It's not rocket science. Fights broke out. Stabbings, serious violence. Now, President Trump, like all of us -- he saw what happened at that rally. He saw all the violence, the burnings, the chaos. How did he respond? He tweeted, praise of the event. And then -- see it on the screen, he bought $50 million worth of ads to further promote his message to those exact same people.
He immediately joined forces with that very same group, he joined forces with the same people that had just erupted in to violence. Was violence predictable? Was it obvious that the crowd on January 6 was poised for violence? Prepared for it?
Absolutely, and this isn't just clear, you know, looking back in time. It was widely recognized at the time. In the days leading up to January 6th, there were dozens, hundreds of warnings, and he knew it, he knew the rally would explode if provoked, he knew all it would take was a slight push.
Remember, you heard from Manager Plaskett, the chatter on social media, websites that the Trump administration monitored, and that were known to the Trump operation. It showed that the people he invited to the January 6th rally took this as a serious call to arms. That this was not just any attack, it was to storm the Capitol if necessary to stop the steal.
And it wasn't just clear on these websites that the Trump administration was monitoring. I mean, the FBI issued reports about this as a credible threat, a threat to target us. Law enforcement made six arrests that night, before, six arrests. Newspapers across the city warned of the risk of the violence. There can be no doubt that the risk of violence was foreseeable.
And what did he do in the days leading up to the rally? Did he calm the situation? Ask yourself, I mean, did he call for peace? No, he didn't do that, he spread his big lie more, the most dangerous lie, as I mentioned, that Americans' votes were being stolen and that the final act of theft would occur here in the Capitol.
And then he assembled all of those supporters, he invited them to an organized event on a specific day, at a specific time matched perfectly to coincide with the joint session of Congress, to coincide with the steal that he had told them to stop by any and all means.
Again, he was told by law enforcement, and all over the news that these people were armed and ready for real violence, he knew it, I mean, he knew it perfectly well that had created this powder keg at his rally, he knew just how combustible that situation was, he knew there were people before him who had prepared, who were armed and armored. He knew they would jump to violence at any signal, at any sign from him that he needed them to fight, that he needed them to stop the steal and we all know what happened next.
Second question, did he encourage the violence? Standing in that powder keg, did he light a match? Everyone knows the answer to that question. The hours of video you all have watched leave no doubt. Just remember what he said on January 6th.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: All of us here today do not want to see our election victory stolen, there's never been a thing like this superior (ph) theft in American history. Everybody knows it, make no mistake this election was stolen from you, from me, and from the country.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
NEGUSE: At the opening of--
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: We will never give up, we will never concede, it doesn't happen, you don't concede when there's theft involved. And to use a favorite term that all of you people really came up with, we will stop the steal. We must stop the steal.
We will not let them silence your voices. We're not going to let it happen -- not going to let it happen.
PROTESTERS: Pray for Trump! Pray for Trump! Pray for Trump! Pray for Trump! Pray for Trump! Pray for Trump! Pray for Trump! Pray for Trump! Pray for Trump! Pray for Trump! Pray for Trump!
TRUMP: Thank you. And you have to get your people to fight because you'll never take back our country with weakness, you have to show strength, and you have to be strong.
And we fight, we fight like hell and if you don't fight like hell you're not going to have a country anymore.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
NEGUSE: You may remember at the outset of this trial, that I told you you'd hear three phrases over, and over, and over again -- the big lie that the election had been stolen, stop the steal, and never concede -- and fight like hell to stop that steal.
You heard those phrases throughout the course of this trial -- video after video, statement after statement telling his supporters that they should be patriots, to fight hard to stop the steal. And on that day -- that day, where did he direct the crowd's ire? He directed them here to Congress. He quite literally, at one part of
that speech pointed at us. He told them to fight like hell, and if you don't fight like hell you're not going to have a country anymore.
And here's the thing, that wasn't metaphorical. It wasn't rhetorical. He'd already made it perfectly clear that when he said fight, he meant it. And that when followers in fact fought, when they engaged in violence he'd praise and honor them as patriots.
He implied that it was OK to break the law because the election was being stolen. You heard it. You remember the clip that Manager Dean showed you earlier in this trial. He told them, the quote is on the screen, "when you catch somebody in a fraud, you're allowed to go by very different rules."
Remember how all of his supporters -- some of his supporters across social media were treating this as a war, talking about bringing in the cavalry? Well, President Trump made clear what those different rules were. He'd been making it clear for months.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RUDY GIULIANI, FORMER ATTORNEY TO DONALD TRUMP: So let's have trial by combat.
TRUMP: And Rudy, you did a great job.
He's got guts. You know what, he's got guts unlike a lot of people in the Republican party. He's got guts, he fights.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
NEGUSE: His message was crystal clear. And it was understood immediately -- instantly by his followers. And we don't have to guess. We don't have to guess as to how they reacted. We can look at how people reacted to what he said. You saw them, and you saw the violence.
It's pretty simple. He said it, and they did it. And we know this because they told us. They told us in real time during the attack. You saw the affidavits, the interviews, on social media, on live TV -- they were doing this for him. Because he asked them to. And it wasn't just insurrectionists who confirmed this.
Many, many people including current and former officials immediately recognized that the president had incited the crowd -- that he alone was capable of stopping the violence, that he did this and he had to call it off because he was the only one who could.
Let's see what Representative McCarthy, Representative Gallagher, Chris Christie, Representative Kinzinger, and Representative Katko had to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA): I could not be sadder or more disappointed with the way our country looks at this very moment. People are getting hurt -- anyone involved in this, if you're hearing me -- hear me very loud and clear, this is not the American way.
REP. MIKE GALLAGHER (R-WI): Mr. President, you have got to stop this. You are the only person who can call this off. Call it off.