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CNN Live Event/Special
House Impeachment Managers Present Case to Convict Trump. Aired 4-4:30p ET
Aired February 11, 2021 - 16:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
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.
FMR. GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R-NJ): Pretty simple. The president caused this protest to occur. He's the only one who can make it stop.
What the president said is not good enough. The president has to come out and tell his supporters to leave the Capitol grounds and to allow the Congress to do their business peacefully. And anything short of that is an abrogation of his responsibility.
REP. ADAM KINZINGER (R-IL): You know, a guy that knows how to tweet very aggressively on Twitter puts out one of the weakest statements on one of the saddest days in American history.
REP. JOHN KATKO (R-NY): The president's role in the insurrection is undeniable. Both on social ahead of January 6, and in his speech that day, he deliberately promoted baseless theories, creating a combustible environment of misinformation and division.
To allow the president of the United States to incite this attack without consequences is a direct threat to the future of this democracy.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
REP. JOE NEGUSE (D-CO): Did the president encouraged violence? Yes. No doubt that he did.
Final question. Did the president act willfully in his actions that encouraged violence?
Well, let's look at the facts. He stood before an armed, angry crowd known to be ready for violence at his provocation. And what did he do? He provoked them. He aimed them here, told them to fight like hell. And that's exactly what they did.
And his conduct throughout the rest of that terrible day really only confirms that he acted willfully, that he incited the crowd, and then engaged in a dereliction of duty while he continued inflaming the violence. And, again, we don't have to guess what he thought, because he told
us. Remember the video he released at 4:17 p.m.? Lead manager Raskin showed that to you yesterday, the one where he said -- quote -- "We had an election that was stolen from us."
Remember the tweet that he put out just a couple hours later, 6:01 p.m. on January 6. You have seen it many times. You can see it on the slide, that: "These are the things that happen when a sacred landslide election victory is so unceremoniously and viciously stripped away."
That is what he was focused on, spreading the big lie and praising the mob that attacked us and our government.
You heard manager Cicilline describe reports the president was delighted, enthusiastic, confused that others didn't share his excitement as he watched the attack unfold on TV. He cared more about pressing his efforts to overturn the election than he did about saving lives, our lives.
Look at what President Trump did that day after the rally. It's important. He did virtually nothing. We have seen -- manager Castro mentioned this -- that, when President Trump wants to stop something, he does so simply, easily, quickly.
But aside from four tweets and a short clip during the over five-hour- long attack, he did nothing.
On January 6, he didn't condemn the attack. He didn't condemn the attackers, didn't say that he would send help to defend us or defend law enforcement. He didn't react to the violence with shock or horror or dismay, as we did. He didn't immediately rush to Twitter and demand in the clearest possible terms that the mob disperse, that they stop it, that they retreat.
Instead, he issued messages in the afternoon that sided with them, the insurrectionists who had left police officers battered and bloodied. He reacted exactly the way someone would react if they were delighted, and exactly unlike how a person would react if they were angry at how their followers were acting.
Again, ask yourself how many lives would have been saved, how much pain and trauma would have been avoided if he had reacted the way that a president of the United States is supposed to act.
There are two parts of President Trump's failure here, his dereliction of duty, that I just have to emphasize for a moment.
First is what he did to Vice President Mike Pence, the vice president of the United States of America. His own vice president was in this building with an armed mob shouting, "Hang him," the same armed mob that set up gallows outside. You saw those pictures.
And what did President Trump do? He attacked him more. He singled him out by name. It's honestly hard to fathom. Second, our law enforcement, the brave officers who were sacrificing
their lives to defend us, who could not evacuate or seek cover because they were protecting us. I'm not going to go through again what my fellow managers showed you yesterday, but let me just say this.
Those officers serve us faithfully and dutifully, and they follow their oaths. They deserved a president who upholds his, who would not risk their lives and safety to retain power, a president who would preserve protect and defend them.
But that's not what he did. When they, the police, still barricaded and being attacked with poles, he said in his video to the people attacking them: "We love you. You're very special."
What more could we possibly need to know about President Trump's state of mind?
Senators, the evidence is clear. We showed you statements, videos, affidavits that prove President Trump incited an insurrection, an insurrection that he alone had the power to stop.
And the fact that he didn't stop it, the fact that he incited a lawless attack and abdicated his duty to defend us from it, the fact that he actually further inflamed the mob, further inflamed that mob attacking his vice president, while assassins were pursuing him in this Capitol, more than requires conviction and disqualification.
We humbly, humbly ask you to convict President Trump for the crime for which he is overwhelmingly guilty of, because, if you don't, if we pretend this didn't happen, or, worse, if we let it go unanswered, who's to say it won't happen again?
REP. JAMIE RASKIN (D-MD): Mr. President, members of the Senate, first of all, thank you for your close attention and seriousness of purpose that you have demonstrated over the last few days.
Thank you also for your courtesy to the House managers, as we have come over here, strangers in a strange land, to make our case before this distinguished and august body.
We are about to close. And I am proud that our managers have been so disciplined and so focused, I think we're closing somewhere between five and six hours under the time that you have allotted to us.
But we think we have been able to tell you everything we need to say. We will obviously have the opportunity to address your questions and then to do a final closing when we get there.
I just wanted to leave you with a few thoughts. And, again, I'm not going to re-traumatize you by going through the evidence once again. I just wanted to leave you with a few thoughts to consider as you enter upon this very high and difficult duty that you have to render impartial justice in this case, as you have all sworn to do. And I wanted to start simply by saying that, in the history of
humanity, democracy is an extremely rare and fragile and precarious and transitory thing. Abraham Lincoln knew that when he spoke from the battlefield, and vowed that government of the people, by the people, and for the people shall not perish from the earth.
But he was speaking not long after the republic was created, and he was trying to prove that point that we would not allow it to perish from the earth. For most of history, the norm has been dictators, autocrats, bullies, despots, tyrants, cowards who take over our governments, for most of the history of the world.
And that's why America is such a miracle. We were founded on the extraordinary principles of the inalienable rights of the people and the consent of the governed and the fundamental equality of all of us.
You know, when Lincoln said, government of the people, by the people and for the people, and he hearkened back to the Declaration of Independence, when he said four score and seven years ago, he knew that that wasn't how we started.
We started imperfectly. We started as a slave republic. Lincoln knew that. But he was struggling to make the country better.
And however flawed the founders were as men in their times, they inscribed in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution all of the beautiful principles that we needed to open America up to successive waves of political struggle and constitutional change and transformation in the country, so we really would become something much more like Lincoln's beautiful vision of government of the people, by the people, and for the people, the world's greatest multiracial, multireligious, multiethnic constitutional democracy, the envy of the world, as Tom Paine said, an asylum for humanity, where people would come.
Think about the Preamble, those first three words pregnant with such meaning, "We, the people," and then all of the purposes of our government put into that one action-packed sentence: "We, the people, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, ensure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and preserve to ourselves and our posterity the blessings of liberty."
And then, right after that first sentence, the mission statement for America and the Constitution, what happens? Article 1, the Congress is created. All legislative powers herein are reserved to the Congress of the United States.
You see what just happened? The sovereign power of the people to launch the country and create the Constitution flowed right into Congress. And then you get, in Article 1, Section 8, comprehensive, vast powers that all of you know so well, the power to regulate commerce domestically, internationally, the power to declare war, the power to raise budgets and taxes, and to spend money, to power to govern the seat of government, and on and on and on. And then, even in Article 1, Section 8, Clause 18, and all other
powers necessary and proper to the execution of the foregoing powers. That's all of us. And then you get to Article 2, the president, four short paragraphs. And the fourth paragraph is all about what? Impeachment, how you get rid of a president who commits high crimes and misdemeanors?
But what's the core job of the president? To take care that the laws are faithfully executed. And our framers were so fearful of presidents becoming tyrants and wanting to become kings and despots, that they put the oath of office right into the Constitution. They inscribed it into the Constitution, to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States.
We have got the power to impeach the president. The president doesn't have the power to impeach us. Think about that. The popular branch of government has the power to impeach the president. The president does not have the power to impeach us.
And, as I said before, all of us who aspire and attain a public office are nothing but the servants of the people. And the way the framers would have it is, the moment that we no longer acted as servants of the people, but as masters of the people, as violators of the people's rights, that was the time to impeach, remove, convict, disqualify, start all over again, because the interests of the people are so much greater than the interests of one person, any one person, even the greatest person in the country.
The interest of the people are what count.
Now, when we sit down and we close, our distinguished counterparts, the defense counsel, who have waited very patiently -- and thank you -- will stand up and seek to defend the president's conduct on the facts, as I think they will.
It has already been decided by the Senate on Tuesday that the Senate has constitutional jurisdiction over this impeachment case brought to you by the United States House of Representatives. So, we have put that jurisdictional constitutional issue to bed. It is over. It's already been voted on.
This is a trial on the facts of what happened. And incitement, as we said, is a fact-intensive investigation and judgment that each of you will have to make. We have made our very best effort to set forth every single relevant fact that we know in the most objective and honest light.
We trust and we hope that the defense will understand the constitutional gravity and solemnity of this trial by focusing like a laser beam on the facts, and not return to the constitutional argument that's already been decided by the Senate.
Just as a defense lawyer who loses a motion to dismiss on a constitutional basis in a criminal case must let that go, and then focus on the facts which are being presented by the prosecutors in detail, they must let this constitutional jurisdictional argument go, not just because it's frivolous and wrong, as nearly every expert scholar in America opined, but because it's not relevant to the jury's consideration of the facts of the case.
So, our friends must work to answer all of the overwhelming, detailed, specific, factual, and documentary evidence we have introduced of the president's clear and overwhelming guilt in inciting -- in inciting violent insurrection against the union.
Now, Donald Trump last week turned down our invitation to come testify about his actions, and, therefore, we have not been able to ask him any questions directly as of this point. Therefore, during the course of their 16-hour allotted presentation, we would pose these preliminary questions to his lawyers, which I think are on everyone's minds right now, and which we would have asked Mr. Trump himself, if he had chosen to come and testify about his actions and inactions, when we invited him last week.
One, why did President Trump not tell his supporters to stop the attack on the Capitol as soon as he learned of it?
Why did President Trump do nothing to stop the attack for at least two hours after the attack began?
As our constitutional commander in chief, why did he do nothing to send help to our overwhelmed and besieged law enforcement officers for at least two hours on January 16 after the attack began?
On January 6, why did President Trump not at any point that day condemn the violent insurrection and the insurrectionists?
And I will add a legal question I hope his distinguished counsel will address. If a president did invite a violent insurrection against our government, as, of course, we allege and think we have proven in this case, but just in general, if a president incited a violent insurrection against our government, would that be a high crime and misdemeanor?
Can we all agree at least on that?
Senators, I have talked a lot about common sense in this trial, because I think, I believe that's all you need to arrive at the right answer here.
You know, when Tom Paine wrote "Common Sense," the pamphlet that launched the American Revolution, he said that common sense really meant two different things. One, common sense is the understanding that we all have without advanced learning and education. Common sense is the sense accessible to everybody.
But common sense is also the sense that we all have in common as a community. Senators, America, we need to exercise our common sense about what happened. Let's not get caught up in a lot of outlandish lawyers' theories here. Exercise your common sense about what just took place in our country.
Tom Paine wasn't an American, as you know, but he came over to help us in our great revolutionary struggle against the kings and queens and the tyrants. And in 1776, in the crisis, he wrote these beautiful words. It was a very tough time for the country. People didn't know which way things were going to go. Were we going to win, against all hope?
Because, for most of the rest of human history, it had been the kings and the queens and the tyrants and the nobles lording it over the common people. Could political self-government work in America was the question.
And Paine wrote this pamphlet called "The Crisis." And in it, he said these beautiful words.
And with your permission, I'm going to update the language a little bit, pursuant to the suggestion of Speaker Pelosi, so as not to offend modern sensibilities, OK.
But he said: These are the times that try men and women souls. These are the times that try men and women's souls.
The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will shrink at this moment from the service of their cause and their country. But everyone who stands with us now will win the love and the favor and the affection of every man and every woman for all time. Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered. But we have this saving consolation.
The more difficult the struggle, the more glorious in the end will be our victory.
Good luck in your deliberations.
SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY): Thank you. Thank you.
Now, I have two -- we're going to do the adjournment resolution in a moment.
SEN. PATRICK LEAHY (D-VT): Majority Leader.
SCHUMER: But I have two other things that we have to do. They're quick.
First, Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that it be in order to make several unanimous consent requests as if in legislative session.
LEAHY: Without objection, so ordered.
SCHUMER: I asked unanimous consent that on, Friday, February 12, from 10:30 to 11:30 a.m., that, notwithstanding adjournment, the Senate be able to receive House messages and executive matters, committees be authorized to report legislative and executive matters, and senators be allowed to submit statements for the record, introduce bills and resolutions, and make co-sponsor requests, and, where applicable, the secretary of the Senate on behalf of the presiding officer be permitted to refer such matters.
LEAHY: Without objection, so ordered.
SCHUMER: And a second request, poignantly appropriate at this moment.
I ask unanimous consent that, pursuant to the order of the Senate of January 24, 1901, the traditional reading of Washington's farewell address take place on Monday, February 22, following the prayer and pledge, further that Senator Portman be recognized to deliver the address.
LEAHY: Is there objection? Did not hear any objection.
SCHUMER: And finally, Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent the trial adjourn until 12:00 noon tomorrow, Friday, February 12, and this also constitute the adjournment of the Senate.
LEAHY: Hearing no objection, without objection, so ordered.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The Senate is adjourned.
LEAHY: The Senate is adjourned.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Welcome to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper in Washington.
The House impeachment managers have just concluded their opening arguments in their case against former President Donald Trump.
Over the last two days, Democrats using Mr. Trump's own words and tweets and actions, social media posts from insurrectionists, and newly revealed surveillance video, all to build the case that then President Trump and incited the insurrection on January 6.
Senators, who are something like a jury in this case, will hear next from Trump's legal team. That's tomorrow, as they attempt to defend his actions surrounding the U.S. Capitol attack.
Joining me here in studio, Dana Bash and Abby Phillip.
And let me just start with you, Abby.
It seems to me they had the task of presenting to the jury these arguments. Donald Trump lied over and over about the election result. The rally took place January 6 because of him, because it was the last chance for him to, in his view, overturn the election. He incited the mob rushing to the Capitol, knowing that there were violent people in the crowd, and that it likely would lead to violence. And then, once it happened, he was indifferent, if not rudely ignoring
the requests that he stop it. And as far as I can tell, they made a pretty good case for all four of those points.
ABBY PHILLIP, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes.
And so much of that case was made, as they repeatedly said, not by mind-reading, but by looking at the evidence put out into the world by Trump himself, his tweets, his statements, his comments throughout the day that laid out a chain of events, and also proceeding that, his words, his tweets, his comments, all the way leading up to the end of the day on January 6.
I thought that the final message here from Democrats was actually asking the senators in that room, perhaps particularly the Republicans, who are obviously reticent to punish or cross Donald Trump, to think about the consequences of doing nothing.
What are the consequences to the country, to the Constitution, to America's standing in the world, and laying out a case for the likelihood that this was not a fluke, that these things could happen again, and, in some cases, arguing that it was likely to happen again. Trump has said he wants to run for president again. He has not actually denounced the lie that undergirds all of this.
And his supporters who carried out this attack have said that they are emboldened. So, that's a pretty heavy message to leave Republicans with. The question is, are they listening? Were they listening? Not entirely clear.
DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Right.
I mean, they were listening, but did they actually hear it?
BASH: And, first of all, they were -- according to our colleague Manu Raju, many of them weren't even in the chamber for a lot of this. But they know the arguments, and they lived it.
And they know this president and they know that the tightrope that they have had to walk for five years. And I'm talking about Republicans, of course. And so the question is, do they have their ears open? Are they open to very cogent arguments that we heard for two straight days, bolstered by the president's own words, by his own tweets, by the -- all of the public evidence that has been on our TV screens over and over again?
And I thought that the end, after Congressman Neguse went through and asked questions, like, was it -- was the violence foreseeable, did the president encourage violence, did he have a dereliction of duty in not stopping it when it started, which was obvious that he and only he could do, but then winding up with Jamie Raskin, the head manager, talking about common sense, and trying to puncture the Republican argument that we have heard over and over again, and probably will after they have their votes, that this is unconstitutional, that they didn't really prove that he actually incited it.
We didn't -- we don't know. We don't have witnesses, so on and so forth. He's saying, you know what? We all know what happened. Use your common sense about what happened, and, more importantly, like you said, Abby, about not punishing him and what that will mean for the future.
TAPPER: Is there any other jury or jury-like body in the world where we have so little expectation that people will actually vote according to what the evidence suggests, as opposed to political considerations that they have?
And I recognize that there are some people, some Republicans in that room that are going to do what they think is right. I think Mitt Romney is a good example of it -- of that.