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CNN Live Event/Special
House Impeachment Managers Present Closing Arguments In Senate Impeachment Trial Of Former President Trump; Witnesses Will Not Be Called In Senate Impeachment Trial; Former President Trump's Defense Team Begins Presentation Of Closing Arguments In Senate Impeachment Trial. Aired 2-3p ET
Aired February 13, 2021 - 14:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
REP. MADELEINE DEAN (D-PA): He saw the violence they were capable of. He had a pattern and practice of praising and encouraging supporters of violence, never condemning it. It is not a coincidence that those same people, the Proud Boys, the organizer of the Trump caravan, the supporters and speakers at the second million MAGA march, all showed up on January the 6th.
And Donald Trump's behavior was different. This was not just in a comment by an official or a politician fighting for a cause. This was months of cultivating a base of people who were violent, praising that violence, and then leading them, leading that violence, that rage, straight to a joint session of Congress where he knew his vice president was presiding.
And Donald Trump had warnings about the crowd in front of him on January 6th. There were details posts online of attack plans. Law enforcement warned that these posts were real threats, and even made arrests in the days leading up to the attack. There were credible reports that many would be around and ready to attack the Capitol.
Despite these credible warnings of serious dangerous threats to our Capitol, when the crowd was standing in front of the president, ready to take orders and attack, he said we're going to the Capitol and we fight, we fight like hell, and if you don't fight like hell, you're not going to have a country anymore. Here is a short clip.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, (R) FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: What do you want to call them? Give me a name. Give me a name.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: White supremacists. Proud Boys.
TRUMP: Proud Boys? Stand back and stand by.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Welcome to the red kingdom, red kingdom.
TRUMP: It is something. You see the way our people, they were protecting his bus yesterday because they're nice.
TRUMP: They had hundreds of cars, Trump, Trump. Trump, and the American flag. You see Trump and the American flag.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: At the first million MAGA march, we promised that if the GOP would not do everything in their power to keep Trump in office, that we would destroy the GOP.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And as we gather here in Washington, D.C., for a second million MAGA march, we're done making promises. It has to happen now. We are going to destroy the GOP!
CROWD: Destroy the GOP! Destroy the GOP! Destroy the GOP!
TRUMP: Because you'll never take back our country with weakness. You have to show strength, and you have to be strong.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DEAN: Senators, the violence on January the 6th was demonstrably foreseeable. Trump even said so himself at 6:01 p.m. the day of the attack. The last thing he said before he went to sleep, quote, "These are the things that happen," end quote. He foresaw this, and he admitted as much.
That brings me to my final point, the insurrectionists. Defense counsel has suggested these people came here on their own. The defense brief states that the insurrectionists, quote, did so for their own accord and for their own reasons, and are being criminally prosecuted. It is true that some insurrectionists are being prosecuted. But it is not true that they did so of their own accord and for their own reasons.
The evidence makes clear the exact opposite, that they did this for Donald Trump at his invitation, at his direction, at his command. They said this before the attack, during the attack. They said it after the attack. Leading up to January the 6th in post after post, the president's supporters confirmed, this was for Donald Trump. It was at his direction.
One supporter wrote, and I quote, "If Congress illegally certifies Biden, Trump would have absolutely no choice but to demand us to storm the Capitol and kill/beat them up for it." They even say publicly, openly, and proudly, that President Trump would help them commandeer the National Guard so all they'd have to do is overwhelm 2,000 Capitol police officers.
During his speech on January the 6th, Trump supporters chanted his words back to him. They even live tweeted his commands, as Ms. DeGette showed you. The insurrectionists at the Capitol chanted Donald Trump's words from his tweets, rallies, and from the speech of the 6th.
They held signs and said, and chanted, fight for Trump, stop the steal. They read his tweets over bullhorns, amplifying his demands. Another rioter, while live streaming the insurrection from the Capitol, said, quote, he'll be happy, we're fighting for Trump. What's more, the insurrectionists were not hiding. They believed they were following the orders from our commander in chief.
They felt secure enough in the legitimacy of their actions to take selfies, to post photos and videos on social media. After the attack, rioter after rioter confirmed this too. Jenna Ryan, who was later accused for her role in the insurrection, said, quote, I thought I was following my president.
I thought we were following what we were called to do. And President Trump requested that we be in D.C. on the 6th. When it became clear that Donald Trump would not protect them, some of his supporters said they felt duped. They felt tricked. Listen to some of this evidence.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Even if they think for a second that they're going to get away with it today, they got another think coming. Because today is just a day. And today is just the beginning. They haven't seen a resistance until they have seen a patriot fight for their country.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If you died today --
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. PATRICK LEAHY (D-VT), PRESIDENT PRO TEMPORE: Parties will withhold. The parties will withhold.
DEAN: It is in the record.
LEAHY: The evidentiary record is closed. S. Res 47 describes the scope of those things admitted into evidence as those referenced in trial. New evidence is not permitted in closing argument. References to such new evidence will be stricken. Who yields time?
DEAN: Mr. President, the statement was in evidence. The slide was not, so we will withdraw the slide. The statement was in evidence.
They told you themselves, they were following the president's orders. And you'll see something clearly. Donald Trump knew who these people were. As the slide shows, the people he cultivated, whose violence he praised, were all there on January the 6th.
The Proud Boys, who Donald Trump told to stand back and stand by in September of 2020, Keith Lee, organizer of the Trump caravan that tried to drive the Biden campaign bus off the road, Katrina Pierson, the speaker at the second million MAGA march, they were all there.
The video you're about to see is in the record. Oh, correction, the record did include, appropriately, the last video. So we will keep that in the record and I will keep it in my closing remarks. Can we play the next video?
WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: All right, what they're trying to figure out, John, is was the Katrina Pierson soundbite that we just heard from that rally, was it played earlier? If it had not played earlier, it was not in the record, and as a result, they've got a problem.
JOHN KING, CNN HOST: Yes, you're not supposed to use any new evidence in your closing arguments. You can't introduce new evidence. It has to be evidence already in the record of the trial. It's possible, Madeleine Dean there was saying it was in the record. The question that we need to try to figure out, is it in evidence that was put into the record, maybe not played, but evidence that is agreed to by both sides that they have shared.
You don't have to play all the evidence that you put into the record for senators to review. But normally you put testimony in a trial, you would have heard it or seen it. And so this is one of the disputes, and it's now happened twice, where the Trump team has stood up to object.
BLITZER: And what clearly they're pointing out is in the closing arguments that the House impeachment managers are now making, they can't introduce, quote, new evidence. They can only refer to what they made in their initial presentation.
KING: Right. And you see the lawyers essentially sidebar, sometimes if you watch TV court shows, it's the same idea. In this case they're talking to not only Senator Leahy, the chair, but the Senate staff, who are the parliamentarians and the rules makers here, as to whether or not this is appropriate evidence.
That is interesting to see with these objections, the House managers, who we had said for several days, had presented a very strong and compelling case and worked very well together as a team.
They're clearly having some hiccups, some issues here as they try to close, a very important part of your case, closing your case, they're having problems as they go forward here, and disputes over whether some of the material they've used, this is the second one, whether they're trying to bring new evidence into the proceedings in a closing statement, which is against the rules of this particular proceeding.
And as we were watching that Katrina Pierson clip, Katrina Pierson being from the Trump campaign, an official spokesperson for the Trump campaign, when she was getting that crowd going over there, as we were watching it, you and I both pointed out, at least I said, I don't remember that Katrina Pierson clip that we saw originally in their original presentation, and I think you agreed with me, right?
KING: Yes, I don't recall it being played earlier in the trial, and I think that was clear that it was not played. I think the Democrats have now conceded that it was not played previously. Again, I think somebody on the Democratic side was trying to make the case that it was in the record, meaning it was in the package of evidence that the two sides have shared going into the trial here.
But again, smooth presentation from the Democrats in prosecuting their case, the wrinkle earlier today about them winning a vote to get witnesses and then them pulling back on that, and instead just putting a statement, stipulation into the record, now some interruptions during their closing arguments. And again, if you're going to change minds, this is when you would do it, at the end of your case in compelling closing arguments. But here we go.
BLITZER: I think she's getting ready. This is Madeleine Dean, the congresswoman from Pennsylvania. Maybe not. It looks like they're still trying to figure this out, John. We should be getting back to these closing arguments. She's been speaking, right now, by my count, for about, what, 20 minutes or so.
The other two House impeachment managers that have already spoken, the lead impeachment manager, Jamie Raskin, spoke for 22 minutes in his closing argument, David Cicilline for 22 minutes.
LEAHY: Senators will take their seats. The Senate will be in order. The representative may continue.
DEAN: Thank you, Mr. President. I have to say that of all the trials I have ever been a part of, this is certainly one of them.
DEAN: As the slides show, the people he cultivated, whose violence he praised, were all there on January the 6th. The Proud Boys, who Donald Trump told to stand back and stand by in September of 2020, Keith Lee, the organizer of the Trump caravan that tried to drive the Biden campaign bus off the road, Katrina Pierson, the speaker at the second million MAGA march, they were all there.
Here is one final clip, also submitted in the record.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We need to have 30,000 guns.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DEAN: Senators, some of the insurrectionists are facing criminal charges. Donald Trump was acting as our commander in chief. He was our president. He used his office and the authority it commands to incite an attack. And when Congress and the constitution were under attack, he abandoned his duties, violated his oath, failing to preserve, protect, and defend.
That is why we are here, because the president of the United States, Donald J. Trump, incited and directed thousands of people to attack the legislative branch. He knew what his supporters were capable of. He inflamed them, sent them down Pennsylvania Avenue, not on any old day, but on the day we were certifying the election results. As they were banging on our doors, he failed to defend us, because
this is what he wanted. He wanted to remain in power. For that crime against the republic, he must be held accountable.
Senators, the insurrectionists are still listening. And I must admit, until we were preparing for this trial, I didn't know the extent of many of these facts. I witnessed the horror, but I didn't know. I didn't know how deliberate the president's planning was, how he had invested in it, how many times he incited his supporters with these lies, how carefully and consistently he incited them to violence on January the 6th.
While many of us may have tuned out his rallies, I also did not know the extent that his followers were listening, were hanging on his every word. And honestly, I did not know how close the mob actually came to their violent ends, that they were just steps away from all of us, that the death toll could have been much higher but for the bravery of men and women who protected us.
But now we know. We know the bravery of people like Officer Goodman and all the men and women of the Capitol police, of the custodians with pride and a sense of duty in their work, cleaned up shattered glass, splintered wood, and bloodstained floors. We know the sacrifice of life and limb. We know what Donald Trump did. We know what he failed to do. Though it is difficult to bear witness and face the reality of what happened in these halls, what happens if we don't confront these facts? What happens if there is no accountability?
For those who say we need to get past this, we need to come together, we need to unify, if we don't set this right and call it what it was, the highest of constitutional crimes by the president of the United States, the past will not be past. The past will become our future, for my grandchildren and for their children.
Senators, we are in a dialogue with history, a conversation with our past, with a hope for our future. And 234 years from now, it may be that no one person here among us is remembered. And yet what we do here, what is being asked of each of us here in this moment will be remembered. History has found us. I ask that you not look the other way.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I would like to bring up Mr. Neguse.
REP. JOE NEGUSE (D-CO), IMPEACHMENT MANAGER: Mr. President, distinguished senators, there is an old quote from Henry Clay, son of Kentucky, that courtesies of a small and trivial character are the ones that strike deepest in the grateful and appreciating heart. I want to say on behalf of all the House managers, we are very grateful for the courtesies that you've extended to us and the president's counsel during the course of this trial.
You've heard my colleague, Manager Dean, go through the overwhelming evidence that makes clear that President Trump must be convicted and disqualified for his high crime. I'm not going to repeat that evidence. It speaks for itself. Earlier in this trial, you might recall a few days ago that I mentioned my expectation that President Trump's lawyers might do everything they could to avoid discussing the facts of this case. And I can understand why. I mean, the evidence that all of us presented, that Manager Dean just summarized, is pretty devastating.
And so rather than address it, the president has offered up distractions, excuses, anything but actually trying to defend against the facts. They said things like President Trump is now a private citizen, so the criminal justice system can deal with him, or that we haven't set a clear standard for incitement. They talked a lot about due process and that all politicians say words like "fight."
I would like to take a minute to explain why each of those distractions are precisely that, distractions, and why they do not prevent in any way the Senate from convicting President Trump.
Number one, every president is one day a private citizen again. So the argument that because President Trump has left office he shouldn't be impeached for conduct committed while he was in office doesn't make sense. Why would the Constitution include the impeachment power at all if the criminal justice system serves as a suitable alternative once a president leaves office?
It wouldn't. Impeachment is a remedy separate and apart from the criminal justice system, and for good reason. The presidency, it comes with special powers, extraordinary powers not bestowed on ordinary citizens. And if those powers are abused, they can cause great damage to our country, and they have to be dealt with in a separate forum, this forum.
And it would be unwise to suggest that going forward, the only appropriate response to constitutional offences committed by a president are criminal charges when the president returns to private life. That's not the kind of political system any of us want. And it's not the kind of constitutional system the framers intended.
Second, it is true we haven't cited criminal statutes establishing elements of incitement, because, again, this isn't a criminal trial. It's not a criminal case. President Trump is charged with a constitutional offense. And you are tasked with determining whether or not he committed that high crime as understood by our framers.
So the relevant question, which President Trump's lawyers would have you ignore, is would our framers have considered a president inciting a violent mob to attack our government while seeking to stop the certification of our elections, would they have considered that an impeachable offense? Who among us, who among us really thinks the answer to that question is no?
Third, due process. So just to be absolutely clear, the House, with the sole power of impeachment, determines what the process looks like in the House, and the Senate does the same for the trial. During this trial, the president has counsel. They've argued very vigorously on his behalf. We had a full presentation of evidence, adversarial presentations,
motions. The president was invited to testify. He declined. The president was invited to provide exculpatory evidence. He declined. You can't claim there's no due process when you won't participate in the process.
And we know this case isn't one that requires a complicated legal analysis. You all, you lived it. The managers and I, we lived it. Our country lived it. The president in public view, right out in the open, incited a violent mob. A mob that temporarily, at least, stopped us from certifying an election. If there were ever an exigent circumstance, this is it.
Number four. We all know that President Trump's defense, as we predicted, spent a lot of time, a whole lot of time, comparing his conduct to other politicians using words like "fight." You saw the hours of video.
As I said on Thursday, we trust you to know the difference, because what you will not find in those video montages that they showed you is any of those speeches, those remarks, culminating in a violent insurrection on our nation's capital. That's the difference.
The president spent months inflaming his supporters to believe that the election had been stolen from him, from them, which was not true. He summoned the mob, assembled the mob, and when the violence erupted, he did nothing to stop it, instead inciting it further.
Senators, all of these arguments offered by the president have one fundamental thing in common, one -- they have nothing to do with whether or not, factually, whether or not the president incited this attack. They've given you a lot of distractions so they don't have to defend what happened here on that terrible day. And they do that because they believe those distractions are going to work, that you'll ignore the president's conduct instead of confronting it.
I think they're wrong. Some of you know this already. I'm the youngest member of our manager team by quite a few years, so perhaps I'm a bit naive, but I just don't believe that. I really don't. I don't believe their effort is going to work.
And here is why, because I know what this body is capable of. I may not have witnessed it, but I've read about it in the history books. I've seen the C-SPAN footage, archives, sometimes watched them for hours, and yes, I've actually done that. And the history of our country in those books and in those tapes, the history of this country has been defined right here on this floor.
The 13th Amendment, the amendment abolishing slavery, was passed in this very room, in this room, not figuratively. Literally where you all sit and where I stand. In 1964, this body, with the help of senators like John Sherman Cooper and so many others, this body secured passage of the Civil Rights Act. We made the decision to enter World War II from this chamber. We've certainly had our struggles, but we've always risen to the
occasion when it mattered the most, not by ignoring injustice or cowering to bullies and threats, but by doing the right thing, by trying to do the right thing. And that's why so many nations around the world aspire to be like America. They stand up to dictators and autocrats and tyrants because America is a guiding light for them, a north star.
They do so, they look to us, because we have been a guiding light, a north star, in these moments. Because the people who sat in your chairs, when confronted with choices that define us, rose to the occasion.
I want to offer one more example of a decision made in this room by this body that resonated with me. The first day I stood up in this trial, I mentioned that I was the son of immigrants, like many of you. And many senators graciously approached me after my presentation and asked me where my parents were from.
I told those who asked that my folks were from east Africa. In 1986, 1986, this body considered a bill to override President Reagan's veto of legislation imposing sanctions on South Africa during Apartheid. Two senators who sit in this room, one Democrat, and one Republican, voted to override that veto.
That vote was not about gaining political favor, and in fact it was made despite potentially losing political favor. And I have to imagine that that vote was cast like the decisions before it, because there are moments that transcend party politics and that require us to put country above our party because the consequences of not doing so are just too great.
Senators, this is one of those moments. Many folks who are watching today's proceedings may not know this, but House members like me and lead Manager Raskin, fellow managers, were not allowed on the Senate floor without express permission. No one is. Certainly, the senators are aware of that. This floor is sacred. It's one of the reasons why I, like so many of you, was so offended to see it desecrated by that mob, to see those insurrectionists diminishing and devaluing and disrespecting these hallowed halls that my whole life I have held in such awe.
Because of those rules that I just mentioned, this is the only time I have the privilege to stand before you like this. When the trial is over, I'll go back to being not an impeachment manager but back to being just a House member. The trial will end, and we'll resume our lives and our work.
But for some, there will be no end, no end to the pain of what happened on January 6th. The officers who struggle to recover from the injuries they sustained to protect us, they struggle to recover today. The families who continue to mourn those who they lost on that terrible, tragic day. I was struck yesterday by defense counsel's continued references to
hate. One of my favorite quotes of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., it's one that has sustained me during times of adversity, I suspect it sustains some of you, is that I've decided to stick with love, that hate is too great a burden to bear.
This trial is not born from hatred. Far from it. It's born from love of country, our country. Our desire to maintain it. Our desire to see America at its best. And in those moments that I spoke of, Civil Rights Act, so much more, we remember those moments because they helped define and enshrine America at its best.
I firmly believe that our certification of the Electoral College votes in the early hours of January 7th, our refusal to let our republic be threatened and taken down by a violent mob, will go down in history as one of those moments too. And I believe that this body can rise to the occasion once again today by convicting President Trump and defending our republic.
And the stakes, the stakes could not be higher, because the cold, hard truth is that what happened on January 6th can happen again. I fear, like many of you do, that the violence we saw on that terrible day may be just the beginning. We've shown you the ongoing risks, the extremist groups who grow more emboldened every day. Senators, this cannot be the beginning. It can't be the new normal. It has to be the end. And that decision is in your hands that decision is in your hands.
REP. JAMIE RASKIN (D-MD), LEAD IMPEACHMENT MANAGER: Mr. President?
LEAHY: Mr. Raskin.
RASKIN: Senators, my daughter Hannah said something to me last night that stopped me cold and brought me up short. The kids have been very moved by all the victims of the violence, the officers and their families.
But Hannah told me last night she felt really sorry for the kid of a man who said goodbye to his children before he left home to come and join Trump's actions. Their father had told them that their dad might not be coming home again and they might never see him again. In other words, he was expecting violence. He might die, as insurrectionists did.
And that shook me. Hannah said, how can the president put children and people's families in that situation and then just run away from the whole thing? That shook me. And I was filled with self-reproach, because when I first saw the line about your father going to Washington and you might not see him again, I just thought about it, well, like a prosecutor, like a manager. I thought, what damning evidence that is that people are expecting lethal violence at a protest called by the president of the United States, and saying their final goodbyes to their kids. But Hannah, my dear Hannah, thought of it like a human being. She
thought of it, if you'll forgive me, like a patriot. Someone who just lost her brother and doesn't want to see any other kids in America go through that kind of agony and grief.
Senators, when I say all three of my kids are better than me, you know that I am not engaged in idle flattery. Maybe some of you feel the same way about your kids. They're literally better people than me. They've got a lot of their mom, Sarah Bloom Raskin, in them. They're better than me. And Hannah saw through the legality of the situation. She saw through the politics of the situation all the way to the humanity of the situation, the morality of the situation. That was one of the most patriotic things I ever heard anybody say.
The children of the insurrectionists, even the violent and dangerous ones, they're our children too. They are Americans and we must take care of them and their future. We must recognize and exercise these crimes against our nation, and then we must take care of our people and our children, their hearts and their minds. As Tommy Raskin used to say, it's hard to be human.
Many of the Capitol and metropolitan police officers and guardsmen and women who were beaten up by the mob also have kids. You remember Officer Fanone, who had a heart attack after being tased and roughed up for hours by the mob, and then begged for his life, telling the insurrectionists that he had four daughters. And that just about broke my heart all over again. We talked about this for a long time last night. My kids felt terrible that other kids' fathers and mothers were pulled into this nightmare by a president of the United States.
Senators, we proved he betrayed his country. We proved he betrayed his Constitution. We proved he betrayed his oath of office. The startling thing to recognize now is that he is even betraying the mob. He told them he would march with them and he didn't.
They believed the president was right there with them somewhere in the crowd fighting the fantasy conspiracy to steal the election and steal their country away from them. They thought they were one big team working together. He told them their great journey together was just beginning. And now there are hundreds of criminal prosecutions getting going all over the country. People getting set to say goodbye to members of their family.
And the president who contacted them, solicited them, lured them, invited them, incited them, that president has suddenly gone quiet and dark, nowhere to be found. He cannot be troubled to come here to tell us what happened, and tell us why this was the patriotic and the constitutional thing to do.
Senators, this trial in the final analysis is not about Donald Trump. The country and the world know who Donald Trump is. This trial is about who we are, who we are. My friend Dara Williams said sometimes the truth is like a second chance. We've got a chance here with the truth. We still believe in the separation of powers. President Trump tried to sideline or run over every other branch of
government, thwart the will of the people at the state level, usurp the people's choice for president. This case is about whether our country demands a peaceful, nonviolent transfer of power to guarantee the sovereignty of the people.
Are we going to defend the people who defend us? Not just honor them with medals, as you rightfully did yesterday, but actually back them up against savage, barbaric, insurrectionary violence? Will we restore the honor of our Capitol and the people who work here?
Will we be a democratic nation that the world looks to for understanding democratic values and practices and constitutional government and the rights of women and men? Will the Senate condone the president of the United States inciting a violent attack on our chambers, our offices, our staff and the officers who protect us?
When you see the footage of Officer Hodges stuck in the doorway, literally being tortured by the mob, if the government did that to you, that would be torture. And when you see that footage, and he's shouting in agony for his dear life, it's almost unwatchable.
When the vice president of the United States escapes a violent mob that's entered this Capitol building seeking to hang him and calling out "traitor, traitor, traitor," and when they shut down the counting of the Electoral College votes, is this the future you imagine for our kids? Is it totally appropriate, as we've been told, or as Representative Cheney said, is it the greatest betrayal of the presidential oath of office in the history of our country?
And if we can't handle this together as a people, all of us, forgetting the lines of party and ideology and geography and all of those things, if we can't handle this, how are we ever going to conquer the other crises of our day? Is this America? Is this what we want to bequeath to our children and our grandchildren?
I was never a great Sunday school student. Actually, I was pretty truant most of the time. But one line always stuck with me from the book of Exodus as both beautiful and haunting, even as a kid, after I asked what the words meant. Thou shalt not follow a multitude to do evil. Thou shalt not follow a multitude to do evil.
The officer who got called the "n" words 15 times and spent hours with his colleagues battling insurrectionists who had metal polls and baseball bats and hockey sticks, bear spray and Confederate battle flags, posed the right question to the Senate and to all of us -- is this America?
Senators, that's going to be up to you now. And whatever committees and subcommittees you're on, whatever you came to Washington to do, to work on, from defense to agriculture to energy to aerospace to health care, this is almost certainly how you will be remembered by history.
That might not be fair. It really might not be fair. But none of us can escape the demands of history and destiny right now. Our reputations and our legacy will be inextricably intertwined with what we do here and with how you exercise your oath to do impartial justice -- impartial justice.
I know and I trust you will do impartial justice driven by your meticulous attention to the overwhelming facts of the case and your love for our Constitution, which I know dwells in your heart.
The times have found us, said Tom Payne, the namesake of my son. The Times have found us. Is this America? What kind of America will we be? It's now literally in your hands. Godspeed to the Senate of the United States. We reserve any remaining time.
LEAHY: The House has reserved 28 minutes.
MICHAEL VAN DER VEEN, FORMER PRESIDENT TRUMP'S DEFENSE LAWYER: I'm talking, and it will not be so long. And before I start my prepared closing, I really want to clean up a few things from the mess that was the closing of the House managers. I do not want to ruin my closing because I think the ending is pretty good.
What they didn't -- they started off by misstating the law and they started off by misstating the intent of our stipulation. What we did today was stipulate to an article that was published in a magazine, apparently they've had for weeks according to the documents they produced today, but for some reason this morning popped up with it. The stipulation was that they can put that in.
We did not stipulate to its contents for truthfulness. And they tried to portray that in their closing as the stipulation. The stipulation was read into the record. The proponents of that conversation, the real ones, have denied its content, its veracity.
With respect to -- I'm not going to talk much about the tortured analysis of our arson laws that started off, or the truly sideways analogies that were used with fires. What I do want to talk about, though, is the doctoring of evidence. First of all, they sent us their evidence on Tuesday the 9th at 2:32 p.m. by email. I was in this room trying the case already when they sent their evidence. Due process.
They used evidence that was flat wrong two or three nights ago with Senator Lee and had to withdraw it. They tried to use it again today. They tried to use evidence that they had never presented in the case in their closing argument. That is a very desperate attempt by a prosecuting team, nine of them, by a prosecuting team that knew that their case has collapsed.
Their closing did not mention one piece of law. They didn't talk about the Constitution once. They didn't talk about the First Amendment and its application. They didn't talk about due process and how it applies to this proceeding for my client.
A basic rule of any court is that when you close a case out, you close on the facts that were admitted in the trial. It's a basic, fundamental principle of due process and fairness. And that was violently breached today on multiple occasions. And you have to ask yourself why. Why did they resort to those tactics at this moment in time tactics at this moment in time?
Senators, good afternoon, Mr. President. What took place here at the U.S. Capitol on January 6th was a grave tragedy. Over the course of this trial, you have heard no one on either side of this debate argue that the infiltration of the Capitol was anything less than a heinous act on the home of American democracy.
All of us, starting with my client, are deeply disturbed by the graphic videos of the Capitol attack that have been shown in recent days. The entire team condemned and have repeatedly condemned the violence and lawbreaking that occurred on January 6th in the strongest possible terms. We've advocated that everybody be found, punished to the maximum extent of the law.
Yet the question before us is not whether there was a violent insurrection of the Capitol. On that point, everyone agrees. Based on the explicit text of the House impeachment article, this trial is about whether Mr. Trump willfully engaged in incitement of violence and even insurrection against the United States, and that question they have posed in their article of impeachment has to be set up against the law of this country.
No matter how much truly horrifying footage we see of the conduct of the rioters and how much emotion has been injected into this trial, that does not change the fact that Mr. Trump is innocent of the charges against him. Despite all of the video played, at no point in their presentation did you hear the House managers play a single example of Mr. Trump urging anyone to engage in violence of any kind.
At no point did you hear anything that could ever possibly be construed as Mr. Trump encouraging or sanctioning an insurrection. Senators, you did not hear those tapes because they do not exist, because the act of incitement never happened. He engaged no language of incitement whatsoever on January 6th or any other day following the election.
No unbiased person honestly reviewing the transcript of Mr. Trump's speech on the ellipse could possibly believe that he was suggesting violence. He explicitly told the crowd that he expected the protests outside the Capitol to be peaceful and patriotic. They claimed that's not enough.
His entire premise was the proceedings of the joint session should continue. He spent nearly the entire speech talking about how he believes the senators and members of Congress should vote on the matter. It's the words. The Supreme Court ruled in Brandenburg that there is a very clear standard for incitement. In short, you have to look at the words themselves. The words have to either explicitly or implicitly call for -- the words -- call for lawlessness or violence.
Whether the speech -- you have to determine whether the speech was intended to provoke the lawlessness, and whether the violence was the likely result of the word itself. They fail on all three prongs. The faults and defamatory claim that Mr. Trump gave a speech encouraging his supporters to go attack the Capitol has been repeated so often, uncritically, without any examination of the underlying facts that Americans listening at home were probably surprised to learn it's not true.
Furthermore, some of the people in this room followed Trump's statements and tweets in the weeks leading up to January 6th very closely. We know that he was not trying to foment an insurrection during the time because no one from the speaker of the House to the mayor of Washington, D.C., behaved in a fashion consistent with the belief that violence was being advocated for.
Mr. Trump did not spend the weeks prior to January 6th inciting violence. He spent those weeks pursuing his election challenge through the court system and other legal procedures exactly as the Constitution and Congress prescribe. To believe based on the evidence you have seen that Mr. Trump actually wanted and indeed willfully incited an armed insurrection to overthrow the U.S. government would be absurd.
The gathering on January 6th was supposed to be an entirely peaceful event. Thousands and thousands of people, including Mr. Trump, showed up that day with that intention. A small percentage, a small fraction of those people then engaged in truly horrible behavior, but as we now know, that those actors were preplanned and premeditated and acted even before the speech was completed, to which is the basis of the article of impeachment. It was preplanned and premeditated by fringe left and right groups. They hijacked the event for their own purposes.
The House managers' false narrative is a brazenly dishonest attempt to smear, to cancel -- constitutional cancel culture, their number one political opponent taking neutral statements, commonplace political rhetoric, removing words and facts from context, and ascribing to them the most sinister and malevolent intentions possible. Their story was based not on evidence but on their sheer personal and political animus.
The flimsy theory of incitement you heard from the House managers could be used to impeach, indict, or expel countless other political leaders. Many leading figures in other parties have engaged far more incendiary and dangerous rhetoric. And we played some of it. I'm not going to replay it. I'm not going to replay you the words. You all saw the evidence. I'm not going to replay you mob scenes. I don't want to give those people another platform, any more view from the American people, as to what they did. They should be canceled.
Democrat politicians spent months prior to January 6th attacking the very legitimacy of our nation's most cherished institutions and traditions. They didn't just question the integrity of one election. They challenged the integrity of our entire nation, everything from our founding fathers, our Constitution, Declaration of Independence, law enforcement officers, and United States military. They said that our society was rooted in hatred. They even said that America deserve -- and I'll quote -- a reckoning.
As you heard yesterday, throughout the summer, Democrat leaders, including current president and vice president, repeatedly made comments that provided moral comfort to mobs attacking police officers. During that time, many officers across the country were injured. As we all know, two sheriff's deputies in Los Angeles were ambushed and shot at point blank range.
Members of this very body have been in danger. Senators from Maine to Kentucky and most points in between have been harassed by mobs. Last August a menacing leftwing mob swarmed Senator Rand Paul and his wife as they left the White House, and they had to be rescued by police.
For months our federal courthouse in Portland was placed under siege by violent anarchists who attacked law enforcement officers daily and repeatedly, and tried to set fire of the building. Speaker Pelosi did not call the violent siege of the federal building an insurrection. She called the federal agents protecting the courthouse storm troopers.
The White House complex was besieged by mobs that threw bricks, rocks, and bottles at Secret Service agents, set fire to an historic structure, and breached a security fence to infiltrate the treasury grounds. When my client's administration sent in the National Guard to secure the nation's capital city amidst the violence, Democrat leaders demanded that the forces be withdrawn.