House Democrats are pointing out the violent threats that some of the Capitol rioters made, perhaps in an attempt to rekindle the life-or-death emotions that senators faced during the insurrection.
Rep. Joe Neguse, one of the House impeachment managers, cited one of the most disturbing comments to emerge from the thousands of pages of court filings stemming from the Capitol insurrection. He specifically mentioned an alleged Capitol rioter who lamented the fact that she wasn’t able to assassinate House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
CNN previously reported on the woman, Dawn Bancroft, who was charged with violent entry on Capitol grounds, remaining in a restricted area and disorderly conduct in a restricted building.
In an affidavit, investigators cited a “selfie” video they say was taken by Bancroft. Investigators claim she is heard saying, “We broke into the Capitol… We got inside, we did our part.”
“We were looking for Nancy to shoot her in the friggin’ brain, but we didn’t find her,” Bancroft said, according to the affidavit.
She has not been charged with threatening Pelosi or any lawmakers.
Rep. Joe Neguse presents affidavit:
Impeachment manager Rep. Eric Swalwell is speaking now on the Senate floor. He’s arguing that former President Trump spent months fueling his supporters with lies about the 2020 election results.
“Instead of accepting the results or pursuing legitimate claims, he told his base more lies. He doused the flames with kerosene. And this wasn’t just some random guy at the neighborhood bar blowing off steam. This was our commander in chief,” Swalwell said.
Swalwell, of California’s 15th district, has been a vocal critic of former President Trump. In Trump’s first impeachment trial, Swalwell sat on two committees that investigated Trump’s involvement in soliciting information from Ukrainian officials to use against Joe Biden in his campaign.
Ahead of the House vote to impeach Trump, Swalwell said that President Trump not only incited the attack on the Capitol on Jan. 6, but “this President has inspired future plots, America is still under attack and that is why Donald Trump must be impeached.”
After being named as one the impeachment managers for Trump’s second Senate trial, Swalwell released the following statement:
“A president’s greatest responsibility is to protect American lives and defend American ideals. Donald Trump has failed to do both. For the safety of all Americans and the continuity of our experiment in self-governance, Donald Trump must be removed from office… It is a solemn privilege to be named an Impeachment Manager. I vow to work collaboratively with the Impeachment Manager team to make a case to the Senate for conviction and removal.”
Swalwell serves on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence and on the Judiciary Committee. He is a former prosecutor and is the son and brother of law enforcement officers. He is serving his fifth term in Congress.
The Democratic House managers are highlighting statements from some of the Capitol rioters who said they descended on the building because they were heeding the call from then-President Trump.
Rep. Joe Neguse, one of the House impeachment managers, played a video montage Wednesday with footage from one rioter who said he was “invited by the President of the United States,” and other rioters who later told investigators that they were motivated by Trump’s words.
Neguse also cited a sampling of the 200 criminal cases stemming from the insurrection, specifically quoting people who said they were inspired by Trump.
CNN previously reported on the “blame Trump defense” that has emerged from some rioters, whose lawyers have argued that they shouldn’t be held responsible for listening to the commander-in-chief.
This is more of a public relations strategy than a coherent legal argument, but it dovetails with the narrative that the Democrats are pushing – that Trump incited the deadly assault on the Capitol.
Watch the video montage here:
Democratic Rep. Joe Neguse, a House impeachment manager, argued that former President Trump incited violence over months that culminated in the Capitol attack.
On the campaign trail and after the election, Trump repeatedly told his followers to “fight like hell” and “never surrender,” as Neguse showed with video footage.
“As the President made these statements, people listened. Armed supporters surrounded election officials’ homes. The secretary of state for Georgia got death threats. Officials warned the President that his rhetoric was dangerous and it was going to result in deadly violence,” Neguse said, referring to a Georgia election official pleading with Trump to denounce threats against election workers.
Neguse drew a line directly to Trump’s “Stop the Steal” rally in Washington, DC, on Jan. 6, which was scheduled for the exact time of electoral vote certification.
“And that’s what makes this so different. Because when he saw firsthand the violence that his conduct was creating, he didn’t stop it. He didn’t condemn the violence. He incited it further. And he got more specific. He didn’t just tell them to ‘fight like hell.’ He told them how, where and when. He made sure they had advanced notice — 18 days advance notice. He sent his save the date for Jan. 6. He told them to march to the Capitol and ‘fight like hell,’” Neguse said.
The White House continued to punt on President Biden’s response to the impeachment of his predecessor on Wednesday – even as the proceedings played out on Capitol Hill – and instead tried to focus on the Biden administration’s agenda.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki fielded numerous questions about former President Trump’s trial during a press briefing Wednesday, but again refused to weigh in, pivoting to Biden’s previous comments on the Capitol attack.
“It may seem like some time ago, but the President has spoken repeatedly to the events of January 6,” Psaki said to a reporter who asked for reaction to the powerful video montage that impeachment managers showed on Tuesday.
“On January 6, he called the insurrection of the Capitol an unprecedented assault on a democracy, bordering on sedition,” she continued, listing several other comments that Biden made publicly. “He has certainly not been silent.”
Asked later if the lack of new comment should be read as the President not being invested in the outcome of the trial, Psaki responded, “the American public should read it as his commitment to delivering on exactly what they elected him to do, which is not to be a commentator on the daily developments of an impeachment trial, but to push forward an American rescue plan that will put people back to – that will ensure people are back to work with the assistance they need, get shots in arms, reopen schools.”
“That’s what they asked him to do, and that’s what he’s focused on doing every day,” she added.
Psaki had announced earlier in the briefing that Biden would be giving remarks on the coup in Burma later on Wednesday, and was pressed by a reporter on if the Jan. 6 attack was also a coup.
“I’m not going to give any new definitions,” she said. “I appreciate your creativity though.”
Lead House Impeachment Manager Rep. Jamie Raskin worked to dismiss the defense’s First Amendment argument by building on analogies by two Supreme Court justices.
Former Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes famously said, “you can’t shout fire in a crowded theater.”
“This case is much worse than someone who falsely shouts out fire in a crowded theater. It’s more like a case where the town fire chief – who’s paid to put out fires – sends a mob not to yell fire in a crowded theater, but to actually set the theater on fire. And who then when the fire alarms go off and the calls start flooding into the fire department asking for help, does nothing but sit back, encourage the mob to continue its rampage and watch the fire spread on TV with glee and delight,” Raskin said.
The lead impeachment manager continued that this is the reason “most Americans” have dismissed Trump’s First Amendment rhetoric.
“I mean, you really don’t need to go to law school to figure out what’s wrong with that argument,” he said.
Raskin said in the case of private citizens, people can talk about their support for the enemies of the United States, but someone in the position of the presidency does not have that right.
“If you’re President of the United States, you’ve chosen a side with your oath of office and if you break it, we can impeach, convict, remove, and disqualify you permanently from holding any office of honor, trust, or profit under the United States,” he said.
“As Justice Scalia once said, memorably, you can’t ride with the cops and root for the robbers. And if you become inciter in chief to the insurrection, you can’t expect to be on the payroll as commander in chief for the union,” he added.
House impeachment manager Rep. Joe Neguse described three terms former President Trump repeatedly used in the days leading up to the Capitol riot, arguing the phrases served as a call to action to his supporters.
Neguse said Trump used similar language not just in his speech to a crowd of supporters on the day of the attack, but throughout the weeks leading up to the riot.
“And as you evaluate the facts that we present to you, it will become clear exactly where that mob came from. Because here’s the thing: President Trump’s words, as you’ll see on Jan. 6, in that speech — just like the mob’s actions were carefully chosen — those words had a very specific meaning to that crowd,” he said at the trial. “And how do we know this? Because in the weeks prior to, during, and after the election, he used the same words over and over and over again. You will hear over and over three things,” he said.
The terms are:
- “The Big Lie,” which Neguse described as Trump’s false assertion that the election was rigged.
- “Stop the Steal,” which he which Neguse said was an urge to Trump supproters to never concede
- “Fight like Hell to Stop the Steal,” which Neguse described as a “call to arms”
“I respectfully ask that you remember those three phrases as you consider the evidence today,” Neguse told senators.
House impeachment manager Rep. Joe Neguse is speaking now on the Senate floor and is laying out the Democrats’ case against former President Trump.
“As a son of immigrants, I believe firmly in my heart that the United States is the greatest republic this world has ever known, a hallmark of our republic, since the days of George Washington has been peaceful transfer of power,” Neguse said as he opened his remarks. “Unfortunately, sadly, we know now we can no longer take that for granted.”
The impeachment manager said that during the course of their presentation, it will be helpful for senators to think about “Trump’s incitement of insurrection” in three distinct parts: the provocation, the attack and the harm.
Neguse, of Colorado’s 2nd district, is a member of the House Judiciary Committee, where he serves as vice chair of the subcommittee on Antitrust, Commercial and Administrative Law. Neguse’s parents fled Eritrea and came to the US as refugees and settled in Colorado. He is the first African American to represent Colorado in the House.
Ahead of the House vote to impeach Trump last month, Neguse said this on the House floor in support of invoking the 25th Amendment:
“Who summoned the mob? Who encouraged the mob? Who incited the mob? You know as well as I do that the President did. I stood here six days ago in this exact same spot and I quoted Lincoln’s admonition,‘That we shall nobly save, or meanly lose, the last best hope of earth,” and less than 10 minutes later a violent mob breached the Capitol, the first breach of this hallowed building, the citadel of liberty, since the war of 1812. The Congress must respond. Our undertaking here is not about politics. It is a matter of conscience.”
Early in his career, Neguse was a litigator in private practice. He is serving his second term in Congress.
Conservative North Dakota Sen. Kevin Cramer, an ally of the former President, said Wednesday “it would be harder” for him to support Donald Trump for reelection in 2024 “given what’s happened.”
“It would be harder for me given what’s happened, that has got to be part of what weighs on me,” Cramer told CNN.
Meanwhile, GOP Sen. Bill Cassidy said there was a “very mixed” reaction to his vote Tuesday calling Trump’s impeachment trial constitutional. “Some folks incredibly positive, some folks very negative,” he said Wednesday.
The Louisiana Republican said he replied to negative responses explaining that “this is a constitutional question and clearly it had been established that it is constitutional … it is Constitution and country, over party.”
“For some they get it, and for others they’re not quite so sure,” he added.
Cassidy also noted that his vote Tuesday on the constitutionality of the trial “does not predict my vote on anything else.”