The House impeachment managers presented senators with crude, momento to moment videos of their colleagues fleeing a pro-Trump mob, which breached the US Capitol shouting “stop the steal.”
WASHINGTON D.C. (CNN/Agencies) – The House impeachment managers presented senators with videos of their colleagues fleeing a pro-Trump mob, which breached the US Capitol shouting “stop the steal.” They showed the rioters searching for then-Vice President Mike Pence and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and rummaging through the senators’ desks on the chamber floor.
Some of the Trump supporters were dressed in tactical gear, armed with zip-ties. Others held Trump 2020 flags, broke windows with poles and set up a gallows for Pence, who was constitutionally obligated to oversee the certification of the 2020 presidential election, and the peaceful transfer of power to the Democrats.
But even after witnessing the deadly violence firsthand, and being reminded of it again at the scene of the crime, many Republican senators appeared no closer on Wednesday to convicting former President Donald Trump on the charge of “incitement of insurrection.”
While they were struck by the impeachment managers’ presentation, these Republicans said that the House Democrats did not prove Trump’s words led to the violent actions. They compared the January 6 riot to last summer’s racial justice protests and criticizedhow the trial is being handled.
Sen. Mike Braun said the managers’ visual presentation was “riveting,” adding, “It’s just as kind of hard to take now as it was then.” But when asked if it had changed his view, the Indiana Republican said, “When you think the process is flawed in the first place, I think it’s going to be different to arrive at a conclusion on the facts and the merits itself.”
And Sen. Ted Cruz said a direct link from Trump to the pro-Trump riot was “strikingly absent.” The Texas Republican claimed that “there’s not a political candidate in the country,” including “every single one of the Democratic senators,” who hasn’t used the same language as Trump, who told his supporters “to fight like hell.”
The comments are the latest indication of the high hurdles Democrats face in getting the 67 votes needed to convict Trump — with 17 Republicans needed to break ranks if all 50 Democrats vote to convict the former President and then bar him from ever serving in office again.
“I think you get at best six Republicans — probably five and maybe six,” GOP Sen. Tim Scott told CNN when asked if the video and footage changed his mind on convicting Trump.
In a speech before the Capitol rampage, Trump urged his supporters “to peacefully and patriotically make your voices heard” but also to “fight like hell,” “never give up” and “never concede.” A couple days earlier, he tweeted that “The ‘Surrender Caucus’ within the Republican Party will go down in infamy as weak and ineffective ‘guardians’ of our Nation, who were willing to accept the certification of fraudulent presidential numbers!” He repeatedly told his supporters to “stop the steal!”