As she made her case Thursday that former President Donald Trump must be convicted by the U.S. Senate for inciting an insurrection, Colorado U.S. Rep. Diana DeGette replayed and read aloud the words of Trump supporters who rioted at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6.
“Their own statements before, during and after the attack make clear: the attack was done for Donald Trump, at his instructions and to fulfill his wishes,” said the Denver Democrat, a prosecutor in Trump’s second impeachment trial. “Donald Trump had sent them there. They truly believed that the whole intrusion was at the president’s orders and we know that because they said so.”
DeGette was the first of the nine House impeachment managers to speak Wednesday. She did not speak during the trial’s first two days — the only prosecutor not to.
DeGette’s 23-minute presentation made frequent use of videos, audio clips, court documents and news articles to show that many Jan. 6 rioters believed they were following Trump’s orders when they ransacked the Capitol, beat police officers — killing one — and searched for politicians to harm, including then-Vice President Mike Pence and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
Tim Gionet, who faces federal charges related to the riot, is seen in one video saying, “Let’s call Trump. He’ll be happy. We’re fighting for Trump.” In another video, accused rioter Jennifer Ryan told a TV station, “I thought I was following my president. I thought we were following what we were called to do. He asked us to fly there, he asked us to be there. I was doing what he asked us to do.”
Trump faces one article of impeachment, for incitement of insurrection. The impeachment managers, including DeGette and fellow Colorado Democratic U.S. Rep. Joe Neguse, will have until the end of Thursday to make their arguments. Trump’s attorneys will then make their case Friday and possibly Saturday. Senators will ask questions and vote on any procedural measures over the weekend, and a vote on conviction or acquittal will follow.
Colorado Republicans in Congress have criticized the impeachment trial as unconstitutional political theatre. On Thursday morning, Republican Rep. Lauren Boebert of Silt polled her large Twitter following on whether the “sham impeachment trial” is “a waste of our time and taxpayer money.” The four options were, “Yes!” “Absolutely Yes!” “100% Yes!” and “Heck Yes!”
“As the Left discusses political violence this week, let’s not forget the violence of BLM and ANTIFA that happened for months on end this summer,” Boebert wrote, referring to the summer of 2020. She attached a video of Black Lives Matter protests and left-wing riots last year.
DeGette returned to the Senate floor later Wednesday for a 22-minute speech about the harm done on Jan. 6 and the ongoing risk from domestic extremists. She read social media posts written by Trump supporters who promised further violence after the Capitol riot.
“These extremist groups were emboldened because President Trump told them repeatedly that their insurrectionist activities were the pinnacle of patriotism,” the congresswoman alleged. “Well, let today be the day that we reclaim the definition of patriotism. Impeachment is not to punish, but to prevent.”
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