Otago Daily Times
Threat to Pence put in trial spotlight
WASHINGTON: United States House Democrats prosecuting Donald Trump’s impeachment trial for inciting the deadly siege of the Capitol played security video yesterday showing members of the proTrump mob searching for his vicepresident, chanting ‘‘hang Mike Pence!’’.
Previously unseen videos showed the view from inside the Capitol as rioters smashed windows and fought with police on January 6, coming within 30m of the room where Pence was sheltering with his family. The mob had set up a gallows outside.
The footage showed Pence and others being hustled to safety steps ahead of an advancing mob.
Trump is charged with inciting an insurrection by exhorting thousands of supporters to march on the Capitol on the day Congress was certifying Democrat Joe Biden’s electoral victory.
Trump’s lawyers argue his rhetoric is protected by free speech and that the trial is politically motivated.
The footage highlighted that hundreds of Trump supporters attacking the building targeted Republicans — whose votes are needed to convict Trump.
Prosecutors frequently highlighted the threat to Pence. Trump had repeatedly said Pence had the power to stop the certification of the election results, even though he did not.
‘‘The mob was looking for vicepresident Pence,’’ Representative Stacey Plaskett said, narrating footage that showed the crowd chanting ‘‘hang Mike Pence!’’ and searching for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
‘‘President Trump put a target on their backs and then his mob broke into the Capitol to hunt them down,’’ she said.
Democratic Representative Joaquin Castro said that during the rampage, Trump tweeted that Pence ‘‘didn’t have the courage to do what should have been done’’. A video showed rioters spreading word of that tweet on bullhorns.
Several Republican senators said the footage was emotional, but many added it did not change their minds.
‘‘He bears some responsibility . . . that doesn’t mean impeachment is the right way to address it,’’ Senator Marco Rubio said.
Trump’s lawyers, who will have 16 hours to deliver their side of the argument after the House managers are finished, said the video and other evidence presented by Democrats had not made the case for his culpability.
‘‘I didn’t learn anything that I didn’t already know. We know a mob breached the Capitol and wreaked havoc in the building. I’m waiting for them to connect that up to President Trump and so far that hasn’t happened,’’ Trump lawyer Bruce Castor said.
A twothirds majority must vote to convict, which means at least 17 Republicans would have to defy Trump’s stillpotent popularity. On Wednesday, just six out of 50 Republican senators voted that the trial could move ahead.
The Senate trial is not the only probe Trump faces.
Prosecutors in Georgia have opened a criminal investigation into Trump’s attempts to influence the state’s election results after he was recorded in a January 2 phone call pressuring the secretary of state to ‘‘find’’ enough votes to overturn his Georgia loss. — Reuters