LISTEN: What Happened In Trump Impeachment Wednesday (Day 2) : The NPR Politics Podcast The Democratic impeachment managers played a series of graphic videos demonstrating just how close senators came to encountering violent extremists inside the Capitol. Soon, those senators will have to decide whether Trump was responsible for the riot that put their lives at risk — and threatened to derail the transition of power.

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Democrats Ground Case Against Trump In Jarring Insurrection Videos

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Democrats Ground Case Against Trump In Jarring Insurrection Videos

Democrats Ground Case Against Trump In Jarring Insurrection Videos

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Hey there. It's the NPR POLITICS PODCAST. I'm Scott Detrow. I cover the White House.

TAMARA KEITH, BYLINE: I'm Tamara Keith. I also cover the White House.

CLAUDIA GRISALES, BYLINE: And I'm Claudia Grisales. I cover Congress.

DETROW: It is 8:26 Eastern on Wednesday, February 10. And we are here to talk about the second full day of President Trump's second impeachment trial. House Democrats spent the day laying out their argument to convict former President Trump for inciting an insurrection.


UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #1: We promised that, if the GOP would not do everything in their power to keep Trump in office, that we would destroy the GOP.


DETROW: There were graphic and violent videos of the attack on the Capitol and a trial, of course, happening at the exact same location.


UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #2: Oh, no. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No.

UNIDENTIFIED CROWD: (Chanting) Hang Mike Pence. Hang Mike Pence. Hang Mike Pence. Hang Mike Pence.

DETROW: Before we talk about it, I'm just going to say that was really hard to watch today.

GRISALES: I agree.

KEITH: Yeah.

GRISALES: It was difficult.

DETROW: Claudia, let's just take a step back and start with how the House Democrats, the impeachment managers laid out their case. At the beginning of the day, they said they were going to split their case into three parts. They framed it this way - the big lie, the election was stolen - two, stop the steal - three, fight like hell to stop the steal. Walk us through what that meant and how they presented these arguments.

GRISALES: Yes. They put these three points on a slide. They showed it to members. They said they asked the members to remember those phrases because they didn't just appear on January 6 but long before that. We heard managers such as Joe Neguse build up this pattern that they saw in the weeks and months ahead of time.


JOE NEGUSE: Senators, this clearly was not just one speech. It didn't just happen. It was part of a carefully planned, months-long effort with a very specific instruction - show up on January 6 and get your people to fight the certification. He incited it. It was foreseeable.

GRISALES: So this was the frame that managers used to tell the story. I listened to a call this morning with senior aides to the impeachment managers, and they previewed how this day would play out. They said they would build the case from beginning to middle to end. And today was focused on that beginning. It was marked by the big lie that the election was stolen, that it was filled with fraud. For example, lead manager Jamie Raskin started showing a video of Trump the evening after the insurrection where he repeated this big lie rather than decry the mayhem. Another manager, Joaquin Castro, showed footage that began months before the insurrection, before the election. His supporters flooded voting and ballot counting sites around the country chanting, stop the count, get the votes. And this was planting the seeds of stop the seal, which became the rallying cry. And we heard Trump used those words in that final speech just before these insurrectionists marched to the Capitol.

KEITH: Yeah. And then you saw a video of people with stop the steal signs, among other things, inside the Capitol.

DETROW: One moment of evidence on this that really stayed in my mind was, you know, as they were connecting things that the president was saying during the attack, before the attack and how the people attacking the Capitol were responding to the president, video of a man yelling the president's latest tweet through a megaphone, you know, outside, looked like it was on the west front of the Capitol.


UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #3: My kids didn't have the courage to do what should have been done to protect our country and our Constitution.

JOAQUIN CASTRO: The insurgents amplified President Trump's tweet, attacking the vice president with a bullhorn. They were paying attention. And they also followed instructions.

DETROW: Lots of dot connecting. I mean, we've kind of gotten at this already. But, Tam, there were moments in the first impeachment trial a little more than a year ago where, you know, sometimes your mind wandered. It was a lot of technical stuff, a lot of names people weren't familiar with, a lot of stuff about phone calls and foreign policy - not today. Today was visceral. Today was emotional. Today was, you know, not a day where you lost your focus at all if you were watching this all day like we were.

KEITH: Yeah. And I don't know how many times on our air the hosts had to say, you were hearing language that we would not normally air, but this is evidence in an impeachment trial. And so you are going to hear this language, this language that is not suitable for children, visuals that were not suitable for children, heck, not suitable for adults. And this was all part of driving home, you know, essentially trying to punch these senators in the gut and say this was deadly serious.

DETROW: Yeah. People were there trying to kill you. I mean, Claudia, you're at the Capitol. How did senators react?

GRISALES: This was pretty - this had a pretty powerful impact for senators, even senators who are saying they're not going to vote for the conviction of former President Trump. It seemed to be a theme today in terms of how striking this footage was, that it was emotional. It tears at the heart. And we saw that with one of the impeachment managers during her presentation, Madeleine Dean. She teared up as she talked about her experiences that day. And when she was done with her presentation, she was surrounded by members consoling her. You can tell that everyone is reliving this moment.

And it's pretty remarkable. Here we are more than a month later, and we're still seeing new footage. And it just shows you how much more there is yet to learn about that day. And we saw this body camera footage for the first time from the Metropolitan Police Department of D.C. Capitol Police don't have body cameras, so this is something we wouldn't have seen without their assistance. Then we saw this camera security image. This is just a few moments we saw today. But imagine there's hours from countless angles here that we haven't seen. So it really is striking in terms of the reaction members are having in seeing how close they really were to danger that day.

KEITH: I think one thing that the impeachment managers, including the lead impeachment manager, Jamie Raskin, were trying to do also, though, is say not only was this a terrible event, but this is a terrible event that could have been anticipated and that President Trump is uniquely responsible for, this idea that he wasn't just an innocent bystander who gave one speech on one day.

DETROW: Right. He laid the foundation that this election was stolen from him, which it was not. We have all, you know, heard and talked about some of the specific things he said during that speech before the attack began. And then toward the end of the day, the managers really focused on how he reacted once the attack was underway, not immediately condemning it, putting out those videos where he said he loved all of them and they were special people.


CASTRO: And if there's any doubt that his supporters, these insurgents, took this as a message of support and praise, watch for yourselves.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #4: Donald Trump asked everybody to go home. He just said - he just put out a tweet. It's a minute long. He asked everybody to go home.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #5: Why do you think so?

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #4: Because, dude, we won the [expletive] day. We [expletive] won.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #5: How did we win?

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #4: Well, we won by sending a message to the senators and the Congressmen. We won by sending a message to Pence, OK?

DETROW: We're going to walk through some of these specific moments of evidence after we take a quick break.


DETROW: And we're back. And one thing I'd like to talk about for a few minutes here is how much of today's presentation really underscored just how dangerous and violent the siege was. One of the things that sometimes I keep thinking about was, you know, when we had that initial podcast, I said something like, you know, we don't know the full extent of the violence just yet. And we had obviously a big-picture idea of how terrible everything was right away.

But so many details have come out since then really showing how people came there ready to murder people, ready to take hostages of lawmakers, ready - had really planned this attack out. And we learned new details today from the House Democrats that showed that. I think one good example is that man who was sitting at Nancy Pelosi's desk. That quickly became a symbol of the day. But they pointed out and they zoomed in, he had a really high-powered stun gun on him. And that's just one example of how dangerous this was. And the other thing that the managers really spent a lot of time on was just how close so many of these people got to the lawmakers.


UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #6: Where are you, Nancy? We're looking for you.

DETROW: That last point especially became really clear when the managers were showing security footage, along with diagrams of where lawmakers were in the building and where the attackers were at the same time.


UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #6: Nancy, oh, Nancy. Nancy.

DETROW: And they kept mixing that in with audio and video from the day, including audio that some of Speaker Pelosi's staffers recorded when they were barricaded in part of her office, hiding under a table. And you can hear them in this audio whispering to each other about how they can get the police there to rescue them.


UNIDENTIFIED STAFFER: (Unintelligible) We need Capitol Police I think - they're pounding the doors trying to find...

GRISALES: Yeah. One very striking moment we saw during the footage today was a moment where Senator Mitt Romney is leaving the chamber. This is a GOP member from Utah. And he said he was on his way to his hideaway, this office. It's an extra additional office that these members have where they can go for breaks and what have you. He had gotten a text that the crowds were getting violent, so he thought, that's the direction I should go. He happens to run into Officer Eugene Goodman, who is just booking it down that hallway towards the chamber and signals to him, go the other way. And you could see Romney running.


KEITH: Yeah. I mean, that video hit me because, you know, this is a man who ran for president of the United States, and he is running for his life in the United States Capitol. It was just - I don't know. I think that's the video that's going to stick with me for a really long time.

DETROW: Yeah. And you can imagine how much danger he would have been in if the mob had found him, because as the managers documented today, you know, there were people walking through the building with specific targets in mind, people who wanted to find Nancy Pelosi and, Tam, people who wanted to find because President Trump had called him out for, you know, following the law in the Constitution and not trying to stop the counting of the election, Vice President Pence. They spent a lot of time charting Pence's movements from the building and documenting how many people in this mob wanted to find and kill Mike Pence.


UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #7: Can I speak to Pelosi? Yeah. We're coming. Oh, Mike Pence? We're coming for you too, [expletive] traitor.

UNIDENTIFIED CROWD: (Chanting) Hang Mike Pence. Hang Mike Pence. Hang Mike Pence.

GRISALES: And it was really interesting how we saw managers zero-in on Pence again and again today. It was as if they were trying to connect with these Republican jurors. These are the toughest jurors they're facing in the room. And they wanted to illustrate to them that even their guy, Mike Pence, was in such close danger. And the commander-in-chief did very little to help put him and others in a safer place.

KEITH: There was another bit of video that we saw as part of this case where they showed the video of Pence and his family being evacuated on the surveillance video. And that was also stunning to see.

DETROW: With two dots in their diagram of the Capitol showing where Pence was and where the rioters and attackers were and just how close they were.

KEITH: At one point, they said 58 feet. The insurrectionists got within 58 feet of the Senate chamber while the senators were there.

DETROW: And the manager who took the lead on a lot of this, this play-by-play and reconstruction of what was happening and where it was happening was Stacey Plaskett. She is the delegate to the House from the Virgin Islands. And I think she was probably, to me, the stand-out manager today of just really keeping everybody's attention and telling a really compelling and upsetting story as part of this case.


STACEY PLASKETT: The vice president, the speaker of the House, the first and second in line to the presidency, were performing their constitutional duties, presiding over the election certification, and they were put in danger because President Trump put his own desires, his own need for power over his duty to the Constitution and our democratic process. President Trump put a target on their backs, and his mob broke into the Capitol to hunt them down.

DETROW: And, Claudia, another theme of the afternoon - and you can imagine it's kind of a prebuttal to what we imagine Trump's defense might be - was the managers pointing out how in the moment so many lawmakers, so many Republicans especially, were trying to get Trump to issue a statement asking people to back down.

GRISALES: Yeah. This was a pattern we heard about quite a bit today, and that was the pleas from members here to get him to do something. They were in the midst of this really horrific moment that went on for hours, and they looked to Trump. They had seen his role in the days building up to the insurrection, and they looked to him to see if he could do something, say something, help stop this moments, hours earlier. And they were let down. That's what the managers are highlighting today and we'll probably hear more of is Trump did not intervene until it was too late, and when he did, it was too little.

DETROW: So today is pretty long. Democrats are continuing their arguments tomorrow. Claudia, do we know what they'll be focusing on as they start to wind their side down?

GRISALES: Yes. Today was about the buildup to the insurrection. Tomorrow, they'll focus on the terrible toll, as they put it, that it took and the further support of Trump's role in assembling and inflaming the insurrection. So we could see a little bit more of that pattern building up to the insurrection tomorrow. But the focus, they said, will be on that toll. They have up to eight hours to go tomorrow but they don't think they'll go that long.

DETROW: All right. The trial reconvenes at noon tomorrow. We will be covering it live as it happens on your radio and on And of course, when the trial is done for the day, we'll be in your podcast feeds wrapping up what mattered from the presentations. I'm Scott Detrow. I cover the White House.

KEITH: I'm Tamara Keith. I also cover the White House.

GRISALES: And I'm Claudia Grisales. I cover Congress.

DETROW: Thank you for listening to the NPR POLITICS PODCAST.


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