House Democrats rested their case on Thursday in the impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump after arguing that the rioters who stormed the Capitol were doing so at his direction.
In their second full day of arguments, Democratic House impeachment managers made the case that Trump's lack of remorse for the violence necessitates his conviction.
The House managers sought in their first day of arguments on Wednesday to present Trump as methodically pushing the "big lie" of election fraud months before his loss, when he saw himself consistently trailing Joe Biden in the polls. That set the stage for him to incite the riot at the Capitol on Jan. 6 by supporters who Democrats said had been primed by Trump's relentless falsehoods to believe they were acting on his orders to "fight like hell" to prevent the election from being stolen.
The Democratic managers played a series of audio and video, including police communications and security footage that had not been released publicly, detailed a nearly minute-by-minute account of what happened once the Capitol was breached.
Read the latest updates below:
Trump legal team plans to wrap arguments Friday
Former President Trump’s legal team plans to only use one day for arguments and wrap their presentation by Friday evening, Trump adviser Jason Miller tells NBC News.
As previously reported, the defense team was not expected to use its full 16 hours, according to two sources familiar with the legal strategy. This reflected the outward optimism from the Trump lawyers heading into the trial.
Miller also suggested the defense arguments will likely not stretch late into Friday evening, either.
More on that Texas Trump supporter charged in the riots
Rep. Degette played a clip from an NBC News interview with Jenna Ryan, a Trump supporter from Texas who has been charged in the Capitol riot.
"I thought I was following my President, I thought I was doing what he asked us to do," she said.
Here's more on that interview:
Rep. DeGette lays out evidence that the rioters were following Trump's orders
Rep. Diana DeGette, D-Colo., began the House managers' opening arguments Thursday by laying out evidence that the rioters believed they were following Trump's orders.
"Their own statements before, during, and after the attack made clear the attack was done for Donald Trump at his instructions and to fulfill his wishes," DeGette said.
DeGette said the rioters themselves said they came to Washington, D.C., and to the Capitol "because the president instructed them to do so." The congresswoman then played video clips that showed pro-Trump supporters chanting "fight for Trump" and "stop the steal" on Jan. 6 as they breached the Capitol.
The Democratic manager quoted one rioter who said on a livestream he taped from inside the Capitol, "Our president wants us here. We wait, and take orders from our president."
She also showed a video clip in which a rioter said, "He'll be happy. We're fighting for Trump."
“We were invited here!” another rioter yelled in a separate video. “We were invited by the president of the United States!”
"Even after the attack the insurrectionists made clear to law enforcement that they were just following President Trump's orders," she said. "They didn't shy away from their crimes because they thought they were following orders from the commander in chief and so they would not be punished. They were wrong."
Day three of impeachment trial begins
The third day of the impeachment trial gaveled into session at 12 p.m. ET Thursday for the managers' second and final day of arguments.
The schedule will be similar to yesterday's with breaks every 2-3 hours, Schumer said.
House managers have used just over half of their allotted 16 hours.
Thursday's session opened with lead manager Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md., resuming arguments before handing it over to Rep. Diana DeGette, D-Colo., for her first remarks of the trial.
Trial outcome will not change Trump's ban from Twitter
Twitter says it will continue its ban on Trump regardless of whether he runs for office in 2024.
House managers have been using particularly incendiary tweets from Trump as far back as July to make their case of how he incited the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol.
If convicted at the trial, Trump would become ineligible to run for public office again. Twitter said Wednesday that the outcome of the impeachment trial does not change its decision to permanently remove Trump from the platform.
Pelosi seeking to honor police who defended Capitol
Police officers who died defending the U.S. Capitol last month are "martyrs for our democracy" and should be bestowed Congress' highest honor, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said Thursday.
"They are martyrs for our democracy, martyrs for our democracy - those who lost their lives," Pelosi told reporters. "That is why I am putting forth a resolution, introducing legislation to pay tribute to the Capitol Police and other law enforcement personnel who protected the Capitol by giving them a Congressional Gold Medal, the highest honor that Congress can bestow."
Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick was killed during the Jan. 6 attack by pro-Trump mobs, seeking to prevent Congress from certifying President Joe Biden's victory. Two other police officers who responded to the riot have died by suicide since Jan. 6.
Separately, a group of House members also introduced legislation last month to award the honor to Eugene Goodman, the Capitol police officer who deterred a mob away from the Senate chamber during the deadly riot.
Biden: 'Some minds may have been changed' by new video footage
President Joe Biden told reporters in the Oval Office Thursday morning that he did not watch yesterday's impeachment trial live, but caught some of the coverage on the morning news.
"I think the Senate has a very important job to complete. And I think, my guess is some minds may have been changed, but I don’t know," he said when asked about the new video footage presented by the House impeachment managers.
Still, Biden, who has been careful not to get involved in the trial as he pushes to get a massive Covid-19 relief package passed in Congress, said he was remaining "focused on my job."
Graham blames Capitol Police for not using lethal force on more rioters
Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., a close ally of Trump, told reporters that he believes "there's more votes for acquittal after today than there was yesterday" after the House manager's gripping presentation on Wednesday.
"Because hypocrisy is pretty large for these people, standing up to, you know, rioters when they came to my house, Susan Collins' house, I think this is a very hypocritical presentation by the House," Graham said.
He also blamed Capitol Police officers for not having used lethal force against more rioters.
"I got mad. I mean, these police officers had every right to use deadly force. They should have used it," he said. "The people in charge of securing the Capitol let the country down."
Graham's comments mark a shift in tone from his remarks on the Senate floor on the night of the riot, before senators voted to certify the electoral college results. Before the vote, he strongly condemned efforts to object to congressional recognition of the election.
"All I can say is count me out. Enough is enough," Graham said in a fast-talking, sometimes free-wheeling five-minute address to the Senate. He argued that both the courts and others had no proof of voter fraud and that even though he had been a stalwart supporter of Trump in recent years, it was time to move on.
ANALYSIS: Trump conviction rests on Republicans' instinct for self-preservation
If Republican senators will not put the republic over their party, House impeachment trial managers suggested Wednesday, they should convict former President Donald Trump because of the personal threats he posed to their safety.
And by implication, their suggestion went further. Unless the Senate finishes off Trump with a conviction, their argument went, Trump will remain a threat to his party and the senators' political futures. Trump incited that riot, where some invaders aimed to kill the first- and second-in-line to the presidency, Vice President Mike Pence and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., according to the House prosecutors. The managers brought receipts — in the form of video and audio clips — to bolster their case.
It was a fragile shield of outnumbered cops and fortune that protected elected officials' lives and the Constitution during the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol, according to video and audio recordings played publicly for the first time during the Senate trial Wednesday.
But House Democratic prosecutors did not limit their arguments to the risk to the republic, no doubt because that line of argument has not proved persuasive with Republican senators so far. Their daylong presentation of the case against Trump tilted heavily toward reminding Republican senators that Trump targeted them for years — showing the actual tweets that did so — and making it clear if he is not convicted and disqualified from holding future federal office, he will continue to dominate them politically and potentially with violence.