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Feb. 11 updates for impeachment trial Day 3: House Democrats rest their case

The House impeached Trump last month for his role in the Jan. 6 Capitol riot.
Image: Illustration showing a collage of former President Donald Trump turning away from paper tears that read "impeachment" and "insurrection" and Rep. Jamie Raskin and the Capitol.
Watch live: full coverage of Trump's second impeachment trial on NBC News NOWChelsea Stahl / NBC News

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.

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Sen. Boozman to acquit Trump based on constitutionality argument

Sen. John Boozman, R-Ark., said Thursday that he has decided he will vote to acquit Trump because he believes the trial is unconstitutional, putting himself on record among Republican senators who are likely or certain to oppose conviction.

"This was unconstitutional. And so it makes it difficult to back up,” he told reporters during an afternoon break.

Boozman suggested other Republicans will do the same. Only six Republicans joined Democrats in voting on Tuesday to proceed to the impeachment trial, with most Republicans having gone on record that they believe proceeding to an impeachment trial of a former president is unconstitutional — a key argument of Trump's defense team.

“They'll have to work through their mind, but I think it's difficult to vote that it's unconstitutional and vote to convict,” Boozman said.

Trump lawyer skips part of trial for Fox interview

Trump lawyer David Schoen told reporters he left the trial to appear on Fox News because "it's more of the same thing. They're showing the same repetitive videos, points that don't exist."

In his Fox interview, Schoen outlined the defense's strategy, saying their arguments will be "as short as possible" and that they are looking forward to addressing "the attacks that have been made on him and Republicans."

Biden aides weigh whether he will address impeachment after trial concludes

Aides to President Joe Biden are considering whether he might publicly address the impeachment trial of his predecessor after it concludes, according to multiple administration sources, a departure from his ongoing strategy of largely ignoring the proceedings. 

The idea would be to deliver a unifying message to the nation in the wake of what is expected to be an acquittal of former President Donald Trump. No decisions have been made, and it’s possible Biden doesn’t speak about the impeachment until a town hall on Tuesday, when he might not be able to avoid the matter.  

On Thursday, Biden acknowledged that he had seen some of the videos that Democratic impeachment managers presented the day before. Aides to the president had previously refused to say whether he was watching the proceedings. “I think the Senate has a very important job to complete. My guess is some minds may have been changed, but I don’t know,” Biden said.

Biden has not been watching the trial live, according to a source familiar, but has relied upon staff to keep him updated. Biden spent the early part of the week preparing for his Wednesday call with China President Xi Jinping, and was involved with decisions about levying sanctions against Myanmar.  

Aides argue that Biden is sending a message of unity by focusing on bipartisan policy priorities. “Even as the impeachment trial is going on in the Senate, President Biden continues to bring together Republicans and Democrats,” one official said.

Trial takes a short break

After about two hours of arguments, the impeachment trial is taking a short recess.

Cicilline details how riot directly harmed lawmakers, threatened continuity of government

Rep. David Cicilline, D-R.I., spoke about how the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol directly harmed lawmakers and threatened the continuity of the U.S. government. 

The Democratic House manager said the assault was one of the "bloodiest intrusions on the Capitol since the British invaded [during] the war of 1812 and burned it to the ground." 

Cicilline argued that the attack posed "an immediate and serious threat" to the continuity of government as Vice President Mike Pence, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and then-President Pro Tempore Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, the next three in line after the president, were inside the Capitol. 

He played a video clip of rioters outside the Capitol chanting "Hang Mike Pence!" 

"The charging documents show that the rioters said they would have killed Vice President Pence and Speaker Pelosi had they found them," Cicilline said. "Simply put, this mob was trying to overthrow our government and they came perilously close to reaching the first three people in line to the presidency."

The congressman also played interviews that lawmakers did in the wake of Jan. 6, describing in detail what it was like inside the building that day. Rep. Jason Crow, D-Colo., for example, compared the events that day to his time in Afghanistan as an army ranger. 

Cicilline played a video clip of Rep. Dan Kildee, D-Mich., saying he was lying on the floor inside the House gallery when the rioters were inside and they had to remove their congressional pins to ensure that they could protect their identities in case they encountered the attackers. He said he and other lawmakers called their family members to say goodbye. 

"I called my wife, and you know, it wasn't until I heard her voice that I thought, wow, this is like one of those calls you hear about," Kildee said. 

5 people charged with associating with Proud Boys during Capitol siege

Federal prosecutors have charged five people with associating with members of the Proud Boys in key moments during the Capitol siege.

William Chrestman, Christopher Kuehne, and Louis Colon of Kansas City and Felicia and Cory Konold, siblings from Tucson, are accused of meeting up with others previously accused of being members of the Proud Boys and obstructing police, pushing past the outer police barricade outside and trying to restrict police efforts inside. 

Outside and inside the Capitol, the five “appeared to gesture and communicate to one another … in an apparent effort to coordinate.”

The documents do not directly accuse four of the defendants with being members of the Proud Boys. But the charges against Felicia Konold say she posted a video in which she said she was “recruited into a f-----g chapter from Kansas City” and showed a challenge type coin that “appears to have markings that designate it as belonging to the Kansas City Proud Boys.”

Prosecutors have said in earlier court documents that the Proud Boys played a leading role in the siege.

Rep. DeGette: 'Trump made it clear this was only the beginning'

Extremists were emboldened by last month's riot to plot more violence and former President Trump must be held accountable, Rep. DeGette said Thursday.

"President Trump made it clear this was only the beginning," she said.

DeGette focused on a Jan. 7 statement by Trump when the then-president seemed to stop short of completely disavowing violence a day earlier while telling supporters, "our incredible journey is only just beginning." 

"And he was right. Unless we take action, the violence is only just beginning," DeGette said. "Violence is never patriotic and it's never American. It's not the Democratic way and it's not the Republican way."

Shattered glass from doors of Capitol's East Front to be 'preserved'

Laura Condeluci, a spokeswoman for the Architect of the Capitol, said Thursday in response to a question from NBC News that the shattered windows in the East Front doors, which were repaired Thursday, would be saved.

“The broken panes of glass removed today from the historic Columbus Doors at the east entrance of the Rotunda were preserved," Condeluci said. "The broken panes were replaced with new glass.”

Asked what they will do with the glass, she said, “Moving forward, we are looking at options to display a collection from January 6.”

Rep. Dean Phillips, D-Mo., told NBC News that he and Rep. Andy Kim, D-N.J., are drafting a letter today to “encourage that it be enshrined in a display next to the door from which it came.” 

Phillips said he has notified House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of his letter, and she “seems very amenable.”

Lieu quotes Republicans, former WH officials who blamed Trump for riot

Lieu alluded to comments made by prominent Republicans and former Trump aides in which they accused the president of inciting the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol.  

Lieu quoted former White House chief of staff John Kelly who said, "What happened on Capitol Hill was a direct result of him poisoning the minds of people with the lies and the fraud" and former Defense Secretary James Mattis who said the Capitol attack was "fomented" by Trump. 

"This was echoed by former Trump official after former Trump official," said Lieu, who also mentioned that 16 Trump officials resigned in the wake of the riot. "They all took this dramatic action of resigning because they saw the clear link between President Trump's conduct and the violent insurrection."

The Democratic manager also played a brief montage of video clips showing several GOP governors such as Massachusetts' Charlie Baker, Ohio's Mike DeWine and Maryland's Larry Hogan blaming Trump for encouraging his supporters to engage in violence that day. 

He also quoted former Republican House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio who said that the invasion of the Capitol by the mob that day, who were "inspired by lies" made by people in power, "is a disgrace to all who sacrifice to build our republic." 

Lieu throws 'mulligan' shade at GOP Sen. Lee

You have to be well attuned to Capitol Hill to have caught it, but Rep. Ted Lieu just threw a tiny bit of shade at Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, when he mentioned some wishing Trump could take a "mulligan" on the attack.

Lee made a comment about all politicians wishing they could take a mulligan for past rhetoric during an interview with Fox News earlier this week.

Twitter took off and there was a pile-on on Lee for appearing to say Trump deserved a mulligan for the Jan. 6 attack. Lee defended himself in the tweet thread below.

Lee on Wednesday prompted a small retraction by House managers after he protested that Democrats had misrepresented a call Trump made to him seeking to speak with Sen. Tommy Tuberville, R-Ala., during the Capitol riot.