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'Damage' control: Key takeaways from Day Three of Trump's second impeachment trial

Democrats focused on the risk if Trump is not held accountable, and Republicans grappled for a response.
Image: Lead House impeachment manager Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.) walks back to the Senate floor after a break in the first day of the second impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump at the Capitol in Washington on Tuesday, Feb. 9, 2021. (Erin Sch
The lead House impeachment manager, Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md., walks back to the Senate floor after a break in the first day of the second impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump at the Capitol on Tuesday.Erin Schaff / The New York Times via Redux Pictures

House managers wrapped up their case against former President Donald Trump on Thursday by focusing on the damage his supporters caused at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 and the harm that could come if he isn't held accountable, while many Republican senators — and even one of Trump's attorneys — seemed to tune the proceedings out.

Impeachment managers rested their case on the third day of Trump's trial. Trump's attorneys will offer his defense Friday.

Here are key takeaways from Day Three:

Damage done

The impeachment managers, who had spent much of Wednesday detailing the riot at the Capitol during the electoral vote count in emotional videos and accounts, dedicated Thursday to the different kinds of "harm" the attack caused — physical, emotional and reputational.

Over 140 Capitol and Metropolitan police officers were injured in the riot, and there were other scars, as well, Rep. David Cicilline, D-R.I., told the Senate.

"The mental toll has been significant. Several Capitol Police officers have reportedly threatened self-harm in the days following the riot, and in one case an officer voluntarily turned in her gun because she was afraid of what might happen," Cicilline said.

"There were lots of other people in the Capitol working on January 6th, as well, from personal aides to floor employees, cleaning staff, food service workers. You can't forget all the people that were in harm's way that day. These employees experienced trauma. Some cowered, hiding in places just feet away from where this rabid crowd had assembled," Cicilline said. "They deserved better."

Another manager, Rep. Diana DeGette, D-Colo., cited the literal cost of the fallout of the attack — the large National Guard force that was deployed to secure the Capitol after the riot and ahead of Joe Biden's inauguration cost more than $480 million.

Rep. Joaquin Castro, D-Texas, told senators that the attack imperiled national security and diminished the country's standing in the world.

"These insurrectionists incited by President Trump threatened our national security, stealing laptops, again, from Speaker Pelosi's office; taking documents from Leader McConnell's desk; snapping photographs, as you saw in the videos earlier, in sensitive areas; ransacking your offices; rifling through your desks," Castro said.

He said the country's adversaries reveled in the chaos.

"Russia has also seized on this violent attack against our government, decrying that democracy is, quote, 'over,'" Castro said. "In Iran, the supreme leader is using President Trump's incitement of insurrection to mock America.

"The world is watching and wondering whether we are who we say we are."

Future threat

The managers stressed that they weren't trying to punish Trump, but they argued that he must be convicted and disqualified from holding future federal office to ensure that what happened on Jan. 6 doesn't happen again.

The outcome of the trial will come down to Republicans, and the impeachment managers have tried to tug at their concerns about the future of not just the GOP but also their own political careers.

Rep. Ted Lieu, D-Calif., noted that six days after the riot, Trump told reporters that his speech on the morning of Jan. 6 had been "appropriate."

"President Trump was not showing remorse. He was showing defiance. He was telling us that he would do this again," Lieu said. He added: "I'm not afraid of Donald Trump running again in four years. I'm afraid he's going to run again and lose because he can do this again."

The Democratic managers tried to get senators to think about their own futures.

"Is there any political leader in this room who believes that if he is ever allowed by the Senate to get back into the Oval Office, Donald Trump would stop inciting violence to get his way?" lead manager Jamie Raskin, D-Md., asked. "Would you bet the lives of more police officers on that? Would you bet the safety of your family on that? Would you bet the future of your democracy on that?"

Republican search for response

Many Republicans appear to have made up their minds that they won't vote to convict Trump, but they have struggled to find a consistent way to respond to the Democrats' emotional case.

Many Republican senators weren't at their desks for parts of the day's presentation, and a pool reporter spotted Sen. Rick Scott, R-Fla., at his desk appearing to write in the names of countries on a blank map of Asia.

Sen. James Lankford, R-Okla., said the Democrats' presentation Thursday wasn't compelling. "Today was not connecting the dots," he said.

Sen. Roger Marshall, R-Kan., said, "Very political today."

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Trump attorney David Schoen stepped out for a time to do an interview with Fox News. He said he felt confident that he wasn't missing anything.

"It's more of the same thing. They're showing the same repetitive videos," Schoen said.

Schoen called the managers' use of videos of the attack "offensive," a charge Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., had made on Twitter on Wednesday night.

"I think they're making a movie, you know. They haven't in any way tied it to Donald Trump. I think it’s offensive, quite frankly. It's an antithesis [of] the healing process to continue to show the tragedy that happened here that Donald Trump has condemned, and I think it tears at the American people, quite frankly," Schoen said.

Graham and Sens. Mike Lee, R-Utah, and Ted Cruz, R-Texas, were seen going into a meeting with Trump's lawyers after the trial wrapped for the day. "We were discussing their strategy for tomorrow and we were sharing our thoughts in terms of where the argument was and where it should go," Cruz, who's said he'll vote to acquit the former president, told reporters afterwards.

Schoen said they discussed "procedure."

Democrats' offense on defense

House managers used part of their time to proactively challenge Trump's defense — that his rally speech was protected by the First Amendment and that he was denied due process in the House impeachment process.

The managers told the Senate that Trump has no First Amendment right to incite violence, and they noted that the House has complete power to hold impeachment proceedings however it wants.

"There are hundreds of millions of citizens who can be president. Donald Trump has disqualified himself, and you must disqualify him, too," Raskin said.