In just a few days the unprecedented second impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump is set to begin. The first, which resulted in acquittal on all charges, took place a year ago. And because the Senate is split 50-50 and it would take 67 votes to convict him, there appears to be little chance of that. But even if he is acquitted, history will have a whole different take on his presidency and the Republican party.
Trump was first impeached in December 2019 on charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. The charges for his second impeachment trial are far more serious. “Donald John Trump engaged in high crimes and misdemeanors by inciting violence against the government of the United States,” were the words House impeachment manager Congressman Jamie Raskin read out to the Senate after they were delivered to the body that will determine his fate.
The charges result from Trump’s now familiar “Save America Rally” speech delivered to several thousand supporters on January 6th. They had come to the Capitol where they hoped to see Vice President Pence, who was presiding over the Electoral College vote in the House, change the outcome of the vote and award the presidency to Trump, a move that would have been both illegal and unconstitutional.
That day, Trump, for nearly an hour, worked the crowd---many of whom wore kevlar flak vests, helmets and carried hockey sticks, bats, and truncheons--- into a dark and dangerous place. He once again called his defeat a lie, that “we won it by a landslide.” He vilified the media as fake, enemy of the people and “the single biggest problem we have.” He also named ‘big tech,’ who he said, “rigged it (the election) like they have never rigged an election before.” And then, he lit the fuse.
With the crowd, which had traveled to Washington from across the country, now in both froth and frenzy, Trump delivered, “After this, we’re going to walk down and I’ll be there with you…we’re going to walk down to the Capitol.” But while he didn’t, the crowd did, straight to the Capitol. What followed was a clumsily coordinated, zombie-like attack on the heart of the U.S. government.
When the trial begins, two Colorado faces will feature prominently in the ex-President’s prosecution. Colorado Democrats Diana DeGette and Joe Neguse are two of the nine representatives who will prosecute the case against Trump.
“To me, the case is fairly straightforward,” Neguse told The Denver Post. Neguse, who was whisked away along with his House colleagues to a safe room by Capitol police the day of the insurrection, has watched video of Trump’s rally as well as the attack that left five people, including one Capitol cop, dead. He called it chaotic and tragic.
DeGette also played a prominent role in Trump’s first impeachment trial. DeGette spent nearly eleven hours sitting in command of that proceeding. One of the Democrat’s managers for that trial was Colorado’s Congressman Jason Crow who represents the state’s Sixth Congressional District.
Colorado’s House delegation voted along party lines for the impeachment to go forward. Voting against and with the majority of his colleagues was Weld County Republican Ken Buck who called the move “rushed.” Buck, a former District Attorney, said impeaching Trump only heightens partisan emotions that are already running high. The vote in the House to move ahead with the impeachment was 232-197. But unlike Trump’s initial impeachment, this time ten Republicans joined with Democrats to move ahead. But that road has already been shown to be bumpy.
Senate Republicans voted last week against the latest Trump Senate trial, calling it unconstitutional. They say you cannot prosecute a president, including one who has been impeached, who is no longer in office. The vote, 55-45 mostly along party lines, did include five Republicans voting with the majority.
Former Presidential candidate Mitt Romney bucked his party and joined with the Democrats, saying the trial was necessary in order to hold Trump accountable for the hours-long violence that rocked the nation. Four Republican colleagues, Susan Collins, Lisa Murkowski, Ben Sasse and Pat Toomey voted with him.
Trump, while not physically attending his trial, will be represented by attorneys who will argue the unconstitutionality of the proceeding. They will suggest that while his words may have been fiery and emotional, they did not rise to the level of inciting the violence that took place. His attorneys have only been on the job for days. The team originally hired to defend him, resigned abruptly when they learned that Trump wanted them to base their case on his long-held argument that the election was stolen.
Democrats plan to highlight moments in Trump’s hour-long speech to illustrate the fine points and precision he put on his words to the crowd. “We fight like hell”…”If you don’t fight like hell, you’re not going to have a country anymore”…”We will not let them silence your voices.” Impeachment managers also plan to show the violence of the insurrectionists once inside the Capitol, how they rifled through the desks of House members, lit victory cigars, searched for various House members, including Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and audibly and threateningly called out for Vice President Mike Pence.
They will also use the words of many who have already been arrested for their parts in storming the Capitol. The words of, perhaps, the most identifiable insurrectionist that day, the Arizona man dressed in a coyote-furred, horned headdress, will also be part of the prosecution. Federal agents say they have proof that ‘the insurrectionist Shaman,’ was at the Capitol “to capture and assassinate elected officials of the United States government.”
The second impeachment trial of ex-President Donald J. Trump begins on February 9, 2021.