Democratic impeachment prosecutors use rioters' words against Trump at trial: 'We were invited here'

Impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump continues

House impeachment managers Thursday sought to directly connect former President Trump to the Jan. 6 violence at the Capitol by playing statements of the rioters who said they were acting on Trump’s request.

Democratic prosecutors kicked off the third day of Trump’s impeachment trial by focusing on rioters who said they were just carrying out the orders of their commander-in-chief.

In one chilling video from the Jan. 6 siege, the mob is confronting police outside the Capitol. 

“We were invited here,” a rioter yells to the police trying to hold the line. “We were invited by the president of the United States.”


In another video, rioters are inside the Capitol and discuss calling Trump personally to let him know what they’ve done. “He’ll be happy,” one Trump supporter says. “We’re fighting for Trump!”

Impeachment managers also drew upon statements rioters made to law enforcement, lawyers and local media that made clear they came to Washington and forced their way into the Capitol because Trump wanted them to. 

“He asked us to be there,” said a Texas woman, Jenna Ryan, in one clip played at the trial. “So I was doing what he asked us to do.”

Trump attorney David Schoen criticized Democrats for using videos and statements of rioters who cited Trump as the reason for attacking the Capitol.

“They haven’t in any way tied it to Donald Trump,” Schoen told Capitol Hill pool reporters Thursday. “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.”

Impeachment manager, Rep. Diana DeGette, D-Colo., said it’s clear the violence, destruction, and death at the Capitol could not have happened without Trump. 

“Donald Trump had sent them there,” DeGette said. “They truly believed that the whole intrusion was at the president’s orders and we know that because they said so.


“Many of them actually posed for pictures bragging about it on social media, and they tagged Mr. Trump in tweets. Folks, this was not a hidden crime. The president told them to be there. And so they actually believed they would face no punishment.”

DeGette said some of those charged in the attack said they felt “duped” when Trump didn’t save them from prosecution. 

House impeachment managers are expected to finish their two days of arguments Thursday evening. Then Trump’s legal team will have Friday and Saturday to make their case that Trump is not guilty of inciting insurrection on Jan. 6. 

Thursday’s arguments also focused on Trump’s history of inciting his supporters to violence and failure to fully condemn criminal acts when they occur — from encouraging supporters to rough up protesters at his rallies to responding to a violent white supremacist rally in Charlottesville by noting there were “very fine people” on both sides. 

Trump indicated in those remarks that he was not referring to white nationalists, whom he said should be condemned.

Lead impeachment manager Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md., paid special attention to Michigan, where armed protesters stormed the state Capitol in Lansing on April 30 to protest Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s coronavirus lockdowns after Trump tweeted on April 17 “Liberate Michigan.”

Raskin also linked Trump’s repeated attacks on Whitmer to the foiled plot by Michigan militia members to kidnap the governor. 

“The siege of the Michigan statehouse was effectively a state-level dress rehearsal for the siege of the U.S. Capitol that Trump incited on Jan. 6th,” Raskin said. 

In this image from video, House impeachment manager Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md., speaks during the second impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump in the Senate at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Thursday, Feb. 11, 2021. (Senate Television via AP)

Impeachment managers also said a conviction is warranted because Trump showed “no remorse” for the attack and never once apologized for the “big lie” that the election was stolen from him. 

After the attack, GOP politicians widely condemned the violence. Prosecutors pointed out that former Trump administration officials, like ex-chief of staff John Kelly, directly spoke out against Trump for fomenting the violence, and that 16 people from the Trump administration resigned in protest, including Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao. 

But Trump defended his Jan. 6 speech before his supporters stormed the Capitol as “totally appropriate.” 


Rep. Ted Lieu, D-Calif., said Trump would pose a danger to the United States should he be allowed to run for federal office again. 

“You know, I’m not afraid of Donald Trump running again in four years,” Lieu said. “I’m afraid he’s going to run again and lose because he can do this again.”

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