House impeachment manager Rep. Ted Lieu, D-Calif., directly rebutted one of the Trump defense team’s key claims during his arguments on Day 3 of the Senate impeachment trial: that the trial is politically motivated by Democrats who are concerned about running against Trump in 2024.
On Tuesday, Trump lawyer Bruce Castor made the argument: “We are really here because the majority of the House of Representatives does not want to face Donald Trump as a political rival in the future.”
But Lieu pushed back on Thursday: “You know, 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 [insurrectionary incitement] again.”
He said Trump spent months “inflaming his supporters” and spreading the lie that the Nov. 3 election was stolen from them.
“No one is saying here that President Trump cannot contest the election. Of course he can,” Lieu said. “But what President Trump did, as his former chief of staff explained, was different. It was dishonorable, it was un-American and it resulted in fatalities.”
(Lieu was referencing a CNN interview with Trump’s former chief of staff John Kelly who said: “What happened on Capitol Hill yesterday is a direct result of his poisoning the minds of people with the lies and the frauds.”)
Lieu claimed that in the aftermath of the attack on the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, Trump showed no remorse, which Lieu called an “important factor” in impeachment.
“Because impeachment, conviction and disqualification [from office] is not just about the past. It’s about the future,” he said. “It’s making sure that no future official, no future president does the same exact thing President Trump does.”
Some Senate Republicans have argued it’s time to move on now that Trump is no longer president and impeachment serves no purpose. But House managers are making the case that impeachment is not only about holding Trump accountable but also preventing future attacks on democracy.
Lieu noted that more than a dozen White House officials resigned following the events of Jan. 6, citing distress over the attack. He presented comments from various Republicans condemning Trump for provoking the attack on the Capitol, statements that undercut the defense team’s claim that the trial is a partisan exercise.
He entreated the Senate to “make absolutely clear how we as a Congress, and as a nation, feel about what Donald Trump did by convicting him,” he said, “and to deter future presidents who do not like the outcome of a national election from believing they can follow in President Trump’s footsteps.”