Senators on both sides of the aisle were visibly affected by graphic and explicit new footage showing first-person perspective of the deadly Jan. 6 Capitol riot, as House impeachment managers continue to make their case for convicting former President Donald Trump for inciting a mob.
“It was really horrifying what happened. You know, I think the House team really put forth a very strong connecting of the dots. I don’t see how you can watch any of this and listen to their presentation and not conclude that Trump bears tremendous responsibility for what happened,” Sen. Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii, told reporters.
“You cannot help but be terribly affected by what happened here,” she said.
Democrats spent Wednesday’s arguments unveiling new footage from the deadly riots, including police body camera footage, to highlight the extent to which insurrectionists damaged the Capitol and threatened the lives of law enforcement officers and members of Congress.
Those in favor of impeachment say that in the weeks leading up to and immediately preceding the riot, Trump riled up his supporters and incited them to storm the Capitol.
“I think [the House impeachment managers] were very effective. And I’ll see what kind of arguments the defense put out. But, yeah, I’m going to listen and draw conclusions when it’s all done,” Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., told Capitol Hill reporters.
“I think they’ve done a good job connecting the dots. The president’s Twitter feed is a matter of public record, and they’ve done, like I said, an effective job of going back several months and just showing that public record.”
Not all members of the chamber believed the graphic footage implicates Trump, however.
“The footage is horrific. We all witnessed a terrorist attack on the U.S. Capitol. That was horrendous. It was violent. It was criminal. And everyone involved in that terrorist attack should be fully prosecuted and should go to jail for a very long time,” Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, told Capitol reporters.
Still, he described evidence linking those actions to Trump’s rhetoric as “strikingly absent.”
“They spent a great deal of time focusing on the horrific acts of violence that were played out by the criminals, but the language from the president doesn’t come close to meeting the legal standard for incitement. And they started the day by playing video of the president saying things like fight and win and take back our country. If that language is going to be deemed incitement, there’s not a political candidate in the country who hasn’t used the very same language, including, I would wager, every single one of the Democratic senators in that chamber.”