A pro-Trump rioter who stormed the Capitol building wanted to assassinate House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a House impeachment manager has revealed.
During day two of former president Donald Trump’s impeachment trial, Democratic Joe Neguse pointed out a comment made by an alleged Capitol rioter, Dawn Bancroft, who lamented the fact that she wasn’t able to assassinate Ms Pelosi.
After breaking into the Capitol building, the woman took a “selfie” video in which she said, “we were looking for Nancy to shoot her in the friggin’ brain, but we didn’t find her”, according to an affidavit.
Adding to their case, House Democrats will show never-before-seen footage from inside the US Capitol to expose the pro-Trump rioters’ “extreme violence” from a new angle.
Aides to the House impeachment team say the footage has been drawn from Capitol security cameras and other sources and will complement the overwhelming display of evidence from that fateful day on January 6.
Impeachment managers hope the use of video footage will force senators to re-live the horrors of the Capitol riot that stunned the world.
The new footage will make the point that the violence could have been even worse had it not been for “the brave action of the officers” who secured the Capitol building despite being outnumbered by rioters.
A senior aide to the House impeachment team was quoted as saying “the easiest trials to try are the trials where you have the goods”.
“We have the goods,” they said.
Mr Neguse argued Mr Trump’s fiery speech on January 6 exhorting thousands of supporters to march on the Capitol was not all that provoked the siege.
Rather the riot was the culmination of months of Mr Trump’s conduct, he said.
Mr Neguse presented video footage of the former president on the campaign trail and after the election telling his followers to “fight like hell” and “never surrender”.
“As the president made these statements, people listened. Armed supporters surrounded election officials’ homes. The secretary of state for Georgia got death threats. Officials warned the president that his rhetoric was dangerous and it was going to result in deadly violence,” Mr Neguse said.
During Mr Trump’s “Stop the Steal” rally in December, “he didn’t just tell them to ‘fight like hell.’ He told them how, where and when”, Mr Neguse said.
He made sure they had advanced notice — 18 days advance notice. He sent his save the date for January 6.”
Mr Trump’s lawyers argued that the former president’s rhetoric, including repeated false claims that the election was stolen, is protected by the First Amendment’s guarantee of free speech.
They say the individuals who breached the Capitol, not Mr Trump, were responsible for their own criminal behaviour.
Lead House impeachment manager Jamie Raskin said Mr Trump became the “inciter in chief”.
He quoted former Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes who famously said, “you can’t shout fire in a crowded theatre”.
“This case is much worse than someone who falsely shouts out fire in a crowded theatre,” Mr Raskin said.
“It’s more like a case where the town fire chief – who’s paid to put out fires – sends a mob not to yell fire in a crowded theatre, but to actually set the theatre on fire”, he continued.
“Who then when the fire alarms go off and the calls start flooding into the fire department asking for help, does nothing but sit back, encourage the mob to continue its rampage and watch the fire spread on TV with glee and delight.”