Pro-Trump supporters who stormed the US Capitol expected the police to be on their side given they thought they had been following Donald Trump’s instructions, Democrats claim.
During the third day of the former president’s Senate impeachment trial, Democrat Diana DeGette said many rioters did not understand why they were facing resistance from police when they were doing what they believed Mr Trump told them to do.
“Their own statements before, during and after the attack make clear the attack was done for Donald Trump at his instructions and to fulfil his wishes. Donald Trump had sent them there,” she said.
In an attempt to persuade senators of the former [resident’s role in inflaming the rampage, she played a video of Jacob Chansley, known as the “QAnon Shaman”, who was pictured wearing a bearskin headdress with horns inside the Capitol.
He said in the video that he had taken cues from the commander-in-chief and went home only after Mr Trump instructed the mob to do so.
“They truly believed that the whole intrusion was at the president’s orders,” Ms DeGette said.
“The president told them to be there.”
She told of how insurrectionists shouted phrases such as “Fight for Trump!” and “Stop the steal!”, which referred to Mr Trump’s baseless claims of election fraud.
“They came because he told them to,” Ms DeGette said.
Impeachment managers showed footage of the president allegedly encouraging his supporters to be violent from as far back as 2015.
In one video from a rally that year, Mr Trump can be heard calling for a protester who disrupted his speech to be “roughed up”.
In another video following the deadly Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville in 2017, Mr Trump blamed “both sides” – white nationalists and the counter-protesters – for the violence that resulted in one person being killed and 19 others being hurt.
The managers then referred to Mr Trump praising a Republican congressman for body-slamming a reporter in 2018.
Lead impeachment manager Jamie Raskin said the hundreds of protesters who jammed into the Michigan Capitol on April 30, 2020, were a “preview of the coming insurrection” on January 6, 2021.
“This Trump-inspired mob may indeed look familiar to you: Confederate battle flags, MAGA hats, weapons, camo army gear, just like the insurrectionists who showed up and invaded this chamber,” Mr Raskin said.
Impeachment manager Ted Lieu said the fact Mr Trump “expressed no regrets” for the Capitol siege “will undoubtedly cause future harm if allowed”.
His lack of remorse “sends exactly the wrong signal to those of us who support the very core of our democratic principles and took a solemn oath to the constitution. It is time to say enough is enough,” Mr Lieu said.
He described how Mr Trump encouraged violence in the months prior to the attack.
“Spread lies to incite a violent attack on the Capitol, on our law enforcement and on all of us and then he lied again to his base to tell them that this was all okay, that this was all acceptable.
“That is why president Trump is so dangerous. Because he would have all of us, all Americans believe that any president who comes after him can do exactly the same thing.
“That’s why lack of remorse is an important factor in impeachment.
“Because impeachment, conviction, and disqualification is not just about the past, it’s about the future, it’s making sure that no future official, no future president, does the same exact thing president Trump does.”
At the White House, President Joe Biden said he believed “some minds may be changed” after senators saw chilling security video on Wednesday of the deadly insurrection at the Capitol, including of rioters searching menacingly for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Vice President Mike Pence.
Mr Biden said he didn’t watch any of the previous day’s proceedings live but later saw news coverage.
Democrats are using their remaining hours of arguments to lay out the physical and mental harm caused by the attack, discuss Mr Trump’s lack of action as it unfolded and do a final presentation on the legal issues involved.