GOP senators call case against Trump ‘compelling’ after seeing new video of Capitol riot during impeachment trial

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In the dramatic second day of former President Donald Trump's Senate trial, Democratic impeachment managers presented chilling, never-before-seen video of the deadly U.S. Capitol attack.

In the footage, a pro-Trump rioter can be heard demanding to know where lawmakers are counting the Electoral College votes as Capitol Police officer Eugene Goodman tries to hold the mob at bay.

Security footage showed Sens. Mitt Romney and Chuck Schumer narrowly escaping the violent mob as they flee for safety.

The prosecution presented the footage after arguing earlier in the day that Trump had laid the groundwork for violence months earlier by falsely claiming the election was stolen through fraud.

Trump's words in his speech at the Jan. 6 rally were carefully chosen to incite his supporters, the impeachment managers argued. His team knew about plans to attack the Capitol circulating online, they alleged.

The Democrats still have a steep hill to climb to convict Trump, despite widely panned presentations Tuesday by his lawyers, Bruce Castor and David Schoen. Only six Republicans sided with all 50 Democratic senators to vote in favor of commencing with the trial. A two-thirds vote is needed for conviction.

However, Republican Sens. John Thune and Susan Collins both called the case presented Wednesday "compelling."

It's the second day of Donald Trump's second impeachment trial — Here's what happened
It's the second day of Donald Trump's second impeachment trial — Here's what happened

Trial day ends with confusion, bickering over prosecutors' arguments and Senate rules

U.S. Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah speaks during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on the FBI investigation into links between Donald Trump associates and Russian officials during the 2016 U.S. presidential election, on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., November 10, 2020.
Susan Walsh | Reuters

Just before the House managers wrapped up their first full day of arguments, the impeachment trial temporarily ground to a halt amid a dispute over proper parliamentary procedure.

After House manager Joaquin Castro, D-Texas, finished his remarks, Republican Sen. Mike Lee of Utah stood up and asked presiding Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., to strike from the record part of the prosecution's argument.

"Statements were attributed to me moments ago by the House impeachment managers, statements relating to the content of conversations between a phone call involving President Trump and [Alabama Sen. Tommy] Tuberville," Lee said.

Those statements "were not made by me, they're not accurate, and they're contrary to fact and I move ... that they be stricken from the record," Lee said.

Lee's objection immediately sparked confusion and bickering on the dais, with various senators talking over one another and multiple members gathering around the desk of Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y.

A few minutes later, Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md., the lead impeachment manager, defended the remarks in question, saying his colleague had "correctly and accurately" quoted a news report.

But Raskin said "we're going to withdraw it this evening ... and then we can debate it" if needed.

"This is much ado about nothing, because it's not critical in any way to our case," Raskin added.

After that, the trial adjourned until noon Thursday, with Schumer saying that the issue may be relitigated then "if we have to." — Kevin Breuninger

'Trump left everyone in this Capitol for dead,' Castro says in final arguments of Day 2

In this screenshot taken from a webcast, Impeachment Manager Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-TX) speaks on the second day of former President Donald Trump's second impeachment trial at the U.S. Capitol on February 10, 2021 in Washington, DC. | Getty Images

WASHINGTON – Congressman Joaquin Castro of Texas slammed former President Donald Trump's refusal to send help to the Capitol as police officers struggled with violent rioters.

"Senators, you've seen all the evidence so far, and this is clear, on January 6, President Trump left everyone in this Capitol for dead," Castro said.

Castro presented several of Trump's tweets in chronological order alongside footage of the Capitol attack in real-time.

"When the violence started, he never once said the one thing that everyone around him was begging him to say, stop the attack. He refused to stop it," Castro said.

"Please support our Capitol Police and Law Enforcement. They are truly on the side of our Country. Stay peaceful," the tweet sent by Trump at 2:38 pm on Jan. 6 read.

"Stay peaceful?" questioned Castro. "This was a violent armed attack. stay peaceful? How about stop the attack, stop the violence," Castro said.

"How about he actually support our law enforcement by telling these insurgents to leave the Capitol immediately? Which he never did," the representative said.

"He didn't because the truth is, he didn't want it to stop. He wanted them to stay and to stop the certification," Castro added.

– Amanda Macias

'Compelling' and 'very effective': Senators react to dramatic new footage

U.S. Senator John Thune (R-SD) speaks after a Senate republican luncheon on Capitol Hill in Washington, November 10, 2020.
Erin Scott | Reuters

WASHINGTON — Senators reacted to dramatic new video footage presented by House impeachment managers as evidence in their case to convict former President Donald Trump.

Republican Sen. John Thune of South Dakota said the evidence presented thus far was "very effective" and "compelling."

"I've said all along I was going to listen to the arguments and look at the evidence, and I'm doing that," Thune told reporters. "I think they were very effective, and I'll see what kind of arguments the defense puts up. But, yeah, I'm gonna listen and draw conclusions when it's all done," Thune said.

Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, described the security footage as "disturbing" and "pretty damning."

"I'm angry. I'm disturbed. I'm sad," she told reporters, adding that she could not envision Trump holding the presidency again. The senator also said that she will watch the case his lawyers present.

Sen. Angus King, I-Maine, told MSNBC that while hiding from rioters in the Capitol he had to remind himself not to sit near a window.

"How sad that an elected public representative has to think about not sitting near a window," King said. "That really brought it home to me what a heartbreaking and dangerous situation this was."

Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, told reporters that the presentation thus far was "riveting" and "compelling." — Amanda Macias

'Overwhelmingly distressing and emotional': Romney reacts to video footage of Capitol riot

Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, speaks during a news conference with a group of bipartisan lawmakers to unveil a COVID-19 emergency relief framework in the Dirksen Senate Office Building in Washington on Tuesday, Dec. 1, 2020.
Caroline Brehman | CQ-Roll Call, Inc. | Getty Images

WASHINGTON — Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, told reporters he did not realize that he was walking toward a mob of rioters and said he was "very fortunate" that Capitol Police Officer Eugene Goodman warned him and directed him to safety.

"I was very fortunate indeed that Officer Goodman was there to get me into the right direction," Romney said, adding that he is looking forward to thanking him.

When asked how he felt about the new video evidence presented in the impeachment trial, Romney said it was "overwhelmingly distressing and emotional."

"It was very troubling to see the great violence that our Capitol Police and others were subjected to. It tears your heart and brings tears to your eyes," the senator said. — Amanda Macias

Schumer: I hope GOP senators 'have an open mind' after hearing 'gut-wrenching' case

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y.
Brandon Bell | Reuters

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said he thought the House impeachment managers made a "gut-wrenching" and "overwhelmingly compelling" case for convicting former President Donald Trump.

"I hope that our Republican colleagues have an open mind," Schumer said.

Schumer's remarks to reporters came just after the Senate trial paused for a dinner break. Minutes earlier, House managers showed new footage of the Jan. 6 Capitol riot, including a clip of Schumer and his protective detail running away from the mob.

"As for me and my situation, I just want to give tremendous credit to the Capitol Police officers who were in my detail," Schumer said. "They are utterly amazing and great and we love them." — Kevin Breuninger

Footage shows Trump rioter Ashli Babbitt shot and killed after man warned of cop's gun

Ashli Babbitt, a supporter of former U.S. President Donald Trump, walks through the U.S. Capitol towards the House Chamber shortly before being shot and killed on January 6 in a still photo from U.S. Capitol Security footage that was introduced as evidence by House impeachment managers during the impeachment trial of former President Trump on charges of inciting the deadly attack on the U.S. Capitol, on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., February 10, 2021.
U.S. Senate | Reuters

New video shows that Capitol rioter Ashli Babbitt, who crawled through a smashed window leading to the House of Representatives, was shot and killed by a police officer seconds after a fellow mob member repeatedly warned that the cop had a gun.

Babbitt's death, and the circumstances around it, were shown on video footage as Rep. Eric Swalwell walked U.S. senators at former President Donald Trump's impeachment trial through that and other video that captured the violence committed by Trump's supporters on Jan. 6.

"He's got a gun!" one man yelled on video footage, which clearly showed a police officer's arm and hand holding a firearm pointed in the direction of a group of rioters. The group, including Babbitt, was gathered around the other side of the doorway leading into the Speaker's Lobby, close to the House chamber.

Babbitt, an Air Force veteran, California resident and believer in the bogus QAnon conspiracy theory, then began climbing through the window opening of the door.

A shot then rang out from the cop's gun, sending Babbitt backward into the mob, where she collapsed on the floor.

Her death is the only one that occurred as a result of a police officer shooting a member of the mob. Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick was fatally beaten by Babbitt's fellow Trump supporters that day, and three other members of the mob died from natural causes. — Dan Mangan

Body cam shows perspective of police officer beaten by mob

Body camera footage shows perspective of officer that was beaten by mob
Body camera footage shows perspective of officer that was beaten by mob

New security footage shows Senate Leader Schumer running to escape the Capitol rioters

Sen. Schumer just misses the mob
Sen. Schumer just misses the mob

New footage of the Capitol during the Jan. 6 riot shows Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., sprint down a hallway to escape the mob that had broken into the building.

Schumer and his protective detail came within "just yards" of the swarm of rioters, House impeachment manager Rep. Eric Swalwell said as the security footage played during former President Donald Trump's impeachment trial.

The video shows Schumer, accompanied by security, walking up a ramp and out of view, before quickly turning around and running back through the hallway.

Schumer's security detail slams shut a pair of doors at the mouth of the hallway, using their bodies to hold them closed. — Kevin Breuninger

Republican National Committee is fundraising off Trump impeachment trial

Supporters of U.S. President Donald Trump gather outside the Capitol as police clear the building with tear gas, in Washington, January 6, 2021.
Stephanie Keith | Reuters

The Republican National Committee is fundraising off former President Donald Trump's impeachment trial.

The RNC sent out a mass text message at around 3 p.m. on Wednesday with a link to a fundraising page. The text message read "1,709 DONORS SHORT! Pres. Trump & the GOP are counting on YOU to hit our $1M goal so that we can END this PARTISAN IMPEACHMENT!"

The fundraising plea came as Democratic lawmakers made their case for Trump to be convicted, accusing him of inciting a deadly riot on Capitol Hill on Jan. 6.

The fundraising webpage says "STAND WITH US" in all capital letters. It then goes on to say that the impeachment effort is unconstitutional and called on donors to "contribute ANY AMOUNT IMMEDIATELY to stand with your Party against this IMPEACHMENT against President Trump."

Donors can give up to $2,900 to the RNC. The committee did not respond to CNBC's request for comment.

Democrats on Wednesday presented new video that brought to light extra details on what took place at the Capitol last month.

Source: RNC
Source: RNC

— Brian Schwartz

'Where do they count the votes?' rioter demanded as mob confronted Capitol cop Goodman

Democrats enter emergency calls and new riot videos into trial record
Democrats enter emergency calls and new riot videos into trial record

Dramatic, newly disclosed footage from the Capitol riot shows a rioter angrily demanding, "Where do they count the votes?" as he and other pro-Trump rioters were confronted by heroic Capitol Police Officer Eugene Goodman.

"Where they counting?" a member of the mob shouted at Goodman as he tried to prevent them from heading up to a floor near where then-Vice President Mike Pence and his family were hiding from the invaders of the complex.

The video was shown during the Senate impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump, who is accused of inciting the riot, which disrupted the counting of Electoral College ballots that showed Joe Biden had won the presidential election. Pence had been overseeing the opening of each state's ballots.

In footage never before seen by the public, internal security cameras at the Capitol showed invaders, including members of the racist Proud Boys group, pouring through windows that had been smashed and through a doorway, carrying a Confederate battle flag, a Trump flag and a baseball bat.

A rioter is seen on footage shouting at Goodman that the mob did not have weapons, which was a lie, in an apparent effort to keep the officer from using deadly force to prevent the horde from getting up a staircase.

Trump hours later praised the rioters, who killed another Capitol Police officer, Brian Sicknick, when he tweeted that they should go home in peace.

"These are the things and events that happen when a sacred landslide election victory is so unceremoniously & viciously stripped away from great patriots who have been badly & unfairly treated for so long," tweeted Trump, who has falsely claimed he beat Biden in the election.

"We love you. You're very special," Trump said in a video statement directed at the rioters. — Dan Mangan

Capitol Police Officer Goodman steered Sen. Romney away from mob, new video of break-in shows

Officer Eugene Goodman warns Sen. Romney of approaching mob on January 6, 2021
Officer Eugene Goodman warns Sen. Romney of approaching mob on January 6, 2021

New video of the invasion of the Capitol shows police Officer Eugene Goodman rushing to steer Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, away from the mob that had just broken into the building.

Security footage inside the halls of the Capitol, presented during former President Donald Trump's impeachment trial, shows Goodman running toward the initial breach.

As he rushes past Romney, Goodman slows down and motions for the senator to turn around and get to safety away from the mob, the video shows.

On the floor below them, the mob "had already started to search for the Senate chamber," said House impeachment manager Stacey Plaskett as the security footage played.

Capitol Police Officer Eugene Goodman and officers watch newly released video footage of the January 6 Capitol attack, during the second day of Trump's second impeachment trial in Washington, U.S., February 10, 2021.
Brandon Bell | Reuters

Goodman had been celebrated as a hero after previously released footage showed him single-handedly drawing the rioters away from lawmakers.

Goodman was subsequently promoted to acting deputy House sergeant at arms. He escorted Vice President Kamala Harris at the inauguration of President Joe Biden. — Kevin Breuninger

Trump mentioned peaceful protest only once in 11,000-word speech, Rep. Dean says

House impeachment manager Rep. Madeleine Dean (D-PA) delivers part of the impeachment managers' opening argument in the impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump, on charges of inciting the deadly attack on the U.S. Capitol, on the floor of the Senate chamber on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., February 10, 2021.
U.S. Senate TV | Reuters

Rep. Madeleine Dean, D-Pa., sought to head off one potential line of defense in her remarks from the Senate floor, which zeroed in on the text of Trump's Jan. 6 speech.

Supporters of the president have pointed to his call to supporters at the rally to "peacefully and patriotically make your voices heard."

Dean acknowledged that Trump said that his supporters should be peaceful. But she said the single remark, taken from a 70-minute address, didn't negate the then-president's repeated pleas to his supporters to "fight" for him.

"In a speech spanning almost 11,000 words — yes, we did check — that was the one time, the only time, President Trump used the word 'peaceful' or any suggestion of nonviolence," Dean said.

To bolster her point, Dean also played video taken from the crowd at the rally, which showed that even as Trump delivered the line, those in attendance were encouraging each other to storm the Capitol building.

"He had assembled thousands of violent people, people he knew were capable of violence, people he had seen be violent," Dean said.

"They were standing now in front of him," she added. "And then he pointed to us, lit the fuse and sent an angry mob to fight the perceived enemy — his own vice president and members of Congress — as we certified an election." — Tucker Higgins

Trump's team knew about plans to storm the Capitol, Delegate Stacey Plaskett says

U.S. House impeachment manager and Delegate from the Virgin Islands Stacey Plaskett (D-VI) delivers part of the impeachment managers’ opening argument in the impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump, on charges of inciting the deadly attack on the U.S. Capitol, on the floor of the Senate chamber on Capitol Hill in Washington, February 10, 2021.
U.S. Senate TV via Reuters

House impeachment manager Stacey Plaskett argued that former President Donald Trump's team knew about plans to attack the Capitol that were circulating online.

Plaskett, a delegate who represents the U.S. Virgin Islands, said that Trump's supporters who discussed storming the Capitol saw themselves as Trump's "cavalry," so they openly "posted exact blueprints" of their plans.

"They did this all over public forums. These were not just hidden posts in dark websites that Trump would not have seen. Quite the opposite," she said.

"We know that President Trump's team monitored these websites. We know this because his advisors confirm it," Plaskett said. She cited a report from The Independent quoting an unnamed ex-White House staffer who said Trump's social media team monitored discussions on all corners of the internet.

Plaskett then pulled up numerous screenshots of social media posts from pro-Trump forums, including messages appearing to anticipate violence at the Capitol.

"Leading up to the event, there were hundreds — hundreds — of posts online showing that his supporters took this as a call to arms to attack the Capitol," Plaskett said. — Kevin Breuninger

Biden presses ahead with foreign policy as Washington consumed with Trump impeachment trial

President Joe Biden speaks about the situation in Myanmar in the South Court Auditorium of the Eisenhower Executive Office Building in Washington, DC, February 10, 2021.
Saul Loeb | AFP | Getty Images

As Washington is consumed with the second impeachment trial of Donald Trump, President Joe Biden is pressing ahead with major foreign policy decisions.

Biden announced that he is imposing sanctions on military leaders in Myanmar who led a coup against the country's civilian leaders. The coup in Myanmar is the first major international flashpoint Biden has had to face since taking office.

Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris are also meeting with the secretary of Defense and other military and civilian leaders this afternoon.

The Biden White House has made clear that it will not be commenting about or weighing in on Trump's impeachment trial. — Christian Nunley

Rep. Ted Lieu focuses on Trump pressuring Mike Pence to challenge election results

U.S. House impeachment manager Rep. Ted Lieu (D-CA) delivers part of the impeachment managers’ opening argument in the impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump, on charges of inciting the deadly attack on the U.S. Capitol, on the floor of the Senate chamber on Capitol Hill in Washington, February 10, 2021.
U.S. Senate TV via Reuters

In the tail end of his remarks, House impeachment manager Ted Lieu, D-Calif., zeroed in on former President Donald Trump's efforts to pressure his vice president, Mike Pence, to reject the election results.

Trump was "feverishly grasping for straws at retaining his hold on the presidency," Lieu said on the Senate floor.

"Finally, in his desperation, he turned on his own vice president. He pressured Mike Pence to violate his constitutional oath" and refuse to certify the election results, Lieu said.

Trump had decided that Pence "could somehow stop" the results from being certified, Lieu said.

Pence, who presided over Congress when it met on Jan. 6 to confirm President Joe Biden's victory, said that day that he had no power to reject Electoral College votes.

The former president "never tried to explain why he thought the vice president could block the certification of election results," the impeachment manager said. "He just began relentlessly attacking the vice president."

Lieu showed a video clip of Trump at a Jan. 4 rally, telling the crowd, "I hope Mike Pence comes through for us, I have to tell you ... he's a great guy. Of course, if he doesn't come through, I won't like him quite as much."

Lieu also showed a Jan. 6 tweet from Trump's now-deleted Twitter account, in which the former president claimed, "All Mike Pence has to do is send [the electoral votes] back to the States, AND WE WIN. Do it Mike, this is a time for extreme courage!" — Kevin Breuninger

Trial resumes after break; managers aim to show Trump tried to 'fabricate' an election win

After a short break, the House managers resumed laying out their case for convicting former President Donald Trump.

Rep. Madeleine Dean, D-Pa., said that she and Rep. Ted Lieu, D-Calif., would dedicate their portion of the prosecution to presenting evidence of Trump's "relentless, escalating campaigns to fabricate an election victory."

Trump attempted to do this, Dean said, by "ignoring adverse court rulings, pressuring and threatening election officials, attacking senators and members of Congress, pressuring the Justice Department and, finally, bullying his own vice president." — Kevin Breuninger

Rep. Eric Swalwell: Trump deliberately planned to 'target his base to rally' around Jan. 6

House impeachment manager Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA) delivers part of the impeachment managers’ opening argument in the impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump, on charges of inciting the deadly attack on the U.S. Capitol, on the floor of the Senate chamber on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., February 10, 2021.
U.S. Senate TV via Reuters

House impeachment manager Rep. Eric Swalwell, D-Calif., argued that former President Donald Trump engaged in "purposeful and deliberate planning" to try to stop the certification of Joe Biden's electoral victory on Jan. 6.

"He directed all of the rage that he had incited" to that day, Swalwell said on the Senate floor. "That was his last chance to stop the peaceful transition of power."

Swalwell noted that advertisements promoting the "stop the steal" message, paid for by Trump's election defense fund, were posted up to Jan. 5, the day before Congress convened to confirm Biden's win.

"This was purposeful and deliberate planning to target his base to rally around that day," Swalwell said.

"Donald Trump would issue a deliberate call to action. And just like his ads, that action would center around Jan. 6," he said. — Kevin Breuninger

House manager says Trump was 'planting the seeds' that led to the Capitol riot

US President Donald Trump speaks during election night in the East Room of the White House in Washington, DC, early on November 4, 2020.
Mandel Ngan | AFP | Getty Images

Rep. Joe Neguse, D-Colo., said that former President Donald Trump, realizing he might lose the 2020 election to Joe Biden, "started planting the seeds" that led to the Capitol riot.

"He was telling Americans that their vote had been stolen. And in America, our vote is our voice," the House impeachment manager said. "So his false claims about election fraud, that was the drumbeat being used to inspire, instigate and ignite [his supporters], to anger them."

"He told his base that the election was stolen, as he had forecasted. And then he told them, 'Your election has been stolen, but you cannot concede, you must stop the steal,'" Neguse said.

Neguse's remarks included video clips showing Trump claiming to crowds of his supporters during the campaign that only "massive fraud" could rob him of reelection. Neguse also played clips of Trump claiming after Biden won that Democrats had stolen the race.

"People listened," Neguse said. "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."

"And that's what makes this so different, because when he saw firsthand the violence his conduct was creating, he didn't stop it," Neguse said of Trump. "He didn't condemn the violence. He incited it further, and he got more specific. He didn't just tell them to fight like hell. He told them how, where and when. He gave them advance notice — 18 days' advance notice. ... He told them to march to the Capitol and fight like hell." — Kevin Breuninger

Neguse says Trump's address to rally crowd was 'not just a speech'

Representative Joe Neguse, a Democrat from Colorado, speaks in the Senate Chamber in a video screenshot in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Wednesday, Feb. 10, 2021.
Senate Television | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Rep. Joe Neguse, D-Colo., previewing House Democrats' case, told senators that Trump's speech on Jan. 6 ahead of the storming of the Capitol was specifically targeted to incite his supporters to violence.

"Some have said that President Trump's remarks, his speech on Jan. 6, was just a speech. Well, let me ask you this: When in our history has a speech led thousands of people to storm our nation's Capitol with weapons? To scale the walls, break windows, kill a Capitol police officer?" Neguse asked.

"This was not just a speech. It didn't just happen. And as you evaluate the facts that we present to you, it will become clear exactly where that mob come from," Neguse said.

The Colorado lawmaker said that Trump's speech was laden with meaning, and that Democrats would prove it.

"President Trump's words, as you will see, on Jan. 6, in that speech, just like the mob's actions, were carefully chosen. Those words had a very specific meaning to that crowd," Neguse said.

Tucker Higgins

'The inciter in chief' — Raskin lays out case that Trump encouraged riot

U.S. President Donald Trump gestures as he speaks during a rally to contest the certification of the 2020 U.S. presidential election results by the U.S. Congress, in Washington, U.S, January 6, 2021.
Jim Bourg | Reuters

Lead House impeachment manager Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md., kicked off the second day of the trial by detailing former President Donald Trump's words and actions before and during the Capitol riot.

Blasting Trump as "the inciter in chief," Raskin laid out his team's case that Trump actively encouraged and directly incited the Jan. 6 assault.

"They were sent here by the president," Raskin said of the rioters. "They were invited here by the president of the United States of America."

Raskin also noted reports at the time describing Trump as "enthusiastic" and "delighted" as he watched the scene unfold live on television.

"He watched it on TV like a reality show. He reveled in it, and he did nothing to help us," Raskin told the Senate.

Raskin then played portions of a video Trump had released while the riot was ongoing, in which the former president repeated his false claim that he won the 2020 election "in a landslide."

"He's still promoting the big lie that was responsible for inflaming and inciting the mob in the first place," Raskin said. — Kevin Breuninger

'It's a moment of truth for America' — Raskin kicks off opening arguments

Representative Jamie Raskin, a Democrat from Maryland, speaks in the Senate Chamber in a video screenshot in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday, Feb. 10, 2021.
Senate Television | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md., the leader of Democrats' impeachment push, kicked off his opening statement Wednesday appearing to address criticism of Trump's defense lawyers the day before.

"Some people think this trial is a contest of lawyers or, even worse, a competition between political parties," Raskin, a former constitutional law professor, said. "It's neither. It's a moment of truth for America."

Trump attorney Bruce Castor had faced harsh criticism, even from some Republicans, for his rambling performance on Tuesday.

Castor defended himself earlier on Wednesday, saying that Trump didn't disapprove of his performance and that he didn't anticipate changing his strategy.

Raskin later took on Castor's argument that Trump was essentially an innocent bystander, which Raskin said "unerringly echoes" Trump's own claims. — Tucker Higgins

Defense lawyer denies Trump disliked his performance: 'Only one person's opinion matters'

Defense attorneys for Donald Trump, Bruce Castor, left, and David Schoen wear protective masks while arriving to the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday, Feb. 10, 2021.
Stefani Reynolds | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Defense attorney Bruce Castor Jr. pushed back on reports that former President Donald Trump wasn't happy with his performance in the impeachment trial so far.

Castor, whose rambling speech in the Senate on Tuesday was immediately panned on social media and by lawmakers from both parties, also told reporters that he had no plans to change his strategy going forward.

Asked if Trump expressed any displeasure about his performance, Castor said, "Far from it ... only one person's opinion matters, and that is what I am going by."

"I don't anticipate any" changes to the defense team's game plan, Castor said.

He added that he has spoken with Trump since his much-criticized Senate appearance but refused to go into detail about their conversation, citing attorney-client privileges. — Kevin Breuninger

Georgia prosecutors open criminal investigation into Trump call

U.S. President Donald Trump holds a campaign rally at Middle Georgia Regional Airport in Macon, Georgia, U.S., October 16, 2020.
Carlos Barria | Reuters

The top prosecutor in Fulton County, Georgia, has opened a criminal investigation into a call by former President Donald Trump in which he sought to pressure state election officials to overturn Joe Biden's win by finding votes to tip the election in his favor.

Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis sent a letter to Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger and other state officials requesting that they preserve evidence of Trump's January call, a state official with knowledge of the matter told NBC News.

In the letter, Willis says she is investigating "the solicitation of election fraud, the making of false statements to state and local government bodies, conspiracy, racketeering, violation of oath of office and any involvement in violence or threats related to the election's administration."

— Spencer Kimball

House managers applauded for Day 1 arguments; Trump team not so much

Representative Jamie Raskin, a Democrat from Maryland, walks with House impeachment managers past the Capitol Rotunda to the Senate Chamber at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Tuesday, Feb. 9, 2021.
Ting Shen | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Democratic House managers received bipartisan praise for their performance on the opening day of the impeachment trial, while Donald Trump's legal team was not so warmly received — not even by the former president himself, outlets reported.

The House prosecutors, led by Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md., stayed laser-focused on the question at hand: whether the Senate had jurisdiction under the Constitution to try Trump, even though he is no longer in office.

They cited ample precedent, offered a close reading of the text of the Constitution itself and even cited the views of modern scholars who have supported Trump's positions in the past. Their presentation also connected on an emotional level: A teary-eyed Raskin recounted his experience at the Capitol in the context of dealing with a personal tragedy, and he shared a lengthy video montage that put the crimes of the Jan. 6 invasion on full display.

Trump's lawyer Bruce Castor Jr., in contrast, offered a tortuous, tangent-filled speech that rarely grappled directly with the arguments put forward by his opponents.

Trump, watching on television from his Palm Beach club Mar-a-Lago, was not impressed, The New York Times and other outlets reported.

"There is no argument. I have no idea what he's doing. I have no idea why he's saying what he's saying," said Alan Dershowitz, who previously said he would be willing to defend Trump in the trial.

A second attorney for Trump, David Schoen, delivered a more focused and forceful argument, accusing the Democrats of being motivated by their "hatred" of Trump.

But it wasn't enough to stop the Senate from voting that the trial was constitutional, and could therefore continue. Republican Sen. Bill Cassidy, who had previously voted to dismiss the trial on constitutional grounds, voted alongside the Democrats Tuesday evening.

"If anyone disagrees with my vote and would like an explanation, I ask them to listen to the arguments presented by the House Managers and former President Trump's lawyers," Cassidy said in a statement.

"The House managers had much stronger constitutional arguments. The president's team did not," he said. — Kevin Breuninger

Impeachment managers to show new Capitol riot video footage

A protester is seen near a giant screen as it airs advertisements in support of convicting former U.S. President Donald Trump as the second day of his impeachment trial begins in Washington, February 10, 2021.
Leah Millis | Reuters

The Democratic managers of the impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump plan to show the Senate on Wednesday previously unseen security video footage from the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol, aides said.

Aides speaking to reporters hours before Trump's trial began its first day of evidence said the footage "shows a view of the Capitol that is quite extraordinary and a view of the attack that has never been public before."

The footage is being used to support the charge that Trump incited the invasion of the Capitol, which left five people dead, in an illegal effort to get Congress to invalidate the election of Joe Biden as president.

The aides said that the new video evidence "will provide new insight into both the extreme violence that everyone saw, the risk and the threat that it could have led to further violence and death to many but for the brave actions of the officers and shows really the extent of what Donald Trump unleashed on our Capitol."

"Yesterday was our dry constitutional argument day," the aides said, referring to arguments by House managers and Trump's lawyers over whether the Senate can try a former president.

"Today, the actual trial begins. We have the goods, we will be presenting the goods," the aides said.

"We will be tying the evidence all together in a compelling case that will make it clear for everyone — Democrats, Republicans, everyone — that Donald Trump committed the most heinous Constitutional crime possible."

"Expect a compelling presentation from manager after manager," they said. — Dan Mangan

Impeachment debate moves to the merits of the case

Representative Jamie Raskin, a Democrat from Maryland, speaks in the Senate Chamber in a video screenshot in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Tuesday, Feb. 9, 2021.
Senate Television | Bloomberg | Getty Images

The impeachment debate in the Senate should pick up on Wednesday as the Democrats leading the prosecution move beyond the heady dispute over jurisdiction and start sparring over the main question of whether the ex-president committed impeachable offenses.

Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md., kicked off Tuesday's debate by noting that he was a constitutional law professor — and defined "professor" as one who talks while others sleep. On Wednesday, he is expected to take off his professor hat and pursue the case like a prosecutor.

Given the nature of the impeachment trial, Wednesday's debate will be more important than what has come before.

It remains exceedingly unlikely that anything said from the Senate floor will persuade 16 Republicans to convict Trump, who, off Twitter and living in Florida, is still a major force in the GOP.

Because of that, Wednesday's arguments, in which Democrats will make the case that Trump incited the Jan. 6 Capitol riot, are far more important than Tuesday's, as they are expected to pack a larger political punch.

But Democrats, essentially unable to disqualify Trump from running for office again, may still be able to make Republicans pay a political price for sticking with the ex-president. Or, at least, that is their hope. — Tucker Higgins