WASHINGTON — The lead impeachment manager in the trial of former President Donald J. Trump issued a warning as the proceedings began on Wednesday: not appropriate for young children.
“We do urge parents and teachers to exercise close review of what young people are watching here,” Representative Jamie Raskin, Democrat of Maryland, said before showing video of the “shocking violence, bloodshed and pain” inflicted by the violent mob on Capitol Hill on Jan. 6.
Mr. Raskin’s message was ostensibly for parents watching at home. But the subtext was not lost on those in the Senate chamber, where Mr. Trump was facing an impeachment trial for the second time: House managers who were victims of the attack were speaking to senators who themselves had survived the violent assault. Around them were their staffs who had cowered behind office desks as the mob rampaged through the building. Above them in the balcony, scribbling in notepads, were journalists who were equally traumatized and security officers who had been there to ward off the attackers.
The humming rhythms of Capitol Hill do not easily allow for prolonged moments of reflection, let alone in the aftermath of an insurrection. But the video evidence procured by the impeachment managers turned the nation’s most powerful lawmakers into a captive audience, forcing them to absorb the enormity of the attack and render judgment on whether Mr. Trump deserved blame for what they had witnessed.
“We have to relive it,” said Senator Benjamin L. Cardin, Democrat of Maryland, though he predicted some staff members would most likely avoid watching video of the deadly attack again. “It’s painful. It brings up a very traumatic moment. But it also helps to bring closure, so I think it’s something that we have to go through. But it reminds us just how tragic a day it was.”
The senators watched mostly in silence as the images of the mob played in the chamber, the audio of the rioters’ profane taunts and threats echoing off the walls. As the footage played, some appeared to involuntarily trace the path they took away from the chamber as it became clear how close they had been to the mob.
Among the videos was previously unreleased footage of Officer Eugene Goodman, who has been widely praised as a hero, redirecting Senator Mitt Romney, Republican of Utah, away from the mob; rioters coming within steps of Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the majority leader; and others beating on the door of an office in which members of Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s staff had barricaded themselves.
The Trump Impeachment ›
What You Need to Know
- A trial is being held to decide whether former President Donald J. Trump is guilty of inciting a deadly mob of his supporters when they stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6, violently breaching security measures and sending lawmakers into hiding as they met to certify President Biden’s victory.
- The House voted 232 to 197 to approve a single article of impeachment, accusing Mr. Trump of “inciting violence against the government of the United States” in his quest to overturn the election results. Ten Republicans joined the Democrats in voting to impeach him.
- To convict Mr. Trump, the Senate would need a two-thirds majority to be in agreement. This means at least 17 Republican senators would have to vote with Senate Democrats to convict.
- A conviction seems unlikely. Last month, only five Republicans in the Senate sided with Democrats in beating back a Republican attempt to dismiss the charges because Mr. Trump is no longer in office. Only 27 senators say they are undecided about whether to convict Mr. Trump.
- If the Senate convicts Mr. Trump, finding him guilty of “inciting violence against the government of the United States,” senators could then vote on whether to bar him from holding future office. That vote would only require a simple majority, and if it came down to party lines, Democrats would prevail with Vice President Kamala Harris casting the tiebreaking vote.
- If the Senate does not convict Mr. Trump, the former president could be eligible to run for public office once again. Public opinion surveys show that he remains by far the most popular national figure in the Republican Party.
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