Democrats dub Trump the 'inciter-in-chief' for provoking mob, refusing to stop Jan. 6 attack

Day 2 of Trump impeachment trial

Democratic impeachment managers made the case Wednesday that the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol was no accident but rather a “premeditated” and “foreseeable” outcome after former President Trump spread lies about election rigging, summoned a mob to Washington DC, and then incited them to “fight like hell.”

Impeachment prosecutors said when the attack was underway at the Capitol, forcing terrified lawmakers into the shelter, that Trump then abdicated his oath of office by failing to immediately call off the “well-orchestrated” mob.

“He told them to fight like hell and they brought us hell that day,” Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md., the lead impeachment manager, said in kicking off Day Two of the impeachment trial against Trump.

“He did nothing to help us as commander-in-chief,” Raskin added.  “Instead, he served as the inciter-in-chief.”

Democrats have 16 hours between Wednesday and Thursday to make their case to the Senate on why Trump should be convicted of “incitement of insurrection” for the Jan. 6 riot that left five people dead at the Capitol and 140 police officers wounded. Then, Trump’s legal team will have 16 hours to make their case to defend the former president.

In this image from video, House impeachment manager Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md., speaks during the second impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump in the Senate at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Wednesday, Feb. 10, 2021. (Senate Television via AP)
((Senate Television via AP))

Trump spent months telling supporters the only way he could lose the election to President Biden was if votes were rigged. So when he sensed defeat, Trump told his supporters the “big lie” that the election was stolen from him, impeachment managers argued.

Relying on Trump’s tweets and video statements, impeachment prosecutors sought to show a direct link between Trump’s “lies” about the election and the escalating response by his supporters, who mobbed vote counting centers, antagonized local election officials, and eventually descended on Washington, parroting Trump’s rallying cry of “Stop the Steal.” 

As his legal challenges failed, Trump said he would never surrender, and he sent his supporters a “save the date” to assemble in Washington D.C. on Jan 6  to fight the election count in Congress, predicting it would be “wild.”

“This attack was provoked by the president, incited by the president,” said Rep. Joe Neguse, D-Colo. “And as a result, it was predictable, and it was foreseeable … This mob was well-orchestrated. Their conduct was intentional. They did it all in plain sight, proudly openly and loudly, because they believed — truly believed — that they were doing this for him.”

Impeachment managers said the impeachment charge isn’t based on one speech Trump made, but rather months of statements made by Trump leading up to the attack where he convinced his base they were robbed of their votes and were primed to do something to stop the certification of a “stolen” election. 

“Instead of accepting the results or pursuing legitimate claims, he told his base more lies,” said Rep. Eric Swalwell, D-Calif., another impeachment manager, said. “He doused the flames with kerosene.”

Impeachment manager Rep. Eric Swalwell, D-Calif., walks on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2021. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

“This was a deliberate, premeditated incitement to his base to attack our capital, while the counting was going on,” Swalwell added. “And it was foreseeable, especially to President Trump, who warned us he knew what was coming.”


Democrats also focused on Trump’s delayed response to the attack as it was underway. In his first video message to supporters, he continued to stoke grievances on election fraud and told rioters to go home, though adding: “We love you. You’re very special.”

Impeachment managers showed quotes from Trump supporters who stormed the Capitol stating they did so because Trump ordered them to.

Neguse said Trump alone had the power to order the mob to stop the violence and his failure to do so likely cost lives and injuries.

Neguse asked senators to picture the outcome if Trump had tweeted immediately “STOP THE ATTACK” with half as much force as he repeatedly said, “STOP THE STEAL.”

“How many lives would we have saved?” Neguse asked.

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