The Case for Conviction: House Impeachment Managers Present Their Arguments


President pro tempore Patrick Leahy presides over the second impeachment trial of Donald Trump
United States Senate, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons -

The House Impeachment Managers of former President Donald Trump's second Senate Impeachment Trial concluded their arguments for the case for conviction the evening of Thursday, February 11, 2021 after around twelve hours of presentations to a 50-50 Senate. Led by Lead Impeachment Manager Jamie Raskin, the managers laid out the point-by-point story of the Capitol Seige on January 6th, the events leading up to the insurrection, the impact, as well as Donald Trump's role in the attack. Their job was to make the case that Donald Trump did indeed incite an insurrection and that he must be accountable for that action.

Earlier in the trial, the impeachment managers seemed to have made a minor victory when one GOP Senator, Sen. Cassidy (R-LA), changed his vote from an impeachment trial of a former president being unconstitutional to it being constitutional after hearing arguments on the matter from the managers and Trump's defense. The vote of constitutionality came to 56-44 on Tuesday, allowing the trial to proceed with six GOP Senators joining all Democrats on the issue.

The House Impeachment Managers' Case

Arguments from the House Impeachment Managers began on Wednesday and concluded on Thursday, where piece-by-piece and point-by-point, the Managers led the Senate, and America, through the events of the insurrection at the Capitol in perhaps the first comprehensive historical record of the event. 

The Managers argue that Trump's incitement was more than just a few words at his Stop the Steal Rally, but that it is in context that the offense becomes as clear as day. Their case began with a roadmap of the arguments they planned to offer, dividing the case into three parts: The Big Lie, Stop the Steal, and Fight Like Hell to Stop the Steal. Through the use of video evidence and reports, the Manager demonstrated Donald Trump's history of encouraging violence from his supporters, and they argue, even praise it after the fact. They pointed to Trump rallies and violence against protesters, to official events on camera where the former president did not condemn violence from his supporters. The Managers assert that Trump had primed his base for violence, then stoked the flames by arguing for months that the election was rigged if he were to lose and that it was stolen once he did lose. Moments such as Trump's infamous "fine people on both sides" statement regarding the Charlottesville incident, the "stand back and stand by" statement from when he was asked to condemn the Proud Boys, a group of political violence deemed a danger by the FBI, and statements around the siege of the Michigan Capitol Building and the plot to kidnap and assassinate the Michigan Governor were shown as evidence of Trump's incendiary history. The Michigan Capitol Siege was even used to show a direct comparison to the U.S. Capitol Siege, making the case that the insurrection was in no way an impossible threat and known to be very likely to occur if the former president continued to make potential inciting remarks. 

The Impeachment Managers compiled months and months of examples to demonstrate that Donald Trump was completely aware that his words were powerful, yet he continued to be reckless and praise violent behavior.

They then, through both seen and new video evidence, showed the play-by-play of the Stop the Steal Rally and the Capitol Insurrection, showing in graphic detail how everything went down while also connecting then-President Trump's actions to the siege. They argued that not only did his words and actions incite the attack, but his lack of action and dereliction of duty during and following the attack caused it to be much worse and showed that his priority was disrupting the Electoral Vote certification process, not protecting and defending the nation as his Oath of Office required. They pointed out that Trump wasn't even involved in calling in the National Guard to assist, and asserted that his lack of action put lives in further danger.

The Managers showed evidence of how even the former president's allies pleaded with him to call off the mob attack to no avail for hours. Tweets and television appearances and call-in interviews were used to further the argument that the president could not be convinced to help even though it was commonly thought that he was the only one who could call the mob off.

The video evidence also underscored just how close the insurrection was to becoming a blood-bath, showing moments where Representatives, Senators, and even the Vice President were only steps away from the violent mob hunting them down. The evidence showed how the mob was there solely because of the former president, demonstrating chants such as "Stop the Steal," "Fight for Trump," and even "Hang Mike Pence."

The Managers then showed the statements of the insurrectionists themselves as well as additional videos that showed they believed they were there at the request of their president. "We were invited by the President" and dozens of other examples reinforced the Managers' claims.

After going through the case in graphic detail, the Managers concluded their presentations by addressing arguments Trump's defense lawyers were likely to make, asserting that those arguments simply did not work given all the evidence and rebutting them before they were even made. Lead Manager Raskin also posed several questions to the defense that he wanted to ask Donald Trump:

"Why did President Trump not tell his supporters to stop the attack on the Capitol as soon as he learned of it? Why did President Trump do nothing to stop the attack for at least two hours after the attack began? As our constitutional commander-in-chief, why did he do nothing to send help to our overwhelmed and besieged law enforcement officers for at least two hours ... after the attack began? On Jan. 6, why did President Trump not at any point that day condemn the violent insurrection and the insurrectionists?"

Where Things Stand and What to Watch for

With the Impeachment Managers' case having been presented, it is now the defense's turn to make the case against conviction. Trump's leading attorney, Bruce Castor, was reported to have already gained the former president's ire after his lackluster performance during the constitutionality arguments on Tuesday, with even several Republicans who are likely to acquit criticizing the lawyer's performance.

Expected arguments from the defense will include constitutional objections and examples of other politicians speaking with similar language the defense will argue was no better or worse than Trump's speech at the Stop the Steal Rally. They will also likely address that the former president included the word "peacefully" in his speech, which the Managers argued was not adequate in comparison to the rest of the speech.

According to most reports, the trial is likely to end with acquittal. 67 votes are needed for an impeachment conviction and currently, it looks like only six maximum of 17 needed GOP Senators are likely to vote to convict. Those six potential conviction votes are:

  • Sen. Mitt Romney - vocal critic of the former president who voted for conviction in Trump's first impeachment trial.
  • Sen. Lisa Murkowski - vocal critic of the former president who called for his resignation in the wake of the Capitol insurrection.
  • Sen. Susan Collins - considered to be a moderate Republican who has spoken against the former president.
  • Sen. Pat Toomey - vocal critic in the wake of the Capitol Siege who deemed the former president's actions an impeachable offense.
  • Sen. Ben Sasse - another vocal critic who increasingly spoke against the former president up to and after the Capitol Siege. 
  • Sen. Bill Cassidy - GOP Senator who switched vote from the trial being unconstitutional to it being constitutional, who is highlighting the role of an impartial juror.
Other than those six, it seems unlikely of additional Republican conviction votes, and when eleven GOP Senators are needed for conviction, acquittal is thought to be certain.

Key things to point out, however:

  • Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has taken a much more low-profile role in Trump's second impeachment. He has criticized the former president's actions and even stated the mob was provoked by the president. He also has not encouraged any member of his caucus to vote to acquit, echoing Rep. Liz Cheney's remarks of it being a "vote of conscience." Even his members are unsure what's going through his head. McConnell could quite possibly be a vote to convict, and in that event, would give cover to additional Republicans who may be on the fence.
  • Other GOP Senators could easily vote to convict. Unlike the first trial, this impeachment deals with something they all were witnesses to, something that put their lives in danger. Many have said the House Managers presented a very good case. One never knows the future for certain.

If you are interested in continued coverage of the Second Trump Senate Impeachment Trial, or if you would like to catch up, our Impeachment Trial Live Blog has the latest!

Basil E. Bacorn

Basil E. Bacorn is an author, artist, entrepreneur, and aspiring entertainer. He has written and published over ten books, including Geek Gods, The Book of Random Thoughts, The Circle's Problem, and the Dark's Descent Series, and has earned an associate's degree in Business and Entrepreneurial Studies.

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