Connect with us


Impeachment Trial Live Updates: Prosecutors Rest Their Case, Warning Trump ‘Can Do This Again’ if He Is Not Convicted




‘I’m Afraid He’s Going to Run Again and Lose,’ Lieu Says of Trump

On Thursday, impeachment manager Representative Ted Lieu explained that his biggest fear was that former President Donald J. Trump would run again and lose because it could incite a similar riot.

President Trump spent months inflaming his supporters, spread lies to incite a violent attack on our 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 OK, that this was all acceptable. And 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. President Trump’s lack of remorse shows that he will undoubtedly cause future harm if allowed because he still refuses to account for his previous high, grave crime against our government. You know, I’m not afraid of Donald Trump running again in four years. I’m afraid he’s going to run again and lose because he can do this again.

Video player loading
On Thursday, impeachment manager Representative Ted Lieu explained that his biggest fear was that former President Donald J. Trump would run again and lose because it could incite a similar riot.CreditCredit…Erin Schaff/The New York Times

The House Democrats prosecuting former President Donald J. Trump rested their case on Thursday, branding him a clear and present danger to United States democracy who could sow new violence like the deadly assault on the Capitol last month if he was not barred from holding office again.

Calling on senators to render “impartial justice” and embrace the “common sense” of the country’s founders, the nine impeachment managers closed their case by laying out the grave damage the Jan. 6 riot had caused not just to lawmakers or police officers at the Capitol, but to the democratic system and America’s standing around the world. None of it, they argued, would have happened without Mr. Trump.

“Senators, America, we need to exercise our common sense about what happened,” said Representative Jamie Raskin of Mayland, the lead manager, reading from Thomas Paine. “Let’s not get caught up in a lot of outlandish lawyers theories here. Exercise your common sense about what just took place in our country.”

Mr. Raskin said the evidence that Mr. Trump cultivated, incited and then showed no remorse for the attack warranted making him the first impeached president ever to be convicted and the first former president to be disqualified from holding future office.

“If you don’t find this a high crime and misdemeanor today, you have set a new terrible standard for presidential misconduct in the United States of America,” he said.

A day after delivering the Senate a harrowing account of the deadly violence, replete with chilling, previously unseen security footage, the prosecutors returned for the trial’s third day with new video clips, court documents and interviews in which the rioters defended their actions by citing Mr. Trump’s directives and desires.

“We were invited here,” one of them screamed, the clip echoing through the Senate chamber.

“Their own statements before, during and after the attack made clear the attack was done for Donald Trump — at his instructions and to fulfill his wishes,” said Representative Diana DeGette of Colorado.

They also argued that Mr. Trump had encouraged and celebrated violence before Jan. 6 — such as a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Va., in 2017 and scuffles during his campaign rallies — and shown no remorse for whipping up thousands of his loyal supporters by telling them to “fight like hell” that day. Afterward, they noted, Mr. Trump called his speech “totally appropriate.”

“I’m not afraid of Donald Trump running again in four years,” said Representative Ted Lieu of California. “I’m afraid he’s going to run again and lose, because he can do this again.”

Their task to convict remains a daunting one as they aim to persuade Republican senators who have shown no appetite for breaking with Mr. Trump to do so.

By turn, the managers sought to appeal to Republicans’ sense of patriotism and decency. They read the words of Republicans who voted in the House to impeach Mr. Trump and from the former president’s own cabinet secretaries,who resigned in protest after the deadly riot. They played audio of traumatized aides who had contemplated leaving government after the attack. And they recounted the humiliating taunts of foreign adversaries who looked on in glee.




Trump Has a ‘Pattern and Practice of Inciting Violence,’ Raskin Says

Representative Jamie Raskin, the lead impeachment manager, outlined a history of former President Donald J. Trump’s incitement and support of violence among his supporters leading up to the Jan. 6 Capitol riot.

Jan. 6 was a culmination of the president’s actions, not an aberration from them. The insurrection was the most violent and dangerous episode, so far, in Donald Trump’s continuing pattern and practice of inciting violence. The president praised a Republican candidate who assaulted a journalist, as ‘my kind of guy.’ He said there were, quote, ‘very fine people on both sides’ when the neo-Nazis, the Klansmen and Proud Boys invaded the city, the great city, of Charlottesville, and killed Heather Heyer. And he said that an attack on a Black protester at one of his rallies was ‘very, very appropriate.’ When responding to extremist plots in Michigan, Trump showed he knew how to use the power of a mob to advance his political objectives. Beginning in March, Trump leveled attacks on Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer for the coronavirus policies in her state. On Oct. 8, the precise consequences of the president’s incitement to violence were revealed to the whole world. Look at this, 13 men were arrested by the F.B.I. for plotting to storm the Michigan State Capitol building, launch a civil war, kidnap Governor Whitmer, transport her to Wisconsin and then try and execute her. And what did Donald Trump do do as president of the United States to defend one of our nation’s governors against a plotted kidnapping by violent insurrectionists? Did he publicly condemn violent domestic extremists who hoped and planned to launch a civil war in America? No, not at all. He further inflamed them by continuing to attack the governor who was the object of their hatred. My dear colleagues, is there any political leader in this room who believes that if he is ever allowed by the Senate to get back into the Oval Office, Donald Trump would stop inciting violence to get his way? Would you bet the lives of more police officers on that? Would you bet the safety of your family on that? Would you bet the future of your democracy on that? President Trump declared his conduct totally appropriate. So he gets back into office, and it happens again, we’ll have no one to blame but ourselves.

Video player loading
Representative Jamie Raskin, the lead impeachment manager, outlined a history of former President Donald J. Trump’s incitement and support of violence among his supporters leading up to the Jan. 6 Capitol riot.CreditCredit…Erin Schaff/The New York Times

But already on Wednesday, Republican senators who sat through a vivid retelling of an assault they had lived through appeared unmoved from their determination to acquit Mr. Trump.

Seventeen Republicans would have to join every Democrat to achieve the two-thirds majority needed for conviction.

Mr. Trump’s lawyers are expected to present his defense beginning at noon on Friday. They intend to deny that he was responsible for the attack or meant to interfere with the electoral process underway at the Capitol, despite his repeated exhortations to supporters to “fight like hell” to “stop the steal.”

One of the lawyers, David I. Schoen, derided the Democrats’ presentation as a thinly sourced “entertainment package” and “offensive” during an appearance on Fox News during the trial on Thursday.

“In no setting in this country where someone’s guilt or innocence is being adjudicated would this kind of approach be permitted,” he said.

The trial is moving quickly, and senators could reach a verdict by the end of the holiday weekend. But first, they will have a chance to question the prosecution and the defense, and the managers may force a debate and vote on calling witnesses.

Aishvarya Kavi contributed reporting.




Impeachment Managers Pursue Case Against Trump With Rioters’ Words

On Thursday, Representative Diana DeGette, used crowd chants and online speech from rioters to demonstrate how they followed orders from former President Trump and acted on his behalf.

“The crowd at Donald Trump’s speech echoed and chanted his words. And when people in the crowd followed his direction and marched to the Capitol, they chanted the same words as they breached this building. Now, let’s return to the speech for a moment. During the rally, President Trump led the crowd in a ‘Stop the Steal’ chant. Here’s what that chant sounded like from the crowd’s perspective.” “Here’s a term all of you people really came up with we will ‘stop the steal.’” [cheering] “Stop the steal! Stop the steal!” “And when he incited the crowd to show strength, people responded, ‘Storm the Capitol,’ ‘Invade the Capitol.’ Here are both of those moments, but from the crowd’s perspective. “Fight for Trump! Fight for Trump! Fight for Trump!” “As President Trump said, ‘show strength,’ a person posted to Parler saying, quote, ‘Time to fight Civil War is upon us.’ Another user said, quote, ‘We are going to have a Civil War. Get ready.’ An analysis found that members of Civil War quadrupled on Parler in the hour after Donald Trump said, ‘show strength.’ Insurrectionists holding Confederate flags and brandishing weapons cheered the president’s very words.” “Stop the steal! Stop the steal! Stop the steal! Stop the steal!” “When the insurrectionists first got into the building and confronted police, the mob screamed at the officers that they were listening to President Trump.”

Video player loading
On Thursday, Representative Diana DeGette, used crowd chants and online speech from rioters to demonstrate how they followed orders from former President Trump and acted on his behalf.CreditCredit…Erin Schaff/The New York Times

The House Democrats leading the impeachment prosecution used the words of rioters supporting Donald J. Trump against the former president on Thursday, as they sought to show that the sacking of the Capitol was done by people who believed they were following Mr. Trump’s wishes.

“They truly believed that the whole intrusion was at the president’s orders — and we know that because they said so,” said Representative Diana DeGette, Democrat of Colorado, and one of the House managers.

In one clip, she showed rioters chanting “Stop the steal! Stop the steal!” as they tried to enter the Capitol — not long after Mr. Trump had led that chant at a rally. In another, she showed a rioter, identified as Baked Alaska, the nickname of far-right personality Anthime J. Gionet, talking about calling up Mr. Trump while in the Capitol: “He’ll be happy. What do you mean? We’re fighting for Trump!” In a third, a rioter was heard shouting at police in the Capitol, “We are listening to Trump — your boss.”

Ms. DeGette’s presentation spliced together footage of the rioters themselves as well as subsequent claims from their lawyers about why they were at the Capitol. She quoted an attorney for Jacob Anthony Chansley, who stormed the Capitol wearing a fur headdress with horns and his face painted red, white and blue, saying that Mr. Chansley was there “at the invitation of our president.” Mr. Chansley, who is known as Q Shaman for his propagation of baseless QAnon conspiracy theories, also left a note in the Capitol for former Vice President Mike Pence that read, “Only a matter of time. Justice is Coming!”

The Democrats’ case — and their repeated use of gripping and wrenching videos from the day of the riot, including some shot by the rioters themselves — is aimed not just at the Republican jurors in the Senate, who seem increasingly unlikely to convict Mr. Trump, but a nationwide television audience.

“This was not a hidden crime,” Ms. DeGette said. “The president told them to be there.”

In one last video, Ms. DeGette showed a rioter shouting clearly about who had brought them to the Capitol building. “We were invited here!” he shouted. “We were invited by the president of the United States!”

Representative Jamie Raskin, Democrat of Maryland and the lead impeachment manager, before the start of the third day of the impeachment trial on Thursday.
Credit…Erin Schaff/The New York Times

The House prosecution team on Thursday sought to preemptively rebut a legal argument that former President Donald J. Trump’s lawyers are expected to make in his defense: that his remarks to a crowd of supporters on Jan. 6 were protected under the First Amendment.

Representative Jamie Raskin, Democrat of Maryland and the lead impeachment manager, said the idea of a First Amendment defense to being impeached for high crimes and misdemeanors was “absurd” and a “smoke screen.”

“The First Amendment does not create some superpower immunity from impeachment for a president who attacks the Constitution in word and deed while rejecting the outcome of an election he happened to lose,” Mr. Raskin said.

In a brief on Monday, Mr. Trump’s lawyers relied in part on the First Amendment to defend the former president. They asserted that his remarks on Jan. 6 “fell well within the norms of political speech that is protected by the First Amendment, and to try him for that would be to do a grave injustice to the freedom of speech in this country.”

Mr. Raskin tried to flip the argument on its head as he addressed senators on Thursday.

“If anything,” he said, “President Trump’s conduct was an assault on the First Amendment and equal protection rights that millions of Americans exercised when they voted last year, often under extraordinarily difficult and arduous circumstances.”

Officer Eugene Goodman of the Capitol Police watched video footage of the Jan. 6 riot during the impeachment trial on Wednesday.
Credit…Brandon Bell for The New York Times

Among the harrowing images presented during the impeachment trial of former President Donald J. Trump, one video stood out: a Capitol Police officer sprinting toward a senator to warn of the angry mob nearby.

The senator, Mitt Romney of Utah, is shown turning on his heels and fleeing to safety.

“I don’t think my family or my wife understood that I was as close as I might have been to real danger,” Mr. Romney told reporters on Thursday, one day after the video showed Officer Eugene Goodman aiding him. “They were surprised and very, very appreciative of Officer Goodman, in his being there and directing me back to safety.”

For Officer Goodman, it was the second time a video went viral displaying actions widely credited with saving members of Congress. The first, which showed him single-handedly luring the mob away from the entrance to the Senate toward an area with reinforcements, turned him into a hero. The second has added to his lore.

Both have catapulted Officer Goodman — a former Army infantryman who served in one of the most dangerous parts of Iraq during a lethal time in the war — to fame he never sought.

Credit…Anna Moneymaker for The New York Times

On Wednesday, after Mr. Romney watched the videos that showed Officer Goodman directing him to safety, he could be seen talking with the officer. Senator Rob Portman, Republican of Ohio, later walked over and fist bumped the officer.

On Thursday, Speaker Nancy Pelosi singled out Officer Goodman for his courage when she introduced legislation to award the Capitol Police and other law enforcement personnel who responded on Jan. 6 with the Congressional Gold Medal, the highest honor of Congress. On Jan. 20, Officer Goodman was given the task of escorting Vice President Kamala Harris at the inauguration of President Joseph R. Biden Jr.

Veterans who served alongside Officer Goodman in the 101st Airborne Division in Iraq some 15 years ago say that the officer, known then as “Goody,” never craved accolades.

“I saw him come out in front of the vice president, and he immediately ducked to the right,” said Mark Belda, who served with Officer Goodman in Iraq. “I thought, that’s definitely Goody.”

Sarah Istel, a House lawyer, and Representative Joaquin Castro, an impeachment manager, prepare for the third day of the impeachment trial on Thursday.
Credit…Erin Schaff/The New York Times

As a day of violence and mayhem at the Capitol slid into evening last month, with bloodshed, glass shattered and democracy besieged, President Donald J. Trump posted a message on Twitter that seemed to celebrate the moment. “Remember this day forever!” he urged.

The House Democrats prosecuting him at his Senate impeachment trial barely a month later hope to make sure everyone does.

With conviction in a polarized Senate seemingly out of reach, the House managers, as the prosecutors are known, are aiming their arguments at the American people and historians who will one day render judgment on him.

Through the expansive use of unsettling video footage showing both Mr. Trump’s words and the brutal rampage that followed, the managers are using their moment to ensure Mr. Trump is held accountable by those two groups, even if he is acquitted by the Senate.

“Regardless of the outcome of the trial, the first paragraph of historical accounts of the Trump presidency is likely” to be the legacy of the riot that ended it, said Ken Gormley, who has written books on impeachment, presidents and the Constitution.

Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, one of Mr. Trump’s more outspoken Republican critics, touched on that on Wednesday after the House managers played a searing sequence of never-before-seen images of the mob he inspired ransacking the Capitol.

Given what the country has now seen, prospects for a Trump comeback campaign in 2024 were thin, she said.

“I don’t see how Donald Trump could be re-elected to the presidency again,” Ms. Murkowski told reporters. “I just don’t see that.”

“The question is how much power to dominate the G.O.P. will have been drained away by the time this is over,” said Karl Rove, the Republican strategist and former adviser to President George W. Bush.

Mr. Trump’s camp acknowledges that the prosecution has been effective, but portrays it as an illegitimate smear borne of partisan animus. Jason Miller, a longtime adviser and campaign spokesman for Mr. Trump, told Fox Business, “the president is going to be involved in making sure we win back the House and Senate in 2022.”

Mr. Trump’s legal team, which will begin its own arguments after the House managers conclude theirs, dismissed the use of the video in the Senate trial as an inflammatory tactic to blame the former president for the actions of others.

Jonathan Turley, a law professor at George Washington University who testified against impeachment the first time the House lodged charges of high crimes and misdemeanors against Mr. Trump in 2019, said the managers this time were just playing to the crowd rather than making a legal argument.

“Much of the argument seems designed to enrage rather than convict,” he said.

Credit…Anna Moneymaker for The New York Times

In that regard, it was having an impact outside the chamber. Twitter reinforced on Wednesday that it will never allow its most famous former user back onto its platform after cutting him off from his 89 million followers for inciting violence. And The Wall Street Journal’s influential conservative editorial page said that Mr. Trump is permanently scarred regardless of whether he is convicted.

“History will remember,” Mr. Trump declared in another tweet about 10 days before the riot. That it will, and the trial this week will go a long way toward deciding what those memories will be.

President Biden has said he is not paying close attention to the Senate trial of his predecessor.
Credit…Oliver Contreras for The New York Times

President Biden said on Thursday that “some minds may be changed” by Democratic House prosecutors at the impeachment trial of former President Donald J. Trump, but that comment, made off-the-cuff in a meeting with reporters, seemed to go against his administration’s strategy of willfully ignoring the proceedings.

Just hours later, Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary, said she believed Mr. Biden had actually said “minds may be changed, or they may not.” She described his remarks as a “human” reaction to watching “harrowing” trial footage that should not be confused for political analysis. But she dodged questions on whether the president had an obligation to opine on the possibility of a conviction of his predecessor.

“He’s not in the jury, he’s not in the Senate,” Ms. Psaki said. “His role is to be the President of the United States and that is the role he currently plays.”

Mr. Biden and his advisers have insisted for days that he is not paying close attention to the Senate trial of Mr. Trump. The president on Thursday hosted lawmakers for a discussion about infrastructure — and addressed the impeachment footage — and planned to tour a laboratory at the National Institutes of Health.

At the beginning of the infrastructure meeting, he said that he had not watched any of the trial live on Wednesday, but that he had seen news reports.

“I’m focused on my job,” the president said, adding that he watched news reports of the trial later Wednesday night because he was “going straight through last night until a little after nine.”

The new president and his team are determined to deliver the message that he is focused on the economic plight of the country, the pandemic that is still killing about 3,000 people each day and efforts to reverse Mr. Trump’s legacy.

On Thursday morning, the White House confirmed that the president had canceled the national emergency at the southwest border that Mr. Trump had declared in order to divert money for construction of his border wall.

In a letter to Speaker Nancy Pelosi dated Wednesday, Mr. Biden dismissed the emergency as an attempt by his predecessor to get around congressional refusal to provide funds for the wall’s construction.

“I have determined that the declaration of a national emergency at our southern border was unwarranted,” he wrote. “I have also announced that it shall be the policy of my administration that no more American taxpayer dollars be diverted to construct a border wall, and that I am directing a careful review of all resources appropriated or redirected to that end.”

Mr. Biden began his day convening a meeting in the Oval Office with senators from both parties in what the White House described as a discussion about “the critical need to invest in modern and sustainable American infrastructure.” Pete Buttigieg, who was confirmed as Mr. Biden’s transportation secretary last week, joined the meeting via video conference.

“I found these guys wandering around,” Mr. Biden joked, motioning to the senators as reporters were let in for a few minutes at the beginning of the meeting. Mr. Biden cited the importance of the public works committee led by Senator Tom Carper, Democrat of Delaware, in dealing with infrastructure issues.

He said there are “a number of things out there that the American people are looking for us to step up,” and he mentioned “a lot of bridges in West Virginia” and “a lot of dangerous spots on Route 9 in terms of Cancer Alley.”

“There’s a lot we have to do,” he said.

Mr. Biden said throughout the campaign that he supports a vast effort to rebuild the country’s crumbling roads, bridges, tunnels and other critical infrastructure, in part as a way to help put Americans back to work. Many Republicans have said for years that they, too, support new investments in infrastructure, though an agreement on the size and scope of legislation has been elusive.

While the White House has prioritized the passage of the president’s $1.9 trillion pandemic relief package, Mr. Biden has signaled that he plans to push for more spending after that is approved. The strategy is part of his effort to “build back better,” a slogan he used during his presidential campaign.

On Thursday afternoon, the president is scheduled to tour the Viral Pathogenesis Laboratory at the National Institutes of Health in Maryland and deliver remarks to underscore the efforts to fight the coronavirus pandemic.

President Donald Trump speaking to a crowd of supporters on January 6.
Credit…Pete Marovich for The New York Times

It has been just over a year since former President Donald J. Trump first faced impeachment charges in the Senate, but so much has happened since then.

We asked more than two dozen voters — most of whom initially responded to a Survey Monkey poll and whom The New York Times reached out to during the first impeachment trial — to describe the impeachment in a single word.

Here are excerpts from what they said.


Oscar Gomez, 51, a business consultant in San Francisco who describes himself as “left of center.”

“You’re accountable for your actions and words up until your last day of employment. In my assessment, there is direct connection between his words that day and the violence that followed.”


Jerry Iannacci, 53, an art teacher living in a Philadelphia suburb who says he is independent.

“There’s no way to not go through with it. Is it going to divide the country? I don’t know that the gap can be any wider than it is now. If one side decided that armed insurrection was the way to go, what’s worse? They commandeer tanks next time? They find a few ex-Air Force pilots who can fly a plane and they buy a surplus F-16?”


Cherece Mendieta, 47, is a conservative in Houston.

“They’re impeaching a man for fighting for what he believes in. Did he tell them, ‘Go storm the Capitol; go threaten their lives’? No, he didn’t. It’s ridiculous.”


Bill Marcy is a former law enforcement officer who traveled to Washington on Jan. 6 to hear Mr. Trump speak, but he said he was not part of the crowd that went to the Capitol.

“There’s no responsibility Donald Trump has for what happened.”

Credit…Jason Andrew for The New York Times


Jimmy Welch, 54, is a Republican and former Trump supporter from Louisville, Ky.

“At my job, I couldn’t come in and spread a bunch of lies and get people riled up and have a strike without repercussions.”


Ragan Fletcher, 21, is a Republican student at Belmont University in Nashville.

“I think that he just has his First Amendment rights to free speech.”


Desiré Hardison, 38, is a Democrat from New York City who said she believed that Mr. Trump should be convicted.

“It’s a joke, it’s a carnival game. It doesn’t go anywhere, like walking on a treadmill. Like a merry-go-round, you’re just sitting there and you’re watching the horses going up and down. What’s really happening? Nothing.”


William Dawson, 69, is a Republican and a behavior analyst from Torrance, Calif.

“He’s not even in office. You’re going to impeach somebody who’s already gone? I believe that constitutionally, that’s a problem. And I believe it’s unfair.”


Terry Morrison, 84, is a retiree in Wisconsin, and a former Republican who drifted toward the Democratic Party.

“Some on the right have come to understand Mr. Trump and his followers, from my perspective, more correctly than they did a year ago. Many of those were treating it as simply left-right politics. Now, I think more on the right see this as a moral illness threatening the very fiber of the United States.”

Rick Rojas, Will Wright, Giulia McDonnell Nieto del Rio, Lucy Tompkins and Jake Frankenfield contributed reporting.

A congressional aide watching former President Donald J. Trump’s impeachment trial, which drew more than 12 million viewers on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Credit…Erin Schaff/The New York Times

More than 12 million people have watched live television coverage of the second Senate impeachment trial of former President Donald J. Trump, an audience larger than the one for the first trial a little more than a year ago, according to Nielsen.

An audience of 12.4 million tuned into the three major cable news stations and the three major broadcast networks on Tuesday afternoon, when prosecutors started making their case on the Senate floor. Eleven million watched the opening arguments in the impeachment trial on Jan. 21, 2020.

Last year, viewership fell sharply on the second day of trial coverage, to 8.8 million. That was not the case on Wednesday. With NBC’s figures not yet available, the audience for the other five broadcast and cable networks stood at 12.3 million, Nielsen reported.

Some media executives had forecast that a trial of a president no longer in office would not attract a large audience. But many Americans are working from home because of the coronavirus pandemic. And as a television spectacle, the second trial has been a sharp contrast with the first.

Last year’s deliberations centered on presidential abuse of power and obstruction of justice. This time around, prosecutors presented chilling, never-before-seen security footage of the storming of the Capitol on Jan. 6 to help them make the case that Mr. Trump pushed his supporters toward violence.

Interest in the trial was highest on MSNBC, which features a lineup of anchors and analysts who are highly critical of the former president; the network averaged an audience of three million on Tuesday and 3.5 million on Wednesday. CNN had 2.8 million viewers on Tuesday and 3.2 million on Wednesday. CNN also drew the largest audience between the ages of 25 and 54, the demographic most important to advertisers.

Fox News, with its prime-time hosts supportive of Mr. Trump, had the lowest viewership of the three major cable news networks, and its audience dropped to 1.2 million on Thursday from two million on Wednesday.

The overall audience for the trial coverage was smaller than the number of viewers who watched other recent big political events. Nearly 40 million tuned in for President Biden’s Inaugural Address, and more than 21 million watched as the networks projected that he was the election winner in November.

Audience figures for last year’s impeachment trial fluctuated day to day. The Senate vote, which resulted in an acquittal, attracted the largest audience, nearly 14 million viewers.

Jessica Watkins, second from left, a member of the Oath Keepers militia group, was arrested in connection with the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol.
Credit…Jim Bourg/Reuters

Chilling new details emerged on Thursday in the plot by the Oath Keepers militia group to storm the Capitol as prosecutors said that an Ohio-based member of the organization was planning training sessions “for urban warfare, riot control and rescue operations” as early as one week before Election Day.

Shortly after the election, prosecutors said, the Oath Keeper member, Jessica Watkins, told an associate that she was “awaiting direction from President Trump” about what to do about the results of the vote. “POTUS has the right to activate units too,” Ms. Watkins wrote in a text message to the unnamed associate on Nov. 9. “If Trump asks me to come, I will.”

The new accounts about Ms. Watkins — one of three Oath Keeper members charged with conspiracy in connection with the Capitol attack — were contained in a striking government memo that sought her detention before trial. In the memo, prosecutors said Ms. Watkins went to Washington on Jan. 6 with as many as 40 other members of the group, and that she and one of her co-defendants, Thomas E. Caldwell, had planned to stage “a quick reaction force” of more militiamen outside the city to serve as armed reinforcements.

The federal authorities have now brought charges against more than 200 people in the attack on the Capitol last month, but the case against Ms. Watkins, Mr. Caldwell and their third co-defendant, Donovan Crowl, is one of the most serious to have so far emerged from the vast investigation. This week, Mr. Caldwell asked a judge to release him from custody, saying he was an injured Navy veteran with more than 30 years of experience with top secret matters. Ms. Watkins and Mr. Crowl are also still in jail and are likely to make similar requests to be released.

Shortly after the three militia members were arrested last month, prosecutors said that they were some of the first rioters to have planned their part in the attack on the Capitol instead of merely storming the building spontaneously. Federal agents said that Mr. Caldwell, a 66-year-old former Navy officer, had advised his fellow militia members to stay at a particular Comfort Inn in the Washington suburbs, noting that it offered a good base to “hunt at night” — an apparent reference to chasing left-wing activists. Ms. Watkins, a 38-year-old bar owner from Ohio, apparently rented a room at the hotel under an assumed name, the agents said.

The government memo filed on Thursday suggested that the investigation into the Oath Keepers, a group that largely draws its membership from former military and law enforcement personnel, has started to intensify. Prosecutors indicated that they now have access to Ms. Watkins’ personal text messages, including some in which she described the prospect of Joseph R. Biden Jr. becoming president as “an existential threat.”

“Biden may still be our president,” she wrote on Nov. 17. “If he is, our way of life as we know it is over. Our Republic would be over. Then it is our duty as Americans to fight, kill and die for our rights.”

By the end of December, prosecutors said, Ms. Watkins, a military veteran who owns a bar in rural Ohio, was making plans to go to Washington on the day of the attack on the Capitol.

“We plan on going to DC on the 6th” because “Trump wants all able bodied Patriots to come,” she wrote to Mr. Crowl on Dec. 29.

“If Trump activates the Insurrection Act,” she added, “I’d hate to miss it.”

Senator Roy Blunt, Republican of Missouri, said he “didn’t see a case a prosecutor could make against the president.”
Credit…Brandon Bell for The New York Times

After watching graphic video on Wednesday from the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, many Republican senators denounced the violence but said they were still inclined to acquit former President Donald J. Trump of the charge that he incited an insurrection.

Speaking to reporters in the hallways of the Capitol, Republican senators made a variety of arguments in Mr. Trump’s defense: that the matter should be decided by federal prosecutors, that the trial was unconstitutional since he is an ex-president, and that Mr. Trump’s words to his supporters fell short of the legal standard for incitement.

Some argued that Mr. Trump’s language was no different from passionate statements coming from Democrats in opposing the former president. And one, Senator Roy Blunt of Missouri, compared the rampage at the Capitol to protests for racial justice last year that turned violent, suggesting that the former president could not be held to account for the Jan. 6 riot any more than Democrats could for those events.

“I mean, you have a summer where people all over the country were doing similar kinds of things,” said Mr. Blunt, the fourth-ranking Republican. “I don’t know what the other side will show from Seattle and Portland and other places.”

He added that he “didn’t see a case a prosecutor could make against the president.” (The standard for conviction in impeachment is different than in a criminal trial; prosecutors must prove the official committed treason, bribery or “high crimes and misdemeanors” — typically understood as the use of power to threaten the constitutional order — not necessarily that he broke a law.)

Forty-four Republican senators — all but six in the Senate — voted on Tuesday against moving forward with the trial, arguing that it is unconstitutional since Mr. Trump is no longer in office. Seventeen Republicans would have to join every Democrat to achieve the two-thirds threshold for an impeachment conviction.

Asked if anything had changed after he viewed the video on Wednesday, Senator Tim Scott, Republican of South Carolina, said he believed House managers would “at best” get six Republicans to vote for conviction.

“Probably five, but maybe six,” Mr. Scott said.

Credit…Anna Moneymaker for The New York Times

The six Republican senators who voted to move forward with the trial were: Senators Susan Collins of Maine, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Mitt Romney of Utah, Bill Cassidy of Louisiana, Patrick J. Toomey of Pennsylvania and Ben Sasse of Nebraska.

Senator John Barrasso of Wyoming, the No. 3 Republican, said he wished Mr. Trump had “used different language,” but “I don’t think it’s constitutional” for the Senate to try him.

“For those of us that truly don’t believe that we have that constitutional authority, that becomes a pretty big obstacle for them to overcome,” he said.

Senator Thom Tillis, Republican of North Carolina, said the video made him “angry,” but that Mr. Trump had not been the only one using overheated political messaging.

“There are a number of people around here that, I’ve said before, have been placing tinder in that tinder box,” Mr. Tillis said. “And I think every one of them should reflect on their words and really think twice about what they should say.”

A Trump supporter outside the Capitol on Jan. 3.
Credit…Stefani Reynolds for The New York Times

A majority of Republicans still view President Biden’s election as illegitimate — and more than half would justify the use of force to defend “the traditional American way of life,” according to a poll released on Day 3 of former President Donald J. Trump’s impeachment trial.

Two-thirds of Republicans — 66 percent — said Mr. Biden’s election was not legitimate, compared with far smaller percentages of Democrats and independents who question the outcome, according to a survey taken during the last 10 days of January by the American Enterprise Institute, a nonpartisan think-tank that promotes conservative economic policies.

Taken as a whole, two-thirds of Americans said Mr. Biden’s win was legitimate, according to the poll.

There was an educational divide embedded in the political divide: 75 percent of Republicans without college degrees still question the results, compared to 48 percent of those in the party identifying themselves as college educated.

The most eye-opening finding, however, was the response to this sentence presented to respondents: “The traditional American way of life is disappearing so fast that we may have to use force to save it.”

While 60 percent of those surveyed rejected the idea outright, 55 percent of Republicans said they agreed with assertion — roughly three times the percentage of Democrats who expressed support for the use of force, according to the survey, which polled 2,016 U.S. adults.

The report’s authors added an important caveat: Support for the use of violence, even among those who said they would consider it, was unenthusiastic, with 9 percent of Americans over all and 13 percent of Republicans saying they “completely” agree with the necessity of taking violent actions if leaders fail.

The poll also showed that many Republicans now entertain false claims promoted by the far right of the party, with half claiming that left-wing antifa activists — and not Trump supporters — instigated the attack on the Capitol.

The survey was conducted by the institute’s Survey Center on American Life. Interviews were conducted among a random sample of U.S. adults using a web-based panel designed to be representative of the U.S. general population. Its margin of error was plus or minus 3 percentage points.

The poll comes at a moment of extraordinary stress for the Republican Party as it struggles to move forward following the loss of a deeply polarizing former president who maintains a tight grip on his party’s conservative base.

Last Friday, more than 100 anti-Trump Republicans — many of them well-known dissenters active on social media and the cable networks — participated in a Zoom call to discuss creating a breakaway party group to promote “principled conservatism,” a direct rebuke of Mr. Trump, according to one of the participants.

Creation of the party, which would potentially run center-right candidates around the country, was reported earlier by Reuters.

The American Enterprise Institute’s poll offered the group a glimmer of hope: While nearly 80 percent of Republicans still support Mr. Trump, those surveyed said their loyalty lies more with the party than the former president, by a 63-to-37 percent margin.

Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has come under widespread criticism over the possible misuse of official funds for his personal and political benefit.
Credit…T.J. Kirkpatrick for The New York Times

In his more than two years as secretary of state, Mike Pompeo pulled no punches against China, regularly criticizing it for human rights abuses, military aggressions and the spread of the coronavirus.

But when it came to passing out party favors, Mr. Pompeo relied on the country to help produce the perfect pen.

Documents released on Thursday show that Mr. Pompeo used taxpayer funds to buy 400 specially embossed pens, worth more than $10,000 in total, for guests who attended private dinners at the State Department as he mulled his political future.

The pens were the topic of several weeks of correspondence in 2018 between unidentified State Department employees and a Florida-based vendor who was hired to design souvenirs for the so-called Madison Dinners that Mr. Pompeo and his wife, Susan, hosted.

Colors, etching and emblems for the pens were discussed and then reconsidered, the documents show. At one point, an eager department employee needed to know how quickly they could be delivered to Washington.

The vendor advised it would take more time because “the little emblems on the pens are made in China.”

Mr. Pompeo, who called the coronavirus “the Wuhan virus” for where it originated and constantly hammered of the Chinese Communist Party leadership, was among the most hawkish China critics among President Donald J. Trump’s advisers. Many of his concerns were broadly shared among American and foreign officials, as China violated human rights against ethnic Uighurs and protesters in Hong Kong, and sought to muscle in on Taiwan and disputed waters.

But Mr. Pompeo himself came under widespread criticism over the possible misuse of official State Department funds for his personal and political benefit, as the Madison Dinners became a focus of an inspector general’s inquiry.

The dinners were held from 2018 to 2020 and hosted about a dozen American business leaders, conservative political officials and a scattering of diplomats and foreign dignitaries. In all, the gatherings cost at least $43,000, according to earlier documents released by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington.

The watchdog group has sued the government under the Freedom of Information Act for information about the dinners and Mr. Pompeo’s other activities that might be construed as political while he was in office. The latest tranche of documents, released on Thursday, also included receipts for a few thousand dollars for food, printed tickets and private contractors to operate the elevators at the State Department for guests as they arrived and departed.

Mr. Pompeo has previously defended the dinners as the kind of soft-diplomacy events that previous secretaries of state also held. He did not respond to a request for comment on Thursday.

Copyright © 2020 AMSNBC News