Democratic prosecutors plan to use a dramatic video compilation made up of clips of Donald Trump’s remarks and scenes from the 6 January Capitol riots to prove that the former US president did indeed incite the riots.
The video material may replace live testimony, sources familiar with the plans told the outlet. Daniel S. Goldman, a former House lawyer who worked on Trump’s first impeachment said that “it’s just the practical realities of where we are with a former president."
“This is also something that we learned from the last trial: This is a political animal, and these witnesses are not going to move the needle,” Goldman said.
Representative Jamie Raskin, the lead prosecutor, has been coaching his colleagues to aggressively select their most potent arguments and integrate them with the footage they plan to play in the Senate chamber, the outlet said.
The lawmakers' pretrial brief suggests they are planning to link videos of Trump urging his supporters to “fight like hell” to preserve the "country" with videos posted by members of the crowd before many of them stormed the Capitol.
As prosecutors and Trump’s defence lawyers expect to have at least 12 hours each to make their case, it appears that the trial might turn into dramatic video clip battle, with Raskin's video compared to "a blockbuster action film" by the New York Times.
Meanwhile, Bruce L. Castor Jr., who is to lead the defence team, told Fox News that he, too, would rely on video, possibly showing unrest in American cities led by Democrats.
The defence reportedly plans to mount its case on the Senate lacking the jurisdiction to judge Trump since he's already left office. The lawyers also plan to argue that Trump’s remarks on election fraud as well as his 6 January speech are protected by the First Amendment.
Earlier, CNN's Jim Acosta, citing Trump spokesperson Jason Miller, tweeted that “the former president will not testify,” while Trump’s lawyers called Raskin’s letter to the former US President requesting he “provide testimony under oath, either before or during the Senate impeachment trial,” “a public relations stunt.”
Last month, the US House of Representatives voted 232-197 to impeach Trump for “incitement of insurrection” with at least 10 Republicans breaking ranks to censure him.
Later, however, several GOP lawmakers stated that the Senate lacks the constitutional authority to hold an impeachment trial for Trump after he left office. A conviction in the Senate wold bar him from running for office again in 2024.
Trump, who repeatedly claimed there was massive voter fraud during the 2020 election, gave a speech during the 6 January “Stop the Steal” rally, calling on his supporters to protest lawmakers accepting electoral slates from US states that Trump claimed were invalid and cost him victory. After that, thousands of rioters stormed the Capitol building in a bid to prevent Congress from certifying Joe Biden's victory.
Five people died and more than 170 cases have been opened by police in connection with the riots as a result. Trump denies the charges, saying that his remarks were "totally appropriate."