These nine members of Congress served as the impeachment “managers,” prosecuting the cast against former President Donald Trump, in a trial that resulted in an acquittal, although the vote was 57 to 43 in favor of guilt, the most bipartisan vote for conviction by far of the four presidential impeachment trials in American history. (A two-thirds majority was needed for conviction.)
Click on their photographs below to read brief snippets of what they said at the trail, and then watch the video and/or read the transcript of the closing argument by the lead manager, Rep. James Raskin
Closing Argument by Rep Raskin
Thank you, Mr. President. Members of the Senate, before I proceed, it was suggested by defense counsel that Donald Trump’s conduct during the attack as described in Congressman Buetler’s statement is somehow not part of the constitutional offense for which former President Trump has been charged. I want to reject that falsehood and that fallacy immediately. After he knew that violence was underway at the Capitol, President Trump took actions that further incited the insurgents to be more inflamed and to take even more extreme, selective, and focused action against Vice President Mike Pence. Former President Trump also, as described by Congressman Butler’s notes, refused requests to publicly, immediately, and forcefully call off the riots.
And when he was told that the insurgents inside the Capitol were Trump supporters, the President said, “Well, Kevin, I guess these people are more upset about the election than you are.” Think about that for a second. This uncontradicted statement that has just been stipulated as part of the evidentiary record, the President said, “Well, Kevin, I guess these people,” meaning the mobsters, the insurrectionists, “are more upset about the election than you are.” That conduct is obviously part and parcel of the constitutional offense that he was impeached for, namely incitement to insurrection, that is, continuing incitement to the insurrection.
The conduct described not only perpetuated his continuing offense, but also provides to us here today further decisive evidence of his intent to incite the insurrection in the first place. When my opposing counsel says that you should ignore the president’s actions after the insurrection began, that is plainly wrong, and it of course reflects the fact that they have no defense to his outrageous, scandalous, and unconstitutional conduct in the middle of a violent assault on the Capitol that he incited.
Senators, think about it for a second. Say you light a fire and you’re charged with arson. And the defense counsel says everything that I did after the fire started is irrelevant. And the court would reject that immediately say, “That’s not true at all.” It’s extremely relevant to whether or not you committed the crime. If you run over and try to put out the flames, if you get lots of water and say, “Help! Help! There’s a fire,” you call for help, a court will infer, could infer that you didn’t intend for the fire to be lit in the first place. They would accept your defense, perhaps, that it was all an accident. It was all an accident. Accidents happen with fire. But if on the other hand, when the fire erupts, you go and you pour more fuel on it, you stand by and you watch it gleefully, any reasonable person will infer that you not only intended the fire to start, but that once it got started and began to spread, you intended to continue to keep the fire going.
And that’s exactly where we are, my friends. Of course your conduct while a crime is ongoing is relevant to your culpability, both to the continuation of the offense, but also directly relevant, directly illuminating, to what your purpose was originally, what was your intent. And any court in the land would laugh out of court any criminal defendant who said, “What I did after I allegedly killed that person is irrelevant to whether or not I intended to kill them.” I mean, come on. Donald Trump’s refusal not only to send help, but also to continue to further incite the insurgents against his own vice president, his own vice president, provides further decisive evidence of both his intent to start this violent insurrection and his continued incitement once the attack had begun to override the Capitol.
All right. Senators, that was in response to this new evidentiary particle that came in. But in my closing, I want to thank you for your remarkable attention and your seriousness of purpose befitting your office. We’ve offered you overwhelming and irrefutable and certainly unrefuted evidence that former President Trump incited this insurrection against us. To quote the statement Representative Liz Cheney made in January, “On January 6, 2021, a violent mob attacked the United States Capitol to obstruct the process of our democracy and stop the counting of presidential electoral votes. This insurrection caused injury, death, and destruction in the most sacred space in our republic.”
Representative Cheney continued, “Much more will become clear in coming days and weeks. But what we know now is enough. The President of the United States summoned this mob, assembled this mob, and lit the flame of this attack. Everything that followed was his doing. None of this would have happened without the president. The president could have immediately and forcefully intervened to stop the violence. He did not. There has never been a greater betrayal by the President of the United States of his office and his oath to the Constitution. I will vote to impeach the president.”
Representative Cheney was right. She based her vote on the facts, on the evidence, and on the Constitution. And evidence, the video, documentary, eye witnesses, has only grown stronger and stronger and more detailed right up to today, right up to 10 minutes ago, over the course of this Senate trial. And I have no doubt that you all noticed that despite the various propaganda reels and so on, President Trump’s lawyers have said almost nothing to contest or overcome the actual evidence of former President Trump’s conduct that we presented, much less have they brought their client forward to tell us his side of the story.
We sent him a letter last week, which they rejected out of hand. The former President of the United States refused to come and tell us. And I ask any of you, if you were charged with inciting violent insurrection against our country and you were falsely accused, would you come and testify? I know I would. I’d be there at 7:00 in the morning, waiting for the doors to open. I’m sure that’s true of 100 senators in this room. I hope it’s true of 100 senators in this room.
Senate was lectured several times yesterday about “cancel culture.” Well, not even two weeks ago, the president’s most reliable supporters in the House… I’m sorry, not the president, the former president’s most reliable supporters in the House tried to cancel out Representative Cheney because of her courageous and patriotic defense of the republic and the truth and the Constitution. They tried to strip her of her leading role as Chair of the House Republican Conference. But you know what? I hope everybody takes a second to reflect on this. The Conference rejected this plainly retaliatory and cowardly attempt to punish her for telling the truth to her constituents and her country and voting for impeachment. Who says you can’t stand up against bullies? Who says? In my mind, Liz Cheney is a hero for standing up for the truth and resisting this retaliatory “cancel culture” that she was subjected to. But she beat them on a vote of 145 to 61, more than a two-to-one vote.
Ben Franklin, a great champion of the Enlightenment, an enemy of political fanaticism and cowardice, and of course another great Philadelphian, once wrote this: “I have observed that wrong is always growing more wrong until there is no bearing it anymore, and that right, however opposed, comes right at last.” Comes right at last. Think about that. This is America, home of the brave, land of the free. The America of Ben Franklin, who said, “If you make yourself a sheep, the wolves will eat you.” Don’t make yourself a sheep. The wolves will eat you. The America of Thomas Jefferson, who said at another difficult moment, “A little patience and we shall see the reign of witches pass over, their spirits dissolve, and the people, recovering their true sight, restore their government to its true principles.” The America of Tom Paine, who said, “The mind, once enlightened, cannot again become dark.”
Now, we showed you hour after hour of realtime evidence demonstrating every step of Donald Trump’s constitutional crime. We showed you how he indoctrinated the mob with his Orwellian propaganda about how the election he lost by more than 7 million votes and 306 to 232 in the Electoral College, which he had described as a landslide when he won by the exact same margin in 2016, was actually a landslide victory for him being stolen away by a bipartisan conspiracy and fraud and corruption. We showed you how 61 courts and 88 judges, federal, state, local, trial, appellate, from the lowest courts in the land to the United States Supreme Court, across the street, and eight federal judges he himself named to the bench all found no basis in fact or law for his outlandish and deranged inventions and concoctions about the election.
In the meantime, President Trump tried to bully state-level officials to commit a fraud on the public by literally finding votes. We examined the case study of Georgia, where he called to threaten Republican Brad Raffensperger to “find him” 11,780 votes. That’s all he wanted, he said. 11,780 votes. Don’t we all. 11,700 votes. That’s all he wanted to nullify Biden’s victory and to win the election. Raffensperger ended up with savage death threats against him and his family telling him he deserved a firing squad. Another election official urged Trump to cut it out or people would get hurt and killed, a prescient warning indeed. Raffensperger ended up saying that he and his family supported Donald Trump, gave him money, “and now Trump threw us under the bus.” We saw what happened in Lansing, Michigan with the extremist mob he cultivated, which led to two shocking Capitol sieges and a criminal conspiracy by extremists to kidnap and likely assassinate Governor Whitmer. We saw him trying to get state legislatures to disavow and overthrow their popular election results and replace them with Trump electors.
We showed you the process of summoning the mob, reaching out, urging people to come to Washington for a “wild time.” As we celebrate President’s Day on Monday, think, imagine, is there another president in our history who would urge supporters to come to Washington for a “wild time”? You saw how he embraced violent extremist elements like the Proud Boys, who were told in a nationally televised presidential candidate debate to “stand back and stand by,” which became their official slogan as they converged on Washington with other extremest and seditious groups and competed to be the lead storm troopers of the attack on this building. You saw the assembly of the mob on January 6. And how beautiful that angry mob must have looked to Donald Trump as he peered down from the lectern with the seal of the President of the United States of America emblazoned on it. That crowd was filled with extremists in tactical gear, armed to the teeth and ready to fight, and other brawling MAGA supporters, all of them saying, “Stop the steal right now.”
And he said he was going to march with them to the Capitol even though the permit for the rally, specifically [just for the Ellipse], but he said he would march with them, giving them more comfort that what they were doing was legitimate, it was okay. But of course he stayed back as he presumably didn’t want to be too close to the “action” at the Capitol, as the lawyers called it. Not an insurrection, they urged us just yesterday, it’s an action. He didn’t want to be too close to the action when all hell was about to break loose.
Now, incitement, as we’ve discussed, requires an inherently fact-based evidentiary inquiry. And this is what we did. We gave you many hours of specific factual details about, to use Congresswoman Cheney’s words, “How the president summoned the mob, assembled the mob, incited it, lit the match, sending them off to the Capitol where they thought, as they yelled out, that they’d been invited by the President of the United States.” And then of course they unleashed unparalleled violence against our overwhelmed and besieged but heroic police officers, who you thoughtfully honored yesterday, when the officers got in their way as they entered the Capitol at the behest of the President of the United States to “stop the steal.”
Now, I’m convinced most senators must be convinced by this overwhelming and specific detail, because most Americans are. But say you still have your doubts. You think the president really thought that he was sending his followers to participate in a peaceful, non-violent rally, the kind that might’ve been organized by Julian Bond, who my distinguished opposing counsel brought up. Ella Baker, Bob Moses, our late beloved colleague John Lewis, for the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee. Maybe the president really thought this was going to be like the March on Washington organized by Bayard Rustin and Dr. Martin Luther King, who said, “Non-violence is the answer to the crucial moral and political questions of our time.”
So, let’s say you’re still flirting with the idea that Donald Trump’s conduct was “totally appropriate,” as he proclaimed right off the bat, and he’s the innocent victim of a mass accident or catastrophe like a fire or a flood, as we were invited to frame it on our opening day by distinguished co-counsel or opposing counsel. And you think, “Maybe we’re just looking for somebody to blame for this nightmare and catastrophe that has befallen the republic. We’re just looking for someone to blame.”
Well, here’s the key question, then, in resolving your doubts if you’re in that category. How did Donald Trump react when he learned of the violent storming of the Capitol and the threats to senators, members of the House, and his own vice-president, as well as the images he saw on TV of the pummeling and beating and harassment of our police officers? Did he spring into action to stop the violence and save us? Did he even wonder about his own security, since an out-of-control, anti-government mob could come after him, too? Did he quickly try to get in touch with or denounce the Proud Boys, the Oath Keepers, the rally organizers, the Save America Rally organizers, and everyone on the extreme right to tell them that this was not what he had in mind, it was a big mistake, “Call it off, call it off, call it off,” as Representative Gallagher begged him to do on national television? No. He delighted in it. He reveled in it. He exalted in it. He could not understand why the people around him did not share his delight.
And then a long period of silence ensued while the mob beat the daylights out of police officers and invaded this building, as you saw on security footage, and proceeded to hunt down Vice President Mike Pence as a traitor and denounced and cursed Speaker Pelosi, both of whom you heard mob members say they wanted to kill. They were both in real danger. And our government could have been thrown into absolute turmoil without the heroism of our officers and the bravery and courage of a lot of people in this room.
Here’s what Republican Representative Anthony Gonzalez of Ohio said. He’s a former pro-football player. “We are imploring the president to help, to stand up, to help defend the United States Capitol and the United States Congress, which is under attack. We are begging, essentially, and he was nowhere to be found.” Nowhere to be found.
And as I’ve emphasized this morning, that dereliction of duty, that desertion of duty, was central to his incitement of insurrection and inextricable from it. Inextricable. Bound together. It reveals his state of mind that day, what he was thinking as he provoked the mob to violence and further violence. It shows how he perpetuated his continuing offense on January 6th, his course of conduct charged in the Article of Impeachment as he further incited the mob during the attack aiming it at Vice President Mike Pence himself, while failing to quell it in either of his roles as Commander-in-Chief or his real role that day, Inciter-in-Chief. And it powerfully demonstrates that the ex-president knew, of course, that violence was foreseeable, that it was predictable and predicted that day, since he was not surprised and not horrified. No, he was delighted. And through his acts of omission and commission that day, he abused his office by siding with the insurrectionists at almost every point rather than with the Congress of the United States, rather than with the Constitution.
In just a moment, my colleague Mr. Cicilline will address President Trump’s conduct, his actions and inactions, his culpable state of mind during the attack, as he will establish yesterday’s explosive revelations about House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy’s desperate call to Trump and Trump’s truly astounding reaction confirm that Trump was doing nothing to help the people in this room or this building. It’s now clear beyond doubt that Trump supported the actions of the mob. And so he must be convicted. It’s that simple.
When he took the stage on January 6th, he knew exactly how combustible the situation was. He knew there were many people in the crowd who were ready to jump into action, to engage in violence, at any signal that he needed them to fight like hell to “stop the steal.” And that’s exactly what he told them to do. Then he aimed them straight here, right down Pennsylvania at the Capitol, where he told them that the steal was occurring, that is, the counting of the electoral college votes.
And we all know what happened next. They attacked this building. They disrupted the peaceful transfer of power. They injured and killed people, convinced that they were acting on his instructions and with his approval and protection. And while that happened, he further incited them while failing to defend us. If that’s not ground for conviction, if that’s not a high crime and misdemeanor against the republic, the United States of America, then nothing is. President Trump must be convicted for the safety and security of our democracy and our people.