The sequence of events that happened after Trump’s insurrectionist mob smashed their way into the Capitol was of deep concern to the people on the pointy end of the spears and flagpoles. The sequence of events surrounding Trump’s actions after his speech and before the National Guard finally arrived at the Capitol that evening was the subject of the most serious, and important, questions of the day.
During Friday’s session, Trump’s attorneys tried to build on the objection made by Sen. Mike Lee, to claim that the call between Trump, Lee, and Sen. Tommy Tuberville was “heresay.”That sequence became the direct subject of questioning on Friday evening during Trump’s impeachment trial, when Sen. Mitt Romney and Sen. Susan Collins sent this question to both Trump’s legal team and the House impeachment managers.
Romney and Collins: “When Pres. Trump send disparaging tweets at 2:24 PM was he aware that Pence had been removed from the Senate by Secret Service for his safety.”
While Rep. Joaquin Castro made it clear Trump had to have known that the Capitol had been breached, and that the call to Sen. Tuberville made it clear Pence had been removed from the chamber, the answer from Trump’s legal team was even more telling … they didn’t have one.
Instead, Trump’s lawyers fell back on something they would repeat every time someone asked about Trump’s action or Trump’s knowledge: They blamed the House for “not doing a full investigation.” Which is an astounding claim, because the only one who had the knowledge that could answer the question is their client, Donald J. Trump.
The refusal to answer this question was the loudest silence of the whole impeachment trial. And it wasn’t the only time this happened. Here’s another question, this time from Sen. Collins and Sen. Lisa Murkowski.
Note that Trump’s attorneys also continually acted as if the House managers had access to video or other information that was not provided to them. This is not true. Trump’s legal team had access to the same materials as the House team. Again, the only missing information here is that which could only be found in the skull of their client — a client who was invited to testify, and who refused.
Senators weren’t done poking at this obvious weak point. Sen. Bill Cassidy sent a question to both sides saying “Sen. Tuberville reports he spoke to Trump at 2:15 and told Trump that Pence had just evacuated. Presumably Trump understood that rioters were in the building. Trump then tweeted that Pence lacked courage. Does this show that Trump was tolerant of the intimidation of Pence?”
Trump attorney van der Veen answered, “Directly no, but I dispute the premise of your facts.” He then returned to attacking the House managers for not having information exclusive to their client.
As the Senators were leaving the chamber on Friday, Sen. Tuberville underlined the weakness of this point by sticking a fork in the “heresay” argument.
The removal of Pence happened at 2:15. It’s recorded on the cameras of the Senate chamber.
Then, just after Trump hung up from his conversation with Tuberville, with full knowledge that his mob was in the Capitol building and that Pence was in danger, Trump tweeted again.
This is just one sequence out of hours in which Trump displayed total disregard for either the security of the nation or the lives of those in Congress. But no other moment may so completely describe his malice and criminal indifference.
Finally, just as the session was ending on Friday, CNN reported on another aspect of Trump’s refusal to act on Jan.6 — his confrontation with House minority leader Kevin McCarthy. That conversation had already been the subject of a report used by the House managers; a report which Trump’s legal team also dismissed as “third hand.”
Now CNN has more details of the phone call between Trump and McCarthy. In that call, Trump told McCarthy that the insurrectionists “cared” more about the election than McCarthy.
“Well, Kevin,” said Trump, “I guess these people are more upset about the election than you are.”
McCarthy was still begging Trump to do something to call off his supporters when rioters were breaking smashing the windows of his office. Finally, frustrated that Trump was doing nothing to help, leading McCarthy to shout. “Who the f–k do you think you are talking to?”
Apparently Trump knew exactly who he was talking to … someone who would vote against Trump’s impeachment and come right down to Mar-a-Lago to beg forgiveness for ever raising his voice to his king.
Witnesses. The House managers should demand witnesses. And McCarthy should be at the top of the list.