Impeachment Video Reveals a True American Horror Story

Impeachment trials of American presidents are rare. They are almost by definition grave and serious.

But the proceeding against former President Donald J. Trump was likely the first to include a parental advisory for graphic violence.

Beginning Wednesday’s presentation, which included never-before-seen video of the Jan. 6 assault on the Capitol, Representative Jamie Raskin, the lead House impeachment manager, began with a warning: “We do urge parents and teachers to exercise close review of what young people are watching here, and please watch along with them if you’re allowing them to watch.”

The chilling footage wasn’t much easier for adults — for anyone, really, who wants to believe that America is a secure, stable democracy. It was horrible, but it was also horribly necessary.

In a brutal and deftly edited presentation, the managers presented the attack on the election’s certification as a found-footage horror movie.

Sometimes the horror was in seeing how awful and vicious the day was. Security and body camera footage showed police officers defending the building engaged in what could have been siege scenes from “Game of Thrones” — grisly, grunting, intimate violence. On emergency calls, officers screamed out calls for support. “We’ve lost the line!” “The crowd is using munitions against us!” “Multiple Capitol injuries!”

The Trump Impeachment ›

What You Need to Know

    • A trial is being held to decide whether former President Donald J. Trump is guilty of inciting a deadly mob of his supporters when they stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6, violently breaching security measures and sending lawmakers into hiding as they met to certify President Biden’s victory.
    • The House voted 232 to 197 to approve a single article of impeachment, accusing Mr. Trump of “inciting violence against the government of the United States” in his quest to overturn the election results. Ten Republicans joined the Democrats in voting to impeach him.
    • To convict Mr. Trump, the Senate would need a two-thirds majority to be in agreement. This means at least 17 Republican senators would have to vote with Senate Democrats to convict.
    • A conviction seems unlikely. Last month, only five Republicans in the Senate sided with Democrats in beating back a Republican attempt to dismiss the charges because Mr. Trump is no longer in office. Only 27 senators say they are undecided about whether to convict Mr. Trump.
    • If the Senate convicts Mr. Trump, finding him guilty of “inciting violence against the government of the United States,” senators could then vote on whether to bar him from holding future office. That vote would only require a simple majority, and if it came down to party lines, Democrats would prevail with Vice President Kamala Harris casting the tiebreaking vote.
    • If the Senate does not convict Mr. Trump, the former president could be eligible to run for public office once again. Public opinion surveys show that he remains by far the most popular national figure in the Republican Party.

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