The House Democrats prosecuting former President Donald J. Trump argued Wednesday that his incitement of the mob that stormed the Capitol began months before the day of the riot as he propagated a “Big Lie” to persuade supporters that his re-election was being stolen.
As they formally opened their case on the Senate floor, the managers, as the prosecutors are called, laid out a sweeping narrative of the events leading up to the deadly assault on Congress, playing one video clip after another showing Mr. Trump falsely claiming that the election was being rigged and calling on his backers to “fight like hell” to prevent him from losing power.
“The evidence will show that he clearly incited the January 6 insurrection,” Representative Jamie Raskin, Democrat of Maryland and the lead manager told the senators sitting as jurors in the second impeachment trial that Mr. Trump has faced. “It will show that Donald Trump surrendered his role as commander in chief and became the inciter in chief of a dangerous insurrection.”
“He told them to fight like hell,” Mr. Raskin added, “and they brought us hell that day.”
The prosecution once again made extensive use of chilling images documenting last month’s deadly assault on the Capitol. Later in their presentation the managers planned to unveil never-before-seen security camera footage that they suggested would shock the audience.
The arguments have forced senators to relive the raucous attack that day while confronting the question of Mr. Trump’s culpability in the first mass siege of the Capitol since 1814. Never before have senators sat in judgment of a president accused of putting their own lives in jeopardy, much less with the aim of disrupting American democracy by preventing the counting of the Electoral College votes sealing his fall from power.
Representative Joe Neguse, a Democrat from Colorado and another manager, outlined the prosecution’s view of the evidence, breaking the narrative into three parts — what he called the provocation, the attack and the harm.
Mr. Neguse played several video clips of Mr. Trump asserting even before the vote that “the only way we can lose” is if the other side cheated, priming his base to reject any election result other than a victory for him and then egging them on with repeated phrases like “stop the steal” and “fight like hell.”
“He was telling Americans that their vote had been stolen, and in America our vote is our voice,” Mr. Neguse said. “So his false claims about election fraud that was the drumbeat being used to inspire, instigate and ignite them, to anger them.”
The managers likewise played video or showed Twitter messages from some of the rioters asserting that they were responding to Mr. Trump’s entreaties.
As his actions came under scrutiny on the Senate floor, Mr. Trump remained secluded at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida, uncharacteristically silent and deprived of his Twitter account because the social media company concluded that his false and incendiary messages violated its policy. By contrast, he posted or reposted 142 tweets on the first day of prosecution’s arguments in last year’s Senate impeachment trial, a one-day record to that point.
This time, he is leaving his case to his lawyers, who did not impress senators in either party with their opening foray on Tuesday and under the bipartisan rules are not scheduled to speak on Wednesday.
In defending Mr. Trump’s actions, the lawyers have previously maintained that the former president’s language was protected free speech and hardly incitement of violence or insurrection.
“There is no set of facts that ever justifies abrogating the freedoms granted to Americans in the United States Constitution,” Bruce L. Castor Jr., one of the lawyers, said on Fox News on Wednesday before the Senate session resumed.
Mr. Castor defended his much-maligned meandering performance on Tuesday and denied reports in the New York Times and elsewhere quoting people close to Mr. Trump saying that the former president was angry. “My reaction is you need to check those sources because that has not been communicated to me by the president or anybody associated with the president,” Mr. Castor said.
Mr. Trump and his lawyers could nonetheless afford to be confident because the Senate vote on Tuesday that permitted the trial to proceed also foreshadowed its expected ending. While the Senate dismissed Mr. Trump’s objection to the constitutionality of putting a former president on trial by a 56-to-44 vote, his allies mustered more than the 34 votes needed to assure acquittal given the Constitution’s two-thirds requirement for conviction.
The impeachment managers opened their argument for convicting former President Donald J. Trump on Wednesday with a blunt charge that the pro-Trump mob responsible for storming the Capitol was, in part, motivated by racism.
Representative Jamie Raskin, the Maryland Democrat leading the prosecution on behalf of House Democrats, concluded his opening remarks on the second day of Mr. Trump’s impeachment trial in the Senate by invoking the role played by rioters linked to white supremacist groups.
On the day of the attacks, Jan. 6, some of the rioters brandished Confederate flags inside the Capitol, something that never happened during the Civil War era, while some demonstrators outside the building set up a noose, a chilling echo of the intimidation tactics used against Blacks in the South.
And Mr. Raskin, as he did a day earlier, cast his assertion in deeply personal terms.
He quoted one of the Black officers who battled the mob that day describing his despair at being subjected to racist taunts from a crowd of attackers that was, according to witness accounts and video, overwhelmingly white.
“Afterwards, overwhelmed by emotion, he broke down in the rotunda. And he cried for 15 minutes,” Mr. Raskin said, referring to an article published last month in BuzzFeed News that quoted several exhausted defenders of the Capitol anonymously.
“And he shouted out, I got called an N-word 15 times today. And then he recorded, I sat down with one of my buddies, another Black guy in tears, just started streaming down my face, and I said what the F, man, is this America?” Mr. Raskin said, paraphrasing the account to clean up the language.
A day earlier, Democrats highlighted the heroism of Eugene Goodman, a Black Capitol Police officer, who diverted dozens of angry rioters from where legislators and journalists were hiding, putting himself at great risk. Footage of Mr. Goodman coaxing the demonstrators to follow him was featured in a graphic 13-minute video shown to the Senate on Tuesday.
The House impeachment managers plan to show senators previously unseen Capitol security footage on Wednesday as they seek to illustrate the violence unleashed by a pro-Trump mob last month and the imminent risk it posed to top government leaders, according to senior aides.
The video is likely to be a chilling highlight on the first day of prosecutors’ formal presentation of evidence. Over eight or more hours, they will try to prove that the assault was the climax of a monthslong campaign instigated by former President Donald J. Trump, fueled by lies about a stolen election and aimed at overturning his loss.
Taking aim at Republican senators drifting toward acquittal, they plan to argue that none of the deadly violence that followed would have happened without him, according to the aides, who spoke on condition of anonymity to preview the day’s proceedings.
They declined to reveal what the security footage would show, but the Capitol complex is vast, and its surveillance system extensive. The video could allow the managers to flesh out the publicly available record — featured dramatically in a 13-minute video they showed on Tuesday at the start of the trial — with a richer timeline of events. That would show senators precisely what was happening inside the Capitol as the mob breached the building and police tried to hold them off while lawmakers and Vice President Mike Pence met for the official counting of electoral votes to formalize President Biden’s victory.
Mr. Pence and members of the House and Senate were evacuated with just minutes to spare, and the aides said the House prosecutors would emphasize to senators sitting in judgment of Mr. Trump how much worse the attack could have been.
They are also expected to continue to use extensive footage shot by the rioters themselves and news video of Mr. Trump’s own words. Some Republican senators reported that the video the managers presented on Tuesday, providing the longest look to date at the scope of what had happened, was deeply impactful.
This was no phone call transcript, no dry words on a page open to interpretation. This was a horde of extremists pushing over barricades and beating police officers. This was a mob smashing windows and pounding on doors. This was a mass of marauders setting up a gallows and shouting, “Take the building!” and “Fight for Trump!”
As the United States Senate opened an unprecedented second impeachment trial of former President Donald J. Trump on Tuesday amid the echoes of history, the House managers prosecuting him played powerful video images of last month’s deadly assault on the Capitol that made abundantly clear how different this proceeding will be from the first.
Where the case against Mr. Trump a year ago turned on what might have seemed like an abstract or narrow argument about his behind-the-scenes interactions with a far-off country, Ukraine, the case this year turns on an eruption of violence that Americans saw on television with their own eyes — and that the senators serving as jurors experienced personally when they fled for their lives.
Rather than a judgment of where foreign policy turns into political excess, this sequel trial amounts to a reckoning over Mr. Trump’s very presidency. At issue in the Senate chamber over the coming days will be many of the fundamental aspects that defined Mr. Trump’s four years in power: his relentless assaults on truth, his deliberate efforts to foment divisions in society, his shattering of norms and his undermining of a democratic election.
Still, this trial may end up with the same verdict as the last one. On a test vote on the constitutionality of prosecuting a president after he leaves office, 44 Republicans on Tuesday stood by Mr. Trump, a measure of his enduring sway within his party and a signal that he most likely will secure the 34 votes he needs for acquittal given the two-thirds supermajority required for conviction.
But if the six Republicans who voted to proceed on Tuesday also vote to convict him for inciting an insurrection, it will be the most senators to break from a president of their own party in any impeachment trial in American history.
“I would not have thought it when I was sitting on the Senate floor trying the first impeachment — it turns out that was just the opening act,” said Norman L. Eisen, a lawyer for House Democrats during last year’s trial over Mr. Trump’s pressure campaign on Ukraine for political help. “The second one crystallizes all the anti-democratic elements that characterized Trump’s tenure and his Ukraine high crimes but brings them to an even higher pitch.”
The gut-wrenching 13-minute video aired by Democratic impeachment managers on Tuesday dramatically set the tone of former President Donald J. Trump’s impeachment trial by reminding senators — now jurors, then the quarry of a mob — of the raw violence that pervaded the Jan. 6 riot.
After a short opening statement, the lead manager, Representative Jamie Raskin, played a video. Running more than 13 minutes, it showed the Capitol riot in searing detail: a police officer crushed against a door, screaming in pain; lawmakers and journalists taking cover in the House chamber; Officer Eugene Goodman of the Capitol Police leading rioters away from the unsecured Senate floor. It also showed Mr. Trump telling his supporters: “Go home. We love you. You’re very special.”
Most legislative events, even impeachments, have a predictable cadence. But the video, edited by House Democrats to present the attack on the Capitol on a visual timeline coinciding with Mr. Trump’s statements and tweets, was one of the rare moments, common in cinema but rare on C-SPAN, that took the chamber by surprise.
There was an audible gasp in the room when the images appeared of a Capitol Police officer firing a single fatal gunshot at a protester who was trying to break into the House chamber. And the discordant sound of curses being thrown at police that day drew looks of disdain in a chamber with strict rules against the use of profanity.
Senators remained impassive, for the most part, but there were times when their emotions showed. Many of the reporters who covered the riot were deeply moved, with some fighting back tears, as they watched the images of the building being overwhelmed by angry protesters, some of them seeing many of the images for first time.
Senator Cory Booker, Democrat of New Jersey, put a hand over his eyes as he absorbed the video. Senator Susan Collins, Republican of Maine, took careful notes. A few looked away or gazed at their phones in discomfort.
Senator Roy Blunt of Missouri told reporters that it was “the longest time I’ve sat down and just watched straight footage of what was truly a horrendous day.” (Mr. Blunt, a Republican, still voted against continuing the trial.)
Six Republican senators on Tuesday joined 50 Democrats in voting to proceed with the impeachment trial of former President Donald J. Trump, forming a contingent far smaller than what would be needed to convict Mr. Trump of “incitement of insurrection” related to the riot at the Capitol on Jan. 6.
The six Republicans were Senators Bill Cassidy of Louisiana, Susan Collins of Maine, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Mitt Romney of Utah, Ben Sasse of Nebraska and Patrick J. Toomey of Pennsylvania.
The vote addressed the constitutional question of whether the Senate has the power to try Mr. Trump even though he has left office.
The result largely mirrored the tally last month, when the Senate voted to kill an attempt to dismiss the trial as unconstitutional. Five Republicans had joined all 50 Democrats in support of going ahead with the trial, though others later said they were still open to hearing the case and described their votes as a call for more debate on the constitutionality of the trial.
But in the end, the lone senator to switch sides was Mr. Cassidy. Speaking to reporters after the vote on Tuesday, he praised the House impeachment managers for their presentation and panned the performance of Mr. Trump’s legal team.
“They did everything they could but to talk about the question at hand,” he said. “And when they talked about it, they kind of glided over it, almost as if they were embarrassed of their arguments.”
He continued, “Now if I’m an impartial juror, and one side is doing a great job and the other side is doing a terrible job on the issue at hand, as an impartial juror, I’m going to vote for the side that did the good job.”
Like the vote in January, the one on Tuesday signaled that Mr. Trump was all but certain to be acquitted. Seventeen Republicans would need to join all 50 Democrats to reach the two-thirds threshold for convicting the former president.
A quartet of House committees on Wednesday are expected to further hammer out the details of President Biden’s stimulus package, as Democrats race to send the $1.9 trillion plan to Mr. Biden’s desk before unemployment benefits begin to lapse in mid-March.
After a marathon session that began on Tuesday and lasted more than 12 hours, the House Education and Labor Committee finalized its portion of the economic aid package, providing billions of dollars for schools, health care subsidies, and food assistance programs. The package also includes a gradual increase in the federal minimum wage to $15.
Republicans spent the hearing lobbying for amendments that would curtail a minimum-wage increase and impose requirements for school reopenings. The amendments were shot down in a string of votes along party lines in the wee hours of the morning.
Democrats are poised to advance the stimulus bill as a reconciliation bill, which requires only a simple majority to pass and thus could be enacted, if necessary, without Republican support. It remains unclear if the provision that would increase the minimum wage to $15 by 2025 can prevail through the rules of the reconciliation process, which imposes strict parameters to prevent the process from being abused.
House leaders hope to finalize the entire package, which will include bills from nine separate committees, this week. Their counterparts in the Senate, who will have to maneuver a far more complex parliamentary process in order to approve the legislation, remain embroiled in the second impeachment trial of former President Donald J. Trump.
President Biden announced on Wednesday that he was imposing new sanctions that would prevent the generals who engineered a coup in Myanmar from gaining access to $1 billion in funds their government keeps in the United States, and said he would announce additional actions against the military leaders and their families.
It was the first concrete steps the U.S. government has taken since Mr. Biden demanded that the generals restore democracy and release Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, the nation’s civilian leader, and other leaders, and announced that the army chief would take control.
Noting that protests are growing, Mr. Biden warned that “violence against those asserting their democratic rights is unacceptable,’’ and he said “the world is watching.” He said he had consulted with the Republican leader, Senator Mitch McConnell, and a range of nations across Southeast Asia.
But Mr. Biden’s options are limited.
Myanmar has relatively little trade with the United States, and the key partner Mr. Biden needs to join in the sanctions is China — which is building much of the isolated country’s infrastructure, including a 5G telecommunications network. And so far the Chinese have not publicly condemned the coup, or announced their own set of sanctions. If China acted, it would likely not do so with public announcements.
Administration officials have acknowledged that they have to organize the pressure campaign on Myanmar in a way that will not drive the generals further into China’s embrace.
Mr. Biden did not address that trade-off, other than to say “we’ll continue to work with our international partners to urge other nations to join us in these efforts.”
Mr. Biden has used his response to the events in Myanmar to accentuate the contrast with the Trump administration. Mr. Trump used sanctions frequently, but rarely invested much time trying to get allies to join. Mr. Trump rarely spoke about human rights violations, except when the violator was Iran, or, in his last year, China.
Myanmar, though, was a conspicuous exception. In July 2019 the Trump administration sanctioned some of the same military commanders for their roles in the atrocities carried out against Rohingya Muslims. Those included Gen. Min Aung Hlaing, the army chief who took control Jan. 31 after the party supporting the military lost a critical election.
At the time, three of his highest-ranking generals were also sanctioned, and their immediate family members were barred from entering the United States. Mike Pompeo, serving as secretary of state at the time, declared that “the United States is the first government to publicly take action with respect to the most senior leadership of the Burmese military.”
The problem is made more complex by the fact that Ms. Suu Kyi, a Nobel Peace Prize laureate from her days as a dissident, defended the military’s actions against the Rohingya ethnic minority, and denied that atrocities, including murder, rape and arson, amounted to a genocide. The military forced more than 700,000 members of the Rohingya to flee across the border into Bangladesh, where they live in squalid refugee camps.
A simmering rift within the Democratic Party spilled into public view on Tuesday as Senator Bernie Sanders, the chairman of the Senate Budget Committee, pressed Neera Tanden, President Biden’s nominee to head the Office of Management and Budget, over millions of dollars of corporate donations that the Center for American Progress received under her watch.
The tough line of questions was a rough patch for one of Mr. Biden’s cabinet picks and underscored the lingering tension between the Democratic Party’s progressive and moderate wings. Ms. Tanden, president of the liberal Center for American Progress think tank, served in the Clinton and Obama administrations and was a top aide to Hillary Clinton during the 2016 presidential campaign.
“Now, Ms. Tanden, at a time when the wealthy and large corporations have extraordinary influence over the economic and political life of this country, I must tell you that I am concerned about the corporate donations the Center for American Progress has received under your leadership,” Mr. Sanders said in his opening statement. “Before I vote to confirm your nomination, it is important for this committee to know that those donations will not influence your decision making at O.M.B.”
Mr. Sanders cited a report that found that the center received at least $38 million from corporate America since 2014.
Mr. Sanders also questioned Ms. Tanden about her criticism of him and his allies.
“There were vicious attacks made against progressives, people who I have worked with, me personally,” Mr. Sanders said.
Ms. Tanden and Mr. Sanders have clashed since the 2016 election, with Mr. Sanders accusing Ms. Tanden in 2019 of “maligning my staff and supporters and belittling progressive ideas” after ThinkProgress, an independent editorial branch of Ms. Tanden’s think tank, criticized Mr. Sanders for the size of his income from writing a book.
On Tuesday, during her first confirmation hearing before the Senate homeland security committee, Ms. Tanden faced similar criticism — only from Republicans, who spent the first hour grilling her over her Twitter posts and asking why she deleted more than 1,000 posts shortly after the November election.
Senator Rob Portman of Ohio read aloud posts in which she called Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the minority leader, “Moscow Mitch,” and said that “vampires have more heart than Ted Cruz,” a Republican senator from Texas.
Ms. Tanden apologized to that committee and said that she deleted some of her tweets because she regretted her tone.
At the Wednesday hearing, Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, the top Republican on the committee, said that he was not overly concerned with the donations that Ms. Tanden oversaw but brought up her criticism of both Republicans and Democrats.
“Her scorn was not limited to Republicans,” Mr. Graham said. “This is not the unifying pick that I was looking for in this position.”
Mr. Graham also leaned into the tensions between Ms. Tanden and Mr. Sanders, dusting off previous criticism that she leveled at the Democratic Socialist from Vermont, including comments suggesting that Russia tried to help the Sanders campaign in 2016.
Seriously this is ridiculous. I’m not for litigating the primary, but from what we know now, Russia did a lot more to help Bernie than the DNC’s random internal emails did to help Hillary. Try to actually look at some facts. This whole attack is a joke.
— Neera Tanden (@neeratanden) February 18, 2018
In her opening statement on Wednesday, Ms. Tanden insisted that she would work in a bipartisan fashion if confirmed. She noted that some of her abrasive language in the past was because of her role as a political activist and she apologized for offending people with her comments on social media.
“I apologize to people either on the left or right who are hurt by what I said,” Ms. Tanden said.
Prosecutors in Fulton County have initiated a criminal investigation into former President Donald J. Trump’s attempts to overturn Georgia’s election results, including a phone call he made to Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger in which Mr. Trump pressured him to “find” enough votes to help him reverse his loss.
On Wednesday, Fani Willis, the recently elected Democratic prosecutor in Fulton County, sent a letter to numerous officials in state government, including Mr. Raffensperger, requesting that they preserve documents related to Mr. Trump’s call, according to a state official with knowledge of the letter. The letter explicitly stated that the request was part of a criminal investigation, said the official, who insisted on anonymity to discuss internal matters.
The inquiry makes Georgia the second state after New York where Mr. Trump faces a criminal investigation. And it comes in a jurisdiction where potential jurors are unlikely to be hospitable to the former president; Fulton County encompasses most of Atlanta and overwhelmingly supported President Biden in the November election.
The Fulton County investigation comes on the heels of a decision on Monday by Mr. Raffensperger’s office to open an administrative inquiry.
Ms. Willis has been weighing for several weeks whether to open an inquiry, after Mr. Trump’s phone call to Mr. Raffensperger on Jan. 2 alarmed election experts who called it an extraordinary intervention into a state’s electoral process.
That call was one of several calls Mr. Trump made to top Republican officials in the state in an effort to uncover instances of voting fraud that might change the outcome.
Former prosecutors said Mr. Trump’s calls might run afoul of at least three state laws. One is criminal solicitation to commit election fraud, which can be either a felony or a misdemeanor; as a felony, it is punishable by at least a year in prison. There is also a related conspiracy charge, which can be prosecuted either as a misdemeanor or a felony. A third law, a misdemeanor offense, bars “intentional interference” with another person’s “performance of election duties.”
Mr. Biden’s victory in Georgia was reaffirmed after election officials recertified the state’s presidential election results in three separate counts of the ballots: the initial election tally; a hand recount ordered by the state; and another recount, which was requested by Mr. Trump’s campaign and completed by machines. The results of the machine recount show Mr. Biden won with a lead of about 12,000 votes.
Mr. Biden was the first Democrat to win the presidential election in Georgia since 1992.
It may be roughly 20 months away, but the political winds are shaping up for a narrow battle for the House in 2022.
The National Republican Congressional Committee on Wednesday released a list of 47 House Democrats whose seats it is targeting in the midterm elections, including moderates like Representatives Abigail Spanberger and Conor Lamb, as well as Democrats who represent districts Mr. Trump carried in November.
Midterm elections often provide an opportunity for the party out of power in the White House to make gains in Congress, riding a wave of backlash while unseating members who were previously carried to victory by a presidential candidate at the top of the ticket.
But as the Republican Party continues to press hopes for wresting back at least part of Congress from Democratic control, their ranks appear to be thinning following the attack on the Capitol on Jan. 6.
An analysis of January voting records by The New York Times found that nearly 140,000 Republicans had quit the party in 25 states that had readily available data (19 states do not have registration by party). Voting experts said the data indicated a stronger-than-usual flight from a political party after a presidential election, as well as the potential start of a damaging period for G.O.P. registrations as voters recoil from the Capitol violence and its fallout.
“Since this is such a highly unusual activity, it probably is indicative of a larger undercurrent that’s happening, where there are other people who are likewise thinking that they no longer feel like they’re part of the Republican Party, but they just haven’t contacted election officials to tell them that they might change their party registration,” said Michael P. McDonald, a professor of political science at the University of Florida. “So this is probably a tip of an iceberg.”
But, he cautioned, it could also be the vocal “never Trump” reality simply coming into focus, with Republicans finally taking the step of changing their registration, even though they had not supported the president and his party since 2016.
Even if some of their voters are deserting them, Republicans do have one baked in advantage in 2022: Democrats will most likely lose some seats through redistricting alone.